The New China Etiquette - An e-publication by Chinese American Etiquette Association

The old saying: “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is not sufficient for bridging the communication gap and cultural differences between China and the US. The world operates in the climate of globalization with a constant need for cross-cultural communication. Chinese American Etiquette Association (CAEA) explores how interractions occur during a process of cultural adaptation between these two countries and cultures.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Do the ratings on movies, music, television shows and video games really matter?

by Richard Cohen, Vice President, Education of Childtime Learning Centers and Tutor Time Learning Centers.

Dear Families,

The answer to this question lies in understanding how our minds work, especially when we are children. Imagine that the human mind is like a computer or a filing cabinet. It organizes everything - every object, every person, every experience - from the moment we are born (perhaps, even before) into endless files within countless folders.

Our minds are designed to help us make sense of the world around us. They do this by creating folders (educators call them “schemas”). Imagine that every single thing you have encountered in your life is a folder in your head. For example you might have folders called “pencil,” ‘light,” “mom,” “dog,” “men,” “Aunt Sue,” “table” “red,” “three,” “Wyoming” and on and on. Each encounter you have provides new information to add to a folder. So, for example, in your “pencil” folder, you have gathered pieces of data over the years like “a pencil is for writing,” “most pencils are made of wood,” “I like pencils better than pens because they can erase my mistakes” and millions more, just about a minor topic like pencils.

Your mind does two important things with all that information – it sorts and it classifies. Sorting helps you differentiate between things so that, as a silly example, you do not mistakenly eat a pencil. Sorting helps you stop at a red light and go at a green light. Your mind also decides what is “normal” based, in part, on the amount of information sorted in each of your mental folders. In short, the more we experience something, the more normal it seems to us.

When young children are exposed to images of sex or violence before they are developmentally ready to understand them, they amass an unhealthy amount of information in these “folders” about what is normal. The result is that in contemporary society, disturbingly, we see so many young girls who want to dress like a teenager and so many little boys who seem obsessed with fighting and shooting.

So, please pay attention to ratings. Cognitively speaking, they matter very much. They help you to be aware of what your children are experiencing, what images they are seeing and to what music lyrics they are listening. Each of these adds up over time.

Most importantly, be aware of what you say and do around them. The information they get from watching and listening to you carries more weight than most any other. Fill your child’s mental folders with files about love, kindness, joy, fun, learning, responsibility and respect.

Next month, we will take a look at the other primary function of our minds - “classifying” or adding value judgements - as we explore another difficult cognitive question, “How do people learn to be sexist or racist?”

Until next time,

Richard Cohen, M.A.
Vice President, Education

P.S. If you would like to respond to anything you read, have parenting questions or child development topics that you’d like to see explored in future issues of this monthly newsletter, please E-mail me at I’d love to hear from you!

(Note: the article here is part one of "Understanding how your child’s mind works" and the part two "How do people learn to be sexist or racist?" will be in the CAEA April newsletter.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

She didn’t do anything wrong, it’s all my fault

-by Pearl Lin Ulrich

I was in the drive-through lane ready to pick up my daughter after school. All the friendly faces and the hustle and bustle were familiar other than my daughter, Ally. Instead of chatting with her friends like she normally did, she was sobbing. “What’s wrong, Sweetie?” I got out of the car and rushed to her side. “Andrew kicked me on my knee.” She was all tears. “Andrew? Andrew who?” There were quite a few Andrew in school. “Andrew Donaldson.” I was more shocked than angry when I heard that name.

I had lived in my city long enough to know the Donaldson’s was politically powerful. The boy’s grandpa was a state assemblyman and his father was a councilman. During the last election season, Andrew Donaldson was on a campaign commercial for his grandpa on TV, and became quite a celebrity in the community.

