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RICE

SPRING 2014

MAGAZINE

GETTING HALFWAY THE TRUE PORTRAYAL OF A FEMALE JAPANESE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT THE GIRL WITH THE MASCULINE NAME

THE SPIRIT OF JEONG

DEATH OF DIALECTS INDIAN ART OF TAX EVASION


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The ancient Chinese these pieces, we hope to give an entertaining break from the philosopher Confucius once ordinary and open the doors of said, “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to exploration. With this in mind, reach your full potential... these we hope you will find the reading are the keys that will unlock the experience a genuine pleasure. door to personal excellence.” For the members of Rice Dare to discover what life has to Magazine, we are proud to live offer. and act in accordance with these words. Our goal at Rice Magazine is to present the campus and the larger community abroad Bill Synder a sampling of Asian culture. Class of 2015 Whether it’s politics or art, our Editor-in-Chief members provide insight and personal stories regarding Asia’s unique way of life. More than that, this Rice Magazine magazine is meant to spark Email: cornellricemag@gmail.com intellectual curiosity in the Web: www.ricemagazine.tk broader community and to President provide the introduction of Jim Li a world outside your own. Editor-in-Chief Rice Magazine engages in Bill Synder the diverse nature of Asia – Vice President of External Affairs sharing stories, experiences, Lucy He and current events with the Head of Design Nora Gurung broader community. Through Kevin Ma

cover photo from placeattime

etter from the Editior


A True Portrayal of a Female Japenese Student The Girl with the Masculine Name The Indian Art of Tax Evasion

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18 Death of Dialects 23 Getting Halfway The Spirit of Jeong

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34 The Thai

Rene Tsukawaki

Venus Yim

Jihoon Lim

Dustin Lee Pritha B Sae Ryoung Lee Kaiwen Zhong


T H E T R U E P O R T R AYA L O F A F E M A L E J A PA N E S E H I G H S C H O O L S T U D E N T

The True Portrayal of a Female Japanese High School Student

It is six o’clock in the morning in tokyo, japan - just another start of cold, winter day. A Japanese high school girl, A, wakes up, due to the ringing of her alarm clock, which she promptly turns off. A’s room is small but decorated carefully with posters of her favorite idol groups, stuffed plushies of her favorite character, and brand bags she bought using the money she saved up from her part-time job. A goes to the floorlength mirror she also bought herself, in order to get dressed for school. She changes into her uniform mechanically, which she had hung up the evening before to make sure it would be wrinkle-free in the morning. She buttons the white blouse up most of the way and makes sure that the green and navy pleated skirt is the right length. She has to roll up the skirt from the waist so that it is short enough to look fashionable and un-dorky, but long enough so that she won’t get in trouble with the stricter teachers.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY LARRISA KNOTCH

BY RENE TSUKAWAKI


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T H E T R U E P O R T R AYA L O F A F E M A L E J A PA N E S E H I G H S C H O O L S T U D E N T

She plugs in a hair straightener and The cold is never a factor wields it carefully once it is heated in how short A will make her skirt. Beauty is pain, after all. After putting and ready. A needs to make sure that on the ribbon-tie around her neck, a her bangs - the “pattsun”, or so called navy cardigan over her blouse, and a “blunt bangs” - are perfectly straight pair of navy high socks over her feet, and cover her forehead neatly. A girl’s hair is as important as her life; A is seemingly ready to leave her A knows it is essential to take great room. However, she is not finished yet; she heads to her desk to sit down care of her hair. Appearand put on makeup. ance is a big deal in Part of the the Japanese society, reason A has to wake especially for stuup early every mornSo even if dents such as A. With ing is to ensure that it means losing everyone in the same she has enough time an extra hour uniform, there is not to be completely preof sleep, she many ways to distinpared for school. The will make sure she guish oneself other school has strict rules than from details. If regarding makeup so looks perfect for one’s skirt is too long she knows she canthe day. or hair too messy, not put on too much. one will immediately It has to be subtle be judged. A can neither risk being enough that it doesn’t attract unostracized nor dropping in popularineeded attention, but also thorough ty. So even if it means losing an extra enough, so that she doesn’t look hour of sleep, she will make sure she like the sleep-deprived student she looks perfect for the day. actually is. She wants to look more A puts on her navy blazer, like one of her favorite “dokumos” with her school emblem embroi- amateur models that are featured dered on the pocket in the front, and in fashion magazines. A trades her heads to the dining room, where her glasses for a pair of contacts, before mother has already prepared her putting on concealer and foundabreakfast. There is a piece of toast, tion to hide the blemishes on her some fried eggs, and a few link-sauface, and then applies eyeliner, sages and sliced cucumbers on her clear mascara, brow liner and blush plate. After buttering her toast, A to define her facial features. The quickly eats everything on her plate. finishing touch is a tinted chapstick After retrieving her packed lunch she applies to her lips. Now, A can box from her mother and saying a finally begin working on her hair.


