Posts filed under organic

One Asian man

Filed in L.A. (Sept 2006), TravelTags: , ,

I'm tired!

This morning, I didn't have any chores to do and I didn't feel like going to Starbucks again, so I started walking with a full backpack on my back. An hour and 25 blocks later, I discovered a very nice 'French' cafe Le Pain Quotidien with tables outside on the sidewalk. Inside, incredibly attractive breads and cakes were on display and I knew this was the place I wanted to eat at, so I sat down at one of the outside tables and ordered breakfast: a parmesan omelette and a double-cappuccino.

Everything at this restaurant was 'organic', meaning that any animals involved were treated humanely and any food products were not processed any more than necessary. The omelette was fabulous, the cheese wonderful (I'm a cheese lover). Even the organic butter tasted great. The bread was above average, and the organic Belgium jam, marmalade and hazelnut spreads were also wonderful. The coffee was so nice; served in a large cup without handles; that I ordered a second cup. The food wasn't cheap. In fact, by Hong Kong standards, it was very expensive but it's simply another case of getting what you pay for, and I'm only here for a few more days so…

After that fabulous meal, I continued my walk until I found a Staples store where I purchased a second clear folder for my sheet music, and then photocopied sheet music that I had previously purchased here in L.A. so that the pianist and I would both have something to look at in my workshops. Then it was back to my teacher's studio for our afternoon lesson.

Following the lesson, I spent almost an hour waiting and photographing the humming bird that lives near my teacher's home. The humming birds are quite fascinating and I'll tell you more about them after I've returned to Hong Kong and chosen a few photographs to show you.

I then took a bus ride to an electric appliance repair shop where our KitchenAid cake mixer was getting repaired. Fortunately, very close to that repair shop was a specialty shop selling cardboard boxes (cartons). I just so happen to need a box to pack the extra things I've purchased while here in L.A. so finding this shop was perfect.

It was then time to go 'home', back to the motel. Imagine for a moment, a Caucasian guy with a 25-pound backpack on this back, a cake mixer nestled in one hand and a flattened 18" x 30" box in the other hand, getting on the bus. It wasn't easy getting everything home but it's finished now.

An interesting thing happened while on the bus coming home. A young lady stood up, walked to the front of the bus and asked the driver how to get to China Town. I watched her carefully. Her English appeared to be broken but I was almost certain that she wasn't Chinese. She looked Middle Eastern to me. When she returned to her seat, I realised what was going on. She was helping an Asian man with very limited English to get directions. Their communication was though almost non-existent. The young lady alighted from the bus a couple of stops later, leaving the Asian man wondering about how to get to China Town. He moved over to the opposite seat and asked the black man sitting there the same question.

(Minorities mix very very well here. There is no obvious racism that I can see, and people treat each other very well and with respect, regardless of race or colour. L.A. is a very special city in this aspect. The same cannot be said of much of the U.S.A. where minorities are few in number.)

The black man tried to help the Asian but was also having problems communicating. At the same time though, he appeared to be ready to help out the Asian man or at least felt that he had communicated what the Asian man needed to know to get to China Town.

I struggled with whether or not to talk to the Asian man. He looked Chinese to me, and chances were good that he spoke either Mandarin or Cantonese. My struggle was that others were apparently successfully helping him and I don't like to belittle other peoples' favours and good intentions. In the end though, it became apparent that the black man was not taking the bus as far as the Asian man and it appeared necessary to talk to the Asian man.

I stood up, moved over next to the Asian and asked him in Mandarin if he was a Chinese man. He was a little shocked at first, and then relieved that I spoke Mandarin. I couldn't take him to China Town because I was carrying so much, but I was able to help him understand what subways he would need to take to get to China Town. He assured me that he would be okay.

The Asian man; by my estimation now in his late 40s; was in fact from 四川 (Si-Chuan) in China. He had sneaked into the U.S.A. more than ten years ago and has been working here ever since. He spends almost all of his time working for and being with other Chinese and has therefore never learnt English. I know that the Chinese can treat their own people very unfairly, taking advantage of their illegal status. This is true especially in China Towns all over the world including L.A., London and Sydney. I asked if he was illegal and after confirming my intuition (without any hesitation by the way; he obviously trusted me), he commented that no matter how hard it had been, his life was still far better than it would have been if he had stayed in China.

I believe the situation in China is now changing; rapidly. Within a few years, many people will have better lifestyles although many others will unfortunately still be living in squalor, especially those coming from country towns to make a better living in the big cities.

Happily, this Asian man has much to look forward to. His children will be emigrating (legally) to the U.S. next year. It will be a wonderful thing for him when his family is once again together.

And now, having carried everything back to my motel room, I am finally back in Starbucks, drinking my coffee, resting, reviewing today's photographs of the humming bird and writing this article. It's nice to be able to sit down and simply relax.

6 days to go…