“Why did he kick you?” I asked. “For no reason.” He came to me, kicked me on my knee, and said ‘I just like to kick girls’ and ran away.” Ally was so hurt that her voice trembled. I soon confirmed the incident with other students and the traffic guard. Andrew was nowhere to be seen at that point. I checked Ally’s knee really well, she didn’t have a broken bone, but her knee was swollen. I knew I had to do something, but what and how? I thought I would avoid the confrontation with Andrew’s parents by just talking to Ally’s teacher the next day and let her convey the message to them. After all, I was a little concern about how this politically powerful family will react.

My husband came home late that night. He had a different point of view after I told him what had happened. He said “I would have called Andrew’s parents right away. If our kids did something wrong at school, we would like to be informed right away, wouldn’t we? It takes a whole village to raise a child; we are as responsible for others’ children as for ours. We need to let other parents know about their kids’ inappropriate behavior; we are doing the society a favor by doing that.” That was quite a new concept for me. Growing up, my parents had always discouraged tattletale; you don’t weigh in others’ business unless it happens under your roof. But I suddenly realized that my passive action in this case was not only failing to protect my own child but also selfish in terms of not regarding the action of others’ child as a personal responsibility. It was already late at that time, so I decided to call Andrew’s parents first thing in the morning.

Ally was still limping in the morning; I decided to keep her home. Looked into the phone book, I found the Donaldson’s number. “Hello, this is David.” the councilman sounded friendly. I briefly introduced myself and asked him if he knew about the incident happened yesterday. “No, I didn’t know that… Are they friends?” He probably thought maybe they were playing around. “Mr. Donaldson, even friends shouldn’t hurt one another.” I said. “You are right and I am sorry…can I have my wife, Lisa, call you back? She’s in the shower right now but will call you back shortly.”

Lisa Donaldson called back in ten minutes; she apologized and insisted to come over to my house with Andrew right away. I told her it was not necessary and Andrew would be late for school if he came now. She said it was very important for them to come, and basically “begged” me to give them couple minutes.

Ten minutes later, they showed up at my door, both with red, teary eyes. It was obvious that they had a very serious talk on their way here. “Andrew, what are you going to say to Mr. and Mrs. Ulrich?” Lisa demanded firmly. I was waiting to hear his side of the story, and thought perhaps Ally had said or done something to provoke him. Andrew looked at us first, and then took a deep breath to look at the ceiling as though if he looked somewhere else his tears would fall and he talked in a well-coached manner: “Mr. and Mrs. Ulrich, I am very sorry for hurting Ally. She didn’t do anything wrong, it’s all my fault.”

I was surprised that he didn’t’ defend himself at all; I was so touched, this boy with tears in his eyes, not only showed his sorry sincerely, but also took the full responsibility for what he had done. I thought of George Washington and his cherry tree, the courage, honesty and integrity he possessed as a child. I thought of some of the Chinese saints who had an amazing mother teaching them important lessons at young age. I knew I had to give Lisa credit, she had coached Andrew what to say and showed him how disappointed and upset she was for his inconsiderate action. I wanted to give this boy a hug and told him it was ok, but before I did that, my husband said to him: “What you did was not ok, but we appreciate you coming here to make things right.” Andrew promised that it would never happen again and he also apologized to Ally and asked how her knee was. Ally said she was feeling better. I could tell she was feeling a lot better by just getting the apology from Andrew.

As I watched them leave, I suddenly understood how the Donaldsons had gained their respect from the community. It was their principle and discipline that brought them power. How they raised their children says a lot about their family and how they handled a situation like this demonstrates the family’s integrity and leadership skills. I had no doubt about their political status would stay strong, but more importantly I felt lucky to have this family in my community and to represent people in my city.

I have ever since taught my kids that whenever they make a mistake, admit it, apologize from their hearts, remember their mistake so they don’t make the same mistake again and move on. People respect you more when you take the responsibility rather than making excuses, and people do forgive you-- if you are sincere.

Gift giving customs between Chinese and American cultures

-by Pearl Lin Ulrich

It’s the time of a year to give gifts again! Having lived on both sides of the pacific, I find it interesting to compare gift giving customs between Chinese and American cultures.

