Being Asian

Pim Wangtechawat

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Illustration: Oslo Davis

Crazy Rich Asians
Kevin Kwan
Anchor: 2018
When I was little, every Friday after school, my parents would take me and my brother to visit our grandparents. Every week, almost without fail, we would take them out to the shopping mall nearest to their house, eat dinner with them, maybe walk around the mall for a bit, then take them home and say goodbye. The entire visit would take around two hours. My grandparents were Chinese, so of course we would be efficient with our family time.

My grandfather immigrated to Bangkok from mainland China when he was a young man, and although my grandmother was born in Thailand, she was more comfortable speaking in her native Chinese dialect than in Thai. Even though I saw them every week, we did not talk much and we hardly knew anything about each other’s lives. I only knew that they liked singing Chinese karaoke, that my grandmother could cook, that my grandfather was a businessman and that he liked the Beatles. They did not know what films I liked to watch, what music I listened to or how many friends I had at school. I recall how bored I was sometimes by these weekly visits and the awkward silences. As a child, I wanted, naively, what I saw in Hollywood films: grandparents I could joke with and confide in. I wanted, as shocking as it might sound, grandparents who weren’t Chinese.

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