Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Attitude to Parents - part 1

Although this next post may not necessarily be culturally based, it does highlight a major difference between the way Ms B and I view our parents.

Ms B's mother is in great health and is a very intergral and active part of Ms B's life, and as a result mine and our son's. She is also quite elderly.

Although Ms B and her mother have on the surface a close relationship, Ms B has made it clear that as soon as her mother becomes a burden, through illness or age, she will send her back to China, either to her sister or to a nursing home.

This is a very pragmatic approach, and oddly, her mother is in complete agreement with this.

Now Ms B claims to have been raised in a very close family, and this is borne out of the ongoing contact she maintains with the rest of her family, but something about the pragmatism of these relationships doesn't sit well with me.

They tend to represent relationships of convenience, which in my world is the anti-thesis of the foundation for family. In any case, it has worked well for their whole family so far, and given that there has never been any family inheritence to fight over, the relationships have remained symbiotic and mutually beneficial.

Of course, this is the easy part. If or when her mother ages to a point where she herself needs ongoing help, the pressures on the whole famly will be compounded. Although I have some work colleagues who have easily transitioned their parent's into a nursing home facility, the emphasis on family within the Chinese culture, I expect, would make this a more difficult proposition.

Only time will tell, and although my mother-in-law is in great shape for her age, both mentaly and physically, she does have a worriesome tremor and increasing rigidity in her body, which is looking more and more like Parkinson's disease.

For those who know about this disease, it is progressive and insidious, and takes a terrible toll on the whole family in terms of the level of care that is required. For my mother-in-law's sake, I hope that this care, no matter how difficult, is provided by us, and not a nursing home. It just wouldn't be right.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

History of Interracial China

I found this reference the other day about the history of interracial relationships in China, and found it quite interesting and insightful, and worthy of posting here.

There have been various periods in the history of China where large numbers of Arabs, Persians and Turks from the Western Regions (Central Asia and West Asia) migrated to China, beginning with the arrival of Islam during the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century.

Due to the majority of these immigrants being male, they often intermarried with local Chinese females. While intermarriage was initially discouraged by the Tang Dynasty, it was later encouraged during the Song Dynasty, which allowed third-generation immigrants with official titles to intermarry with Chinese imperial princesses. Immigration to China increased under the Mongol Empire, when large numbers of West and Central Asians were brought over to help govern Yuan China in the 13th century.

By the 14th century, the total population of Muslims in China had grown to 4 million. [18] After Mongol rule had been overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368, this led to a violent Chinese backlash against West and Central Asians. In order to contain the violence, the Ming administration instituted a policy where all West and Central Asian males were required to intermarry with native Chinese females, hence assimilating them into the local population. Their descendants are today known as the Hui people. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The new car

We have been looking to purchase a new car recently.

The car is for Ms B, who currently drives a car that has given us many problems.

My focus has been to find a model of car which is both stylish and safe. We have a 7 year old child after all so safety is a priority.

Ms B however is more interested in a status symbol. She has argued that many of her friends drive a Benz, so why shouldn't she.

We visited a dealership that had one car that I was ineterested in, and one that Ms B was interested in.

My choice was a modestly priced but stylish looking car with ample safety features, including full curtain air-bags.

Ms B however insisted on a very expensive and luxurious sports car, which I believe was not appropriate for a family of four.

The salesperson was of Chinese heritage, and he would obviously have made more commission if he sold us the sportscar.

Well, sensing the tension between Ms B and myself over what style of car we should purchase, he began addressing my concerns over safety.

He said the following to me:

"We Chinese believe in fate. If you are destined to get hurt or killed in a car accident, then you cannot avoid this. This is your fate. Whatever car you choose will not change your fate, so why not choose the luxurious car and enjoy life."

Ms B immediately latched on to this comment and pushed for us to purchase the luxurious car there and then.

I told them both that I did not accept that line of thinking, and would not put my family in a car that was designed for speed. In particular I would not agree to placing our son in a car that was designed primarily for two people, with compromised back seating.

Ms B was very upset with me.

This belief in fate, which I am sure provides some form of relief for people who have experienced tragedy in their lives, was really not an appropriate way to view the purchase of an sportscar. In my way of thinking it was merely an excuse to be reckless in one's decision making.

Anyway, we ended up buying the modest model car, despite fierce resistance from Ms B and her mother. They even co-opted my son to argue for the sportscar.

However I felt it was sensible under the circumstances to purchase a family car, not a sports car, and I purchased a few extra safety features to boot.

To appease Ms B I also purchased some luxury additions for the car, including in-built GPS, in-built phone, window tinting, better stereo system, nicer wheels and a special paint job. In fact I was happy to purchase whatever luxurious features Ms B wanted, as long as the safety of the vehicle was not compromised.

Now to be fair, the car actually looks great, and could even pass for a very expensive label car.

But Ms B is still upset with me. You see she wanted to tell people that she owns a Mercedes Benz. It was not the car so much that she wanted but what it represented.

