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ASIAN OUTLOOK LIFE OF AN ASIAN WOMAN

Personal stories from your peers

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Online dating prejudice, Arizona Senate Bill 1070, Dubai’s “decency” laws, Tim Be Told - 4.13.10, Traveling in Taiwan, And more

Volume XXIII Issue 5


T

able of Contents

( Features ( The Non-Mainstream Fashion in China - Yinzi Liang Online Shopping on Facebook - Nicele Arana Let’s Talk About Race, Baby - Calvin Prashad The Arizona Immigration Bill and the Chinese Exclusion Act - Will To Experiences: “Why Can’t My Grandma Remember Me?” - Lillian Lai Experiences: “How to be American” - Cathy Hao Experiences: “Living with an Indebted Heart” - Lingxinran Jiang Dubai Kiss Court - Laksono Hadi Cokroningrat Politics, Bollywood Style - Fiz Ramdhani, Jibi Alexander & Bansari Patel

5 6 7 8 10 11 12 14 16


( Arts & Entertainment ( Best Job in the World? - Simon Wong Tim Be Told: Truth be Told through Distinguished Talent - Jonathan Yee Movie Review: “My Name is Khan” - Fiz Ramdhani Movie Reviews: “Death Bell” & “Cinderella” - Eve Zhang Eli Klein Fine Art Review - Diane Wong

18 20 22 24 26

( Food & Travel ( Georgetown Cupcake - Diane Wong The Taiwan Experience via Love Boat - Jeff Hwang

27 28

( Conscience ( Featuring the works of: - Eve Zhang - Ivan Yeung - Tracy Chiu - Jeff Hwang - MDI

34 35 36 37 38


Letter from the editor... Writing was not my greatest passion coming into Binghamton University in the fall semester of 2007. However, as of now, I am two classes away from completing my BA in English literature and general rhetoric. But English was not my initial choice for a major. Originally, there was this subconscious helplessness within me that forced me to pursue a path shared by many of my Asian peers: a path towards a financial-economics degree. It was not until the end of freshman year that I realized that I found mathematics to be absolutely deplorable. I had little to no interest in economic studies. Throughout high school, I thrived in the liberal arts and humanities. I usually performed many standards higher in English and critical thinking courses than in mathematics. As much as I tried, even through my first year in Binghamton, there was no changing the discrepancies. I just could not deal with numbers, formulas, equations and graphs anymore. I quickly declared myself as an English major in my sophomore year. After experimenting with some classes—nonmathematical ones—I began to appreciate the liberal arts more and more. I began blogging. I began to take serious interest in the media and the art of journalism. For a while, though, I wasn’t too sure about how my future could end up if I continued what I was doing. Writing could only get you so far. One thing was certain: you have to write well. Having trouble deciding what I could do with my life was one of the main reasons why I never found my way to Asian Outlook during my first two years in Binghamton. I knew about the media group on campus, though. I’ve gone over some of the magazines and I knew they were part of the Asian Student Union on campus (at the time, I was already part of the Taiwanese American Student Coalition, also a subgroup of the ASU). For the majority of the time, I was not motivated enough. Then again, some sort of wild epiphany struck me, prompting me to start considering. Still, it was a bit too late to join at the end of my sophomore year, so I set my mind to do so at the beginning of my junior year. At the start of my junior year, having Will To, the senior editor-in-chief of Asian Outlook back then, in my British literature class at least pushed me to join Asian Outlook as soon as I could. Everything that happened afterward flew by at the speed of light. I attended the general interest meeting, I started off as a staff writer and I began to bond with the e-board members. Eventually I took hold of a copy editor’s position after just taking part in the first Fall 2009 issue. Two issues and four months later, I picked up the responsibilities as an editor-in-chief. It’s hard for me to believe that, as I’m writing this, I only have one semester’s worth of experience in Asian Outlook under my belt. But I’m truly convinced that—and I wish to share this insight with everyone—as long as you are genuinely passionate about a task, a goal, anything at all, you will find the means to accomplish it or reach it. Such a belief has held up for me all my life. It’s still holding up.

Jeff Hwang

Interested in contributing?

Asian Outlook Executive Board Spring 2010 Editors-in-Chief Jeff Hwang Calvin Prashad Secretary Jing Gao Business Manager Ivan Yeung Publicity Managers Heidi Chang Deborah Hwang

Conscience Editor Kelvin Chan Copy Editors Meladel Busante Fiz Ramdhani Diane Wong Jonathan Yee Layout Editors Olivia Cheng Sophia Lin Sha Liu

The Fall 2010 - Spring 2011 e-board members have been decided and will include: Alyssa Alimurung, Kelvin Chan, Heidi Chang, Jeff Hwang, Lillian Lai, Yinzi Liang, Calvin Prashad, Fiz Ramdhani, Diane Wong, Simon Wong, Jonathan Yee, Ivan Yeung, Paul Yi and Eve Zhang. Many thanks to all the contributors who make this magazine possible.

E-mail us at: ao.editor@gmail.com Or come to our weekly meetings held in the Asian Student Union office (UUW-329) every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Editorial Policy Asian Outlook is the art, literary and news magazine of the Asian Student Union of SUNY’s Binghamton University. Originally conceived and created to challenge, redefine, re-imagine and revolutionize images and perceptions associated with Asians and Asian-Americans, Asian Outlook also serves to protect the voice of those in the minority, whether by ethnicity, gender, and/or political orientation. All matter contained within these beautiful pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board. Asian Outlook reserves the right to edit submissions and publish work as deemed appropriate. Prospective contributors are encouraged to discuss their work with the editors prior to submissions. Articles may be submitted as an e-mail attachment to ao.editor@gmail.com. All artistic and literary pieces may be submitted to aoconscience@gmail.com.

Contact Policy Uninvited contact with writers and contributors is forbidden under punishment of pain. Please direct all questions, comments and complaints to ao.editor@gmail.com.


“THEY ARE TWISTING THE IDEA OF SELFEXPRESSION WITH COMBINATIONS OF CHEAP CLOTHES, SIMILAR HAIRSTYLES AND EMPTY BRAINS.”

THE NONMAINSTREAM FASHION IN CHINA By Yinzi Liang

C

hina’s rapid growth in the past 30 years has grabbed international attention toward this ancient country in the East. However, while the economic and political performances of China appear more frequently in media, China is also undergoing tremendous social and cultural changes and reforms. The non-mainstream fashion (非主流) in China prevailed over the internet in 2006, when the founder Yang Chengjun became popular because of his “extraordinary expression of personality.” Yang Chengjun, at the age of 20 in 2009, is known for his talents. He loves fashion, and is also into street-dancing, piano and arts. Series pictures that Yang Chengjun created pushed him to the top. The non-mainstream fashion became so popular among the adolescences that they start following the trend: Main characters of the non-mainstream fashion: • Reject mainstream norms • Think they are the center of the universe and they can do whatever they want • Edit picture by using Photoshop to make the eyes look big • Heavy make up • The themes of pictures/personal blogs usually express depression or decadence. • Love self-taken pictures Language of the non-mainstream fashion: TAR (火星文), a.k.a. language from Mars. TAR is named after the English name of Yang Chengjun. When you speak or type in TAR, a sentence can consist of homophonic words, numbers, Japanese, hieroglyph and/or

seldom-used traditional Chinese characters. One example can be: “[5]僦s.帥氣.” It means “I am a handsome boy,” which in simplified Chinese is written as, “爷我就是帅气.” When China went through the Mao era, fashion was considered as a product of capitalism, so self-expression and fashion were restricted to dark colors with simple styles. As China became more open to different cultural elements in the past 30 years, China has engaged in the fashion trends around the world and showed itself as a significant player in massive fashion events. However, under the influence of Western cultures, some young non-mainstreamers simply think self-expression is about exposing themselves to the public—and the more different, the better. Some extreme cases of non-mainstream styles even include self-mutilation and sexual exposure, which are believed to be stylish. We all have gone through the adolescent stages of our lives, and it is not hard to understand why non-mainstreamers want to be special and “cool.” But the non-mainstream followers do not realize they are simply imitating the fashion styles, which make them all look the same. They are twisting the idea of self-expression with combinations of cheap clothes, similar hairstyles and empty brains. Their Photoshopped big eyes, depressing expressions and TAR language lock them in their own world by subjectively rejecting society as a whole. Along with the economic development in China, cultural elements become more diverse as well. But young people should realize fashion is not only about duplicating other people, it is also about expressing the natural beauty of humans and building up fashion styles that suite one the best.

ASIAN OUTLOOK

5


Online Shopping on...

Facebook

< shopping made more social >

A

fter a long day of classes, you

have to admit that all you feel like doing is relaxing and going on Facebook. Almost everyone you know has a Facebook by now. Facebook was originally created as a social networking site targeted at the college community, but soon after, the site quickly attracted other groups of people, particularly high school students, largescale companies and businesses. Many

6

ASIAN OUTLOOK

companies have taken advantage of social networking by creating “fan pages” or groups on Facebook to promote their products and services. Since activities are posted publicly on Facebook’s newsfeed, fan pages and groups have become sort of a “word-of-mouth” on the internet. Entrepreneurs are also using Facebook as a direct means of selling their goods. Indeed there are some advantages to selling products in an “online store” on Facebook rather than using traditional methods to sell goods, such as on eBay or Yahoo Auction. For example, the seller can upload a full album of pictures on Facebook, whereas on ebay, the seller must pay fees to upload additional pictures. Buyers are more likely to purchase if the seller provides more pictures of an item, since they feel more confident when they can see exactly what they are buying. This idea of creating an online store on Facebook was popularized particularly by young Chinese and Taiwanese-Canadian females on Facebook. The majority of these online stores are beauty shops, and they sell anything from circle lens (cosmetic contact lens) to hair extensions, fake eyelashes, clothing, shoes and cosmetics manufactured in China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Cosmetic companies outside of Asia often have a target market that does not specifically include Asians, so the chemicals can be too harsh or unsuitable for certain Asian skin types. Thus Asian women find online shopping to be the most convenient way to buy products manufactured especially for them. For example, well-known brands such as Japan’s Kose and South Korea’s Etude House are not yet readily available for purchase in America but can easily be purchased online. In addition to cosmetics,

By Nicele Arana

clothing hold a huge market on Facebook. Favorite clothing brands, such as Taiwan’s Blythe Zoo, South Korea’s Dodostyle and Japan’s LIZ LISA, are sold at discount prices online. The clothing is either pre-ordered as mass orders, or in-stock and ready to be shipped as soon as payment is received. If there is a limited number of the product available, the buyer must post a comment saying “reserve!” and pay within a certain time frame. If not, there are penalties, such as being blacklisted. An advantage to buying through Facebook is that the consumer can see the popularity of the product based on the number of comments or number of people who “liked” the product picture. However, since there is no equivalent to eBay’s effective feedback system, consumers must make their own judgment regarding the honesty of the seller. If the seller is fraudulent, there is no guarantee you can get your money back. For this reason, sending cash through the mail is the worst method of payment. Other methods including personal check, electronic checks, wire transfer and PayPal. Of these, PayPal is the most reliable since you can open a dispute within 45 days of the day the money was sent. PayPal also includes a convenient currency converter. A product description for fake eye lashes would includes measurements and available colors. Additional questions such as type of material can be posted as a comment under the picture, and the seller usually responds within just 24 hours. Asian girls are taking advantage of Facebook’s platform through these online shops. Hundreds of transactions go through every day. If you are not already involved, try checking out some groups by using the Facebook search engine. This definitely takes online shopping to a new level!


