How does one know if one has truly integrated into Chinese society, culture, and customs? Although there are no set standards or rules, one can say that a foreigner has sufficiently adjusted when he or she:
1. Clips one’s nails in public (in the street, bus, restaurant, etc)
2. Is able to fall asleep at any moment at any place.
3. Speaks the local dialect.
4. Has learned to feel shameless about going to the toilet in front of a dozen curious women.
5. Talks to loudly in the phone
6. Chews with deafening sound effects
7. Stops whatever it is one is doing when one sees a group of people huddled together in the street and immediately goes to see what’s going on.
8. Takes a six-hour bus ride and considers it short.
9. Can quarrel in a tone of voice that makes one sound like a hoarse chicken on acid.
I caught myself doing all of the above recently. Have I lost all sense or does this mean that I have gone native?
To be continued…
I feel like I’m living inside a dream; awake and yet lost in a mirage-like haze that feels so amazing that I’m ninety-nine percent convinced that it can’t be real.
Last week I had to overcome my biggest fear and had my wisdom tooth extracted by a scary Chinese dentist－and survived against all odds. But even more unbelievable, I reached my ultimate high when the reviews of The Fire of Dawn came streaming in. Not only are sales records reaching into the thousands, but there are also people among those curious readers who actually like my book－something I never deemed possible until now. It’s a strange phenomenon.
When I started working on this novel, it was purely out of frustration for the lack of available storybooks here in China. My kids, both wolves famished for fresh plots and adventures, finally drove me to pick up my pen and create Leah Koopmans and the host of characters that dwell inside The Fire of Dawn. But not once while I was writing did I imagine that one day other people besides my kids and direct family would enjoy my scribbling.
I hope one day you will share this feeling. Anyway, thank you all for believing in me. I feel truly blessed.
V.V. Aku: writer, mother, rock-climber, kung fu addict. and explorer, lived in China on the border of Tibet with her Black Yi family for over a decade. She recently moved back to The Netherlands where she devotes her time to writing book and scripts for film and TV.