I was travelling in the old town of Georgetown during our holidays in Pennang the other week thinking how our time in Malaysia had been so enjoyable and feeling almost home there after two visits. I like very much the cosmopolitan way of Malaysia. Everyone under the same sun enjoying peace and very good street food…
But then I realised that any new things I had discovered during my time there had to do with China… And not Malaysia !
Well when I say China I don’t mean China as we think in Western Europe… Not the China that takes our jobs, China that pollutes the world and manufactures everything we wear … Live in … Or use in modern life… No I have discovered a lot about the China out of China … The Chinese who migrated to Malaya at some point from the 17th century to make a better life out of such hard work and determination. And they settled… And they married… And they had children… Who had children… But they never forgot their roots and they are now part of the very strong community of Peranakan (married in) who spread across South East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand…) .
I had discovered the beautiful Blue Mansion in Penang last year … Used by French actress Catherine Deneuve in Indochine, transformed I am hotel but very much Mansion of a Chinese emigrant who adds name for himself out of hard work and wanted to prove it to the world. I got the biggest house built even had a cast iron staircase imported from Glasgow (Scotland).
So we went on a Chinese discovery this year… The Singapore Peranakan museum, the Georgetown Peranakan museum, The bar/cafe The China House in Georgetown, Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur …
I felt in love with this community which has kept a strong sense of their identity so strong that teenagers are happy when they meet a Peranakan partner for life. So strong that they have their own cuisine, their own architecture, their own tradition, and whatever else.
So when I met the old engraver in the Chinese quarter of Pennang I could not resist getting my very own Chinese seal made. I think there is something beautiful in the unknown the foreign typeface… I believe it says my name but who knows maybe the old man as a joke wrote :
“The white woman who thinks she is Chinese” 🙂
What do you think ? Is it not beautiful anyway ?
I like to think anyway when I use it the old Mr Hua made it for me with all the love he has used to make seals for the past 40 years.
You can get those seals ordered on the Internet nowadays but I had to walk under the midday sun of Malaysia p to find the old Shop house where Mr Hua welcomed me and made me seat in the shade to rest. I had to discuss my birth sign and the stone I wanted my seal made off and I had to pay in funny money not by credit card and that makes it special and unique.
I like to write my name in Chinese because behind this there are a lot memories … And you ? How do you like to write your name ?