Let’s Talk about Race, Baby By Calvin Prashad In Diane Wong’s criticism of Asian men (Asian Outlook, Fall 2009 Issue 2), she mentions a crippling lack of self-confidence as a source of their frustrations when dealing with members of the opposite sex. What Wong fails to consider however, is that there are inherent racial prejudices in the world of dating. Sometimes, your average Asian guy never stood a chance.1

A

fter all, images of rude, bossy and pushy black women on television shows and movies bombard Americans on a daily basis. While defenders of this stereotype cite the “empowering” aspects of pushiness, the truth of the matter is that we are conditioned from a young age to believe that black women are mean and unsuitable as a romantic partner since all she will do is belittle you and hurt your manhood. Meanwhile, your “exotic” yet “submissive” Asian woman will sit quietly in the background, support you and even satisfy you in ways other women cannot. It is a gross but a very commonly held stereotype. Meanwhile, society also conditions us to think that all Asian men either know Kung-fu or are some sort of effeminate weirdo.2 Every Indian man is some sort of tech support genius that can fix your computer, yet the lacks the mental capacity to speak proper English. The best, recent example is of “Ranjit and Chad,” that pitch cell phone contracts for MetroPCS with goofy accents, whack fashion sense and metaphors involving cows and belly dancers.3 This nonsense, all for cheap laughs, serves to perpetuate the stereotype of clueless, unassimilable foreigners.4 Although people may not say this to your face, everyone has met at least one drunken idiot that will tell you this and more. America is not a post-racial society; people have just gotten better at hiding their racism behind computer screens. Consequently, an analysis of statistics from Yahoo! Personals reflects this. In many dating sites, such as Yahoo! Personals, you may select a racial preference. A study of these preferences reveals that online dating serves to reinforce racial barriers rather than break them down. 60 percent of men selected a racial preference, and more than half of them selected “Asian” as a desirable partner. Only 7 percent of these men selected “African-American” as a racial preference. 74 percent of women also selected a racial preference. Asian women, on their part, responded very positively to white men, as did Latina women. White women expressed a strong preference for white men. Less than 10 percent women selected East Indian, Asian, black or Middle Eastern men as a desirable partner. Now is it the case that these biases play out in real life? Of course. Be it in a bar, a bookstore or even class, people tend to practice passive racism. Mostly gone are the days of racial slurs and threats of violence. Today, it is prejudice fed by the media and society. So yes, even in real life, the average, confident Asian guy still might not have a shot with your average woman be she Asian, white or any other ethnicity. This is not due to weak body languages, suppressed personalities nor some other factors he can control. Rather, society insists on reinforcing the notion that Asian men are inferior mates—great for fixing your computer but lacking the ability to satisfy womanly needs.5 It has nothing to do with the man himself but rather the expectation society puts on him. There is nothing Asian men can change about ridiculous stereotypes except live lives free of the frustrations that accompany dates in a shallow and prejudiced world. After all, today’s shallow,

self-absorbed, prejudiced fool is tomorrow’s lonely, desperate, middle-aged fool. After all, justifications such as Asian men have “weak personalities, are too studious or have inferior genes” are merely insecure women projecting their insecurities onto the easiest punching bag. The fact of the matter is that nothing is wrong with Asian men and there is not a thing they must do to make themselves more desirable to the opposite sex .6 When a majority of women will discount you based completely on racial perceptions, they were never worth the effort in the first place. Picking and choosing race as readily as catching Pokémon is the marker of a shallow and close-minded person, something the online dating sadly brings out into the open once again. Sources: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1963768,00.html Picture: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4127561728/tt0481536

_____________________________ Endnotes: 1 Asian men, for the purposes of this article are both South and East Asian men 2 Anyone that has seen The Hangover knows what I mean. 3 If you’re donkey is old, get a new donkey 4 As I type this, yet another commercial featuring goofy talking Indians is on TV. Expect an angry email, Sports Net New York 5 This sentence is dedicated to a certain female friend, who thinks Asian guys are “mad gay” 6 The same applies for any and all “races”

The chances of this happening in real life are statistically unlikely according to an analysis on online dating messaging patterns.

ASIAN OUTLOOK

7


A Chip Off the Old Block:

The Arizona Immigration Bill And the Chinese Exclusion Act By Will To

The Chinese Exclusion Act may have been repealed and placed into the history books, but that does not mean the U.S. government has learned from its mistakes. Over 60 years passed since the end of the Chinese Exclusion Act, but now another anti-immigration bill has been proposed.

O

n May 8, 1882, President Chester Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act into existence. It was, without a doubt, one of the most shameful (and least-known) episodes of our nation’s history; for the next 61 years, Chinese immigrants were banned from entering the United States. The few who did fit the narrow entry requirements found themselves confined to a prison on San Francisco’s Angel Island and subject to stringent medical, psychological and physical examinations before they were finally allowed to set foot in the United States. While the law was repealed in 1943, to this day, the Chinese Exclusion Act remains the only legislation which explicitly banishes immigrants by ethnicity. It is a dark reminder of a supposedly bygone era when a certain people were denied a fundamental human right simply because of their appearance. Now, 120 years later, during the “postracial” Obama era, history is repeating itself in the form of Senate Bill 1070—a deceptively unassuming name for the most controversial immigration law since the Chinese Exclusion Act. While Senate Bill 1070 differs from the Chinese Exclusion Act in certain areas, it is certainly a spiritual descendant of the infamous legislation of 1882—born out of the same rampant bigotry, nativism, and rabble-rousing as its lesser-known ancestor. Indeed the circumstances behind SB1070 bear a frightening resemblance to the situation which spawned the Chinese Exclusion Act. First, however, a brief examination

8

ASIAN OUTLOOK

of SB1070 is necessary. Among other things, Senate Bill 1070 gives local law enforcement authorities broad powers to enforce immigration laws—itself forbidden under federal law, as only national agencies, such as the Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have the authority to handle such matters. Yet perhaps the most nefarious part of this law is the power of police to act based on “reasonable suspicion,” a dangerously vague term that precludes the use of a search warrant. Given such ambiguity, SB1070 is all but codifying racial profiling; reported by Racewire.com, “when pressed about the criteria police officers will use to determine whether there will be ‘reasonable suspicion’ to detain a person, [Arizona Governor Jan] Brewer said: ‘I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like… racial profiling is illegal.’” While that may well be the case, there is also nothing in the bill specifically detailing an alternative to racial profiling, as well as a way to determine whether racial profiling was used in any one situation. Given that “3 out of every 10 Arizonans are Hispanic, 1 out of 10 is American Indian, and 13 percent are foreign born,” permission to detain and arrest such people at will has just been issued. Obviously, SB1070 is not an exact carbon copy of the Chinese Exclusion Act; since the era of civil rights, racism has simply mutated, transformed, and been forced underground. As a result, while SB1070 differs from the Chinese Exclusion Act in that it does not specifically target a certain race—in one heated debate with

immigration advocate Isabel Garcia (televised on CNN), State Senator Russell Pearce is quick to point out that “illegal is not a race, it’s a crime”—the intentions are identical: to label a certain ethnicity as perpetual foreigners, guests and aliens who have no real right to be in America. Anyone who can read between the lines—save perhaps self-deceiving conservatives of the far-right—can immediately understand SB1070’s underlying message: that “illegal” equals “Hispanic.” Latino-American writer Miguel Guadelupe says it best: “this is a bill that allows police to suspect all Latinos of being undocumented, and gives them the right to question their status at any time, for any reason.” Additionally, the rationale for SB1070 is identical to the reasoning behind the Chinese Exclusion Act; then, as now, nativist rabble-rousers used inflammatory speech to gain national prominence in order to set public opinion against immigrants and advance their own hypocritical goals. In 1882, it was the so-called Workingman’s Union, composed, ironically, of recent Irish immigrants seeking to deflect racism onto the Chinese; their leader, Dennis Kearney, was a menial laborer miffed at the fact that Chinese immigrants worked for less wages (itself a form of discrimination). In 2010, it is groups such as the Tea Party—82 percent of which, according to a recent CBS survey, believe immigration is a “hot button” issue—as well as hate groups such as the infamous Stormfront (a modern, 20th century Nazi group) have taken the lead in pushing SB1070. According to one


report from the New York Times, Pearce has been photographed with a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi convention; Pearce has also, in the past, backed bills that would explicitly ban the formation of associations based on ethnicity and race—a clear indication of his views on those who look different from himself. As if this weren’t enough, Gawker.com reported that State Senator Chuck Gray, yet another Republican backer

Arizona Senator Russel Pearce of the bill, had been following Stormfront on his Twitter account; Gray later removed Stormfront from his Twitter account after being questioned by Gawker.com. All in all, it seems that, aside from the names, little has changed since 1882; the rule of the mob is still in force, and hate is still hate, whatever one may call it. In a familiar twist harkening back to Dennis Kearney’s pre-pubescent whining, Pearce has also claimed that illegal immigrants are “taking jobs from Americans… and a billion dollars in Arizona just to educate their children.” First of all, illegal immigrants contribute more to state finances than Senator Pearce and his ilk would like to admit; according to Americanprogress.org, “the Texas-based Perryman Group calculated that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and… 140,324 jobs.” This is likely due in part to the fact that illegal immigrants in Arizona, as with illegal immigrants the world over, often find themselves mired in an underground economy and given menial, low-paying, but critical jobs—jobs that residents usually do not want.

