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Fisherman’s Daughter

February 3, 2012

A popular small talk topic in America is to ask where are you from since people in America moves around a lot after finishing up high school. When my husband and I first met, he asked me the same question. Since Americans have very little knowledge of geography in China, I decided not to throw out my hometown’s name, since it would mean nothing to him anyway, instead, I described myself as coming from a small fishing village an hour of flight east of Beijing, (actually since it was on the tip of a half-island, it took ten hours by train). He seemed to understand that well, (as opposed to my other experiences when I answered dalian (which with some tone variations, means huge face), the person who asked the question will look totally confused and give a look of where the heck is that?).

Until I brought him back to Dalian a couple of years ago. He was shocked by all the buildings at least 30 story tall everywhere, and the traffic jam not much better than New York City. So he asked a simple question, what is the population of Dalian, “about 6 million, ” I shrugged. “A 6-million fishing village? I wonder how you guys fish, throw the hook out from one of those 30 story buildings?” “Well, when I was a little girl, three story buildings were rare and when I went to Beijing for my undergraduate study, somehow I felt my hometown was really small, it was only four times as big as my university, and there were eight universities, not counting the residency area between them, in one out of dozens of districts in Beijing.” Then my parents invited him to take a look at their new house in the suburb, when he realized that just meant the buildings were only 15 story tall. He turned to me for an explanation, “Well, my father did do some fishing to support my family when I was little, he got up really early to catch sea weed and mussels to sell to other people. And our house was stuffed with dry sea weeds and every meal I have in the childhood involves sea weed…. ”

Although he was not very happy about my description of my hometown, he was extremely pleased with the crab my mom fed him every day(and Kraken, all those ironman’s diet), although we were shocked to watch him using chopsticks to dissect the crab and taking a whole hour to eat one. He also laughed at my skills of using chopsticks as a Chinese, but that would be another story.

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