Chinese people give money as a gift for almost every occasion—from celebrating birth to a condolence at a funeral. If a physical gift is given, it’s normally with large monetary value. Chinese people think a pricy gift will not only please the recipient but also make themselves look good. Americans think “it’s the thought that counts”, gifts might not be expensive, but full of special thoughts which could be a combination of creativity, thoughtfulness and sense of humor from a gift giver. When my daughter was born in Taiwan, my American husband was very surprised at how much gold jewelry she received as gifts, and they were not even from close friends or relatives. He thought people were far too generous. At my grandfather-in-law’s 80th surprise birthday party which was also the first birthday party I attended after coming to the US, people surprised him at a banquet room on a university campus and he was all tears. I was so touched that I cried too. The friend that put the party together asked no gifts from the guests but instead had people write about their special memories with grandpa and provide a picture they had with grandpa, she then put everything nicely in a scrapbook, and gave it to grandpa at the party as his gift. Grandpa read the scrapbook, he laughed and laughed, he was so happy and that was when I realized that money couldn’t buy everything and the best gift should come from the heart.

When receiving a present, Americans open it in front of gift givers to show how much they appreciate the gift while Chinese prefer to open presents without the presence of gift givers. I coached my kids at early age to take time opening a present, appreciate it and thank the gift giver sincerely no matter what. I’ve seen kids opening presents and said “Oh, no, I don’t need anymore clothes!”, “Oh, I already have this toy”, “Books again?!” The ungrateful comments will not only hurt people’s feeling but also make the occasion really awkward. At times, I think kids should open presents without the presence of gift givers unless they have been well coached.

An American will ask what you or your child wants as a gift for a special occasion, and it’s ok to mention a gift within a reasonable price range when asked. Chinese don’t feel comfortable asking for what they want, and it is considered rude to even ask for a present. Nowadays, Americans are big on gift registry. They register at department stores or specialty stores for their weddings, showers, graduations and even birthdays. The recipients get exactly what they want and at the same time, saving gift givers the guess work. However the thoughts that used to be special about gift giving and the surprise of opening a present are lost.

Some Chinese people are superstitious so there are certain things that you want to avoid giving as gifts, like a clock. “Giving a clock” in Chinese sounds like “Farewell at the death bed”. Giving a knife symbolizes cutting off a relationship and giving an umbrella will cause separation. You also don’t want to give a male friend a green hat, because that means his wife is cheating on him! When giving money as a gift to Chinese people, even numbers are preferred with exception of four which sounds like death in Chinese. Six and eight are the lucky numbers. For celebration, you want to put the money in a red envelope; for a condolence, use a white envelope instead with money that ends with a odd number.

There are no real taboos on gift giving for Americans, but it’s always a good idea to know the person well and be sensitive. For example, you don’t want to give someone with weight problems something that says “low fat” or “low calorie”, your good intention could be offensive. Don’t give people fragrant products if they have sensitive skin or allergy problems. Be aware of people’s religion; don’t give alcohol or caffeinated products to Mormons. Not quite sure what to give for your American friends? Ask them! Gift cards or certificates to their favorite stores or restaurants are usually safe.

Gift giving is a form of art. What you give as a gift projects your recipient’s character and reflects your taste. At this season, give thoughtfully and receive gratefully.

Happy holidays!!

The Story of Chinese New Year

- by Bing Wei

The Chinese New Year celebration dates back to 2697 BC, when the ancient tradition marking the end of winter and beginning of spring. The start of the New Year is determined according to the Chinese Lunar calendar, a system created to measure time based on the moon cycle. That is why the Chinese New Year is also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival in China. Often the first day of the Lunar New Year falls into January or February of the Gregorian calendar.

Many Asians cultures celebrate the lunar New Year as well as the Chinese. The Vietnamese call it Tet Nguyen Dan, meaning “first morning of the first day of the new year.” The Korean names their new year “the first month of the year” Jung Whur.