Certainly this was the case with Chinese immigrants in both past and present, who worked in niche markets such as hand laundries; given that laundry was seen as women’s work, and women were in short supply in gold-rush towns like San Francisco, Chinese immigrants were able to eke out an existence doing work that no one else wanted to. Additionally, like today’s illegal immigrants, many of whom work in the disgusting, fetid confines of meatpacking factories and slaughterhouses (see Fast Food Nation for more information), Chinese immigrants also found themselves working on the transcontinental railroad, dying by the thousands in avalanches, caveins and premature detonations. Also, it should also be pointed out that, if the child of an illegal immigrant is born in the United States, that child is an American citizen. Perhaps Senator Pearce has conveniently forgotten this fact—or perhaps he intends to challenge the citizenship of children born in the United States to parents who are not permanent residents. If that is the case, then there is a direct parallel to the discrimination inspired by the Chinese Exclusion Act; one prominent example was the case of Wong Kim Ark, who, despite being born to Chinese parents in the US, found himself barred from re-entry after a trip to his ancestral homeland—all because of his ethnicity. Indeed, Wong had to appeal to the Supreme Court to have his citizenship restored, for a right that was his in the first place. One shudders to think what Pearce and his ilk will do to the children of non-permanent residents; imagine, then, Wong’s case multiplied a hundredfold, as such children are forced to carry identification papers with them—simply because their facial features are different than that of the dominant majority. The last, most obvious parallel may be that of immigrant holding facilities; by now, many readers may have heard of “Tent City,” a semi-permanent camp outside the Maricopa County Jail. Created by the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio—who relentlessly pursued illegal immigrants, ignoring other targets such as rapists and thieves—as well as Senator Pearce, Tent City houses nearly 2,000 inmates (many of them illegal immigrants) in canvas, military surplus tents. Ringed by barbed wire and forced to work for the duration of their stay, Tent City bears more than a

passing resemblance to that other center of immigration incarceration—the deceptively unassuming Angel Island in San Francisco’s harbor. While those imprisoned at Angel Island found themselves in wooden barracks, and did not have to carry out manual labor, the idea behind both Angel Island and Tent City are one and the same: pack undesirable foreigners into crowded, squalid conditions, isolate them from mainstream society, permit a handful to enter, and deport the rest. At any rate, both Angel Island and Tent City were (and are) places of punishment and detainment; both Tent City’s walls and barbed wire and Angel Island’s solitary location amidst the swift currents of the San Francisco Bay will attest to that fact. It was Maya Angelou who said it best: “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived.  However, if faced with courage, it need not be lived again.”  While SB1070 is a shamefully racist, discriminatory piece of legislation, it is nothing new, having succeeded the Chinese Exclusion Act by 128 years. Now, at this historic moment, this turning point, we as a nation have the ability to choose: we can decide to repeat the mistakes of the past and cause other immigrants pain and suffering—or perhaps we can decide to create a new future, a brave new world of open acceptance, not blind conformity; of difference, not homogeneity, and amnesty, not punishment.  We can choose to listen to the lynch mob or we can choose to listen to our collective conscience—the part of us that countless philosophers have considered, debated and studied—the separation of human compassion and intelligence from raw fear and animal instinct. As Asian-Americans, we must raise our voices against this travesty; after all, we owe it to our ancestors—both literal and spiritual—who were banished, beaten, killed and ultimately forgotten simply because of their appearance.  To object to the parallels between the Chinese Exclusion Act and Senate Bill 1070—to let history repeat its vicious cycle—is not simply illogical and downright cowardly—it is also a denial of all the trials and tribulations of those who came before.  To paraphrase a famous revolutionary, we can bow to the will of racists and bigots and live on our knees—or we can remember how we too, were once denied, and stand on our feet, against this hateful legislation.

the choice is ours. ASIAN OUTLOOK

9


This issue’s special feature:

Experiences In this edition of Asian Outlook, our female writers share some of their personal experiences. These range from dealing with the Asian identity, growing pains and family matters. All are true stories that reflect on the “self.” Different people experience different realities. But in the end, these experiences all offer brand new insights.

L Why Can’t My By Lillian Lai

S

Grandma Remember Me?

Asian in an American society? Though I cannot directly answer you as it is hard to measure due to the fact that I’m sure that many people’s experiences are most likely different from mine. When asked the question, my mind wired instantly back to my family. Not long ago, I occasionally visited my grandma—as she is my one and only remaining grandparent and she’s getting older year after year. I can tell by the increasing wrinkles on her face or because of the fact that she slowly forgets who her family members are. I couldn’t visit her as much as I used to because I was in college, but I didn’t think the next person to be erased from her memories would be me. When I returned from college for the very first time, my heart died a little bit because she couldn’t remember who I was. She thought I was this random little girl who was passing by and was just friendly enough to drop a hello. The second time I visited her, she mistook me for my brother’s fiancé. The only people that she can remember are my brother and my only male cousin. I was devastated that my grandma did not even recognize me, o you ask me what it means to be an

10 ASIAN OUTLOOK

but I understand that the male heirs are important in Chinese tradition and that is exactly why my grandma remembers them and not me. Of course, I was sad that she didn’t realize who I was, but my parents said it was okay because she was just old-fashioned. I didn’t understand how love could be divided and measured because of gender. I was confused because my parents loved me and my brother equally. They never gave me anything less of their love than they have given to my brother. When we were younger, my brother and I would receive the same weekly allowance and the same amount of money for our birthdays. Even though I was born in America, the rigid Chinese traditions and beliefs still exist in my family. The pressures of being a girl in an Asian family are still here even though my parents have already assimilated into the American society. I am always reminded of the constraints in Chinese culture every time I visit my grandma. I believe that the true definition of “Asian-American” is that we are Americans by nationality, but we never forget where we came from.


How to be American: Through Trial and Error By Cathy Hao

I

’m not an American-born Chinese and I’m not an international student. I did not grow up learning English as my first language nor did I spend countless years in school having it drilled into my head. I moved to the United States when I was 8 years old and knew only two words: “hello” and “goodbye.” Unlike most students, I learned the language by trial and error. Mostly error. Once I arrived in the United States, my parents gave me an English name—one that was straight from the dictionary—and sent me off to school with a few simple English phrases, such as “thank you” and “sorry.” That first day of school set my personal record for “the greatest number of embarrassing moments within 24 hours.” Forgetting my name when the teacher asked wasn’t the most embarrassing moment. It wasn’t picking my nose in the middle of class, unaware that it was looked down upon. It was when I ran out from the bathroom thinking my class had abandoned me and carelessly stepping on a girl who was coming in at the same time. I stopped, looked at her and blurted out, “thank you!” I don’t remember whether she wanted to cry or not because it was concealed by the expression of utter shock on her face. That is one memory I will never forget. At that time, I was 8 years old and unable to understand anything anyone said. I was surrounded by my classmates; but even so, I felt completely alone. It was an isolated feeling I had, sitting there at story time, tugging at the rug beneath me while everyone else was engaged, listening carefully and having fun. Even coloring by numbers, I would do it all wrong because I could not read English, much less understand. It made me sad, not because a star sticker

was missing on my paper, but because I couldn’t do something as simple as coloring. I distinctively recall throwing a coin into a pool of water wishing that I could speak English. I didn’t want to be that girl no one wanted to play with and I didn’t want to tug at that rug while counting down the hours until school was over. My wish came true a few years later. At the time, I was always teased and mocked. One particular boy in second grade was especially merciless. So one day, I lifted up my hand right up to his face and pointed up my middle finger, not knowing what it meant. The boy gasped and seemed to suffer a heart attack. I smiled. That was one of my more cherished memories. The transition I had made was at a very young age. It was during a period of time when kids learned to socialize. But for me, I learned to overcome barriers. That experience has made me into the person I am today. I am no longer afraid of being immersed somewhere foreign, surrounded by strangers. The determination I had as that young girl trying to express herself and understand her classmates has translated into the passionate drive I have today in pursuit of my goals. I reflect back and only feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to become someone daring and unafraid to step outside of my comfort zone.

EXPERIENCES ASIAN OUTLOOK 11


EXPERIENCES

I

was

L

iving

Indeb

a

spoiled

only

child

from

a

Chinese family. For my entire life, I was surrounded with everyone’s attention and love. I could always do whatever I wanted. My room was stuffed with all the things that I loved. The best part was that I never had to worry about sharing with any siblings. Giving away things that I love was just painful. It’s not like fictional television, where everyone is always smiling. Two years ago, my parents decided to break my happy lifestyle by adopting another girl my age. From that day, I had to share my room, my clothes and even my parents with her. After two months staying with her day and night, I learned that I should be thankful for everything that I have in my life. Her name is Meijun Zhang. Her parents abandoned her right after she was born, but then she was adopted by an old lady from a small village. Unfortunately, many years later, her adoptive mother passed away from cancer. She used up all her money trying in vain to cure her mother and funding the funeral. My mom found her in Meijun’s old house without electricity or water. She had no money for school and no money for basic life supplies. My mom brought her home and decided to raise her as her second daughter. The day she came to my home was a

