I am not born in China. That means I am a foreigner, or an “outsider” looking in. My DNA results show that I am 93.9% Chinese and not 99% Chinese either. Hence, for a person born in China who looks at me, they think I am an exotic.
Here are some of my encounters:
1. When I was buying a silk qipao in Suzhou, I had to choose XXL size as apparently, my butt sticks out more than the typical Chinese. The service staff remarked, “your butt sticks out and it’s so nice! You see my butt, it is so flat.” To them a big butt that sticks out is an exotic feature. Which left me a little confused but okay.
2. In a group company gathering, whereby I was a “guest”, they remarked my eyes are “big, clear and shiny” and asked where I got my big eyes from. I would attribute it to my genetics which has a certain percentage of being “southeast asian”. It is not typical to have big eyes in China.
3. When I entered my hotel room, the cleaner said, “beautiful lady, can I clean your room now?”, I had been called this term a few times by service staff usually by much older ladies. It’s probably the Australian equivalent of “Yes dear, I can do it for you”.
4. When I went to the spa, the masseur asked if I am a student and if I am 18 years old. It’s a huge compliment ~
I had ample of opportunities to practice speaking in mandarin and connecting back with my motherland. I am quite content that most of the cultural and heritage areas in Hangzhou and Suzhou are well preserved for tourists and the future generations to enjoy.
But still, the best treasures are in Taiwan and the museums in China are rather disappointing. The treasures left in China are poorly kept and preserved with not much historical explaination.
One of the best museums on Asian exhibits I had encountered is on the island of Corfu in Greece. I liked the Asian museum so much I visited it twice. It was a moving story book that moved from one era and culture to the next. The ambassador of Greece collected a few hundred art pieces and donated it to the museum before his death and documented each object with accuracy and explaination on their usage.
The china style of preservation of historical relics is more economically motivated with not much explaination. Still, the gardens and historical architectural make up for the lack of treasures (or duplicates of real treasures). In the Chinese language, historical relics are called “national treasures”. Or “imperial grade treasure” if used by the emperor.
When the kuomingtang democracy party ran to Taiwan after losing the battle with the communist, they took the imperial grade treasures to claim soviegnity over the republic of China, citing they have the real treasures. China was emptied of its treasures by foreign invasion and the burning of the summer palace.
In fact the British museum contains more high grade valuable treasures than what China has. But this is changing as private donations are pouring in from wealthy collectors outside China who had decided to return the treasures back to the motherland. Shanghai museum is an example of this.
For myself to visit China is like the return of an exotic treasure. I really want to do business and enter the populous China market in my lifetime. This is a wish and I hope to fulfill it.
Before I depart to a land of no return
There are words I would like to say
But these words will turn into echos, into dust
Before they can reach you.
There are many a times I tried to reach
Beyond the looking glass
To the dimension where you are
But you are so lost, so lost in the desert storm
I can’t find you no more.
Sometimes I want to
Give up, give up.
There is no wind to lift my wings no more
In this flight, I can’t soar
I am dying, dying.
Yet, singing singing
A song that you can’t hear
In the desert storm
My words turn to echoes of the wind
As the dust buries me
deep into the desert soil
I used to watch television shows where by the Chinese God of Love would tie a red silk on mortals to amuse himself. When he ties a red silk on two unsuspecting morals, they will fall in love. He would tie the red silk on a beautiful lady and a ugly man and watch how that plays out. He would amuse himself by sitting on a tree and laugh at their folly.
In Ancient China, marriages are arranged. The notion of romantic love wasn’t accepted. It was more commonly accepted that one should be filial to their parents and parents should decide their children’s marriages with the consultation of a matchmaker. The love deity, however, runs havoc on the moral world by his “mismatches”. Couples would pray to the love deity in the temple in hope that they will love the person they are match made with. Furthermore, they will not know who they would marry till the actual wedding day itself.
If this is still true in this day and age, I would have been married at age 19 to my mother’s preferred match – the eldest son of a steel tycoon. We had no chemistry, and there was no topics I could speak to him about. We went from one place to another, dining and spending extravagant amounts. I pitied him but I just had no feelings for him. I tried to like him, but it was rather unreal, untrue and forced. Anyway, I was glad it ended. I felt so much better after that. Love can’t be created out of nothing, without an emotional connection, it is hard to make it happen.