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quick good morning to her father who has just gotten up, she leaves her apartment. The apartment is relatively nice with three bedrooms, one shower room, and one toilet room, in addition to the living room and dining room. Like most girls her age, she has lived with her parents and sibling in the apartment since she was little, and has no plans to move out yet - not even after high school. A heads downstairs to the bicycle-lot in search of her bike, which is in the space that is assigned to her apartment. She then rides her bike to the nearest train station, where she parks her bike to get on the next train. It is rush hour, and as it is every morning, A needs to push and shove to get on the train. Once she is on she struggles onwards to reach the small corner by the door, where she knows she can lean against the door and be unbothered. A then immediately takes out her phone - with the phone cover that she has decorated herself - and texts her friends. It is crucial for A to make sure her position in her social circle is still secure, everyday. At the next stop, A’s friend, K gets on, and the two begin to chatter excitedly. They complain about the early morning, as usual, and talk to each other about yesterday’s episode of the TV drama they’ve been watching. The TV shows in Japan last only one season, and so every episode is

essential to the entire plot. Although both A and K are seemingly relaxed as they discuss the attractiveness of the actors, they’re actually very alert. It is no secret that sexual assaulters are common on trains, so the two are both sensitive to the movements of people around them. They don’t want what happened to their classmate, H, to happen to them after all. H was not only groped while she was on the train, but also filmed by a creeper who thankfully was caught by the police and placed behind bars. After thirty minutes on the train, the girls finally arrive at their private school. If the girls had gone to a public school, their parents would have saved money, and the girls would have been able to ride their bikes to school in a short amount of time. However, their parents have high expectations for them, and decided that if they passed the entrance exam for a prestigious private school, they would be allowed to go. It was important that others perceive A and K as elite intellectuals, especially for their mothers who want to be able to brag to their neighbors and ex-classmates about how well their children are doing. A third-tier public school simply would not do. These kinds of unstated pressures are one of the many reasons A and other students are continuously stressed out during exam seasons. Grades are everything until one enters college. Thus, A studies hard, and is always


T H E T R U E P O R T R AYA L O F A F E M A L E J A PA N E S E H I G H S C H O O L S T U D E N T

ready to sacrifice something more to keep up her grades. In class, A pays attention to the teacher and takes notes, although she is also very aware of her cell phone in her pocket, in case anyone texts her. The classes are mostly boring for her, but in order to pass her exams, she must concentrate. Some days, during break, she will notice a classmate, J, getting bullied. J’s parents are not doing well financially, so J isn’t able to hang out with others and shop or go to karaoke. J’s not fashionable, funny, athletic, or smart either, and has no real friends in class. These factors, unfortunately, makes her an easy target for the bullies. On bad days, students dump the dirty mop bucket water on her. On good days, they merely vandalize her desk. In Japanese schools, everyone has their own desk, so J has no choice but to spend hours trying to scrub the insulting words off of the wood unless she wants to stare at them all day. She also has no choice but to eat her lunch in the bathroom alone, unless she wants to listen to people snickering at her as she eats alone in the classroom in complete isolation. Since A is not friends with J, she pretends not to see any of the bullying. However, there is only so much acting A is capable of. Although A does not want to help, it doesn’t mean she is completely heartless - she just cannot risk being ostracized by helping. Just

the thought of being in J’s position frightens A to death. Thus, A escapes to other classrooms during breaks to talk with her friends from those homeroom classes.

W

hen lunchtime finally arrives, A is happy to get into a circle with her friends and eat her “bento”-packed lunch. This is the one time during the day where A is actually stress-free. As her social status is secure, she does not need to worry about what she says, or how she acts, as she talks to her friends. They complain about teachers, gossip about boys, and talk about the day and their club activities. The after school clubs are a huge part of high school students’ lives, as each student can only join one for the entirety of the year. Students usually stay in the same club for the rest of high school, dedicating a lot of effort and time to the activities. A is in volleyball, where she practices hours everyday to get ready for the upcoming prefectural competition. Although volleyball is not an all-year season sport, she is required to practice all year, including the summer, to make sure she gets better everyday. After classes, A heads to the gymnasium where she must work hard and be respectful to her “senpais” - upperclassmen - at all times. The team is tense as the national competition is coming up and they all want to avoid being on the bench-


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es. Training is hard and intense as usual, and A is exhausted and starving by the time she is finished, at around six pm. A stops by the convenience store right outside the train station for some food before getting on the train. Since it is cold, A decides to get some hot “oden: - a Japanese winter dish that is a simplified version of hot pot - and after eating it, she goes to the train station. There is no time for her to sit and enjoy the food, or to chat with her teammates. A rides the same train she would to head home, but does not get off at her home station. Instead, she gets off at a station twenty minutes away from her home station, where her cram school is located. Her cram school is competitive and strict, where homework is assigned frequently with weekly quizzes, in addition to midterms and final examinations. A, of course, has finished her homework and mentally prepares herself for three more hours of strenuous learning and studying. This extra studying is essential for A to keep up in class, and to make sure she does well on the college entrance exam, which she will have to take in a year when she is in her third -and last- year of high school. That exam will be just as important as the exams she took for high school, middle school, and elementary school, as all determine her level of education. If A does not get into a good university, it will be much harder for her to

get a good job. At ten pm, A finally heads home. She plays games on her phone as she rides the train in order to avoid falling asleep. When A enters her apartment, only the light in the kitchen is turned on. Her father has not yet returned from his workplace, and her mother and younger brother have already retired to bed. A’s mother needs to be up even earlier than her daughter every morning to prepare everybody’s breakfast and lunchboxes. She spends the day doing chores and balancing accounts, and cannot afford to stay up and wait for her husband’s return. After taking a hot bath, A eats the dinner that her mother has left for her on the dining table, and heads to her room to finish her homework, before reviewing her notes for the upcoming tests that week. The ticking of the clock and some music streaming from her iPhone are the only things that keep A company as she stays up late into the night. When A is finally able to sleep in the early morning, she tries not to think about the fact that she has work tomorrow, or about the stress of living up to society’s expectations of her. Instead, A dreams about the weekend when she can finally go out with her friends to karaoke and shop for a new dress. Rene Tsukawaki is a freshman at Cornell University majoring in English and Economics.