12 ASIAN OUTLOOK

total shock for me. She did not talk to me or anybody in the house, not even offering a “hello.” She was so quiet, just like a scared, cornered rabbit. After her shower, we had our first dinner together. I got to look at her carefully for the first time. Her jacket, which was probably her adoptive mother’s, was so big and unfashionable that she seemed smaller than she really is. The entire time, my grandmother was trying so hard to talk to her while putting food on her plate to make her feel like one of our own. She still didn’t talk. Not at all. I went out with my friend right after dinner, because I couldn’t wait to run away from the suffocating awkwardness. After I got back, I noticed that I had to share my room with her. I never had shared my room with anybody before. She was not even my friend; she was just a stranger like other people that I meet on the streets. I stayed up all night on the Internet to avoid sleeping on the same bed with her. I could tell she wasn’t sleeping either. She tried to move as quietly as possible in the dark, since every little movement in the night just sounded very loud. She got up around six in the morning and said her first word to me after making my bed. She said that she was sorry she took my bed last night and asked me to get some rest. She finally left my room—as I had wished for all night

long—but a weird guilty feeling rose in my mind from nowhere. The following days were uneventful. Every day was the same: she woke up and then I went to sleep. We barely talked. It seemed as if she knew that I was unhappy when she just came here and forced me to share everything with her. I could tell that she got along with my family better because she went to the grocery store with my grandmother every morning and also worked in the garden with my grandfather. Those were the things that I defined as boring and only for old people. I would never wake up so early for them. One night, I told her that she does not have to do those boring things to cheer my grandparents up because they would still love her no matter what. What she told me surprised me a lot. I still clearly remember that she said she actually enjoys these activities because she never had a chance to do things with a real family. She started to talk about how great it was that she could go to the grocery store and garden with my grandfather. I could see the sparkles, which I had never seen before, come out from her eyes. She was happy, truly happy about this new life and family. My family, the most usual thing for me, became her greatest treasure. So many things which I never thought of before came to my mind. I turned off


with an

ted Heart By Lingxinran Jiang

Note: This paper was written for the course, ESL 210. The assignment was to describe an experience which led to a new insight or a new point of view.

my computer and went to sleep with her together for the first time. The next day, I woke up at six in the morning with her to experience that amazing trip with my grandmother she always enjoys. My grandmother looked so excited when she saw me standing with Meijun in the living room waiting for her. Grandmother was so happy; she looked like a kid who finally got a toy she had always wanted. In that grocery store, grandmother tried to tell me everything, such as what kinds of watermelon were good and what kinds were bad; or what kinds of fish were tastier. I never realized my grandmother was so knowledgeable. When I looked at Meijun, I saw a big and beautiful smile on her face. Later, I accepted her invitation to join her in making breakfast for my family. I wondered how a little girl with this tiny body cooks. When I entered the kitchen with her, she was a whole other person. The way she cooked food with that dedicated expression on her face impressed me. She was like a master chef in this small kitchen. She kept telling me what the next step was while she was cooking. I was like a huge block that kept getting in her way. All I could do was nod my head. By looking at her, I felt that deep inside me there was a very different feeling about her, about my family and about myself.

After that day, we got much closer. We went out together, had fun together— basically, we did everything together. However, I could tell that she was hiding something behind that smile. I asked her a couple of times, but she told me I was being too sensitive. Months later, I woke up in the middle of the night to her sobbing. She said she wanted to go back to her adoptive mother’s old house to take a look. She told me that was where she had grown up and she missed the place even though there was nothing there anymore. I went to her old house with her several days later. That was my first time realizing what kind of life she used to have before she joined my family. That house was old, dark and empty. There was not even one complete piece of furniture. She pointed at a desk and told me she and her adoptive mother had made it together with abandoned wood, which they got from another family. There was only one twin bed in the whole house. She told me when her adoptive mother was very sick, they had no money to stay in a hospital. Meijun administered the injection to stop her adoptive mother’s pain and help the sick woman sleep. After her adoptive mother died, there was no one left to help her. She had no relatives and neither did her adoptive mother. She begged everybody in her

village for a little bit of money in order to have a small funeral. She stopped her story here and cried so hard. I could not imagine having a life like this, a life with a great responsibility to take care of another person. Then I understood why she cherished my family so much—the family I complained about all the time. All at once, I realized how lucky I was having this perfect family in my life. My grandparents, who I always thought were boring because they did the same thing every day, were very wise. They cared about news on TV; they made our garden bright and colorful. My parents, who I had thought could not understand me and were serious all the time, were actually very understanding. They tried so hard to enter my world, but I always closed the door in front of them. But now, the house was brighter. I hugged everybody to thank them for giving me a wonderful life like this. I changed a lot after I met Meijun. It was the first time that I knew the misfortunes that other people go through. It was the first time that I opened my window to see the outside of my own tiny world. It was the first time that I looked at my life as full of beauty instead of dissatisfaction. The most important thing she taught me was how important it is to live with an indebted heart and how lucky I am.

ASIAN OUTLOOK 13


Dubai K C iss

ourt

By Laksono Hadi Cokroningrat

Recently, two British citizens who were accused of kissing and touching at a restaurant in Jumeirah Beach, Dubai. The male is an expatriate living and working in Dubai while the woman is a visiting tourist. The final court hearing sentenced the couple first to one month in prison, followed later by a deportation.

S

unday, April 4, 2010 was an unfortunate day for 24-year-old Ayman Najafi and 25-year-old Charlotte Adams. After witnesses saw the two British nationals kissing in a restaurant in Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, the couple received a one-month prison sentence, followed by deportation. This is an indecent act in Dubai’s highly conservative society. A 38-year-old woman who dined with her daughter at the same restaurant and witnessed the couple kissed in public in this case filed the complaint. She claimed that she was “offended by their behavior.” Although the couple insisted that it was only a kiss on the cheek and requested bail, the court denied it and upheld the sentence. This case serves as an example of the challenge that almost every developing nations is facing. As rapid as their developments have been, countries like United Arab Emirates (UAE) become a lucrative business destination and a considerable source of income for many multinational corporations and, therefore, the influx of workers coming from all over the world is inevitable.

14 ASIAN OUTLOOK

The important aspect to note is that expatriates build almost the entire economy of Dubai and even some experts say that “the high number of expats needs to be maintained to ensure growth.” From an economic standpoint, it is no longer a question whether Dubai has to rely on these foreign workers. It is now becoming a question of how Dubai can deal with the issues of cultural differences between the foreigners and the local customs. We need to understand that, despite its multiculturalism and diverse demographics, Dubai is still a country where the legal code has its roots in Islamic law. Islam is the official religion the UAE. According to Dubai’s Decency Law, which sets the social standards that need to be practiced, “speaking calmly and courteously to others, behaving in a serious and controlled manner in public places, and always honoring your word, are important examples of demonstrating this respect for others.” The Decency Law encourages respect and treating human beings with dignity to the common practice among all citizens.

If everyone acknowledges and respects the fundamental aspects of this law, demonstrating the best behavior in the public should then be one of the ingredients that make the law work; or, in other words, make it mandatory. Along these lines, social and ethics codes thus convey an important message—that is wherever you will go, you will need to adhere with the norms and laws that are practiced in that particular place. According to Dubai’s Decency Law section 1.4, which clearly specifies the conduct of public displays of affection, “holding hands for a married couple is tolerated but kissing and petting are considered an offense to public decency. Public displays of affection, as well as sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public places are liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.” The law itself is widely accepted and it again needs to be acknowledged, that such law exists for a reason. As mentioned before, Dubai wanted to set a standard of conduct to its society based on its Islamic values and fundamentals to ensure that self-respect and dignity is projected at all


“According to Dubai’s Decency Law section 1.4... ‘holding hands for a married couple is tolerated but kissing and petting are considered an offense to public decency. Public displays of affection, as well as sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public places are liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.’” times—meaning that the best behavior in public is required. Some may argue that punishing a tourist and an expatriate worker to one month in prison and deportation is too strict and excessive. This argument is the mentality of many who say that any punishment from written bylaws can be tolerated, and that they can argue its justifiability until they can be pardoned. In this case, they are completely wrong. It is now becoming a challenge to the western world to learn the fact that each part of the world demonstrates a representation of who they are. Undoubtedly, Dubai is still a place of multiculturalism, but it does not even really matter whether it is or not. Multiculturalism represents the unity of different races, religions and ethnic groups; and yes, there will be plenty of challenges when a society incorporates this. The balance between economic empowerment

is the element that boosts the prosperity and understanding of ethical codes. It is the key to include oneself in a society and to prevent cultural clashes from happening. When an Islamic state like Dubai becomes multicultural and more diverse because of the influx of numerous expatriate workers, it becomes necessary for its government to maintain its cultural heritage and customs, all while still pursuing its societal integrity with its bylaws enforced. Ultimately, it is justifiable that the punishments they receive correspond to what is in the Dubai Decency Law and therefore it is entirely valid in Dubai’s court. Their misconduct has broken the norm of behavioral decency that exists in Dubai’s society and this will become a new way for us to see one’s heritage as an intrinsic part of the humanity—no matter how many changes have occurred. It is necessary to comprehend the code of ethics and manner

of conduct in different places, as this is the way one learns to appreciate the heritage and customs of others.

Sources: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/ international/dubai_bye_for_brit_kissers_ pCpedu37PyPUZQvZuD8A3J http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0404/dubai. html http://www.al-emarati.com/2010/03/dubaisdecency-code-in-full.html http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/ meast/03/18/dubai.expats/index. html?hpt=C1 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ article-1257883

Najafi (left) and Adams (right) were in the middle of dinner when they were caught in the act.

ASIAN OUTLOOK 15


Politics, Boll The close relationship between entertainment, particularly the film industry, and politics seems to be a never-ending phenomenon. In this article, the interesting relationship between the film industry and politics in the context of the Indian film industry, or more popularly known as Bollywood, will be examined.

