Janet Hall Transcript
Janet – J
Soobie - S
Janet grew up in Hong Kong before moving to the USA. She keeps in touch with friend’s there but has not returned to visit recently. The interview begins with her explaining which part of Hong Kong she lived in. A talented musician Janet now works in healthcare in Austin, Texas.
J. I lived on the Kowloon Peninsula side. When we had to go to the island of Hong Kong side, we’d take the Star Ferry, which is a short ride but it's beautiful and it was really always fun. And then, later, they have a tunnel that you can, you know, drive, through. So that just made it more accessible and then of course the underground. We would go to the Hong Kong side to attend a concert or, you know, something more cosmopolitan.
S. If you had to describe Hong Kong in three, using three colours, what would they be?
J. Yellow because it represents the sun and hard work and hope. Yeah, and how just, it just seems to always bounce back. Green… because… I didn't know until like very recently, that actually there are lots of hiking trails, lots of places that are not developed into housing.
S. Culturally and physically where do you identify with? Where do you draw your identity from?
J. I think first and foremost I’d say I’m Asian American. Asked further I'll say I’m Chinese American. And you know how, when you look so different from the main group which will be, you know, white or Anglo Saxon, they always want to know
“So where are you really from?”
J. So I'll say I come from Hong Kong. They will then say, “Oh from China.” Then I'll have to say, “NO!” because I never identify, growing up in Hong Kong, I never identified myself as growing up in China. So that's where the rub is.
S. So what, what , would you say are the main, languages, dialects, catchphrases if you con remember any?
J.it One was, Ai Ya! so it’s A I Y A , so, I would even text that now. That's good for anything like, ‘Oh my gosh’, or ‘Wow’ or ‘Cool’ or ‘be careful!’ Yeah, so that's just like an exclamation. They have a lot of ending exclamation. So instead of just saying, you haven't, you haven't eaten? You haven't eaten and you add something to it, then it can sound just a query, it can sound, almost like something sarcastic, or yes so whatever word, like an exclamation word that you add to it, it can totally change, the phrase.
S. Right, yeah.
J. So, it’s a very lively, ever evolving language.
S. What musical instruments or styles of music would you say represents Hong Kong?
J. I will say it’s Cantopop because we used to not have our own music. If you were to study music, then it's of course all classical Western music. So before the Cantopop came on the scene then everyone was just singing, everyone was just singing Mandarin songs.
S. What cultural events or traditions do you preserve, or would you like to preserve?
J. We celebrate at Chinese New Year with red envelopes and the special foods.
S.Mmm. What would you say would be your favourite, your favourite meals from Hong Kong?
J. Hong Kong also has some Zhangcha which is a different province cuisine, they have this marinated duck. That's what I’m thinking of. I have to say, London Chinatown has the one of the best Dim Sums I've ever tasted!
S. Wow! Would you say there's a traditional family structure?
J. My Dad is the boss. My Mum is the assistant to the boss. She did work, she was a teacher and me, my sister and then my younger brother, we fit into this role.
S. Can you think of a favourite folktale?
J. The moon goddess and the moon cake. How the moon goddess ate the tablet so that she can live forever and somehow, she went to the moon. In one dynasty they were going to have a revolution, so they put messages inside the mooncake.
S. Ah Right.
S. Yeah, to make the revolution happen.