Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scrunchie Acculturation



I went exploring last Saturday in the local neighborhood of Pok Fu Lam. It is just a few steps west of my apartment. My intention was to find a particular dumpling shop that was good, authentic and cheap. I wondered to myself how often I eat Southeast Asian or Chinese dishes each week. Quite a lot. Most of the Western dishes I try to prepare each week are in some way "Asian". I drink tea rather than coffee nowadays, and much of the time I prefer using chopsticks when I eat. I then began to reflect on how much I may or may not have acculturated to Chinese or Hong Kong culture since I have lived in Hong Kong. I know I have learned so much in the work place when it comes to approaches to communicating and interacting and doing business across cultures. But how much have I learned socially, aesthetically and in other ways? I know that I probably enunciate my words more clearly than I ever did in college. This is due to an ever present chance of being misunderstood due to language barriers.  In terms of aesthetic acculturation, sure, I have even more respect for Chinese art than I did before living here. That's not saying much, as I have always had a high regard for art from this region. The one real shocker came to me after my noodle-seeking adventure last weekend. I had a few impulse buys on my outing. These purchases included a hello kitty figurine (which I fully intend to ship to my 4-year old cousins.) and a hair scrunchie. Wait. What? Yep, a black, velvet scrunchie. I did not blink an eye until after I went through with the $0.50 purchase. Flashes of Donna from 90210 went through my mind...but so did those of 5-year-old Chinese concerto pianists  and gymnists wearing velvet scrunchies. And then I thought about myself wearing a scrunchie. I never would have bought this living in New York. In Hong Kong, though, they are sold on every corner. A fifth of the women walking down the street are wearing them. And while I do not intend to let this thing see the light of day, I love mine. They are good for your hair and perfect for holding hair back as you wash your face. Scrunchies rock.  And they will now always remind me of the time I have spend in Hong Kong.

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