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e might find this phenomenon everywhere in the world, especially in the Hollywood film industry. However, in the Bollywood context, politics in movies seem to be a more significant contributor to an actor’s political career than that of Hollywood’s actors. We might recall former actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan and Kal Penn as, respectively, a governor, president and associate director of public engagement for the White House. Their occupations as actors have undoubtedly gained them publicity and obvious political fame. However, their fame as politicians was not necessarily specifically attributable to their movies. It is a uniquely different story for Bollywood. Names such as NTR and MGR are not foreign in the ears of south Indian movie audiences. MGR, or Marudur Gopalamenon Ramachandran, who is famous in Tamil Nadu, an area in South India, reached the peak of his political career by becoming the Chief Minister of the state through the type of roles he played in the movies. According to the Tribune India, he tended to choose roles that depicted him as a hero of the “underdogs” who stood up to the might of rich oppressors. His role portrayed an image of a modern day Robin Hood, which helped him gain more than 10,000 fan clubs that turned into his “vote bank.” Though he “won” the votes of

16 ASIAN OUTLOOK

the poor, during his time as chief minister of the state, the profiteers, liquor barons, real estates magnates and ruling party politicians benefited immensely while the poor lived in unbearable misery. Similarly, movies also played a big role for NTR’s, or Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, political career. Through his constant portrayals of Hindu idols, especially Lord Krishna, people’s confidence in him grew. According to the New York Times, “he ran his early campaigns from what he called his ‘chariot of valor,’ a green 1940s Chevrolet pickup truck.” He also often wore saffron or white robes in order to maintain his “demigod” image. However, like his Tamil Nadu counterpart, his office term was filled with corruption and economic mismanagement, which led to his defeat in 1989. We can find similarities between the two cases. Both South Indian politicians’ careers depended on their fan-based support system. Moreover, both NTR and MGR are deified by their fans. According to Dr. Monika Mehta, an assistant professor in the English department of Binghamton University’s Harpur College, both figures were deified because in India, particularly in the South, the contexts of film and nationalism shape stardom and fandom. In a place where traditional values are still considerably significant in everyday life, public figures are expected to represent the nation by maintaining these traditional

and/or national values. The context of film and nationalism are also significant in the northern part of India. Yet, northern Indian actors and actresses are not as prominent as their South Indian counterparts in the political spectrum. There are a few underlying reasons to the different experience of actor-politicians in the North. The first reason has to do with their screen image. Dr. Mehta stated that North Indian actors’ screen image is not necessarily proletarian, in which case contributes to the actors’ failure to gain


ywood Style By Fiz Ramdhani, Jibi Alexander and Bansari Patel

their fans’ political support. Take Amitabh Bachchan as an example. Bachchan is considered a respected, prominent actor in the Hindi movie industry; however, his political career did not manage to flourish as well as his acting career. The roles that he did in the 1980s, which was done before his rise to politics, were not necessarily heroic. They were not focused so much on the social and political issues of the movie as opposed to the melodramatic element. The second reason is the significance of censorship in the Indian society. Dr. Mehta stated, “Political parties and citizenry call for censorship,” which explains the incident surrounding the use of the word Bombay in Karan Johar’s movie “Wake Up Sid” (2009). The activists of the political party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), disrupted the screening of the movie because they were objecting the use of the word “Bombay” instead of “Mumbai” in the film. To solve the case, the producer, Johar, apologized and placed a disclaimer in the beginning of the film. Similarly, Jaya Bachchan, the wife of Amitabh Bachchan and a movie actress herself, also faced an issue pertaining to censorship. During the promotion of her film Drona in Maharashtra, a state where people primarily speak Marathi, she chose to speak in Hindi, which angered the MNS party. MNS claimed that it was politically incorrect to use Hindi in a place where Marathi was the dominant language. These two incidents exemplify the significance of censorship in Indian society and how it is affects the public figures of the Bollywood movie industry. Though the political involvements of the

Northern actor-politicians are different from their Southern counterparts, they are still deified. In the South, when NTR and MGR passed away, thousands of their supporters attended their funerals. NTR was deified through his role as Lord Krishna with his portrait being placed amidst Hindu statuettes and burning candles. MGR was worshipped to the point where more than thirty of his followers committed suicide. Comparably, the deification of actor-politicians also occurred in the North. When Amitabh Bachchan was rumored to be dead, most of the nation mourned and there was a “mile long queue” of fans outside the hospital, according to the The Internet Movie Database. This type of deification is unique to the Bollywood movie industry that is hardly seen anywhere else, especially in Hollywood. As noted by Dr. Mehta, “It brings on an interesting sort of issues at play. In terms of fandom and stars, we certainly do not see that in the context of [Hollywood and the United States’ politics].” If we explore the relationship between Hollywood movie industry and the politics of the United States, we will not necessarily see the use of movies as a site of political campaign for stars that have been mentioned. Though American actor-politicians might gain more supporters worldwide comparing to the Indian actor-politicians, they were not as deified. The reason behind the lack of their deification might go beyond the scope of this article. However, some examples would help us support the previous statement. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, mostly starred in the action film genre that did not have a direct political message. The

same goes for Kal Penn, whose most famous movie is “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004). He might have starred in a more serious movie such as “The Namesake” (2007), which deals with social issues such as immigrant identity; however, this movie still was not necessarily geared toward achieving his political goals. It would be a very opinionated stand to say American actors are never deified, however, we never see any of these actors being compared to Jesus Christ or God as NTR was compared to Lord Krishna. The role Indian politics play in the Bollywood movie industry has evolved to become the grounds to which stars build their political careers. Hollywood, in comparison to Bollywood, does not necessarily become a site of a star’s political campaign. Thus, the relationship between the Bollywood movie industry and Indian politics is a unique phenomenon.

Dr. Monika Mehta is a professor of Film and Literature in Post-Colonialism and Globalization in the Harpur College English Department. She has done research in the Hindi film industry and censorship.

ASIAN OUTLOOK 17


Best Job in the By Simon Wong

World? R

emember when your mother told you that

The Golden Mouse Award

18 ASIAN OUTLOOK

you can’t make a living playing games? Guess what? She lied to you. Most avid gamers who play online games probably heard of Starcraft, Warcraft or Diablo. These three games are some of the most popular titles ever created by Blizzard Entertainment, now part of Activision Blizzard. How is it possible making a living playing online games? Starcraft may be a very popular game in the United States; however, in South Korea, Starcraft is on an entirely different level. Celebrities are made because of their ability to click fast and destroy their enemy. Video games have become so popular in Korea that they created the Korean e-Sports Players Association (KeSPA) to rank players monthly. For those of you who have never heard of Starcraft, it is a real time strategy video game. Players must obtain resources to build a base and produce units or warriors to destroy their opponent’s base. In South Korea there are many leagues that players can enter in order to become a pro. Even though there are many leagues that players will enter, the best pro-gamers will focus on winning either the OnGameNet Starleague (OSL) or MBCGame StarLeague (MSL). The OSL and MSL usually have the highest attendance of spectators and are always nationally televised in South Korea. Once a player becomes a three time winner of the OSL, they receive a prestigious award: The Golden Mouse. Who wouldn’t want an image owning a mouse made of solid gold worth up to $8,000? Most pro-gamers are usually around the age of 15 to 30 years old. The average of every progamer in South Korea is 20.4 years old. The average annual salary a professional gamer makes is around $20 thousand which is slightly above the average annual salary of a normal worker. Even though pro gaming may seem like a great career, there are many hardships that players must endure. Most pro-gamers are separated from their families and live in “team” houses with other pros whom they train daily with. Aside from being away from their loved ones, professional gamers have to spend up to 12 hours a day practicing in order to perfect their strategies. Most pro-players train so much that they will sacrifice their personal lives in hope


“Most pro-players train so much that they will sacrifice their personal lives in hope of one day becoming famous.” of one day becoming famous. Another sacrifice a pro-gamer makes is that they are unable to participate in sports and other activities in fear of damaging their fingers. Their fingers are so important that some players may get them insured in case they are injured. Pro-gamers in Starcraft must be able to click and react fast in order to win. One thing a pro-gamer and a professional basketball player have in common is that both their heart rates can reach 160 beats per minute. Who says playing a game isn’t intense? Even though $20,000 is a decent amount, this pales in comparison to what Mr. Lim Yo-Hwan made in 2004: $300,000. Mr. Lim Yo-Hwan, more commonly known as “BoxeR,” is one of the most successful progamer in Starcraft. BoxeR is known for his amazing strategies and ability to control units better than most of his peers. His micromanagement skill, or ability to control

multiple units at a fast pace, is one of the reasons why he wins. BoxeR is so talented that SK Telecom, the largest telecom provider in Korea, sponsors him. BoxeR is also one of the most popular pro-gamers in South Korea with over 600,000 fans who follow his every movement. His popularity is so enormous that there has been a DVD release that contains his greatest moments in Starcraft. Realistically speaking not that many people in this field will be as successful and popular as Lim Yo-Hwan but this does not stop them from doing what they love. Contrary to popular belief, girls do play video games and not all of them are ugly and fat. “Tossgirl,” a professional Starcraft player, is the opposite of the typical female gamer stereotype. As of right now, professional gaming is much more popular among Asian countries compared with their western counterparts. Even though most

people feel that this is not a “real” job, who can tell these people to stop doing what they love? So remember, the next time your parents tell you to stop playing games, let them know it is possible to make a living playing that game. Sources: http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft/Boxer http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft/OnGameNet_Starleague_%28OSL%29 http://www.mongabay.com/external/pro_ video_gamers.htm http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ digitalnation/virtual-worlds/video-games/ starcraft-training.html?play Pictures: http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft/ images/2/2b/Goldenmouse.png http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:KEzRV Kn5YFwxvM:http://img253.imageshack.us/ img253/4172/tossgirl7hm.jpg

Below: Seo Ji-Soo, a.k.a. ToSsGirl, a professional Starcraft player

ASIAN OUTLOOK 19


Tim Be Told

Truth be Told Through Distinguished Talent By Jonathan Yee

Photo by Jonathan Yee


I am still blown away by Tim Be Told. Maybe I am biased, but I think they are an amazing band. Tim Be Told is an up-and-coming band that fuses together elements of blues, gospel, pop, rock and soul. Not only are they talented, but they are also inspiring for the audience.

D

uring their concert, they demonstrated their unique voice in the music world. They were invited to perform during Asian Empowerment Week—an event the Asian Student Union coordinates every year to raise awareness about Asian and other minority issues. Tim Be Told did just that— they spoke about empowering individuals through messages of hope and redemption. Tim Be Told is a band consisting of five members: Tim Ouyang, the lead vocalist on keyboard, Andrew Chae on lead guitar, Luan Nguyen on rhythm guitar and back vocals, Parker Stanley on bass, and Jim Barredo on drums. They currently have two CDs out: their first album “Getting By” and their recent EP, which came out in July 2009, “From the Inside.” The band’s humble beginnings stem from Charlottesville, Virginia at the University of Virginia. However, they had a complex web of connections which led to the formation of this band. Originally, Chae went to college in the Midwestern United States. After college, he moved to Virginia where he met Ouyang through a mutual friend who suggested that they form a band. From there, they recruited Nguyen, who was in the same a cappella group as Ouyang. Stanley knew Nguyen through a bible study they both attended. Stanley and Barredo were previously in a band that dissolved prior to the formation of Tim Be Told. Somehow they all got together, and in the summer of 2007, they had their grand debut with their album “Getting By.” Since then, the band has toured from coast to coast to spread their music. As quoted from Northwest Asian Weekly, the group named itself “Tim Be Told,” which derives from the phrase, “truth be told,” in order to convey the idea that music should be honest, hopeful and transformative. As an ethnic band composed of mostly Asian-Americans, Tim Be Told has been under the spotlight. “As a musician, when you’re on stage and people are watching you, they’re going to be not only affected by your music, but the way that you live your life,” said Ouyang in response to the band’s role in the Asian-American community.