A GIRL WITH A MASCULINE NAME

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A GIRL WITH A

MASCULINE NAME BY VENUS YIM

A

down stroke, a bend, a dash. I was learning how to write my name in Chinese. “No no no, this dash should be shorter than the one above,” my mom erased my name and asked me to try again. My Chinese name, Yim Tsz Mong, has thirty four strokes in total. Every time my mom erased my name, I had to rewrite thirty four strokes. This was probably the 10th time that my mother erased my name. My mom lightly grabbed my hand, guiding me to write my name bend by bend, stroke by stroke. Staring at the vague pencil marks between each crease on my notebook, I tried so hard to hold back my tears. I was four that year, and this was the first time when I wished to have another name, one that would be a little simpler. My Chinese name had caused me countless troubles. It is very masculine with the literal meaning of “hoping for a son”. “So, how do you write your name?” people asked me. “Yim means serious, Tsz means son, and Mong means hope”, I responded without realizing that my face was starting to flush pink. I knew exactly what they were going to ask me next. “Please don’t, just don’t,” I prayed, but nope, 99% of them ended up asking. “Haha do your parents really want another son?” They laughed, although they were not trying to be mean on purpose. I was around five when someone first

11 PHOTOGRAPHS BY KEVIN MA


A GIRL WITH A MASCULINE NAME

asked me this question. Over the explain my name to everyone now, past twenty years, I answered this when everyone else had a name givquestion over a hundred times and en by their parents? began to hate telling people about In Chinese culture, choosing my Chinese name. Mortification a good name holds great importance. followed me because almost every In fact, there is an old adage that girl in my class had a feminine name, says, “The fear of being given a bad with gorgeous words like “poem”, or name is greater than the fear of be“flower”. Yet, out of fifty thousand ing born with bad fate.” My parents Chinese characters, I got these three told me that that was why they paid masculine words. a fortune to the I was in kindergarphysiognomist, ten when I joined whom they were I was named by a the Road Safety Paintroduced to, trol, a uniformed hoping for a name physiognomist. group that seeks that would bring to promote road me luck. However, A physiognomist. safety. My mom I could not help scowled when she but think this found out that the name was the peruniform was a pair of shorts and a fect example of a bad name because shirt. “Maybe the uniform is unisex,” of all the troubles that it brought me. I answered with an innocent smile. I remember in elementary school I wore the shorts to school the next when everyone finished reading half day, and I was the only girl who was of the first page in the exam paper, not in a skirt. Apparently the person I was still finishing my thirty fourth who was responsible for distributing stroke. Yes, this name brought me uniforms thought that I was a boy luck, all the bad luck that it could when he saw my name. possibly get. My mom does not be I was so ashamed to own lieve in superstitions anymore, and such a masculine name, and I she said my name could have anoththought my parents really wanted er meaning of “faith in child”. This another son at that time. I asked my did not convince me, and the realizamom when I got back home, just to tion of the source of my name simply realize that I was named by a physiadded on to my grudges against my ognomist. own name. A physiognomist. My relationship with my Not my parents. Chinese name transformed after How was I supposed to I went to America as an exchange


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student in grade twelve. “Yimm.. Tszz..Mong?” a lot of people could not pronounce my name properly. “How do you pronounce Tsz without any vowels?” Being the only Chinese girl in that school, pronouncing my name became almost like a game for them. “You have to clench your teeth when you say Tszzzz”, as I tried to teach them how to pronounce it. “Zzz? Siiiii??” None of them could get the pronunciation right. Even if they got the pronunciation right, they got the tone wrong. “There are six tones in Cantonese, and you were saying the first tone just now. It should be in the second tone instead,” “Geez they sound exactly the same to me, this is too hard,” they all moaned. “Actually I go by Venus”, I gave up and told everyone my English name instead. A few months later I changed my name on Facebook to Venus Yim, so that it would be easier for people to find me. Since then I was known as Venus. I no longer heard my Chinese name. “I like your Chinese name, it just suits you so well”, one of my closest friends told me in a casual conversation. Every one of my closest friends in high school called me by my Chinese full name. “Why is ’Yim Tsz Mong’ missing from your Facebook profile?!” My friend realized the change in my name soon after I changed it. After all these years of struggle with my name, I started to appreciate the uniqueness that

my name entails; I have never met a single person with the exact same name in my life, except for that time when I saw the name in a book, only to realize that it was a guy’s name later. Maybe my name is cool, maybe those flower and poem characters do not suit me. I started to miss hearing my Chinese name from the other end of the hallway, and the sense of intimacy that I had with the friends who called me that. Nowadays, hardly anyone calls me by my Chinese full name. Even when I go back to my homeland, Hong Kong, during breaks, I still introduce myself as Venus to the people I meet for the first time. Last summer, I did my internship in Hong Kong, and I noticed that everyone in the workplace called each other by their English names. It is a universal practice for people to call each other by their English names in the work place. Perhaps calling names in a second language allows people to be distant from each other. I almost felt like I would be crossing people’s personal boundaries if I called them by their Chinese name. Perhaps the simplicity in English pronunciations allows for effective communication between co-workers. I write down Venus Yim on all my test papers now, and it takes me less than half the time taken to write down my Chinese name; most people call me Venus now, and it takes them less effort in pronunci-


A GIRL WITH A MASCULINE NAME

ation. However, I realized that the complexity in these Chinese characters demonstrates the depths of my friendships with my closest friends. People still ask me the same question I was first asked when I was five, but now I know that the feeling of shamefulness has faded away. Perhaps because there are millions

a special place in my heart for “Yim Tsz Mong” and for all of those who still call me that. I am constantly changing, every day, every second, and I know that I am probably no longer the Yim Tsz Mong with the personality that I had when I was known as Yim Tsz Mong. I also know that in the future when I get

Venus Yim is a junior at Cornell University majoring in Development Sociology.

of Michelles, Alices, Joannas, and even Venuses out there, but there is only one Yim Tsz Mong. These three characters encompass the precious friendships between my friends and me, the struggle I had with it, and the culture behind it. I embrace every good and bad part of it, as it shaped how I developed. Yim Tsz Mong is me, and I am Yim Tsz Mong. Even though most people call me Venus Yim now, there is still

married, I will probably not be called Venus Yim anymore, but I will always hold on to my Chinese name, my identity, and this special piece of myself. As I know, somewhere out there, there are some people who are waiting for me to come back, so they can give me a huge hug, while screaming at the top of their lungs, “Yim Tsz Mongggg I missed you so muchhh!”