For the Chinese, traditionally the celebration lasts fifteen days, starting by exploding thousands of firecrackers and ending with a Dragon parade.

Legend has it that a monster called Nian (meaning “year”) used to haunt and eat people on New Year’s Eve. A Chinese village lit firecrackers (an early version of gun powder) and pasted flaming red banners on their doors to work magic. To celebrate, the whole village turned out, danced, feasted and exchanged gifts. This gives birth to the lion dancing, dragon parade and giving out of lucky money in little red envelopes for the New Year period.

New Year’s Eve - The entire New Year observation starts with New Year’s Eve, called Chu Xi. For believers, they go to a temple to pray for their ancestors as well as their own health and fortune for the coming year. Houses are cleaned and decorated with red paper cuts called Window Flower (chuan hua). Many people gets a haircut too. A Chinese banquet with foods of special meaning are prepared for the Eve. Often ten courses are served as “ten” stands for perfection (Shi Quan Shi Mei). The fact that family members gather for this special feast is believed to bring good fortune and togetherness for the coming year. Fish are served whole to represent completeness and plenteousness (Nian Nian You Yu). The noodle symbolizes longevity. Year-cake (Nian Gao) is eaten, either savoury or sweet, for the meaning of growing every year. By midnight, fireworks light up the sky to scare away the monster and welcome the New Year.

Red Envelope - The next morning, on New Year’s Day, children often receive a red envelope under their pillows. Only paper money (coins are considered unlucky) are packaged with the meaning of prolonging their childhood without having to grow too fast (Ya Sui Money). Golden characters for fortune, happiness and prosperity are often written on these red envelopes. In Southern China, the envelope is called Lai See in Cantonese hence the Lai See Money.

Visitation - After breakfast people start to visit relatives and friends by greeting each other “Happy New Year” or “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (May you prosper). Guests typically bring simple yet meaningful gifts, such as apples for peace and safety, oranges for good luck and sweets for happy life. Lotus seeds and peanuts are given to newly-weds to bless them having many children. People are expected to be on their best behavior on New Year’s Day as it is said that what happens on that day decides one’s fortune for the entire year. It is important that the visits be paid for the first two days of the New Year. Otherwise, by the third day, the visiting will be considered impolite and it also means you will not get along with those you visit too late.

Lion Dance - What in the store for third, fourth and fifth days is Lion Dance. The tradition started around 100 AD in China. Drummed with gongs, the lions dance is meant to scare away evil spirits. Lion Dancers are traditionally young mean and women of martial art clubs. They train together for years to acquire the skills of bravery, intelligence, endurance and team-work to perform the dance. The Dancers can make the lion’s ears wiggle, the eyes blink and the mouth open and the tail wag. In some parts of China, the businesses, such as banks and shopkeepers, often invite the Lion Dancers to pay a visit for good luck. In turn, the dancers collect money from the business owners to give to the poor.

Dragon Parade and Lantern Festival - On the fifteenth day, the holiday ends with a big dragon parade during the day and lantern festival at night. The Dragon is a symbol of strength and goodness in Chinese legend. A colorful long dragon, made of silk, paper and wood, appears with the exploding of the fire cracks. The Dragon chases a pearl, which stands for wealth, through out the Parade. Many acrobats and musician in various Chinese costumes also perform. In the evening, the children drag out their candle lit lanterns in the shape of rabbits or other animal to watch fireworks with the adults who hold the paper lamps with a wooden or bamboo stick. Also known as the Shang Yuan Festival, the Lantern Festival is called the Little New Year. It signals the ending of the series of celebrations for the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, the date was once served as a day for love and matchmaking. The brightest lanterns were symbolic of good luck and hope.
In the end they go home for a bowl of soup of ball-shaped rice-dumpling, stuffed with either red-bean or black sesame paste (Tang Yuan) to complete the New Year observation in sweet happiness. Young people can also stay up, guessing lantern riddles, often containing messages of love.