“As for the Asian-American community, we definitely want to be an inspiration to them, but also for all people.” When asked about their inspiration for their music, Ouyang answered, “When I write music, it’s about relationships. They’re songs about the human experience basically… they’re all personal.” The band’s blog further explains: “The goal is to use experiences from my life to tell a greater story of human experience that everyone can relate to; and perhaps help find some peace and resolve in a world that is often chaotic and lonely.” What stands out about Tim Be Told is the amount of raw energy they put into their music. After interviewing Ouyang and hearing his performance, I grew to understand their passion and purpose. Their music is like a breath of fresh air. It is infused with raw honesty and personality. Songs like “Ordinary” and “Safe Side” speak to the very ordinary, commonplace experiences that most, if not all, people go through. Listening to their music is almost like listening to a friend as they invite you into their own personal stories. During the concert, Ouyang gave a personal account about the story behind his song “Lament” which he wrote during some rough periods in his life. The band left the stage as Ouyang sat and shared his own personal words with the audience. “There were days I didn’t know if I could get up and sing, but I felt hope rise up in me,” he explained. The lyrics of the song express his desperation and cry for help in those dark times. “Please, conquer these demons and the darkness inside. Shine Your light on this whole heart of mine.” One may ask if Tim Be Told is a Christian band. This is a reasonable question since there are religious references in their songs and concerts. “I write about God, about love, disappointment, disbelief, faith and hope,” says Ouyang of his songwriting. In addition, all the band members are Christians. Some of their songs take after the styles of hymns. On the back cover of their album, they mention “thank you to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is able to redeem all things and use us despite how far

we fall short” as part of their gratitude for their success. They are uncompromising in their faith yet incredibly real and honest with their own humanity. While there are references to God, I think that Tim Be Told has demonstrated to be more than just a Christian band. Just a “Christian band” is too narrow a definition for their music and purpose. Their vision is of something bigger and better than themselves on the horizon. It is a vision of a better future: hope instead of despair, honesty and truth instead of lies, whole relationships instead of broken ones, and faith and trust instead of disbelief and disappointment. I cannot sum up their purpose better than they did in their own blog: “most importantly, they hope that their music will cause people to view life through a different lens, one of honesty, hope, redemption and change.” In a world that is ridden with corruption, violence and hurt, Tim Be Told is speaking to the cries of our generation through their own experience and honesty. They are empowering others to be honest, and giving hope to those who have lost it. The members of Tim Be Told have distinguished themselves from many musical artists. Their music is a fresh message of hope in a despairing world in need of empowerment and freedom. They are changing the world, one personal account at a time. If you are interested in hearing more of Tim Be Told, the band is offering free downloads of their song “Analyze” on their website www.timbetold.com.

Sources:

http://www.nwasianweekly. com/2009/06/is-tim-be-told-an-‘ethnicband’-to-finally-reach-the-masses/ http://timbetold.com/wordpress/

ASIAN OUTLOOK 21


Movie Review/

My Name is Khan and I am not a Terrorist By Fiz Ramdhani

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“My Name is Khan” came out in the theaters a couple of months ago, all I heard from people were, “Have you seen it? You have to see it!” or “Oh, my God! It’s really good and touching.” Now that I have seen it, the best comment that I can make is that it was all right, considering Khan did really have an important message. My good friend, Farhan Rehman— himself a Bollywood movie fanatic—once said that when Shahrukh Khan stars in a movie, people tend to oversee the quality of the movie by solely focusing on Khan’s hen

acting power. They tend to think that a movie must be great when they see the name “Shahrukh Khan” printed on the movie poster. Now, I guess I can understand what he was saying. The movie started off with Khan’s character, Rizwan Khan, searching the whereabouts of George W. Bush using the Internet. The movie ended with Khan and his wife (played by Kajol) meeting the current U.S. president, Barack Obama (played by an actor that did not even look like Obama), in one of his public appearances. The ultimate reason why

Khan wanted to see the U.S. president was because he simply wanted to say, “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.” I have to say, the movie started off strong as it built suspense. If you didn’t know that Khan was autistic, then you might have thought that he, indeed, could potentially intend to do some terrorist act because he always seemed to be nervous. Only after Khan narrated his life story, did I realize that Khan suffered some form of autism. Using a flashback style, the movie revealed the reason behind his intention to meet the U.S. president. It turned out that his family

King Khan, a.k.a. Shahrukh Khan, managed to deliver the profound message the movie was hoping to put forth, but failed to realize that some of the scenes were just absurd. They killed the profundity of the movie entirely. Yes, even for Bollywood movies.

22 ASIAN OUTLOOK


fell victim to the aftermath of 9/11, in which his family became the target of racial slurs because they carry a Muslim name. He and his wife could not find a job, the teacher taught Khan’s son that Islam is the most violent religion, and for this reason his son was constantly bullied by his peers which eventually eventually led to his death. There is no doubt that 9/11 is one of the most devastating events in the history of the United States.The aftermath of 9/11 is still strongly felt by many of the victims and their victim’s families, along with the ever-increasing negative representation of Muslims as violent terrorists. I personally feel that the scene in the movie where the teacher teaches students that Islam is the most violent religion crosses the line. I do not know exactly whether this is the case in the American society (since I was not here during 9/11), but according to some of my American friends, this was not the case at all. I mean it probably would make sense if the teacher in the movie instead was Robert Spencer, but the fact was she wasn’t. Exposing a supposedly educated person such as a teacher as ignorant does not only portray a false “reality,” but it also does not support the movie’s own intention. The scene made the situation seem like had the teachers not taught the students about

the violent Muslims, students would not have the notion of the violent Muslims in the first place. This is, obviously, wrong. Let’s face it, we don’t learn so much of this at school, we learn this from the media. Moreover, along the way to meet the U.S. president, Khan encounters different people whose life, in one way or another, was touched by him. For instance, he met a lady and a boy, whose family member died in the Iraqi war. He stayed with them for accommodation and helped them out with some household repairs, because he was very good at repairing things. When Khan left the family, the family’s home was hit by a hurricane. Seeing how bad the hurricane was from the news on TV, Khan went back to save them and helped repair the church in which they took refuge in. Yes, Khan went back to the disaster-hit place, and repaired the church while the storm was still happening. As if it wasn’t impossible enough, some of the people Khan met along his way also came to the place where the hurricane was going on and brought along with them survival kits to help the victim. It was touching, but I couldn’t help but to laugh at this ridiculousness. Logically, if the rescue team couldn’t even access the place, other civilians would not be allowed to enter the place, let alone access it and

bring with them survival resources. At the end, Khan’s name was printed all around the news for helping out the hurricane victims. Because of this, he managed to meet the newly elected President Obama and told him that he was not a terrorist with the phrase, “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.” This statement may sound very simple but with it carries larger message about anti-racism and effects of stereotyping. Some Muslims maybe terrorists for their own purposes, but don’t forget million others who are your friends, neighbors, teachers, students, or even relatives. Muslims are people as the Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Atheists, etc. are people; people who have rights, feelings, dreams, aspirations, as well as the desire to be accepted in the society we live in. Thus, I personally think that My Name is Khan survives in the hearts of Bollywood audiences worldwide because of this profound message the movie put forths, coupled with the Shahrukh Khan-Kajol combination. If it wasn’t because of the on-screen Bollywood couple’s combination and/or the phrase “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist,” I dare bet the movie would not even have made it through the first two weeks in the theaters.

ASIAN OUTLOOK 23


Movie Reviews/ By Eve Zhang

Death Bell

“Death Bell” was directed by Yoon Hong-Seung (commonly referred to as Chang) was released during the summer of 2008. While this Korean horror film did well at the box office, it wasn’t anything special. The director had previously worked on music videos. It had a short runtime that was visually superb, though the script was uninteresting, there was little to no character development, and it was laced with torture pornography.

T

he following day after midterm exams, a “special class” was to be held with the top 20 ranking students in the school. In addition, the homeroom teachers, Choi and Hwang, along with a guard, are alone in the school with them. But there is also another character, whose name I never got. He hallucinates and sees a face on his test paper during the midterm. Let’s call this man the “psychopath.” The students notice that the top-ranking student, Hye-Yeong, is apparently absent on the first day. Minutes later, we see her displayed on television inside an enclosed fish tank that is gradually filling with water. The “Saw” (2004) element begins. This film follows the format of the “Saw” movies, which includes an ominous distorted voice, communications being somehow completely cut off, an unwilling group of contenders, puzzles to solve, and death of characters in a singular fashion. We are lead to believe these incidents are caused by a supernatural being—a ghost. The first victim dies from drowning, the second victim dies from asphyxiation in a cage with dripping candle-wax, the third victim dies from having razors embedded in her skin and then thrown into a washing machine, and the fourth victim dies from exsanguination from having her head cracked open. While these are all very creative ways to die, I couldn’t help but notice how these victims would die regardless of the puzzles being solved. From the moment they’re kidnapped, they’re already being cut, burned or tortured Going back to the supernatural idea, we do eventually see a glimpse of a ghost after the death of the fourth victim. She has messy hair and appears to be blind. Hwang eventually kills this woman and this madness seems to come to an end. It turns out the face that the “psychopath” saw belonged to Ji-Won, who was strangled to death a number of years prior to the start of the movie. All the puzzles revolved around her and that

24 ASIAN OUTLOOK

messy-haired woman was actually her mother. During the funeral scene, we discover that Hwang was the murderer and the guard— who turns out to be Ji-Won’s father—ends up repeatedly hacking an axe into Hwang’s body. A number of things bothered me, such as how the priority of saving Mungyo, the fourth victim was largely ignored. She was being hung upside-down, but instead of cutting the rope, everyone else decided to look for clues. Of course, eventually that rope was raised higher, and Mungyo was dropped headfirst. Also, are we supposed to believe that these two parents were perfect criminals? The school also employed Ji-Won’s father as the guard, did they all not realize this? And, a more pressing concern, shouldn’t the police be involved? The funeral scene for the deceased students is extremely overdramatic and, for some odd reason, the police were not conducting investigations. If the parents had the video of their daughter’s death, shouldn’t they have submitted that as evidence? The “psychopath” character was also rather useless. His hallucinations of Kim Ji-Won did not make much sense. His mind was probably frayed after witnessing the murder of Ji-Won. But if he witnessed the murder, shouldn’t he have reported Hwang? If they all knew he was mentally frail, why is he still in the school living among the other students? I could not get more lost in this film even if I tried. The suspense was mediocre and the ending was extremely disappointing. The soundtrack is your typical ensemble of string instruments; this is a horror film after all—a ridiculous one. The plot doesn’t tie together too well; it has more holes than a sponge. Though the camera work is clean and clear-cut, I couldn’t help but feel that this film is akin to a midlife crisis. It was a mesh of elements from “A Tale of Two Sisters” (2003), “Saw” and “Ju-On” (1998). After everything, I think the little bit during the ending credits was the best part of the movie.


