Tag Archives: Culture

Happy Holi! (And why you should do the Color Run)

Happy Holi!  This week, thousands of Hindus around the world will celebrate Holi, the festival that welcomes the new season of spring.  According to Hindu legend, Lord Krishna  visited the city of Barsana, where his lover Radha lived, and teased her with colors.  The word “Holi” comes from “Holika,” the name of a Hindu deity known for her special gift of being able to withstand fire.  During the festival, people also celebrate by burning bonfires.

These beautiful photos show how freakin’ awesome and joyful it is to get completely doused in color.  I’ve never had a chance to celebrate Holi, I just did the Color Run and it was AWESOME!  It’s a 5k race, and every kilometer is a different color…by the end, you’re completely covered in brightness.

Celebrate spring the Holi way and sign up for the nearest run near you!

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Cute Japanese girl devours international foods

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If I ever have a daughter, I want her to be exactly like this adorable Japanese girl named Rino. Her mom documents Rino eating homemade meals from various countries, which can all be viewed on their YouTube channel. From Korean bibimbap to Vietnamese pho, she happily savors every dish without any complaints. Just watching her eat makes me hungry! I also love how her mom makes her pronounce the name of each dish before eating. Now that’s one cultured kid!

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(Thanks, Louie!)

The globalization of sports in one Nike commercial

There’s a new Nike commercial out that’s pretty sweet. In the video, we see a kid from China and one from the US  falling in love with the sport of basketball, and then it goes on to show their different paths to the NBA. Along the way, we see the gradual formation of their rivalry but mutual respect for each other’s game. This exemplifies the best of sports — it shows that no matter where you come from, if you practice hard and have the talent, people will respect you for what you do on the court. It’s a competition of your abilities, not anything else. It also goes to show that at the heart of it, kids born and raised in different countries are not so different after all.

(Thanks, Alex!)

Why more Asian guys aren’t dating White girls

If you ever wonder why you don’t see more Asian guys coupling up with White girls, wonder no more! This mini documentary by a USC student and another student from the Communication University of China, gives insight into this phenomenon. It’s not sexual prowess, says one Chinese woman, because out of all her ex-boyfriends, the best one in bed was a Chinese guy from college.

Some of the guys in the video cite cultural differences as a barrier. One even says that he started to date a White girl at work, but it didn’t go well once he realized that she didn’t get his references to wuxia (Chinese fiction about martial artists) and the fiercely competitive college entrance exam in China or gaokao.

Another big cultural difference is the attitude towards dating. During a group discussion, the female Chinese interviewee says that in America, there are three distinctive steps of romance — dating, relationship, and marriage. She says that in China, people only start dating with marriage in mind. The group then jokingly (and maybe half seriously?) cites a famous Chairman Mao quote in unison: “When one loves another without considering marriage as the goal, it’s sexual harassment.”

My thoughts on the matter is that you’re always going to face cultural barriers if you date out of your race. My parents certainly did — my dad is Chinese but born and raised in the Philippines, while my Japanese mom was born and raised in Japan. Maybe that’s not as big of a gap as someone from Western culture dating an Asian, but I still think it’s a matter of embracing those differences. Both just need to have an open mind towards each other. But I guess having different marriage expectations can definitely be a hurdle. Still, I wonder why you see more Asian women dating White guys than vice versa. What do you think?

Food trucks are old news to us fobs

I know food trucks seem to be a huge trend right now in San Francisco and several major cities in the US, but they are old hat to us fobs who grew up in Asia. First of all, we were pretty much raised in Singapore, a country with not only mouthwatering street food delicacies, but with strict sanitary laws which ensure you’re not eating food that’s been cooked in sewer oil. Remind me never to try street food in China.

Suzie and I attended a talk at the Commonwealth Club last night, and it was a gathering of people in the food truck industry talking about the sudden growth of the street food culture in mainstream America. Of course, Suzie and I heartily support this movement, but I must say I do have a little issue with how expensive the food is — come on, roadside food is supposed to cost about two bucks at most! But we can’t complain, because there’s nothing like good ol’ street dishes to warm and comfort the soul.

Fob revelation: A salad is a meal here

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“Wait a minute, what about the rice?” was the first thought that came to mind when I went with some friends to a salad restaurant for lunch. Not to be all cliche and everything, but yeah, I do think a real meal consists of a portion of rice or noodles or at the very least, bread. Then I had a revelation. Maybe they were eating salads because they were on diets and want to lose weight! Turns out my aha! moment wasn’t accurate. I came to realize that people here actually consider salads as a viable meal and it’s not always a weight loss tool. I still don’t get it. Although you can use all kinds of yummy toppings (bacon bits, cheese, tofu, chicken, beef cubes, crispy thingys, to name a few), you’re still eating something that’s mostly lettuce, which is, like, 95 percent water!

I’ve been in the States for years and years, but I still have not succumbed to the “salad is a meal” way of thought. And don’t even get me started on soups.

A happy Christmas, Valentines, Thanksgiving to you!