The Chinese Zodiac – It is said Buddha or the Jade Emperor (the ultimate Emperor for the whole universe in Chinese legend) once called together all the animals on the earth for an important meeting. Only twelve animals turned up: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. The rat, being the smartest, jumped on top of the ox to be the first one to arrive. As a reward, the Buddha/Jade Emperor gave each animal a year in the cycle and declared that anyone born in that year would resemble the animal in some way. In addition, each two hours of the day is also governed by one animal. The hours of 11pm to 1:00 am is by Rat, from 1 am to 3 am by Ox and so on. Six elements of the planet: wood, fire, air, water, gold and earth are also integrated into the animal Zodiac signs.

This year is the Golden Pig (Boar) year and the New Year starts on February 18th, 2007.

Happy Chinese New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai (May You Prosper)!!

Note: Unless specified, all the Pinying (Romanisation in Chinese) is in Mandarin instead of Cantonese.

Friday, December 22, 2006

What I want for Christmas?

By David Tang
The Founder of China Club and Shanghai Tang
Source: The South China Morning Post

I am a Christmas humbug. But mind you, only by conventional standards. My family accuses me of being lethargic and unenthusiastic about Christmas Decorations and presents.

But when I see the amount of half-pointless and half-unwanted presents that are bought and given away each Christmas, I cringe with desperation.

Even more upsetting is when we have to pretend we like the presents we receive, when in trough, we don’t – and don’t need them – and after December 25, we put them under our beds and eventually throw them away.

That’s why, when all my friends get into a frenzy over Christmas presents, I tend to lapse into total immobility. But it does not mean I don’t like Christmas, I adore Christmas.

As a good Catholic boy, I have always been thrilled to celebrate the birth of Christ. But the problem is that the modern world has turned Christmas into a retail bonanza. I am ashamed to say that I am myself intimately involved with the retail business, and for Christmas, I get excited about significantly increased sales figures. But I am only excited as the seller, not the buyer.

So again, in this sense, I am a humbug. But spiritually, I am very fond of Christmas. Not only with the religious aspect, but also in literature. Shakespeare didn’t write much on Christmas, but n Hamlet, after the ghost of Hamlet’s father “faded on the crowing of the cock”, Marcellus recalls a Christmas legend. . . .

And we sing endless carols – nothing wrong with them as hymns. But why can’t we have the proper piece: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio?

It is the time of the year when we should replenish our spiritual and cultural diets.


David Tang is the founder of the China Club and Shnaghai Tang.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Christmas Story

By Bing Wei (Granny Betty’s Story Time)

Most people know that the simple meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God in the Christian religion. The word Christmas originated from an old English phrase, “Cristes Masse”, meaning the mass of Christ. The date, December 25, was established by Bishop Liberius of Rome in 354 AD. He selected the date to mark the official time for celebrating Christ’s birth. Before then, the birth of Jesus was observed on different days and even to this day no one is certain the exact date of Christ’s birth.

Cultural celebrations of Christmas include glittering light displays, the ever-present jolly old Santa Claus, group celebrations and singing called carolling, baked holiday cookies and cakes, decorations of mistletoe and pine wreaths, lighted, ornamented Christmas trees with wrapped presents displayed underneath. The spirit of Christmas at its heart is a festival to celebrate family love, gratitude to others and giving to show appreciation to friends and loved ones.

In Europe, typically, family and friends gather together on Christmas Eve, on Dec 24, for a big turkey dinner, completed with Christmas pudding (a rich cake with brandy source). Everyone shares their stories of the year or brings a newsletter to read out for what has happened during the past year. Games are played after the dinner. On Christmas day, Dec 25, a brunch with family is the norm, followed by some light sporting events, such as a country walk, to digest the heavy food. Dec 26 is called Boxing Day in the UK, which means everyone opens their box of presents – the most joyful day for the children. In the US, having just celebrated Thanksgiving with turkey, Christmas Eve dinner is more likely to have ham on the menu with a heavy desert. Dec 25, the Christmas Day is normally the day all the presents are opened.