C

inderella 신데렐라

R

2006, this K-Horror film by Man-Dae Bong was an interesting one. However, I almost gave up when watching it because the first half of the movie was extremely slow and pretty boring. Most of the scenes were dark and dimly lit. You always felt like there’s something else in the room and the use of a creepy music box seemed to reinforce that something “wicked this way comes.” There were times that I jumped and there were times that I flinched. The film revolved around beauty and plastic surgery with a rather disturbing story. When Hyeon Su was young, she was involved in an accident that ruined her face. Her mother, a renowned plastic surgeon, stumbled upon an orphaned child and adopted her illegally. She conducted a surgery that transferred the face of this orphaned child to that of her daughter’s. The mother kept the orphaned child locked up in a cellar. The orphaned child, forbidden to venture out into the world, watched Hyeon Su mature to the age of 17 and grew increasingly envious of her. The orphan did not go to school nor socialize with anyone but the mother. Although she was neglected, somehow she grew physically and cognitively proper. She eventually hung herself and placed a curse upon Hyeon Su and her “beautiful” friends. All of Hyeon Su’s friends had gone under the knife, with the mother as their surgeon. Gradually, they all started slashing their faces up and ended up dying rather mysteriously. The victims often saw a ghost of girl with a blue eye saying, “I’ll make you pretty.” It is assumed that this ghost was the vengeful spirit of the orphan. The mother eventually went insane and tried to transfer the face back to the [already dead] orphan. The attempt was unsuccessful and the mother died mysteriously— meeting the orphan in the afterlife. The mother is the central character since we see her struggle in the past and present. I did not connect with Hyeon Su’s character at all throughout the film. Plastic surgery seems to be at the center of criticism. The girls went through plastic surgery in order to eleased in the summer of directed

become more beautiful, even though they already looked decent. They spent a good amount of money merely for a superficial selfimprovement. At least Hyeon Su was comfortable with herself and refused to go under the knife. The girls’ unstable mindsets and subsequent addiction to having a scalpel-to-the-face are actually believable. There are people in this world who are addicted to plastic surgery. Those that are suffering from body dysmorphic disorder constantly think of themselves as ugly and unattractive. And there are some ordinary girls out there who would want a little fat removed from their face, or their nose redone. The obsession with facial beauty compelled the mother to conduct a face-transfer surgery— which is theoretically impossible in that degree of perfection—on her disfigured daughter. Obviously, the mother has broken many laws and codes. Somehow, the surgery was conducted in secrecy and the orphan was promised a new face, which she never got. The despair that the orphan must have felt is painful. It was no surprise that she decided to end her tragic life. It is apparent that the title “Cinderella” refers to the fairytale involving a cruel stepmother and her daughters. The stepmother, which is the mother in this case, keeps her stepdaughter—the orphan in the movie—away from society and treats her rather cruelly while treating her own daughter, Hyeon, with sincerity. The mother never physically hurts the orphan but there is heavy emotional and mental abuse. I wonder how the mother intended to continue lying to her own daughter and the adoptive daughter. The idea just doesn’t seem feasible in the long run. This is a potentially good movie, but the development is extremely poor. The first half of the film moved at a snail’s pace. The director may have wanted to give us some character development, but it amounted to nothing beyond names tied with superficial beauty. In fact, I watched the first half in three different sittings because I was so bored. The pace did pick up and my eyes were glued to the screen afterwards. The message remains: avoid plastic surgery; your face is pretty enough.

ASIAN OUTLOOK 25


Eli Klein Fine Art By Diane Wong Apple, the only thing to do in Soho was to visit the countless artist studios that filled the neighborhood. A visit to Eli Klein Fine Arts gallery, located between Houston and Prince Street, is always an excellent idea, either as a destination to a Soho art gallery in itself, or as a way to break up a morning of shopping. Eli Klein Fine Art boasts 4,000 square feet of exhibition space spread over two floors. Eli Klein Fine Art is at the forefront of New York’s contemporary Chinese art scene. With a particular focus on the visual arts of contemporary China, the gallery is committed to exhibiting the work of prominent and emerging Chinese artists. Unlike other art galleries in the area, Eli Klein Fine Art stands out to promote awareness of China’s transitioning culture as reflected through the country’s innovative art. Eli Klein Fine Art has a strong curatorial department that collaborates with museums, private collections and galleries all around the world. When I last visited Eli Klein Art,the work of a artist named Zeng Jianyong was on display. Zeng Jianyong is a Chinese revolutionary artist. His paintings encompass a reoccurring theme of honored children during the Cultural Revolution. The faces of these children are all porcelain looking, pale and inexpressive. The children have large marble eyes, which seem disturbingly cold and soul less. Jianyong uses delicate watercolors to contrast and bring out the main focus of his paintings. When his subtle watercolors mesh with black ink, the contrast in colors is breath taking. The current exhibition at Eli Klein Art is Zhang Gong: Miss Panda (March 4, 2010 through April 22, 2010). Zhang Gong’s art work parodies recognizable Western art, demonstrating the effect of Western pop culture on contemporary Chinese society. Zhang Gong incorporates Chinese cartoon characters with Western cartoon characters, using background scenes from famous Western paintings and images. His paintings remind the viewer that Western art, once banned in China, has now been assimilated into the collective consciousness of modern Chinese society. In the future, if you even find yourself spending a day in Soho, make sure to visit the Eli Klein Fine Art gallery.

Sources http://www.artnet.com/artwork/426036366/ 425114751/zhang-gong-swimming-pool.html http://4.bp.blogspot.com/

26 ASIAN OUTLOOK

A painting of Zeng Jianyong’s

Zhang Gong’s Miss Panda

462 West Broadway (between Houston and Prince) New York, NY 10012

Tel: (212) 255-4388 Mobile: (917) 748-8153 Open: 7 Days, 11-7pm

Eli Klein Fine Art

N

ot so long ago, before the crowds, Topshop, Prada and


Food Review/

Georgetown Cupcake By Diane Wong

T

I tried a Georgetown Cupcake was last summer in July. Although it was a Sunday morning, and was close to 100 degrees outside, the line for Georgetown Cupcake still went around the store for more than half a block. By the time I purchased my red velvet cupcake and started eating it, the frosting started to melt all over my hands. It was sad to see a melting cupcake, but the creaminess of the sweet cream cheese frosting was so satisfying. Georgetown Cupcake is my absolute favorite cupcakery. For all those readers who have been to Magnolia Bakery in NYC, Georgetown Cupcake is better—by far. The cupcakery is located conveniently on a corner of M Street in trendy Georgetown. The cupcakes are just what you want a cupcake to look, taste and feel like—lovely, mouth-watering and moist. Besides the fact that the cupcakes are lovely to look at, decorated with beautiful and pastel colors, they are even better to eat. With all of the wonderful flavors, there is no doubt that you will be back in line in an effort to try every flavor. There are over twenty flavors, and with each flavor tasting so scrumptious, it’s almost impossible to choose a favorite. However, if I had to choose, my personal favorite flavors would include red velvet, cookies and crème, honey banana, vanilla2, chocolate3 and carrot. The red velvet cupcake is perfect with the sweet cream cheese frosting, the cookies and crème has a semi-crunchy crust and topped with cookie crisp frosting, the honey banana cupcake is scrumptious with the mixture of the two flavors and the vanilla and chocolate is the perfect accoutrement to a cup of coffee or he first time

hot tea. The frostings on these cupcakes are perhaps the best I’ve ever had. Georgetown Cupcake has by far the fluffiest and most complimenting frosting I’ve ever tasted. These cupcakes sell at $2.75 a cake, $17.00 for a box of six and $25.00 for a box of nine. Although these cupcakes seem to be a bit more expensive than your regular cupcakes would be, these are definitely not your ordinary cupcakes. Although there are not many tables to sit down in the actual store, it wouldn’t matter so much because all of the cupcakes would be eaten within a matter of minutes. Everyday of the week, Georgetown Cupcake has a free flavor to give out, but only if you ask for it. So here’s a tip, if you do choose to visit the store, check out their website ahead of time for their free flavor-of-the-day cupcake. Also, Georgetown Cupcakes allows people from all over the nation to order cupcakes, and to have them delivered within 24 hours. Although this option is a bit pricey, it’s worth the experience. If you happen to be in the Washington DC area over the summer, don’t forget to make a stop at Georgetown Cupcake! Georgetown Cupcake 3301 M Street NW (between N 33rd St & N Bank St) Washington, DC 20007 T. 202.333.8448

