Monday, July 23, 2007
我将带着对Perugia深刻的想念开始这样一个我期待的长时间的旅行。想念我明亮的小房间，我们家里安静的小厨房，学校附近的甜点房Perusia香淳的gelato，Latana dell’orso酒吧玩bossa nova的乐队和那自在的氛围，Antonietta煮的意大利面和咖啡，许多刚认识不久却又要分离的朋友，意大利夏天热辣辣的阳光，IV Novembre广场上热闹的夜晚与人群，还有我们班上那些好看的男生。
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
My name was the first to be read out by the professor when giving out the marked papers, telling the whole class that this person did best in the exam. The professor did not even know who this person is and seemed to have some difficulty pronouncing the name that looked like an alien word. Few of the Italians pronounce my name well as Italian words hardly end with a consonant and few starts with “y”.
I went to the history of music lesson yesterday evening. Again I was late for class, an odious habit which I find difficult to get rid of. The professor played a piece of choir written in the 15th century, the type of religious chant sung in the church. I always have a special little preference for medieval history. The musicians in those days needed to be patronized somehow by a church, otherwise the notes and the symphonies written will be hidden forever in the drawer, perished unknown by time.
The painters, sculptors, poets and authors could work free-lance but not the musicians. They need the orchestra to play their written masterpieces and in those days only the church was rich enough to provide such facilities. Therefore most medieval masterpieces turned out to be religious pieces. It was said that the musicians would sometimes place some hidden meanings or hints in their work.
And somehow I am always fond of this kind of medieval religious chants. Once I came across a mass in the Sant’Antimo Abbey in Tuscany chanting the Gregorian chant. An unspoken beauty swung in the shadow of the late evening gleam. For a moment I thought that’s what called the eternity.
Generally as Malaysians, or rather, as Chinese-educated Malaysians as we normally call ourselves, we did primary school in Chinese, secondary school in Malay and university in English. How genius we are with the languages! But it is not true. We know little of each but master none. Claiming Chinese as out mother tongue, most of us are not able to describe an event using just Chinese alone, neither can we do it with just English or Malay. Most of the young ones can no longer write in Chinese after they left university. We do not understand anything more complicated than the foolish romance fiction. We speak broken Chinese, Malay and English, comprehensive only amongst the Malaysians.
It seems sad, but everyone knows we are a group of happy and easily-satisfied people. We always think we are the best of the country, and we are even better than our comrades in Singapore.
I am always being asked this question when traveling in overseas: are you from Japan? Perhaps generally Japanese is the only Asian nation who is wealthy enough to travel out of the continent.
“No, I come from Malaysia.”
“Oh, we share the border with Thailand.”
“Oh, beautiful country, you have beautiful beaches!”
“So are you a Muslim?”
“No, I am a Chinese.”
“Oh, I don’t know there are Chinese in Malaysia.”
“Err, yeah there are …”
“So how many languages do you speak?”
“Chinese, English, Malay, some Chinese dialects like Catonese, Hokkien and Hainanese, and some Italian.”
“Wow! You speak so many languages! And you speak very good English!”
It could be pretty true that most of us do speak better English than what others expected, by judging from our Asian look. The hongkies are surprised that we speak Cantonese almost as good as they do. And here we are in China, we speak better Mandarin than the Hongkies, and sometimes, the Taiwanese.
Back to the hometown it’s always a mixture of the languages and dialects that we know, the broken versions of everything. Under the warm sunshine there is a cozy serenity, and we think, we are happy to be who we are, the Malaysians, the Malaysian Chinese.