The tradition of having a pine tree as the Christmas Tree is believed to come from Germany. Since the medieval time, lighting a candle on a tree is common to welcome guests. Such practice has evolved into the Christmas celebration. The formal Christmas Tree was introduced to England about 100 years ago when Queen Victoria married German Albert. The evidence of Victoria’s love for Albert is not only expressed through inheriting the German tradition of having a Christmas Tree but also through the gold Albert Statues that Victoria had ordered built for Albert, standing in many places in London. In America, the Christmas Tree idea was brought by German immigrants too.

The custom of sending Christmas cards was initiated in England around 1850. The first cards were decorated with elaborate designs of flowers, birds and landscapes.

As for Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, the story goes back to the third century. Legend has it, Saint Nicholas dedicated all his life to helping mankind, especially children and he died on December 6, which marks the Saint Nicholas Day in many European countries and that was when gifts were given to children. St. Nicholas bears many different names, such as Father Christmas in the UK, San Nicolass in the Netherlands, Le Pere Noel in France, and Kriss Kringle in Germany. He also arrives on different dates to deliver presents to children in different countries, typically from chimneys. The chimney story was this: Santa flew over house tops in a sleigh, he dropped coins by accident and they landed in some stockings hanging next to the fireplace to dry. From then on, red stockings were hung by the chimney in hopes Santa would fill them with gifts. Most countries use fabric stocking while in others, wood shoes are also placed on earth for Santa’s gift-dropping. In America, the image of Santa Claus was conceived by the famous poem “The Night Before Christmas”, written by Clement Moor. Moor transformed the Santa character from a saint in a long robe to a chubby, rosy-cheeked elderly man in a red suit, riding on a sleigh pulled by a team of reindeer.

The tradition of carol singing originated from the carolling practised by the Waits in the fourteenth century. Waits were royal singers who were sent by the court to perform in selected homes for treats, pennies and/or fun. “Carol” means a circle dance accompanied by a song. Most Christmas carols we sing now were composed around 1400-1600’s.

The Jewish community celebrates Chanukah instead of Christmas in December. Chanukah (Hanukkah) is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev, the third month of the Jewish calender, usually falling somewhere in December on the Gregorian calendar. Chanukah commemorates the cleansing of the Temple after the Jews defeated their occupation by the Syrian Greeks and is observed by lighting the candles of the menorah for eight days, one on the first, two the second and so on so forth.

This is the story of Christmas and all the traditions surrounding it.

Happy Holidays!

Give your child the gift of gratitude this holiday season

By Richard Cohen
Vice President, Education at Tutor Time (Hong Kong)

As the Holiday Season swirls about us, it is easy to get swept up in the commercialism and materialism of our society. In other words, if kids try to make send of the idea of “holidays” by looking at television, billboards, magazines or catalogues, they may come to think that the word ‘holiday” means ‘the day you expect everyone to give you the latest and best toys, games and enough candy and sweets to give you a tummy ache.”

Of course kids love the holidays as many of us certainly did, for the same reasons), but please take a moment to think about what this teaches your child. Many adults today are still saddled with those values, echoing across the years from our childhoods, driving our choices and behaviors as adults. As a nation we are often overweight, overspent and self-indulgent, looking toward the next purchase for a moment of happiness. If only I had that piece of cake, those shoes, that dress. . .then I’d be happy.

I’m just as caught up in it all as you may be. The commercialism and materialism of our society is hard to avoid. It’s like a river sweeping us all away when we’re not paying attention. Worse, it is so pervasive, it’s like we’re the fish in that river. . . and we don’t even know that there’s a powerful, surging current surrounding us, directing our movements at all times.

