Back when I was doing more Teet Da treatements me and my Si Hing went into these apartments with elderly Chinese people that look out onto the Boston Common. Mainly we were treating this old man but the whole family was visiting and everyone had some sort of ailment. There was the middle aged woman whose hips and lower back hurt... an area that we came to believe would hurt in women who had given birth and then over the years the injuries came out. And then there was the young girl who was a figure skating champion whose back was injured from jumping. The teet da treatment meant that she could get back on the ice faster.
But all this was not the entertaining part. I mean I was rubbing and rubbing Teet Da Jau on people for hours and my si hing too. So we passed the time with conversation.
The middle aged woman mentioned that she didn't realize young people could speak Taiashanese. She had thought it was some old people's accent or mei yum that came along with alzheimer's. I had actually thought something similar so I was pretty glad I was the only one.
The old man who lived there would talk to us and his daughter's would single to us that he was crazy or senile. I didn't really understand why this would bother me at all. Hearing crazy talk was way better than just rubbing teet da in silence for hours.
The old man kept talking about Jimmy. "When is Jimmy coming? Did he stop by?"
Finally toward the end of the day one of the daughter's got exasperated and yelled, "Who is Jimmy!??"
"He is a Sai Yun " (A westerner)
"Hey! is it him!" They yelled and pointed to me. He stared at me blankly. (I was in High school at the time.)
"No, no, older"
"The whole street is full of westerners!"
My Si Hing changed the subject and started talking about where the old man was from.
He was from Hong Kong and started talking about different places and My Si Hing talked about some of those same places, many of which had changed. The changes my Si Hing mentioned sort of resulted in confusion.
"So where did you live in Hong Kong?" My Si Hing asked. Only in Chinese... there is no tense. So "Where do you live?" and "where did you live?" in Hong Kong are the said in the same way. "Nei Herng Kong jiu been do ah?"
"Well I live here of course!" The daughter's burst out laughing. My Si Hing suddenly looked awkward. But I sort of felt like this would make a great sort story. A fairy tale almost, of a magic door way to 1960's Hong Kong that existed somewhere in an apartment over looking Boston Common.
I guess this concept was what made me write about something similar in Kung Fu and Cooking. I really want to get these novels I have just sitting in the computer edited so that I can have them out in hard copy and at least look at them.
Anyway, we left the apartment shortly after that, and going down the elevator and the cramped air filled with smells of Chinese people boiling soup for hours and hours and the clang and yelled of high pitched Country Chinese voices (and maybe these people had considered themselves Hong Kong Urbanites in their youth, but in old age the tendencies of Herng Ha just came out and took over)... and going from that into the sublight and Boston Common and the cars and tourists... it did feel like I had just left Hong Kong through an elevator and come out in Boston.