This emphasis on "labels" dogs us time and again. Both Ms B and her mother have an unrelenting desire to telegraph their status to the world by purchasing products that are for the most part no different than cheaper versions, but for their label.

It seems that even a pair of shoes cannot escape this kind of scrutiny.

Anyway after about a week of getting the silent treatment from Ms B, I sat her down last night and told her that it was her destiny to get a smart looking, stylish family car, and no amount of sulking will change this.

Hopefully we can leave this chapter behind now and move on with more important things in life.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Inter Racial Divorce

My wife and I have known an inter racial couple for many years.

Lets call them Don and Leung.

Don, the husband is of anglo heritage, is a professional and a high income earner. This was his second marriage.

He married Leung, a Chinese woman who was close to 20 years his junior. She did not work and apparently attended some college course.

Leung is attractive and very stylish, but I have always felt uncomfortable around her.

They met through some dating service that arranged get togethers between anglo men and chinese women.

When they decided to get married, they flew to China to get approval from Leung's father. Her father asked to see proof of Don's high salary, and only then gave his approval for the marriage to proceed. This emphasis on money was also very much a part of Leung's views on life. Everything revolved around money, and she made it clear that she would not have married Don if he did not make such a high salary.

After the honeymoon period, serious cracks started to appear in this marriage.

Firstly, Leung objected to Don financially supporting his two daughters from his previous marriage. She complained about this bitterly.

Secondly, she refused to allow Don to even see his daughters. Don eventually resorted to secret meetings with his daughters.

Not really what marriage is supposed to be like, is it?

Well, tensions grew in the household, and one day when Leung realised that Don had seen his daughters the previous day, she took a knife from the kitchen and lunged at him.

He had a large cut on his torso.

To top it off, she immediately called the police and alleged that he attempted to hit her.

The end result was that Don was evicted from his house. This was the house that he paid for exclusively, including all the household furniture, give that Leung only owned a car at the time.

This couple has now divorced.

As events unfolded, Leung claimed the bank account of the couple (circa $80,000), and fought bitterly over the house.

She eventually agreed to a 50% spilt on the value of the house, but kept all the furniture and the bank account. Don simply couldn't fight this any longer, and so agreed.

Interestingly, one week after separation, a new man moved in with Leung. He too was an older anglo male. They too are now separated and in legal conflict as well.

When I first met Leung, both Ms B and I agreed that she was a leech, a gold digger. We both approached Don separately and asked him to think through his marriage plans carefully, because leung was making some comments not in keeping with someone who was genuinely in love.

Don listened to know one, but simply wanted to tell us how he could't stop thinking about his lovely Leung.

I mention this because there seems to be a high divorce rate amongst inter racial couples in Australia, especially amongst the Anglo-Chinese variety.

And Don and Leung's situation is mild given what I have recently heard about another couple.

...more on that next.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Jealousy & blondes

I recently got a new receptionist in my practice.

She is by all accounts a very attactive woman. She has long blonde hair, large baby blue eyes and very long legs.

Now this is not out of the ordinary in and of itself, but for the fact that this receptionist has been paying....well how can I put it...."special" attention to me. In fact, you could say that she has been overtly flirting.

I typically ignore this as when I am in the clinic, as my focus is purely on my patients. But clearly the other girls in the clinic have not.

It is obvious as a result that someone has called my wife, Ms B, and alerted her to the new receptionist's behaviour.

During our night out for our anniversary recently, Ms B asked me during dinner:

"Do you like blondes more and Asian women?"

I had yet to catch on to her concern, and so simply made a joke that blondes are more beautiful. Well, wasn't this a mistake!

Ms B then started giving me the third degree.

"Are you sleeping with the new receptionist, Sonja?"

"Are you bored of Chinese women?"

"Are you bored of me?"

"I always catch you looking at blonde women. Why?"

The irony is that I do not particularly like blonde women. Dark hair is my thing. In any case, all her concerns were baseless, but how do you comfort a jealous women?

Anyway, I tried my best, and after I made it clear that this was all in her mind, she started to calm down, but then she began insiting that I sack the receptionist.

I said "No", not unless she performs poorly in her work.

That night when we got home, Ms B went out of her way to make herself available to me. She even modelled the sexy lingerie I bought her, and she let me take pictures of her in lingerie.

It ended up being a nice evening, but I have no doubt that we will revisit the issue of the receptionist again soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Bedtime Clothing

Its our anniversary tonight.

I bought my wife a pair of sexy knickers, amongst the important practical things she always appreciates.

I used to always buy her sexy underwear before she got pregnant, and she would them on special ocassions, although at my insistence.

These ocassions occured mostly when my mother-in-law was out of town, visiting her other children, but she hasn't done this for a while.

I have to say, there is no more beautiful site than my wife wearing her sexy knickers at night.

What I would't give to see her just casually walking around the house, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and slim, silk black underwear.

Not really possible anymore given that we have a child, but hey, one can still dream can't they?

A few years ago Ms B let me take photos of her in her knickers. I will see if she is up to it again tonight.