I like writing about topics on “red paint”, “red ropes” and “red hourglass” etc as it all links to the ancient God of Love. It is almost a permanent mark on a person once it (the love) happens. In the western world, Baby Cupid is the God that induces loves in young couples. But in the Chinese world, it is an old man who amuses himself with his own antics.
In my latest book, BLUE ORCA, there is a chapter on Red Paint. It is a metaphorical description on a tattoo mark that brands someone for life – in this case, red paint was the defining moment that life changes for the main character, Mimi. The next test I am setting myself up to do is to write concretely on Red Ropes and how the act of bondage entwines with love.
Having read Venus in Furs when I was 18 years old, I was pleasantly surprised that the flight I was on route to Paris had an independent movie called Venus in Furs by Polanski. It is in French with English subtitles. There were only two actors (the male and female lead who happens to be Polanski’s wife) in a run down theater in the production. The novel Venus in Furs is undoubtedly a BDSM classic, with the term “masochism” originating from the author of novel.
I spent most of my formative years in the theater. My mother performed and taught classical piano. We would be at the theater every weekend.I knew every nook and canny. I would play hide and seek with other children behind the red velvet curtains during rehearsals. At the buffet line I could not drink coffee or tea, so I would pour myself a cup of milk. When I watched Venus in Furs, I was instantly transported back into the theater of my childhood and the performances that it held.
In the movie, the actress lounges on the sofa and struts her stuff by proving to the director (the male lead) that she deserves the role. Hence, the movie is like watching what happens behind a theater production, than the production itself. On how the actress seduces the director, and how the director falls into her whims and becomes her masochist in his own fantasy reenactment of the script as the actor. On many levels, it is like watching Inception but theater style.
First, you have Polanski who is the real director of the play, casting his wife into the female lead role.
Secondly, you have the young male lead act as the director in the movie itself who is casting a new actress who walked in to be his new lead.
Thirdly, you have the director in the movie audition the script (Venus in Furs) with the female lead, and in this sense, the director enacts his fantasy to be the male lead of the show with the new actress.
If you can’t wrap your mind around what I just wrote, you have to watch the movie as it is so subliminal on many levels that it was a mind boggling. I had to research on the nature of Polanski and his wife relationship (Polanski has a 33 years age gap with his wife) and how they met to get a real feel of what he is trying to communicate in this movie.
In my conclusion, this movie is a fantasy of the director, Polanski and his wife Emmanuelle Seigner. It is the fruition of their love for theater and movies, and their collaboration on this is a milestone on their marriage. It is a classic by itself as Polanski hits the mark on this movie on the themes of dominance and submission, and how a woman is able to manipulate and control a man’s thoughts by his lust for her. The actress humiliates the director as a “pervert” as the director falls deeper into the trap she has woven, for she wants the role badly and isn’t gonna let the director stop her from becoming the lead actress. I highly recommend this movie and it is still in my thoughts although I watched it in 2014. I still knew I have to write a review about it to release it from my mind (that’s the impact of this movie, it leaves your brain spinning with intellectual stimulation). Go watch it.
I will not tolerate statements such as “you are a girl so you should just marry a rich guy and you don’t need a degree.” Or “you don’t need a business degree to start your own business.” Women should be able to decide what they want for their own careers, and contrary to popular belief, a business degree or post graduate degree is needed in this modern day and age to do well in the business in the globalised interconnected cross cultural world at top level positions. And if the entrepreneur doesn’t have these qualifications, it is because they are surrounded by partners and employees who have them.
A noticeable result since starting on the introduction leaders program to landmark forum in June is that I no longer experience mood swings or stress. I gained clarity over my life and am able to presence myself into the present. My productivity has increased tremendously, I am writing a lot more. My self mastery is beginning to take form. It is by far the most powerful program I had undertaken to date.
When I consume media such as Beautiful Now, Cloud Atlas, movies, or books, I gain much more insights than I used to. I had delved deep into the nature of relationships around my community and gained an access to speaking to people in a way that inspires them to take action. I overcame my fear of abandonment and focused on what I have instead of what I don’t have.
I began to understand even sharing my results is futile, what is important is for others to discover themselves by their own initiative. Be it reading books, attending talks or meeting friends, there are many paths to the journey and having a combination of pathways is neither right or wrong, it is what it is. It is a choice.