There is one thing I know for sure. . . I refuse to pass that along to our kids. If you agree, now might be the perfect time to start. Sure, give gifts to the people you love. Eat a little candy. But make “gratitude” the theme of your family’s season. Help your children remember what they have to be grateful for – a loving family, food on the table, caring teachers, music and art, sports and games – whatever brings them joy. Help them notice these things and find ways to express their gratitude – in a drawing, a song, a prayer, a hug, or just by looking into the eyes of someone to whom they are grateful and saying “thanks you.”

Create a culture of gratitude in your family by extending this “theme” throughout 2007 and for the rest of your lives. But remember what may happen when one fish turns and starts swimming upstream or searches for a calm eddy in which to be still. Most of the other fish, who think normalcy is found in the flow of the river, might think her rebellion a little bit crazy!

Oprah Winfrey often talks about keeping a gratitude journal. I’ve got one. It’s an incredibly rounding tool. It helps me remember what’s really important in life when that river of chocolate and cell phones and high definition televisions is trying hard to make me forget. Our children so desperately need us to remember this, especially when the world is filled with shiny temptations that might teach them otherwise.

Here’s wishing you and your family a healthy, joyous holiday season.

Gratefully yours,

Richard Cohen.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A memory that would live with you

by Pearl Lin Ulrich

My husband and I went to the Prime Steakhouse in Las Vegas for his 34th birthday. He had been there once for a friend’s bachelor party and claimed that he had the best meal ever! So when we got the chance to sneak away without kids on a long weekend, he made the reservation, and I was more than ready to be the judge!

Both dressed up, we strolled around the over-the-top Bellagio, one of the finest hotel/casinos on the strip. After stepping down the stairs, we were greeted by a couple of friendly receptionists. When I first stepped inside the restaurant, I was impressed by the elegant décor. The plush , French Blue velvet drapes and marble floor were sophisticated yet romantic; burgundy and beige color furniture contrasted like red wine and cream sauce. We were very lucky to be seated by the window which had a fountain view. I was very excited about the front-row-seat, because I always loved the fountain show and thought it would be neat to see the show close range.

After we were seated, the waiter brought out napkins which matched the color of what we were wearing that evening. He politely and briefly went thought the specials of the day, and left us with the everything-looks-so-good menus and decisions to make. The Chilled Shellfish Platter appetizer which some people had on their tables looked good, it was presented like an ice sculpture, quite a show piece. The price for that was marked “Market Price”. It is important to inquire what the market price is before you commit to it. We decided to enjoy the ice sculpture the way you should by just looking at it after we found out it would cost $140 for the beautiful appetizer!

Skipped the appetizer, we were not going to skimp on alcohol. My husband ordered a double Makers Mark on the rocks (double shots of bourbon on ice), and I ordered my favorite cocktail drink—Lemon Drop, which was a mix of Vodka, Triple Sec, lemon juice and sugar. When the waiter came back with our drinks, we ordered the following:

Soup— Lobster Bisque
Salad--- Field Greens
Entrée-- Porterhouse for my husband and Filet Mignon for me
Sides—Creamed Spinach, Ginger Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Wild Mushrooms and Roasted Root Vegetables

The soup was creamy with the aroma from the sherry wine while the lobster bits were tender and succulent. The salad was a wonderful combination of fresh greens, crunchy apples and toasted walnuts with Blue Cheese; the slightly tangy dressing adds a refreshing twist. And the Entrée was just phenomenal—the Filet Mignon was so tender that it literally melted in your mouth and the porterhouse was very flavorful and meaty; the smooth texture of the meat with the company of the to-die-for sauce was a total indulgence to the pallet! Sides didn’t look fancy, but they tasted so good on their own and definitely compliment the entrée up another notch.

As we enjoyed our dinner and conversation, the fountain show outside the window started. The water danced gracefully and amazingly as it was instructed by the most talented choreographer on earth. If the window was a frame, I was looking at the most magnificent picture brushed with city lights, sparkling water, and all the imaginations beyond the darkness.