I just bought her a new laptop and iphone as a gift, so maybe she will be in a grateful mood.

If so, well lucky me tonight.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Its a Sport thing

I realised early on in my relationship that Ms B had absolutely no interest in Sport.

She does not follow it, she does not play it, she simply has no interest in it.

I remember asking her to attend a Rugby league State of Origin game many years ago, and after reluctantly agreeing, she wanted to leave at half time, because it was "too loud." The fact that it was a remarkably exciting game escaped her. We did stay however and witnessed an amazing last minute victory by Queensland.

This evening I was looking forward to attending a boxing match between Australia's very own Danny Green, a great boxer who was the underdog, against a man who is widely regarded as the best boxer, pound for pound ever, Roy Jones Jr.

Well, try as I may to get some of Ms B's male Chinese acquaintances to tag along, it was a no go. I simply went with my mates and although it was a very short match, it was well worth it.

Danny Green beat Roy Jones Jnr inside the first round. Spectacular stuff!

While driving back home I called Ms B to let her know that I was on my way, and I just happened to mention that the Australian boxer, Danny Green, the man I (and most of Australia) was supporting, had won in spectacular style.

Ms B's response to me was: "Did you win any money?"

I said "No."

Then Ms B said, "So why do you care who won?"

Well, its just sport, and sometimes its just about enjoying the competition, but I guess this is a male thing, so I just told her that I should be home soon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Our Political views

Ms B and I have historically had polarised political views.

I have traditionally been a Coalition voter (conservative and to the right) , whereas Ms B would always vote for the Australian Labor Party (liberal and to the left).

From what I know the Chinese community in Australia had previously been staunch Coalition voters, but that was back in the day when most Australian Chinese originated from Hong Kong.

Since the influx of mainland Chinese, and in particular in response to the previous Prime Minister's (Bob Hawke) granting of visas in the wake of the Tianemen Square protests, Chinese have been more closely alligned with Labor.

This has been especially so since our current Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who is from the Australian Labor Party, also speaks very fluent mandarin, and was ambassador to China for some time.

Well, today the political map in Australia had been turned upside down.

The Coalition did the unthinkable and rebelled against legislation for an Emmissions Trading Scheme. In essence, the Coalition dumped their moderate leader Malcolm Turnbull, they have refused to support any legislation to control carbon emmissions (to slow down global warming), and have voted in a new leader who is the most conservative, right-wing and most unpopular leader in living memory.

Now don't get me wrong, I am in fact a climate change sceptic, and I genuinely do not believe that the earth's temperature is rising due to CO2.

But I also realise that if I am wrong that the outcome could be catastrophic, so we do need an insurance policy.

So a scheme to reduce carbon emmissions is common sense.

Now I am faced with a new opposition leader that resembles a right-wing Facist rather than a leader that can unify a nation.

The new leader, Tony Abbott, articulates poorly, he has a very annoying stutter and his views are out-dated and not of this era.

So if we go to an election, I may very well be voting alongside Ms B, for the Australian Labor Party.

I would imagine that this would be the case for the majority of Australians.

Learning to speak Chinese

Yes, Chinese is a remarkably difficult language to learn.

I have not however attempted to formally learn Chinese at any point, but given that Mandarin is the principle language spoken in my home, it was innevitable that I would come to grips with it to some degree.

I am at a point now where I understand many words that I over-hear in conversations, and in some cases I can understand the complete gist of the conversation. I also have many Chinese patients and I even surprise myself sometimes as to the extent of what I understand, when they speak Manadrin in front of me.

But it still a remarkably difficult language, especially given that I don't "hear" many of the nuances of tone that is part and parcel of Chinese.

Just like many Chinese not being able to hear the letter "R", I too am tone deaf when it comes to many pronunciations in Chinese.

Recently I have been speaking more and more often to my son in Mandarin. This has been my playful way of practising my Chinese.

My son always corrects me, and laughs in the process.

Only yesterday he said: "Daddy, your Chinese is so funny.You have an English accent when you speak Chinese."

He would then try and help me to pronounce the word properly. He is such a cute little boy.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The shower heat lamp

One difference between me and my wife is how we feel the cold.

She showers in luke warm water, leaves all windows open at all times and often sleeps with no blanket.

I am the exact opposite, so much so that when I shower the water is very hot and when I leave the shower I typically have the heat lamp on.

Well this heat lamp has caused a lot of ruckus in the house because it apparently wastes too much electricity, according to my mother-in-law.

My wife and her mother believe that such a device is an undulgence that no normal human should use, and just installing it was a household battle.

So anyway, last night I am in the shower and as I get out to dry myself I turn on the heat lamp. Immediately I hear a nagging voice outside the shower, complaining in Chinese. It was my motherin-law not happy that I turned on the heat lamp.

So what does she do?

She opens the shower door, slips her hand in and switches off the heat lamp. Yes its true, she did this!

Now this is my home, and I am happy for NaiNai to live with us as long as she wants, but it is MY home.