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The Indian Art of

Tax Evasion BY JIHOON LIM

O

ver the past 50 years, India has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Starting in the 1990s, the Indian government openly pursued free market principles, which played a key role in establishing India as one of the top 10 countries with the highest GDP. Over the recent years, however, one of the most persistent problems, if not most overlooked, has been tax evasion.

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T H E I N D I A N A R T O F TA X E VA S I O N

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ven with growths in GDP and the number of millionaires every year, the Indian government has constantly faced a budget deficit due to tax evasion. As of 2011, the revenue loss from tax evasion mounted to 14 trillion rupees ($314 billion). In December 2012, the finance minister of India, Palaniappan Chidambaram, claimed that only 2.89 percent of the population filed income taxes. Out of 1.24 billion people in India, only about 36 million paid taxes, while members of the upper class did not contribute to helping the Indian government raise revenues. According to Tim Sullivan of the Associated Press, the wealthy indulge in luxury and materialism. It is not uncommon to find many members of the upper class and the nouveau riche shopping for some of the most expensive cars and designer brand goods. However, these people seem to “disappear” during the tax season, and the number of people who earn more than 10,000,000 rupees (roughly $185,000) per year stands at only 42,800. According to the World Wealth Report 2013, India has 152,750 millionaires. The numbers suggest that there are hundreds of thousands more of Indians who earn between $185,000 and $999,999. With an income tax rate of 30% for the top earners, the government could have generated billions of dollars over the past few

decades, but hundreds of thousands of undisclosed income statements reflect one of India’s most pressing issues. That is, the rich take advantage of the loopholes and the flaws in the system. Many people realize that even if they avoid taxes, they will not be charged of any crime, which “encourages” more people to do the same. However, dysfunction of this extent cannot be solely attributed to the wealthy themselves. Even though the rich are most prominently blamed for tax evasion, India’s tax problem also stems from the tax system itself and the inequalities in society. The progressive tax regulation itself allows many Indian citizens to become exempt from taxation. Those earning below 200,000 rupees (roughly $3200) do not have to pay taxes, which equates to more than half of the Indian population. The Indian government also gives tax breaks on agricultural income, which has benefitted hundreds of millions of farmers and at the same time, has made them a powerful political interest group. The government faces a difficult situation, in which its source of funding is severely limited because it cannot impose taxes on those who do not earn enough to pay them. At the same time, the politicians do not want to risk their political career by taxing those who help them stay in power. Part of this dilemma relates to growing income inequalities, as


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gross inequalities prevent upward social mobility. According to BBC, about 42% of the Indian population lives on less than $1.25 a day, and this indicates the percentage of the population that lives below the poverty line. Since the early 1990s, the inequality gap has widened significantly, due to free market policies and tax cuts that did not benefit the poor. A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated that in 2011, the top 10% of the income earners have 12 times the wage as the bottom 10% compared to 6 times in the early 1990s. Such growth in inequality reflects inefficiencies in the Indian government. It demonstrates that tax evasions occur because the rich take advantage of bureaucratic incompetence. In addition to this, the Indian government also has difficulties in generating tax revenues because of corruption and cheating that run deep in the political system. The motives of tax evasion often come from government corruption. “Why should I pay my taxes while the politicians are getting richer and richer every day?� asked an anonymous businessman in a question that echoes the sentiments of millions of Indians. The rationale behind tax evasion is that more and more people are realizing that even if they pay taxes, most of their money will go into the pockets of politicians.

People distrust government officials, and have little faith in their government. Many tax evaders in India often seem to associate corruption with incompetence. That is, they do not fear tax officials, even if the government initiates a nationwide crackdown on tax evaders, because they realize that they can bribe the officials without punishment, and that policy changes take a long time to be fully in effect. The only way the Indian government can generate more revenue is by becoming more efficient and less prone to venality. Corruption has played a large part in the growth of income inequality because a substantial portion of the government revenue went into the pockets of already rich politicians. A more efficient and competent government will spread a sense of responsibility among the rich because there will be consequences for tax evasion. A more competent government will also create a larger source of revenue, and the taxpayers will become less prone to cheating because they realize that the government is using their taxpayer money for public goods. However, creating a larger source of income remains a difficult task because many of the politically powerful groups have benefitted vastly from the current system. Jihoon Lim is a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in Statistical Science and Economics.


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The

Death of Dialects

Do you speak Canto? Mando? Or is it Fujianese? What do these three have in common? They all belong under the larger umbrella known as the Chinese language. BY DUSTIN LEE

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T H E D E AT H O F D I A L E C T S