Our celebration ended with a complimentary dessert from the restaurant. It was a piece of cheesecake with chocolate sauce drizzled “Happy Birthday” on the plate. The dessert was wonderful like everything else and put a perfect period to our dinner.

Some of our friends thought we were crazy to splurge on fine dinning, but to us, it was not just about food that you ate, it was a feast to your senses; it was a memory that would live with you. And, to us, that’s life.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Love in the Making

by Betty Blue

The drip of champagne
with chilli sensation
exclamation marked the point
where my legs meets

Forever dropping into your
speaking softly
without words
of your yearning
my poetically dizzy

Is my
the firming belief of a clothed self
of my Catholic belief

Your rhythmic pianist fingers
my virginal valley
with the sound of
a magic flute

Echoing and lingering
the Hong Kong air
by our unwedded passion
and the intimate taste
of the
my fluids
of craving

For the new height
your male form constantly
me on to

On the top of the Peak
the breeze of
post coiltal triste
your worries of
the unwanted journey
here in the Orient

where explanation
is expected
as a normal obligation

onto a queen-size
morality and legitimacy
we were brought up
to believe and retrieve
under the roof of
the guilt
of Catholicism

With memes
imposed on
unknown genes
the ancient Chinese city
of Xi’an
over thousands years
transcending tens of centuries
as well as the Celtic walls
Along the Scottish coast

into my half-Shanghainese
and half-northern Chinese

Let me tell you
a little secret
my long silenced
is addictive
your forever electric affection
without a sigh

(The end. 20th July, 1997)

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Story of the Month

One day, God sent a messenger to check on people’s faith. The messenger returned and said Chinese people’s faith was far greater than that of western people.

“Why?” Said God. “I haven’t got enough time to look after the Chinese.”

“Chinese people always nod their heads when they read the Bible, but western people always shake their heads with doubts.” Said the messenger.

“I need to give western people extra lessons on Sunday.” God said.

What was behind this story? Until the 1930s, the Chinese read from top to bottom, so people thought we nodded when we read, whereas westerners read from left to right and look as if they are shaking their heads in disagreement.

Managing Chinese Employees

Selected Quotes from the CEOs of multinational companies in China.
Source: China CEO

“The Chinese – and Asians generally – enter into employment with a different understanding than we have in Europe. For us, the company certainly is important, but mainly as an employment base. The Chinese, the company is more like a family. The idea is, “I am giving myself to Siemens. Now you have to take care of me.’”
DR. Ernst Behrens, President, Siemens China

“There is an incredibly capable workforce here. . . .The key is being able to delegate. You have to be able to trust your subordinates. Local Chinese can do the job a lot of better than anyone coming in. Let them do their job.”
Guy McLeod, President, Airbus China

“We MNCs in China, all kind of laugh because we have become the target not only of other MNCs but also of Chinese companies. There is such a need for great talent. Executive recruiters are very popular right now.”
Steve Schneider, Chairman and CEO, General Electric China

“There are huge numbers of graduates each year, but there is a middle management level that you need.”
John Wong, Managing Director Greater China, The Boston Consulting Group

“One of my frustrations is that when you hire smart people who graduated from Tsinghua University or Jiaotong University, they come to your desk and say, ‘in three years, I want your job.’ It took me 25 years to get here. There is such a thing as learning the business, and you don’t do that in three years.”
Philip Murtaugh, Chairman and CEO, General Motors China

“This (company sponsored language class) is something our employees value and something we value. . . When they join my company, they say, ‘Eli Lilly is looking out for my future.”
Christopher Shaw, President, Eli Lilly China

“People in China will work hard for the company because they like working for their supervisor, because of their personal relationship with that person. This requires a very different management style. You need not only to care about the employees’ work but also care about their families and other personal issues.”
Bryan Huang, Senior Vice Presided and China President, BearingPoint.

“Chinese employees like to have a good relationship with the boss. You need to make sure you are not only a boss, but also a friend and a teacher.”
Dominique de Boisseson, Chairman and CEO, Alcatel China