I paid for it and I am the major breadwinner, so one would expect that if I needed an indulgence like this, then it was my right, right?

Well, in practice this doesn't seem to be the case. Ms B and her mother have a different view and it seems that their view is that they call all the shots at home, whether I like it or not.

Sometimes I wonder who the real husband is in this relationship, me or my mother-in-law.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Are Chinese women more attractive?

Today I had patients for most of the day. Being a medical consultant is really not as glamorous as most people expect, and the pressure is enormous.

A way for me to unwind is to take a break after luch for a brisk walk.

Today was a particularly warm and sultry day, and the streets were full of people.

Now I don't know if this is particular to me, but as I walk the streets I am often distracted by the sites of beautiful women, and on the whole I notice how beautiful and sensual most Chinese women are. Their bodies are more feminine on the whole, and that long dark hair is... well it is just how a beatiful woman should look.

And in the last few weeks I have noticed that many Chinese women have taken to wearning shorts. Now the body of an asian woman is engaging enough as it is, but in shorts they are truly a sight of wonder.

So as I discretely observed today, I had to ask myself whether I simply had an Asian fetish, or whether asian women are in fact the most beautiful women in the world.

Its a personal question of course, and I have already answered my question, but despite being married to a beautiful women I still continue to admire the beauty of Chinese women on the whole.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Admiration of my Chinese wife

We had guests over on Saturday night for dinner.

They were a married couple in their 50s.

They migrated from China over 20 years ago and have become very successful in business.

When talking to them, one can undersand why they have become so successful. They are both well informed, intelligent and articulate people, who had something interesting to say about most topics.

As far as their cultural perspective goes, they were very progressive and open minded people, so it seems that they managed to adopt the best that Australia had to offer, while still holding on to the best that the Chinese culture had to offer.

During the night however, it was obvious that they preferred talking to me. This was despite knowing Ms B and her mother since the time they were back in China. My poor wife unfortunately has limited topics of interest, mostly revolving around wealth accumulation and the stock market, and usually sits on the sidelines when other topics are discussed.

My conversations with our guests that night spanned many topics, from politics, to history, to morality, to children, and to China and its current issues.

It was a very satisfying dinner and the discussions we had made it a memorable night for me, but also for our guests.

As the night neared the end, the guests made it a point to emphasise to Ms B and to her mother how impressed they were with my accomplishements and my broad knowledge of the world.

This should not be a suprise to most, given that I am a specialist consultant in the medical field, but the guests seemed suprised that I had in depth knowledge about most topics, including China.

Although such compliments to me have never resonated, it does mean a lot to Ms B.

Well that night, after Ms B and I retired to bed, I got to see a part of Ms B that I had never seen before. Her sexual appetite was insatiable, and her sexual responsiveness was to die for. And all the while she kept making references to the compliments I had received that night on my intellect. It clearly left an impression on her.

This episode of course got me thinking as to the nexus between her sexuality and the value she places on other's judgment of me. This of course is counter-intuitive to most men, especially Western men, given that or sexual attraction is based on our personal physical and emotional appraisal of our partner.

Well, right now in my life I am on a career upswing, and expect this to continue for a while. So I expect Ms B to be exposed to even more admiration for my achievements, which will evidently bode well for our relationship.

But in the back of my mind, I am asking whether she is simply attracted to me, the man, or to the accomplishment alone. If so, who would I lean on should I faulter one day?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fish oil tablets

Having had clinical experience on the benefits of providing young children with daily fish oil tablets, I decided that this was the appropriate course for our son when he was about 3 years old.

What I did not factor in was the enormous resistance from my wife, Ms B.

According to Ms B, fish oil tablets were artificial and could damage our child's health.

Well, I went to the trouble of providing Ms B with relevant clinical studies to get her to understand the neurological benefits to a growing child of supplementation with fish oil tablets, but to no avail.

As it turned out a week or so later, Ms B was talking to one of her Chinese friends, and mentioned our disagreement over fish oil tablets. This friend has a child in school in year 6, who had apparently just topped the year academically. This friend commented that she had been supplementing her child with fish oil since the child was two.

Well, not long after I get a frantic call from Ms B while I was at work in my clinic, asking me to purchase fish oil tablets for our son that evening. 

I did so and when I got home, the first thing Ms B did was check that I had purchased the tablets. When she looked at what I had purchased, she lamented that I had purchased the WRONG brand!

Her friend apparently buys label A, whereas I purchased label B. They are both however identical in terms of quantity and quality, but this was not good enough for Ms B.

She said: "My friend told me that label A has the best fish oil tablets. They won many awards around the world. I only want my son to take the best fish oil tablets."

I responded by saying:

"Which awards did they win? Please let me"

Ms B couldn't answer me but was insisting that label A were award winning tablets.

I proceeded by saying:

"Both labels are effecetivelly identical. There is NO difference amongst these two labels."

But this meant very little to Ms B. She was told by an authority, being her friend, that label A was the best fish oil in the world, and that was that.

I had to go back to the pharmacy and replace my purchase with the other label.