Merry Christmas from Tokyo, Japan! Yup, I’m in the city that has Christmas confused. We celebrate the gift-giving holiday here, but it’s sort of like a hybrid of Christmas, Valentines, and Thanksgiving. I think the Japanese just took the best American holidays and smashed it all into one — they are known for their innovation after all!

Christmas is like another Valentines, because it’s a holiday for couples.  Men and women exchange gifts with their sweethearts while families are left behind at home. All hotels, restaurants, and any other romantic date places are all booked up. It’s one of the busiest nights of the year for them. Seriously, when I went out with my mom in Tokyo last Christmas, I felt really out of place. I swear we were the only non-couple in a sea of lovey dovey Japanese boyfriends and girlfriends clinging onto each other. We ate near the Tokyo Tower, and even the damn thing lit up with pink hearts.

Then, Thanksgiving gets thrown into the mix thanks to KFC.  I guess Colonel Sanders kinda looks like Santa, but I think the Japanese have got chicken confused with turkey. In fact, KFC fried chicken is such a sacred tradition that people have to put in their orders two months in advance.

Nevertheless, it’s still an awesome time to be in Japan, with the whole city lit up and shops decorated to the Christmas nines. You know what would make it more perfect? If they threw in July 4th into the mix!  Fireworks!

To read about all things Japanese and fast food, see the Japanese Burger King’s luxurious sound booths, Domino’s Pizza Japan paying $31,000 for an hour’s work, and greasy, yummy fast food sushi!

Fob revelation: Is my ethnicity a Halloween costume?

Happy Halloween, dear fans! I’m sure you’ve seen a plethora of crazy costumes this Halloween weekend.  But one costume that’s stirred a lot of debate among us AbFob bloggers is the “Asian” costume. I was at a bar on Friday night and saw a white dude dressed in a traditional Chinese silk shirt, with a hat/wig of a long, black braid of hair.  Then, he started doing an awkward karate-chop dance.

OK, that’s weird, I thought to myself.  Actually, no.  That is downright offensive.

But what if an Asian person wore his or her traditional dress for Halloween?  What if it was an Asian girl wearing a sexy geisha-inspired costume?  Is that different than if a white girl wore that same geisha costume?  At what point does the costume become a trivialization, and perhaps even ignorant mockery, of someone’s culture?

In Japan, black people are often exoticized on TV.  Often done for comedic effect, Japanese actors paint their face dark brown and perform in extremely stereotyped ways.  For most of us in the US, blackface depictions of African Americans, like the one below, are starkly offensive.

It’s a thin and ambiguous line to draw.  Perhaps the judgment call for this is similar to when Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart tried to define the difference between nudity and pornography — “You know it when you see it.”

In China, more money means more doggies

I guess one way to tell how much the standard of living in China has risen is when people love dogs as friends, not food.  As the disposable income of Chinese citizens  increases, a growing number of people are blowing their extra cash on their furry friends.

It’s a pretty radical trend. Twenty years ago, people in China rarely had dogs as pets.  Today in Beijing, one can find “dog-treat stores, dog Web sites, dog social networks, dog swimming pools — even, for a time recently, a bring-your-dog cinema and a bring-your-dog bar on Beijing’s downtown nightclub row.”

I love dogs, but some of the things that obsessed dog owners (or, as I’ve heard them call themselves, “dog parents”) do for their pets are downright ridiculous.  Like the crazy fur dyeing styles and trends,doggy H1N1 masks, and Doga or yoga with your dog.

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Fob revelation: Shark fin soup — the battle between belly and brain

I really wish I didn’t like shark fin soup so much.  And shark fin dumplings.  And pretty much anything shark fin.

As a kid, we took our family vacations snorkeling and scuba diving in the blue waters of South East Asia, so marine life has a special place in my heart.  I’m horrified by fishermen’s practice of hacking off the fins of sharks, then setting the sharks free to drown, finless.  But the problem is. . . it. . . tastes. . .so. . . good.  Gah!  I mean, the fins aren’t supposed to even taste of anything, right?  So how is it that anything sharks fin is so damn tasty?

So I was really taken aback and encouraged when I recently read that in Hong Kong, the city where people are known to eat anything and everything, a growing number of people are taking a stand against sharks fin.  Sharks fin!  The beloved Chinese delicacy, the dish that represents exquisiteness, the dish that you always have at any wedding or celebration.  Perhaps we Chinese people aren’t completely heartless about what we eat after all.

“I saw the cruelty in shark slaughtering in online videos. The way the fish is dumped back into the water — it is just inhumane,” Steven Leung said.

Steven and his wife, Sylvia Cheung, decided to omit sharks fin soup from their traditional 13-course Chinese wedding banquet.

“Shark fin is not a necessity at banquets, as long as guests are well-treated and there is good food,” said Cheung. “We have great substitutes for the soup that are equally as prestigious and exquisite.”

As a hopeless foodie, my love for yummy often trumps all. But, after reading about how my fellow Hong Kongers are taking a stand, I think this may be one instance in which I’ll have to do what’s right over what tastes good.

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(Thanks Hubie!)