T

he Chinese language family consists of a variety of local Chinese dialects and languages. With the birth of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mandarin became the official language of the country. However, with the China Region being as large as it is, there is no doubt that many still speak their local tongue. Not to forget, there are many Chinese immigrants, in countries all over the world, who have established local communities where their local tongues are highly prevalent such as Chinatown in New York City and Vancouver in Canada. With Mandarin being a compulsory part of education, the newer generations of Chinese are losing their connection with their local tongues. Many people see this as an important issue that communities should address. Since the beginning of Chinese history, varying dialects have always been present. Early China, prior to the establishment of the Shang dynasty, was populated with clans and tribes that spoke their own dialects. With changes in society and the formation of larger states, each state had their own defining language. Because each region had their own dialect, these languages played a role in defining how people identified themselves. However, there was a need for a common language such that the central government could communicate with the

local states. Looking at the language situation in present day China, one can see that it has similarities and differences to the language situation in earlier China. The idea of groups having their own dialects that represents themselves, their families, and their communities is still prevalent. The difference between the common language back in the dynastic days of China and Mandarin today is that Mandarin has become more than just the language of government affairs; it has become an international language in which business is conducted and which foreigners are learning. With Mandarin becoming ever more important on both a domestic and global scale, one can truly understand why local languages are fading away. Shanghainese, as one can guess from the name, is the local tongue of Shanghai natives. For those of you who have heard Shanghainese used in conversations, there is no doubt that it is very distinct from Mandarin. For those who have yet to hear what Shanghainese is, a quick search on Youtube will do. Currently, there is an estimate of 14 million Shanghainese speakers in Shanghai. Although this might seem like a large chunk, when compared relative to the number of Mandarin speakers in mainland China, i.e., 953 million, this number is very small. Qian Nairong, a Shanghai University Professor of Chinese Language


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and Literature, has stated: “Since Hong Kong, a city down in south1992, education reforms in local ern China and we can see a similar schools has emphasized Mandasituation of conflict between Manrin and restricted the learning of darin and their local tongue. Being Shanghainese.� As a result, he says a British Colony for 100 years, Hong that the younger generation today Kong was not affected by the educaspeaks very poor Shanghainese. As tion reforms that Shanghai and other more and more people are noticing Mainland cities had to face. Hong this effect, there has recently been Kong society was able to continue a push towards establishing more speaking in their local tongue, Canprograms for the tonese. The only younger generother compulsory ations to learn language at that With Mandarin Shanghainese so time was English, becoming ever more that they can carry which was not a important on both a on the future of competitor to Canthe dialect. For tonese. Cantondomestic and glocal example, famous ese is a southern scale, one can truly Shanghai comedialect native to understand why local the Canto region dian, Zhou Libo languages are fading has published where people from a Shanghainese Guangdong provaway. dictionary of slang ince in Mainland such that anyone China and Macao who is interested can understand his also know how to speak it. In adlocal dialect better. In addition, the dition, Cantonese has traveled all local government has been pushing over, largely due to the large immifor both small and large initiatives in gration of Southern Chinese during preserving the dialect. From propos- the early mid-1900s. As Hong Kong ing the idea of adding Shanghainese transitioned back to being a part announcements on the subway to of China in 1997, there was a shift looking for pure speakers, they hope in importance from Cantonese to to establish a dialect database. DeMandarin. Many local schools began spite how challenging it may be, it is to offer Mandarin and there was a interesting to see how far people are shift of what language was being willing to go to preserve something used in the business world of Hong that truly represents their heritage Kong. According to the 2001 Hong and culture. Kong Census, 96.1% of residents Fly three hours south to could speak Cantonese while only

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T H E D E AT H O F D I A L E C T S

34.1% knew Mandarin. Fast forward, in 2011 census and 95.8% residents can speak Cantonese while 47.8% can speak Mandarin. Although there is a small drop in Cantonese speaking residents, there is a significant increase in residents who know Mandarin. The jump in Mandarin speakers shows a clear sign that Mandarin is ever growing in the city of Hong Kong. Only time will tell if Cantonese will start diminishing in Hong Kong. By then, it will be interesting to see how both the local communities and the government respond to such a change. Across the border of China and Hong Kong, Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, residents also faced their share of fighting. In the summer of 2010, the local government was asked by the central government to reduce the number of Cantonese broadcasting television channels and to increase the number of Mandarin ones. This no doubt sparked a controversy within the city and led to a mass gathering. Just like the Shanghainese, the actions of the Guangzhou residents represent how people will fight to preserve their local tongue. This dialect phenomena can also been seen outside of China in the diaspora Chinese communities throughout the world. The early Chinese immigrants brought their local tongues to their new countries of residence and formed communi-

ties that spoke primarily the local dialects of these immigrants. With Mandarin becoming a global language, many education systems are offering it in classrooms as a foreign language. Even outside of China, in New York City, the fading presence of Cantonese can be felt. Since 1909, the historical New York Chinese School has been offering Chinese classes to the New York City community in Cantonese. In 2009, the ratio of Mandarin to Cantonese classes was 3:1. It is evident that Mandarin has also spread to the Chinese diaspora community. At the same time, in Ithaca, Cornell has been offering Cantonese classes for many years. Despite the number of Mandarin classes outweighing that of the Cantonese classes, it is interesting to see that education institutes are also preserving the local tongue of Guangzhou and Hong Kong residents. Dustin Lee is a junior at Cornell University majoring in Chemistry and Asian Studies.


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Getting Halfway BY PRITHA B


G E T T I N G H A L F WAY

PHOTOGRAPH BY SHAMEEK GHOSH

I

was seven years old when I first encountered the vast strangeness of Kolkata, India. As a second grader, who had just taken her first flight on an airplane and then arrived to find a three-story house that she had seen only through her mother’s drawings on scrap pieces of paper, I was beyond excited. I wanted to ride in the rikshaws I’d seen on the dirt streets. I wanted to stop at

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the local vendors to drink water from a whole coconut. Ironically enough, the first thing I did after arriving at my grandparents’ house was sleep under a moshari - a mosquito net; too jetlagged to stay awake past 10 a.m. When I woke up, it was 7 o’clock in the evening, and I started to cry because I was scared of staying awake the whole night through. In the three weeks that followed, I