ASIAN OUTLOOK 27


P

I

utting aside all the political drama between

Taiwan and mainland China, I must say the tiny island is as enjoyable a tourist destination as anywhere else in this world. Measuring roughly 245 miles north to south and 90 miles east to west, Taiwan is just a little bigger than New Jersey and a bit smaller than Indiana. But with over 23 million inhabitants, it has a population greater than that of any U.S. state with the exceptions of California (37 million) and Texas (25 million). For clarification, I was not born in Taiwan, despite calling myself Taiwanese. My parents are both from Taiwan; and to my knowlege, I know at least one of my grandparents were from mainland China, having moved to Taiwan in the earlier part of the 20th century. It was not until I was about 4 years old did I first set foot on Taiwanese soil. I do not remember a damn thing from that trip besides my youngest aunt getting married. Honestly, it was nothing that a 4-yearold would care about. But 15 years after that trip, my parents set the coordinates and shipped me back out to their homeland via a program called “The Overseas Compatriot Youth Formosa Study Tour to Taiwan.” As much as I would love to abbreviate that mouthful to “TOCYFSTTT,” luckily the program is informally nicknamed “Love Boat.” Love Boat? The reason why the program was anointed with such a peculiar nickname was because of various incidents of questionable behavior in the past. Because of the attendees being predominantly in the 16 to 25 years old range, the fact that said attendees were virtually trapped together on a small Pacific island for approximately two months, and that the only supervisors on “campus” were all almost as young as or younger than said attendees—well, the study tour that is meant to be culturally enriching becomes fairly promiscuously enriching. Fortunately, I was raised as a morally sound young man and I have no further comments. Anyway, though I was in Taiwan for about eight weeks, the first six weeks were spent sailing on the Love Boat. The same applied for the majority of the 200 other attendees, most of which were from the West coast of the United States. Studying? Yes, we were supposed to

28 ASIAN OUTLOOK

Hualien Coast


The Taiwan Experience via Love Boat

By Jeff Hwang

Photo by Jeff Hwang

ASIAN OUTLOOK 29


be studying. The weekdays usually follow a regimen of breakfast in the early hours, followed by a course focusing on reading and writing in traditional Chinese, then lunch, a cultural course involving the Chinese yo-yo, traditional calligraphy and painting, sculpting or martial arts, some free time inserted in between and finally dinner. But when you are in a foreign country planted on a campus with very little authority, is there any reason why anyone should be stuck taking classes five days a week? Though there were times when field trips were scheduled, and as interesting as the classes were, nothing could really quench our thirst for adventure. Here is the general situation. Members of the opposite sex are prohibited from being in the same rooms past 10 p.m. on any given day. Now how can 18-year-old “camp counselors” possibly convince the 20-year-olds to follow such directions? On top of that, the daily curfew is 10 p.m. and all lights must be out by 12 a.m. Now how are average 20-year-olds going to sleep at 10 p.m. nowadays? So for six weeks, every night was a routine involving shutting off the lights at 12 a.m., changing into semi-formal clothing

Standard nightly jailbreak

soon after, donning masks to conceal our identities, sneaking onto the elevators or down the stairs, avoiding the patrolling counselors’ detection, bailing out the back door, hopping over the main gates outside, hailing dozens of cabs and finally setting foot on the bright, bustling streets of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. What transpired afterward is usually hours at the top night clubs and bars of the city, including Luxy and Room 18. On occasions, a night at KTV—popular Taiwanese karaoke venues— sufficed. Although I usually remain in control of my entertainment urges, I do recall once spending over 18,000 NTD, which is approximately $600 in the U.S., in a single night. On the average night, everyone was under the city lights or dancing away the hours within clubs sometime after midnight. Once the clocks tick to about 4 a.m., everyone ends up collapsing in their dorms shortly before the onset of dawn. Not too long after landing in our beds, the breakfast call wakes everyone up. The daily schedule commences again. And when night falls, the nightly routine starts all over. Rinse and repeat. Naturally, the individuals who were caught during our nightly jailbreaks were

penalized in some way. Oh well, I do not remember what the penalties were since I was never caught. There was a “demerit” point system, but I never really understood how that worked. What were they going to do? Kick me off the island? Besides, it was fun just to mess with the counselors for enforcing such outlandish rules. The night life was definitely a highlight for the trip. I was honestly very surprised with many of the Taiwanese clubs’ aspects. Night clubs regularly had flair bartenders— those who excel in acrobatic performances as much as cocktail mixing—on top of gorgeous lighting, professional DJs and up-to-date Western music. You heard me, Western music. On one night, even hip-hop artist Flo Rida held a mini-concert at one of the clubs. By the end of the program, even DJ Jazzy Jeff toured in Taiwan. And what I have discussed so far is only a mere portion of my experiences in Taiwan. Some of the most enriching moments came from the many hours and days I spent wandering the signature Taiwanese night markets in Taipei, Keelung, Taichung, Hualien and Ximending. The food is cheap, it is plentiful and it is absolutely delicious. If I used the $600 I dished out at a single night club for night market food instead, I

Photo by Jeff Hwang


probably could have feasted for months. But one of the most memorable times in Taiwan had to be my visit to Hualien, the largest county in Taiwan. There, I was genuinely spoiled. Mochi, a small, sweet, delectable rice treat—oftentimes filled with sweet black sesame, peanut powder, red bean paste, green tea or assorted fruits—has always been one of my favorite Asian snacks. In Hualien, a massive mochi factory happened to be one of the tourist destinations during my stay in Love Boat. Words fail to describe how excited I was back then. It was the first time I managed to sink my teeth into 100 percent fresh, warm, newly molded mochi. From that day on, no other mochi variant was nearly up to par. I said it before and I will say it again. In Hualien, I was genuinely spoiled. Though the Love Boat program introduced me to many sites and landmarks around Taiwan, it was my family that gave me the best island tour. Since most of my family members live in Taipei, Keelung and Taichung, I spent most of my extra time in those cities. And you might guess, since Taiwan is so small, it is easy to get around. You would be right. Virtually all the cities and villages are just a bus ride or train ride away. As long as you can follow signs or simply read a map, you can find your way almost anywhere. I would like it to be known that the two summer months of 2008 will not be the last time I set foot on Taiwanese soil. Despite already visiting practically all the wonderful sites Taiwan has to offer, it will not stop me from seeing it all again and again.

Flo Rida at Luxy

It’s a Small World After All The world is a small place. But don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, sometimes the most unexpected encounters occur simply because our world is so small. I actually managed to meet a Binghamton student named Christine Lin while abroad in Taiwan. Now, the interesting fact is that neither one of us knew the other existed until we met on the program. I recall being so amazed that I lacked the ability to speak properly. I think it ended up being an even bigger surprise because East coast attendees were pretty scarce. To meet someone from the East coast, let alone from New York, on top of being from the same school, now that is something to remember. And finally, so it turned out we’re in the same year as well. Same year, same school, went on the same program at the same time. That’s crazy coincidence at work. Editor’s Note: I wasn’t very photogenic two years ago.

I

Photo by Luxy Taipei

ASIAN OUTLOOK 31


AOConscience


“Birdfeeder” - Eve Zhang

34 ASIAN OUTLOOK


First day we bumped into each other Eyes met eyes Smiling out of embarrassment I asked her out First night we sat across each other The lone candle flickered Rhythmically moving to our fluid conversation My hand touched hers. Second day we spent together Walked to an unforgettable location Talking about anything and everything Hearts connected under the sun lit sky

Third night we ambled across the glorious beach As my knee hit the ground Tears rolled down her slender cheeks She accepted. Fourth day down the aisle She walks with elegance Reading our vows Swearing forever to be together

by Ivan Yeung

Third day hand-in-hand we Strolled beside the beds of Roses and babyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s breath Much like the bouquet she held

5 Day Love Story

Second night we sat Under the starry skies Witnessed her beauty under the moon Our lips met.

Fourth night lying in bed Kissing tenderly Thinking about the days before us And days after us. Fifth day walking down the street Me pushing the carriage as She held his little hands Together as a family Fifth night laying together Remembering those special days Hearing our promise â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Til death do us part. ASIAN OUTLOOK 35


The Story Continues by Tracy Chiu

At the beginning of our stories We uncovered many secrets We learned the game of life. Things are changing We’re pushing to the end. There’s no turning back. We wonder what we’ll become. Whatever we’re going through, We learn something new. Things are different now. We attempt to go with the flow While at the same time, trying not to regret anything. Yet anything can happen. Pasting the pieces together Following our dreams Family and friends there for us Every step of the way. After our good and bad memories fade The darkness turns to light Will the past be a shadow That will follow us around? But at the end, it’s just the stories Of our lives Still, it’s not The End The story continues...

36 ASIAN OUTLOOK


On the Balcony by Jeff Hwang

Ice in the wind, frost builds, yet the pavement below glows in radiant Energy; the Spring breath of life crossing, expunging Winter’s cold Grasp on the grass, the leaves, the stones and all of the variant Hibernating beasts—great and small, fierce and tame, young and old. Shivering through the invisible window, and through the greening fog Signifying sweet Spring’s long-anticipated awakening, The chill in the wind—weakening—fade from the new billowing Sunrays, alerting man to strip off his coat and his tog. Short-lived is the christening sunlight, for the looming ball of fire In the bluing sky expands its surging might with no heed for time; Gazing above, the sights were locked on the transparent spire: A greater sun beam, and then Summer’s bells begin to chime. Effulgence defines the wave of life brimming beyond the horizon— The serenades of larks and warblers, pure and lucid, slowly blend With the mix of the drifting breeze and dancing trees—but the trend Ceases upon leaves reddening; and hence Fall has risen. On the balcony—beyond, age-old trees, growing orange and deep red, Are seen as Winter’s deathly grip stretches, reaches to fleeing life, As the cycle resumes after the year-long wait; without dread, Thoughts, I remain in watch over this vast land without strife.

ASIAN OUTLOOK 37


“Yuki” - MDI

38 ASIAN OUTLOOK


Missing You I don’t know what went wrong Things were fine …‘til you sang the last song And left me behind It all turns to ice I don’t see any fire left in your eyes You left us cold With the wound invisible and untold Of course everything is my fault Like it’s always been And of course you don’t wanna start the ‘talk’ Because you’re too proud within You say I’ve treated you badly I say why haven’t you got me? There’s always a reason When everything is frozen But let me say “Whatever”… As we no longer communicate Let me use this paper To say this message is love, not hate I still care for you I still do love you And whatever you think of me No matter how bad… I, unfortunately, Seriously, Utterly, Currently, am Missing you…

“Do you remember, do you remember, do you remember... all of the times we had Let’s bring it back (Bring it back!)” – Jay Sean – ASIAN OUTLOOK 39



Asian Outlook Spring 2010 Issue #3