Well, I thought that at least our son would now be getting fish oil supplementation in his diet, which at the end of the day is all that mattered.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The language barrier

You know, I sometimes have difficulty understanding some Chinese born Australians, even those that have been in Australia since the late 1980s.

Some people, despite their excellent grasp of the written word in English, continue to struggle with pronunciation.

There are some doctors that I work with whose English vocabulary is second to none, yet when we speak it is at times an uncomfortable experience. I find myself often asking them to repeat what they said. In these cases I find that we tend to gravitate towards email correspondence as our main medium of communication.

Ms B however speaks excellent English. She, like many of the doctors I work with, arrived in Australia in the late 1980s, and yet her spoken English is far superior to many others that came to Australia around the same time.

Having said that, we still experience many misunderstandings on the nuances, or subtleties of speech. I also find that Ms B often misunderstands my body language, which I believe is much restrained than the Chinese are used to.

We Anglo's also refrain from saying many things, which can be mis-interpreted by the Chinese as agreement, or even capituation.

This is almost the opposite of what I expected, given the emphasis of 'saving-face' which is such an important part of the Chinese culture.

My point here is that the mechanics of language, with all its difficulties, can often be overcome, as is evidenced in my work, but the subtleties of intimate communication will always be a struggle with cross-cultural relationships, I suspect because these things are hard-wired into us while we are young, and is probably something that we find difficult to re-learn.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Racial identity - part 3 - my mother is not Chinese!

When I first entered university, I was living on my own and had to pay my own bills.

So for two years I got by working the night shift in a factory. Athough study during the day and work during the night took a toll on my body, it was a great time in my life and I remember those days with great fondness.

On my first day on the job I was taken around by the Supervisor and introduced to the other guys on the shift.

The machinary was loud and everyone wore ear plugs, so the initial introductions were brief and relied mostly on a few loudly spoken words, and some facial gestures.

I clearly remember the first guy I was introduced to that night, being a young man called Adam.

Now Adam looked for the most part to be Chinese, but like many eurasians, something about him looked different. When I was first introduced to him I could not hear him speak because of the noise, and his features were partly obscured by the safety gear he had on.

I later found out that he was born in the US, spoke with an American accent, and had a Polish father.

As time moved on, I realised, as all the other guys on the shift knew only too well, that Adam never mentioned his mother, nor his self-evident part-chinese lineage.

Because of this, during our mealtimes Adam bore the brunt of many sarcastic comments about his background.

Some guys would ask:

"Adam, are you Chinese?"

To which he would respond by saying that "No, I am an American with a Polish father"

When asked if his mother was Chinese, Adam would often use profanities, get up and leave the table in a huff.

Everyone would chuckle as a result, because it was clear that Adam had an issue with being referred to as Chinese.

I remember feeling quite embarassed for him, and wondered how his mother would have felt knowing the extent he would go to hide his Chinese background.

Well, things sometimes go full circle, and here I am now the father of a bi-racial child.

For me, it would be a nightmare magnified ten-fold if my son ever behaved like he was embarassed of his Chinese or Anglo lineage.

Although at the end of the day I hope that my son sees himself as an Australian first and foremost, I hope he always recognises how lucky he is to come from two proud, enriched and admirable cultures.

I hope that he can embrace both parts of his identity equally, and take from them what he need to carve his own identity in this world.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our relationship

Well, I don't know how to put this, but after being so accomodating for so long, I have finally come to terms with the fact that Ms B's behaviour in bed, is......hmm, let's just call it unconventional.

Despite my patience, I don't think she will be able to change.

Ever since Ms B and I first consumated our relationship, I was quite struck by her imobility in bed.

She is completely non-tactile, and she just doesn't move.

This is not to say that she doesn't enjoy sex, which she does, but the act of sex for us is not based on mutual reciprocation.

I am the active party and she simply lies there and enjoys it.

I have tried encouraging her to simply touch me during the act, so that we can experience the intimacy of being together, but try as she may, it seems as though it just makes her very uncomfortable. It goes without saying of course that other sexual pleasures of a more engaging nature are out of the question.

Ms B also considers full-mouth kissing as unhygenic, and simply cannot bring herself to kiss in that manner.

This inability to be tactile is however not a hallmark of our relationship outside of the bedroom.

Ms B loves to hold hands, lie on the couch toghether, and cuddle each other late at night.

This sexual dynamic is something that of course I must live with, but it is uncoventional and not what I expected.

Now this of course begs the question as to whether the multitude of Chinese women who wear sexually provocative clothing also behave in such a non-tactile manner in bed.

This I do not have an answer for, but it is an interesting question.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Racial identity - part 2 - is that really your daddy?

"Is that really your daddy?"

A question asked of my son all too often when he is spotted with me by his friends.

I guess it refers to the differences in our features, but I hope that it becomes nothing more than a passing nuisance.

My concern is that these questions may engender in my son a sense that I am a lesser father to him, given this perceivable racial distance between us. This is in fact my greatest fear, as I have a really strong bond with my son but he is now at an age where the external world will start playing a bigger role in his thinking.