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learned to reorient my sleep pattern. I found food to consist primarily of white rice (which I hated) and lots of fish (which I eventually grew to like). I met relatives whom I had never seen or heard of before, and when they asked me in Bengali to sit on their laps, I obliged dutifully. When they questioned me in broken English about how I was doing in school and what I liked to do, I would answered

with yes or no in Bengali and then scurry away to play. My mother grew up in a joint family, in which grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my other relatives all lived together in the same house. Thus, there was a boy who lived down the hall from my grandparents. I would learn months later, to my surprise, that he was my uncle. At the time though, he was fourteen years old, went to an English-medium school, and was the closest thing I knew to be my best friend. In those three weeks, we were never seen apart from each other. From early morning to when I was told to go to sleep, we would sit on concrete floors and play board games, like Ludo and Chutes and Ladders. I would dress up in his cricket gear as he taught me how to bat on the flat roof of the house. He accompanied my parents and I when we went out to tour the Victoria Memorial or the Kolkata Zoo, and pointed out sweet shops and toyshops on the way – the shop signs written in the elegant Bengali script, which I could never decipher. It didn’t matter, though, because my uncle would always translate them for me into English. He was my best friend for many reasons - but at the time, the most salient was the sheer fact that he was the only one who could literally understand me. *

*

*

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G E T T I N G H A L F WAY

Bengali, or Bangla, as most native speakers refer it to, is derived from the Indo-European language family. It is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world, by the people in Bangladesh, India and Singapore. It even surpasses Hindi (by one spot), the national language of India. It’s ironic, therefore, that it took me almost two decades to rediscover a language that is not only prevalent in a number of Asian countries, but is also my mother tongue. Before I started school, I was inundated in Bangla. Vocal waves of it came to me in the form of my parents and grandparents, and I was never exposed to anything else, until I started preschool. School for me became a time of learning and

forgetting: learning English and the American culture; forgetting Bangla and refusing to look back. I remember dinners of rice and daal being replaced by chicken nuggets, french fries, tacos and Chinese takeout – upon my request. America was the melting pot, and the culture that had defined me was melting away. My parents did attempt to teach me to read and write in Bangla – they got books so that I could learn the script and had me practice, as kindergarteners practice tracing the letters of the English alphabet. But eventually, they too became preoccupied with work to keep it up, and I took advantage of it by staying silent and responding to them in English. It wasn’t because I didn’t like my culture – I just didn’t know what it was anymore. A dichotomy existed in my mind, and I didn’t know which side of the coin to land on: being an Indian within my family or an American amongst my friends. At the time, it made more sense to side with the “greater good.” I chose the face of the coin in which I grew up. Being comfortable in at least one culture was easier than feeling out of place from both. Right? Coming into Cornell, however, something changed. Perhaps it was the intrinsic nature of college that


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I DIDN’T KNOW WHICH SIDE OF THE COIN TO LAND ON: BEING AN INDIAN WITHIN MY FAMILY OR AN AMERICAN AMONGST MY FRIENDS. PHOTOGRAPH FROM HOPE FOUNDATION

made me feel as though I needed to feel better defined, better prepared for the real world. Or maybe the fact that I increasingly found that the blurring lines among cultures were becoming more definite, that there seemed to be an inherently focused view on creating distinctions – not to isolate people, but to make them more aware. Either way, I found myself in Bangla class. I found other students who wanted to learn Bangla because they were motivated to study in India or were native speakers like me. I was once again opening those books that I had once had purposefully put away. I was tracing out letters once again, combining them into words that I once knew. * * *


G E E T I N G H A L F WAY

Taking Bangla at Cornell has helped redefine me. I’ve not only become more proficient in speaking and learning to read and write, but I’ve learned to deal with reallife situations in both Kolkata and Bangladesh. I’ve been exposed to modern day news reports and politics, as well as explored a myriad of Bangla literature – from poetry to children’s stories. I’ve even searched up Bangla cartoons for kids and watched them on my own free time. When I tell my friends I’m learning the language, they ask me genuine questions about it and ask me to write their names using Bangla script. I happily oblige.

I AM NOT AFRAID OF FEELING OUT OF PLACE – I AM BETWEEN PLACES. A PENDULUM.

Most of all, I’ve learned to let go of my inhibitions of embracing something unfamiliar, and have accepted it as a part of me. Because I’m not afraid of feeling out of place – I am between places. A pendulum. I’m halfway in between what I’ve

been given and what I’ve grown up with. And that’s okay. My professor asked me once, three semesters ago, where I was from: Bangladesh or West Bengal. I replied with the second, specifying that I was from Kolkata. “Oh I see. So you’re Kolkata’s girl.” In English, that’s how “You are a girl from Kolkata” translates. But I think I like it better in Bangla. It makes me feel a part of Kolkata, a possession of the city. I belong to the city, to the country. In some inexplicable way, I think that now it belongs to me too. Maybe now when I go back to India, to my grandparents’ house, my uncle will come to visit me. Perhaps this time, I’ll read him the shop signs. I’ll bargain with the shopkeepers at the sari shops, buy food from the bajar, the market. Perhaps we’ll just talk. Have a conversation. In Bangla or English. In whichever language he wants. Or perhaps I’ll meet him halfway.