I had been inquiring into the nature of relationships around me to subjectively observe what the nature is about. I realised that most relationships exist in name but not in realness. What I mean by realness is that we hardly meet or have one on one conversations in real life. Most relationships in my observable reality is virtual. It’s by texting mostly. It’s about following feeds or sharing images and videos. There is no realness to it except the interaction between two screens. That itself is not a “real” relationship but a perceived reality of a relationship
Even having a real life relationship does not mean there is a relationship itself. I had observed that even in a real life relationship the topics gravitate towards un-realness. It is mostly gossip, jokes and random trivia. When I read Natsuo Kirino’s novels on Groteseque and Out, there was subjective inquiry into the nature of relationships between the characters who thought they knew each other including a pair of sisters, but in the end, they didn’t really know each other inner, private lives and secrets.
When the nature of subjectivity of what is real and fake comes into question, I realised that most people have a fixed perception of who I am, and the me they think I am is also not exactly the me I am. Hence, my identity is a flux and it changes when I go from one context to another context. From speaking to an elderly, to a young child. There is no fixed identity, but it is perceived identity of what they think I am. Inversely, my impression on others is also filtered by my past experiences. Unless I reinvent a new way of looking at the situation, the situation remains the same or is filtered through my default lenses.
In this inquiry, I realised I have relationships that exist in name but they are not in existence. For example, I had a past lover but actually the ex lover only exists in my head and not in real life. It is internal, and it is not an external thing. Externally there isn’t any lover. It is what I imagine, and if I do see him in real life, it is a projection of my thoughts onto him which isn’t exactly real either.
In this blurring line of reality and unreality, I had gained clarity on where to draw the line on certain relationships and where to stand from. In this sense, the clarity of the inquiry of relationships itself enables me to become sharper on honing down what is unsaid or said, real or not real, and what is authentic or inauthentic. I am not yet a master at this but practicing this inquiry is probably the most powerful exercise I had ever undertaken to date.
I highly recommend taking a subjective look into your life and test the waters on who is, or who isn’t there for you by simply holding an unreasonable event and see who agrees to it. Don’t be shocked at the results, they are unreal after all.
Faced with an almost completed manuscript that knocks me in and out like a racket ball, it hurls in another direction.
When I resist it,
it haunts my thoughts.
When I attempt it,
it takes my soul.
When I relish in it,
It gives me my existence.
I had been on a nine months writing marathon and the fire is burning out. I will finish the race by end of this month. Thank you for reading this and sharing my diabolical journey and life that made my novel sequel, Blue Orca possible.
A writer’s job in editing is finding about inauthenticities in the writing. For every work, there is continuous revisions to update the work itself. As it goes with relationships, it is a daily commitment to make relationships work. It is not a given that we are born to a family that we know our family members well either. It is a daily re-commitment to talk to them and get to know them better.
Finding inauthenticities frees us up to being authentic with who we are. Who we are is the sum of the people in our lives. To be truly free, is to be truly authentic about our inauthentic selves. When a person of high integrity talks, the words cut through. The impact shakes the universe. I had that experience in front of Heather Graham. Her words impacted me in a way that left me moved to believe that it was possible to be a world renowned author.
Heather Graham’s husband was in the audience during her panel at the Thrillerfest. When asked which actress she would choose to portray a character in her book, she said, “I will choose my own daughter, who is an aspiring actress.” What makes Heather Graham great is not the 150 novels she had written, but her ability to inspire others around her. Similarly, what makes C. J. Box a best selling author was his reply to the question of who the beta readers of his books are is, “his wife and three children.”
The great authors are at their truly authentic selves as their family is involved in every process in the way of them being able to shake the world and sell millions of books with lasting impact. Authors who are overnight success on the other hand, do not have the lasting impact of success due to the inauthenticities that creep in once they had made it.
After visiting New York and meeting world reowned authors in the Thrillerfest, I realised that working on inauthenticities is crucial to making authenticity work. The big names we see who impact the world are life figures of those who had overcame their own inauthenticities to make a difference in this world. The people who are limited in their fixed way of being are subconsciously limiting those around them. By being open to feedback, a person rises from mediocrity to greatness.