Although I am protective of my son about this issue,  this is something that my son has to manage on his own, and I know this. I just have to continue being a loving and involved father.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bedtime Chatter

Well, after an enjoyable Saturday evening out with friends at a restaurant, we got home, put our young one to sleep, had a quick shower and got ready for bed.

After seeing all those provocatively dressed women all night long, I was in a somewhat frisky mood. It was Saturday night after all, the only night of the week where we didn't have to worry about getting up early the following morning.

Ms B finished her shower, came into the bedroom, and dropped the towel she had on to the floor. It seems she was feeling naughty tonight as well.

There she stood, my Chinese wife, in all her naked splendor. A gorgeous heart shaped bottom, lovely curvacious thighs, pristine porcelain white skin and shiny long black hair.

She jumped on the bed and lay beside me. I started to stroke her body gently, then without even giving it a thought, I whispered in her ear, "Talk dirty to me!"

She looked at me in a puzzled way, probably wondering why I wanted her to talk dirty to me when I was about to get the real thing.

However, the poor thing took a deep breath and whispered the words.

"Honey, do you want to have sex with me?"

I put a big smile on my face, said "Yes, of course", then asked her to talk dirty to me again.

Ms B then responded, "Didn't I already speak dirty to you? Didn't I say the 'sex' word?"

Well, it was not quite the 'dirty' I was looking for, but I didn't want to spoil her mood, and was thankful for her effort.

We spent the next few hours in bed, just she and I, enjoying ourselves the way nature intended. It was a great night for both of us.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Chinese Fashion

Well, another Saturday night has passed.

We went out to a resaurant in china town.

We went with some friends and their daughter, who are Mandarin speakers, but who have been in Australia since they were very young.

Sinclair and Nancy are very nice people, are great to have a conversation with, and given that they speak Mandarin as well, they keep my mother-in-law involved in the conversation, so she doesn't feel left out.

The main topic of discussion over dinner last night was co-incidental in that it is a topic that I have previously raised in this blog.

It was initiated by Nancy as an observation while we were walking to the restaurant through china town.

Nancy said: " Chinese women have changed so much. They all want to look rich or sexy. How can a man respect them when they dress this way?"

It was in response to a sequence of Chinese women that we had passed on the way to the restaurant wearing really sexualised clothing. I need to emphasise that this clothing stood out a mile away, and can only be described as excessively sexualised, at the expense of good taste.

Even my 7 year old son whispered to me: "Daddy, I can see that woman's bum" and then started giggling. This woman was wearing extremely short shorts along with high heels. These shorts exposed the top of her underwear (being a g-string of course).

Both Nancy and Ms B could both be described as conservative dressers, and so during the evening Siclair and I joked that they could learn something from these women, and start wearing more attractive clothing.

It was all in good humour of course, and provided us an evening of laughter and enjoyment as we continually pointed out more and more examples of dresses or skirts or other provocative clothing that our women should be wearing.

The cake of soap

Well, our differences seem to extend into the shower.

I like to use a soap with a pleasant fragrance to it. However Ms B and her mother insist on a cake of soap with an odour resembling some kind of harsh industrialised detergent.

I don't know where they find this soap, but it certainly wouldn't sell in a Coles or a Woolworths.

Every time I get near it I get an idea of what life would have been like in those concentration camps in China during the cultural revolution. This is really harsh soap that leaves one feeling that their body has been stripped of all vital moisture. It is certainly not a luxury item.

In any case, its always there in the shower, whether I like it or not.

In order to get around this, I recently purchased a bottle of body shampoo, as something that I could use and at least feel like I had a real showever.

The day after I purchased it, the bottle went missing.

When I asked Ms B what happened to it, she quickly ran to the bathroom. She returned with an old handwash bottle.

She then proudly stated that her mother diluted the contents of my bottle, and got to fill four old handwash bottles.

When I told her that it was for me to use in the shower, she looked at me strangely and said, "why would you use that in the shower? We already have soap!"

Friday, November 06, 2009

Being stared at by the Chinese

You would think that with the extent of inter racial relationships in Australia, that a bi-racial child would no longer be a novelty.

And this is true, for the most part, especially amongst non-Chinese.

But when we go shopping in Chinese shopping districts, the looks are ever-present.

Every stare usually starts off with the child, then a review is done of both Ms B and myself. I am sure its just a curiosity thing, given the broad variety of features in eurasian children.

Once the stare reaches me, I often get the double-take look.

Given that I have blonde hair and blue eyes, I guess I just stand out a lot more when in between a Chinese woman and a child that could be, or might not be, Chinese.

Having said that, I too am often guilty of the same thing. For some hard to explain reason, every time I come across a eurasian child I will mentally assess his features against his parents. I don't understand why or for what reason, but I often catch myself doing it too.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Chinese - a diverse and varied people

When I was a young boy growing up in Sydney, the only Chinese I ever met were orginally from Hong Kong. They tended to be affluent, conservative and quiet.

