“How!” I shouted.
“It means good!”
“How” means ‘good’ in Chinese?” I asked with a smile.
The young man smiled and nodded and we both went back to watching the program. He was Song Yumin, the Deputy Consul General of China and what we were watching was a staged Chinese Wedding, enacted by members of the embassy staff.
“How!” I shouted.
“Good!” shouted Song.
I watched enthralled as the group sang and danced and showed us Chinese customs we knew nothing about. Till today all I knew about China, was the ‘Made in China’ label that was part of most products in the market and the Chinese food I loved. I had walked down Canal Street in New York and had even gone into the numerous Chinese stores there but had never really tried to get to know the people. Today I realized they were warm, spontaneous, fun loving people like the rest in the audience.
“How!” I shouted again.
“Good!” smiled my new friend Song Yumin.
At the final dinner of an International conference, an American delegate turned to a Chinese delegate sitting next to him and pointing to the soup asked, somewhat condescendingly, “Likee soupee?” The Chinese gentleman nodded eagerly.
A little later, it was “Likee fishee?” and Likee meatee?” and “Likee fruitee?” – and always the response was an affable nod.
At the end of the dinner the chairman of the conference introduced the guest speaker of the evening – none other than the Chinese gentleman who went up to the podium and delivered a penetrating, witty discourse in impeccable English much to the astonishment of his American neighbor.
When the speech was over, the speaker turned to his neighbor and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, asked, “Likee speechee?”
If we want to be part of the great global village the world is becoming, then we need to start getting to know people from all over the world, otherwise we’ll be made fools off like what happened to the American. We need to lose our prejudices and start realizing others are as cultured, educated and wonderful people as we are.
We’ve always thought of Tibetans in our country as people who turn up during winter to sell warm clothing. We listen to their strange dialect as we haggle over prices then go away. But did you know they are a warm, loving people?
There is this charming tale of a practice by Tibetan monks, who when they looked out of their monasteries in the mountains and saw stormy weather, would cut out paper horses and taking them to the roof, would stand in the cold and release them into the wind, with an appropriate prayer that they might be changed into real horses and carry distressed travelers to safety!
The Chinese wedding had ended. “HOW!” I shouted and felt a new warmth for these wonderful people who had opened my closed mind..!
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