Home to one of the biggest Chinese diaspora, the San Francisco Chinatown provided a funny kind of solace, one that I can almost relate to.
Almost, because we really aren’t from Hong Kong or China, but close to the heart because we are of the same racial descent.
Amidst the foreigners and the foreign land, Chinatown transported me back to the familiarity of my own kin. The district though slightly dilapidated is a unique contrast to the American city of which it is found within.
The familiarity to the ears, eyes and the taste palette, Chinatown truly brings my senses back home.
The ‘China’ in Chinatown really isn’t a formalized caveat that strictly means only Chinese.
You find Vietnamese and Korean restaurants existing alongside the Chinese stores. This is a place where Asians coexist, where conservative values coalesce. (conservative relative to the Americans)
Inevitably, I find myself feeling much more comfortable around those of similar descent; that I can even throw in one or two phrases in my native tongue and get a few kindred phrases in return.
Some things are truly lost in translation. Certain words and phrases just do not mean the same when spoken in another language. Commercial transactions aside, on hearing someone speak in one’s mother tongue evokes a warm welling in the heart.
Even within languages, there are dialects that demarcate an even more specific group. The more the similarities, the easier it is to convey an idea.
The more lines we draw, the more inclusive(and exclusive) the groups become, the more isolated we are from one another.
So instead of calling it Chinatown, why not Asia-town; a wider categorization to allow for a bigger entity.