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The Spirit of Jeong across Cornell Campus BY SAE RYOUNG LEE

F PHOTOGRAPH FROM DINEOUTHERE

rom freshmen to seniors, each

grade in college has its own set of privileges and obligations. A peculiar yet heartwarming tradition that exists among Korean students enriches the college experience each year. As a freshman, you get to eat numerous free meals provided by upperclassmen in addition to your regular meal plan. As a senior, you get a chance to reach out to the incoming

class, which reminds you not only of your sweet memories of the past years but also of your growing age. The tradition of older people paying for the table promotes collegiate ties between students of various majors and backgrounds. While most clubs on campus are established upon specific interests or causes, these food-centered relationships arise from a unique sentiment called jeong,

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THE SPIRIT OF JEONG ACROSS CORNELL CAMPUS

an emotional substance associated with Koreans. In my personal experience at Cornell, when I was a newly arrived freshman, a group of juniors and seniors reached out to my friends and I and befriended us. On one Saturday, they made a long visit from Collegetown to North Campus, carrying oblong aluminum containers filled with Korean food. Not only did they feed us with long-missed home food, but also, each person gave a brief presentation of his or her major and shared part of their stories at Cornell. Despite their busy schedules, they practiced hospitality out of goodwill and provided a support network. Furthermore, there were ‘rights’ entitled to freshmen to request a free meal from upperclassmen. In retrospect, it could have been a blatant act on my part to nudge an acquaintance for a free meal. Yet, none of the upperclassmen declined my requests, but rather, graciously treated me like his or her younger sister. It was a deliberate act of hospitality that seniors practice toward the incoming class, manifesting the spirit of Jeong. Remembering the favor they had received during their early years in college, these seniors relayed the spirit of Jeong to the next cohorts of Koreans. The sentiment of Jeong is contextspecific and is especially pronounced in the exchange of food. As long PHOTOGRAPH FROM KOREANBEACON

as one is in the lower age status, he or she remains as the beneficiary of the tradition until the age role reversal occurs. Having observed the alums’ demonstration of how to take care of younger students, current Korean seniors on campus are following suit, perpetuating the Korean culture of expressing interest and care. Even in relationships with little age difference, sharing the cost of a meal among Koreans, in which one person pays for the table while the other takes care of desserts or a cup of coffee, reflects the spirit of Jeong that ties the two souls together. According to Professor Fajans, who teaches an anthropology course on Food and Cuisine, the food-centered hierarchical relationships also occur


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group of younger people in their own communities, thereby reciprocating the favor that they have received in the past.

T

he Cornell chapter of KoreanAmerican Student Associations (KASA) has organized small groups called gajok, a Korean word for family. Two upperclassmen assume the role of parents and cook their

in other societies, in which, “more established people show that they are well off and benevolent. The Koreans have a more fixed, formalized version, which could be traced back to the commemoration of the deceased ancestors through food.” What allows these relationships to grow and continue is the asymmetric nature of the relationship between a giver and a receiver. According to Professor Fajans, “A relationship is asymmetrical. The giver is always at a higher status, and there’s a desire to equalize it by repaying the debt. Not necessarily a monetary debt, but it can be debt of gratitude or value of some sort.” Koreans repay the debt of hospitality by doing the same thing that the elders did, which is to feed a

THESE FOOD CENTERED RELATIONSHIPS ARISE FROM A UNIQUE SENTIMENT CALLED JEONG. younger students a homemade meal or take them out to local restaurants. Even among these US-born Koreans, the sentiment of Jeong is evident and ongoing. According to the president of the Korean American Student Association at Cornell, Ashley Chu’15, gajok exists “to help the Korean-American community, particularly incoming freshmen, find a smaller, tight-knit group of people who share similar interests – a family away from home.” Although gajok “bigs” are not exclusively asked to pay for their “littles’” meals, the former generally volunteer to treat their family members to dinner or snacks.


THE SPIRIT OF JEONG ACROSS CORNELL CAMPUS

JEONG DOES NOT FIT A PROFITORIENTED MINDSET, BUT RATHER, IT IS DRIVEN BY EMPATHY.

The sentiment of Jeong permeating the Korean communities is distinguished from other ethnic gatherings or mentoring resources available on campus. It is more than just an exchange of information or a way of connecting with people of the same nationality out of nostalgia. Rather, Koreans cultivate their relationships in which older people take a sense of responsibility to take care of younger people with no strings attached. The relational ties formed by the sentiment of Jeong are more like communities than networks, the latter of which forces people to self-advertise in

order to secure a job after college. Jeong does not fit a profit-oriented mindset, but rather, it is driven by empathy. Although the restaurant tradition may incur financial loss on older people, they gain emotional capital and a sense of trust and respect from younger people. Through genuine care and mutual support, a harmonious symmetry between seniors and freshmen, along with sophomores and juniors adding to the mix, perpetuates the spirit of Jeong across and beyond campus. PHOTOGRAPH FROM MISSKOREABBQ


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PHOTOGRAPH FROM SEOULGOODNESS


THE THAI

34


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The Thai BY KAIWEN ZHONG

wo of the most popular feedbacks from people who travelled to Thailand are “the food was amazing”, and “I feel ashamed to have not eaten eight meals a day”. For many, delectable food in Thailand alone is already a good enough reason to travel to this country. From the relatively safe and clean street stalls, to local family restaurants, and to expensive and royal diners, the diverse types of food you can enjoy are refreshing. It is almost impossible to give a comprehensive description of all aspects of food in Thailand, and this article intends to touch on the basics, some special Thai dishes, and will leave the rest to readers’ future exploration.

35

PHOTOGRAPH FROM CHALOTHAILAND

T


THE THAI

The Spices of Thai Food

A

PHOTOGRAPH BY MIROHA

n ideal and authentic Thai meal should be a harmonious blend of sweet, salty, and chili-hot. According to Claire Zhang 16’, a student at Cornell who travelled to Thailand last summer, “Thai food is pretty spicy as a whole. It is definitely very different from the Thai food I have had in the U.S. Even the most typical ones like Tom Yum soup and Pad Thai tasted very different.” “The flavors are incredible, never a boring dish.” Said Ihsan Kabir 14’ when asked about his favorite dish in Thailand. The variety of tastes comes from the numerous kinds of herbs and spices that the Thai utilize in their cuisine. Some of the most important and unique ones are listed below: Lemongrass (takhrai) Lemongrass is very common throughout Southeast Asia and is often used in Indonesia and the Philippines. It could be used dried or fresh, and has a subtle blend of citrus and spicy flavor, with a potently fragrant smell. The smell of lemongrass is sometimes used as repellent for flies and mosquitos, and it usually takes time for many visitors to get used to. However, it is probably one of the most indispensible herbs in some Thai cuisine, such as Tom Yam.