Later on, especially when I first went to university, I got to meet and mix with Chinese from Singapore and  Malaysia. I got good at picking what country a Chinese person was from, and not just because of their accents. It also had a lot to do with their demeanor and behaviour.

Yes, the Chinese are many, dispersed and varied. What may surprise some is to what extent they are different depending on which region they come from. 

It was not until after I became an intern in my studies that I started coming into contacted with mainlander Chinese.

Given that the government in China was Communist and restricted movement, this was not surprising, however by the late 1980s the mainlander community in Australia increased significantly, becaming the majority background of most Australian Chinese.

This is very much the case today.

Now recently, I remember Ms B haggling with the wife/secretary of a doctor about his fee. The secretary was originally from Hong Kong, as was the doctor. The secretary then made a very innappropriate comment to Ms B about her haggling.

She said: "You mainlanders are all the same. You are all selfish and uncivilised."

Now naturally, this comment was offensive, but it seems that only I saw it that way. Ms B seemed to be more concerned that the fee was not further reduced.

I mention this just to underscore the real and dictinct differences between many peoples of Chinese origin, and the level of discrimination that is entrenched within the broader Chinese community itself.

This is a theme that I will come back to from time to time, as it an important insight into the Chinese community in this country.

Racial identity - part 1

Master A is almost 7 years old.

The first face he looked at when he was born was mine, and I have been very involved with him from the start.

So he has been very comfortable in my presence, and in the presence of his paternal family.

But recently, he has begun asking me some odd questions about his appearance.

I remember when Master A was about 4 years old, he saw a commercial on TV involving an African girl. He turned to me and asked, "Daddy, how many people in the world are not like us?"

I did not immediately connect his question with the commercial, so I asked in a puzzled way, "what do you mean?"

He said, "How many people have dark skin, and how many people look like you and me?"

I found this question so refreshingly innocent, but I knew that at some point the world will be telling my son that he and his daddy also look different.

Well, that time has now come, and my challenge of course is to manage my son's questions thoughtfully and in a way that will hopefully put him in good stead to take advantage of all the good things that come with being a bi-racial and bi-cultural child.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Western women and Chinese men

Why so few western women with chinese men?

Is it because western women are racist?

Or is it perhaps because chinese men are racist?

Or maybe just something less sinister, like opportunity or cultural obstacles?

In short, I don't know the answer, but even though it is now common place to see a western man with a chinese wife, it is a rare sight indeed to see a chinese man with a white/western wife.

This does in fact concen me somewhat. My son, although not Chinese, does have some recognisable asian features. I would hope however that when he grows up that his choice in women is not limited by something like his racial features.

I would hope, as I had been lucky enough, for my son to be accepted by women no matter their race, and no matter his.

Learning to play piano

Okay, so Ms B has this obsession with our son learning to play piano.

When she first suggested it, I was reluctant, but she was adamant. I was concerned that our child had too many activities on his plate as it were, so this may have been too much.

Ms B however would argue that other kids could cope, so why not our son.


Well, I agreed, albeit reluctantly.

Since our son has started learning, I have heard Ms B telling all and sundry how much he loves the piano, and on the one ocassion that he missed his piano lesson, according to Ms B he cried he was so upset.

Well yes, he did cry, as I was there, but it was not because he missed his piano lesson. It was because he lost his favourite stone.

Yes, a stone! A stone which he kept in his pocket for days and which he called his "moon rock". He found it and believed that it fell to earth from the moon. So so cute! But it went missing and he was very very upset....for about 5 minutes.

Anyway, it seems that Ms B is so caught up with our son learning to play piano, that she does not pick up on his strong hints that he would rather be doing something else.

I am convinced that Ms B believes that our son genuinely loves playing piano, but when alone, my son tells me otherwise.

For now however, I leave things as they are. Learning piano may very well have neurological benefits for our son's development, given his age, so like it or not, it may be a good thing for him.

But in a few years time, we will need to re-evaluate.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Learning Mandarin

One thing that Ms B and I agreed to off the bat was the benefit in our child learning to read and write in Mandarin.

Ms B, like many Chinese, more commonly speaks a dialect of Chinese, but she and her mother have made an effort to speak only Mandarin in front of the child, so that he could pick up official Chinese without getting confused with the dialect.

As it stands, Master A, who is almost 7 years old, can read and write exceptionally well in English, and he can also speak moderately well in Mandarin. He goes to Chinese school twice a week and is slowly learning the numerous characters that comprise the Chinese language.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hyper-Westernised fashion

So is it just me, or do chinese women in general go out of their way to dress in an overtly westernised way?

Now I am not referring to the young, teenage chinese girls who more than likely were Australian born. I am referring to the older women, who tend to talk to each other in Mandarin, suggesting they were born in China.

The emphasis on high cut boots, low cut dresses, socks pulled up just above the knees, super-short skirts and bizarre combinations of clothing items that attract stares from men young and old, are a distinct feature of the urban walkways of Sydney, especially in China town.

