What I Could Relate To In Crazy Rich Asians

95dac1deafaacb139f9f3aa25f2ce6fbThis was brilliant. I read this with so many laughs and being very absorbed in the book, feeling like I was watching a Chinese Drama that was becoming increasingly addictive. I can’t relate to being Crazy Rich, but I could definitely relate to the aspects of being Asian. I love how in some ways it brings out some obvious stereotypes, and in other ways it brings out similar experiences some Asians may have experienced. Very quickly, Rachel and Nick are the main characters, and are going to travel to Singapore for the Summer holidays for Nick’s best friends wedding. I don’t want to share anymore of the storyline, because I definitely think it’s the sort of book you want to read without knowing much.

Some parts were hilarious and you could really visualize these characters, with their vivid personalities. Some aspects of how much money people had and this idea of status, identity and materialism, made me think about how there are some realities in that there really are people who are crazy rich. You might not even know you were sitting next to a millionaire. I can’t relate to a family having to approve of who you will marry, but this is common in some Asian families. There are quite a few spoilers in this article, in terms of some excerpts shared, just as a pre-warning.

The experiences of racism. This is seen in the beginning of the book, as I think Chinese people have many stereotypes and are not always portrayed in a positive or attractive light, whether it’s in the news media, film and so on. I still remember in high school, my assignment wasn’t marked so well, because in my film analysis, I said that in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the use of a White actor acting a Japanese man in broken english is white washing. However, at the time I remember the teacher (a White woman – although she was an awesome teacher), said that that wasn’t racist.

In the beginning the lobby, the man at the desk is thinking “…this Chinese woman with the Thatcheresque perm and preposterous “English” accent..” This makes me think about how everyone has a different accent. When I’m in Taiwan, foreigners who speak well in Chinese will often have quite an accent. For example a German person speaking Mandarin, might have a strong German accent when they speak Mandarin. This is the same for many Asians speaking English, and well, of course we’ll all have our own accents. For example, I grew up in New Zealand, and so naturally will have a Kiwi accent.

The gossips and chit chats. I find it annoying when people gossip about others, because it’s likely they are bored or don’t have anything better to talk about. One of my pet peeves is definitely any aunties (aunties is an Asian term for any family friend or adult that you address out of respect) that are annoying and like to gossip, tell you what’s wrong with you and nose about your personal life. I still remember when I was in Sydney, a woman I didn’t know well, and went to a church I used to, asked me about my parents divorce and some very private things in my family. I’d never talked to her, and of course word gets around and people talk.

I’ve always found it can be hurtful, irritating and invasive. Sometimes there are some Asians (and people in general) that can be very direct and come across as quite rude. They can ask questions that are very inappropriate and know no boundaries. There can also be the judgment of background and what sort of upbringing one had. There can be that rank of career. If you’re a Doctor, Lawyer or Engineer that’s great. However, there are still some people that look down on the Arts, which is saddening. But, there is definitely also those who respect and appreciate it.

Non over the top parents. I think only Rachel’s Mum was the most laid back and supportive mother. It reminded me of how my parents have always been pretty laid back for Asian parents. They were never parents who expected A+ and studying without as much play. I say ‘for Asian parents’ because there are parents that can be quite strict as well as the ongoing stereotypes of Asian parents. There are indeed people who might end up having terrible Mother in Laws who always see their sons as their baby, but there are also wonderful and lovely Mother in Laws. In one excerpt Nick says “..you know how overbearing Chinese parents can be.”

The importance of marriage. I don’t relate to this, but I relate to it in the sense that there is definitely a societal expectation to be married. There is a sad thing that there is still this expectation for woman to ‘find the one’ and this implication that a woman needs a man to be complete (not true). However, I definitely think marriage shouldn’t be a life priority. I think there’s so much more to life, and if you do marry or if you don’t then both sound great. In Asian culture, a wedding can be made into a big event. Not for all, but it can often mean inviting over a hundred guests and having a big wedding banquet to keep face.

Some Asian men. There is an excerpt which reads: For Rachel, the problem began practically the day she hit puberty. She began to notice a phenomenon that occurred whenever an Asian of the opposite sex entered the room. The Asian male would be perfectly nice and normal to all the other girls, but special treatment would be reserved for her. I’ve noticed this a few times when there is a room full of empty seats, and there could be anywhere to sit, but an Asian man will happen to come sit by me, in a predominantly white environment. I suppose it is the connection of being both Asian, but it can also be uncomfortable when you don’t know someones intentions.

The food. Asian food is the best! Although I love Italian food, but there is something homely, warm and familiar about Chinese and Taiwanese food. I also love Japanese and Indian food. However, in the book there is always constant mention of food here and there. What someone is eating, where they are going to eat, what’s being cooked and what’s being served. Food is very important in Asian culture. Commenting on  appearances. In the book, there is one part that reads “She thinks you’ve become very pretty.” It’s common for people to directly comment on your appearance, clothing, weight and skin. When I’m in Taiwan, it’s common to hear “pretty girl” or “handsome boy” to anyone.

Artwork by Kelly Beeman

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