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Krachai There is no common English name for Krachai, also known as kaempferia pandurata in Thailand. This is a type of ginger that is thinner and looks like yellow brown stick figures. This type of Krachai is often peeled and added to fish curries, [1] or even served as raw vegetable with rice dishes such as khao chae. Cinnamon (ob choei) Unlike the powdered cinnamon offered in American supermarkets, the cinnamon that Thai cuisine uses always comes as a stick, and is often used in curry, soup, or meat dishes. Most Thai dishes use only one kind of cinnamon, which comes from the Cassia Tree [2]. Other spices include basil (horapha, kaphrao, maeglak), chili (phrik chi fa) and bird chili (phrik khi nu), citron (som sa), cloves (kanphlu), coriander (phak chee), cumin (yira), galangal (kha), kaffir lime leaf (bai makrut), pandan leaf (bai toei), etc. Some of these spices are seen and used in cooking elsewhere, but one thing that makes Thai cooking special is that none of the spices are used solo. The herbs and spices are supposed to blend together and create new flavors and multiple layers in Thai food.


THE THAI

The Favorite and Special Dishes


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T

PHOTOGRAPH FROM THAISPA

here are many different types of Thai dishes, from tidbits, soups, salads, dips, curries, and desserts to other single dishes. Below are some of the Thai dishes that stand out, their features and histories, and their special flavor based on travelers’ recommendations. Tom Yam Goong Tom Yam Goong is a kind of clear sweet and sour soup that could sometimes be served spicy, and is called the “national aroma of Thailand” [3], due to the “generous use of ” herbs that have memorable smells, such as lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, shallots, chilis, and fish sauce. The substance in the soup is often in the form of jumbo shrimp (goong) and mushrooms, while it could also be beef and pork. This is a main dish that is normally served with rice, and is probably one of the most celebrated dishes throughout Thailand and outside of the country.

It is now a main dish in Laos as well. The dish is so famous that some called the 1997 Financial Crisis that started in Thailand the “Tom Yam Goong (Tom-yam-kung) Crisis” [4]. Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) “(Thai food is) delicious! Very, very spicy. Thai people manage to even make their salads spicy,” said Tarik Zawia 09’, who came back from his recent trip to Thailand. Som Tam is one of the spicy salads, also called green papaya salad. Coming from the Northeastern part of Thailand, it is now spread throughout the country. The salad is made out of shredded unripe green papaya and could be perfectly accompanied by chicken or sticky rice. Som Tam is a great combination of the five main tastes in Thai cuisine: sour lime, hot chili, salt, savory fish sauce, and palm sugar sweetness. It is traditionally an especially spicy dish due to the fistful of added chopped Bird’s eye chili.


THE THAI

some of the favorite dishes in Geng Kheaw Wan Gai (Green Curry Thailand include Massaman curry Chicken) (Muslim Curry), Pad Thai (which Thailand has its own way of “tasted very different” from the dishes bringing food items from different in America, according to Claire cultures and making them uniquely Zhang 16’), beef with red curry, Pad Thai. What differentiates green Ka Pow (with spicy minced chicken, curry in Thai from that of India? beef, or pork served with rice and a Coconut milk. The milk adds a layer Thai omelet), Larb Gai (spicy minced of richness and smoothness into the chicken), and many more. green curry pastry. Chili pepper, Not only is Thai food tasty, but eggplants, fish it is also a sauce, kaffir lime blend of local leaves, and Thai and overseas THE FIVE MAIN TASTES cultures. “Thai basil are also put in to enable the IN THAI CUISINE: SOUR food is very affluence of flavor LIME, HOT CHILI, SALT, diverse (food in in the dish. North is SAVORY FISH SAUCE, different than AND PALM SUGAR Foy Thong (gold food in South), fiber)- from but it’s also SWEETNESS. Portuguese vibrant, like the An egg-based people,” said Portuguese Ihsan Kabir, 14’. dessert, Foy Thong was a legacy from It is a reflection of the geographical, Portuguese occupation. In Thai, historical, and cultural background Thong means “gold”, a common in Thailand. There are also heavy symbol for luck and prosperity. Portuguese influence on Thai According to some, it is probably the desserts, Chinese on the emphasis of most expensive Thai dessert available rice and noodles, Muslim and Hindu in Thai market as people tend not to on the cooking of curries, South buy it, saving it for special occasions Asian on the use of chili and spices, [5]. One interesting addition that and the years-long blending wisdoms makes this dessert distinctively that are local and unique in Thailand. Thai is that people usually pour the There is much more food exploration egg pastry into a cone made out of you could expect in Thailand. As banana leaves when they make Foy Tarik Zawia 09’ puts it, Thai food is Thong, introducing some tropical much more than just Pad Thai, and sweetness into the dessert. “when you go to Thailand you should Besides the above mentioned, try all of the incredible dishes!”


,

DID YOU KNOW?

ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE WERE PART OF THE

RICE CONTEST IN WHICH $500 IN PRIZE MONEY WAS GIVEN TO OUTSTANDING WRITERS.

The Fall 2014 Rice Contest is open to all writers. questions? email us at cornellricemag@gmail.com


SPONSORED BY STUDENT ASSEMBLY FINANCE COMMISSION

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