And when I say "older women", I also mean many women in their fifties. I would say that I have been quite surprised by how many women I have seen who look like grandmothers, yet dress like one may expect a teenager to dress.

So is it just me noticing this? Well no. Ms B was the first to bring it to my attention.

Ms B doesn't dress this way, but many of her contemporaries do. As far as an explanation goes, she believes it has something to do with the previous Communist lifestyle.

I suspect there may be a lot of truth in that.

Dinner and the parking space

We went out for dinner this evening.

I was driving, Ms B was in the front passenger seat, NaiNai in the back seat, and our 7 year old son in the child restraint in the back.

Finding parking was not straight forward, but we were early so I at least was not in a panic.

Ms B however was anxious and worried that we would lose our booking.

I drive into a carpark area and I see what I thought was a free parking space. Another car had just left the space vacant. As this other car passed right by me, I realised that someone was already waiting for this vacant carpark space.

We both seemed to have commited to the space, but as soon as I noticed that the other car was waiting before me for this space, I stopped and waived them through.

Well, this was just not acceptable behaviour according to Ms B.

She urged me to just drive into the space, as I could make it before the other car if I tried.

When I tried to explain that they were there before us, her response was "so what!"

Then Ms B began to prompt me to get out, approach the other car and demand that they reverse out of the carpark space.

She reasoned that the other car was occupied by asians, and that they would be intimidated by a tall westerner approaching them and threatening them.

I made it clear that I would not engage in that kind of behaviour. As a result I received the cold shoulder treatment from Ms B since. It goes without saying that our conversation was limited over dinner, which we incidentally made with plenty of time to spare.

I understand that in a country like China it is everyone for themselves, but after almost 20 years in Australia I would have hoped that the unwritten rules we engage in every day regarding order and courtesy would have become part of Ms B's thinking.

Although she says and does many other things that make me proud of her ability to live by these concepts, this evening was not one of those ocassions.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chinese medicine

One area that has often created tension between us has been the issue of chinese medicine.

Now I am a medical practitioner, a doctor, in fact a specialist in my field, and yet I seem to be outranked at home on all medical issues by my mother-in-law, who seems to believe that all ailments can be treated by prescribing a weed, root, or some other dried out plant substance.

Now it wouldn't bother me so much if this was how NaiNai, as I call her (means grandmother in Chinese), simply used Chinese medicine on herself, but this is in fact all about our son, and how he gets treated.

When my son gets a fever for instance, I see it as a fever, however NaiNai and my wife (whom I will call Ms B), see it as the child not having drunk enough water, or the child being upset by something and thus having too much fire in his system.

Even worse they visit these unregulated dispensers of these weeds whom I call witch doctors, who seem to re-inforce this bizarre notion that any ailment can be treated with a mixture of a few dry plants.

Unfortunately, being in the medical field, I know only too well how risky Chinese medicine is. In fact I know of patients in the hospital I attend who have developed cirrhosis of the liver or end stage kidney disease because they have consumed these weeds. And they have died as a result!

But does Ms B listen to me? No.

This is an odd response from an otherwise intelligent woman who is highly educated and highly advanced in her field. And yet she believes in something that in her eyes, can never be disproved, even with hard science.

Remarkably, this is a woman who refuses to believe in religion, because as she says, there is absolutely no proof that God exists. Yet she believes in so many other things with no proof, including superstitions, which I will touch on later.

Married to the Mother-in-law

Well, my first genuine misunderstanding was that I didn't realise that getting married meant having the mother-in-law immediately move in with us.

She is an 86 year old lady but in quite good shape for her age, but as soon as we got married she flew out from China and into our home. She has not left since.

The woman is a widow and I know that its the right thing to do, but I simply was not expecting it.

My mother-in-law doesn't speak a word of English but she does all our cooking, and this has freed me and the wife to focus on our careers. Its not a bad thing, but it has some disadvantages.

For instance, the primary language in my own home is Mandarin, and given the language barrier, it means that I am left out of most conversations.

Friday, October 30, 2009


This is my first post on what I hope will be my opportunity to explore my interacial relatiotionship.

I am a father of one living in Australia. I am of anglo heritage. My wife is of chinese heritage. She was in fact born in mainland china and migrated to Australia soon after the tianemen square incident.

We met professionally. I am a medical practitioner and she is an accountant. I needed to find a new accountant, and well, as they say...

Anyway, we met, developed a relationship, got married and had a child (actually, she got pregnant first).

Now, this all hapenned quite smoothy, as I would imagine is the case with most relationships.

Once the honeymoon was over though, I realised that there were cultural differences between us, so much so that it has progressively caused more and more tension within our relationship.

I think my error was that because I saw a woman who dressed as a westerner, and seemed to participate in the same leisurely activities as a westerner, I assumed that her values would also be the same.

Well, this is definitely not the case. In fact had I known that there would be such significant cultural differences between us, I would have thought twice about entering a relationship to begin with.

So this blog is an exploration of those cultural differences, in a brutally honest fashion.

What do you like/dislike most about Chinese women?