Monday, October 31, 2011

I wonder how they've been

So in the middle of my intense exam-cramming this morning, I (predictably) drifted off into a daydream, revisiting random thoughts and recollections of things gone past. I suddenly remembered a chef and his wife from the Chinese takeaway place I used to work at, people I hadn't thought of in a long, long time. It's strange to realise that those times with these people who I'd almost forgotten about was actually something I wrongly took granted for. Looking back now they were really, truly valuable and precious moments, simple and filled with warmth and care-free banter. And why? Why was I reminiscent of hours labouring under the heat of a part-time job, with a few random Chinese migrants I hardly knew? It's stranger and more surprising to realise that the answer is because I hadn't felt that carefree and happy for a long time. Which annoys me. Why can't things just be like that? Why couldn't I be as simple, the people around me be as simple? It's not like I lacked the stress and workload that I have now, back then I had two jobs as well as year 13 and pressure to do well in everything. In fact, I think that was much more work and stress compared to my situation now. Yet everything was so simple. I had to earn money so I had money to visit Auckland during the holidays. I had to earn money to support myself, to gain work experience, to feel independent, to be independent. And most importantly, I had to do well in school, join random councils and groups I didn't really want to join because I wanted a scholarship to Auckland. Bottom line was I had to work hard at everything so I could create a legitimate excuse for myself and for my parents, for choosing the "illogical" path that was Auckland. I thought everything would pay off when I could come here and free myself of the suffocating confines of Wellington; that small place; that small, stuffy, dull little city that I always took for granted.

(I'm really getting side-tracked and it's now approaching 2:46pm.. when the time hits 3pm I know my productivity is bound to decrease so I should really stop writing and get on with the study.. but I'm in one of those "have to regurgitate this over-powering and somewhat self-obsessive emotion or else I'll just continue to reflect times of the past like a fool" moods.)

The point of all this is that I wanted to properly remember Da Jun and Bin Bin, the chef and the wife. I worked with Da Jun the whole time I was at Hungry Wok, so I guess I did know him for quite a while? Must have been two and a half years at least, and coincidentally the time I started working there was when he started as well, that was when he first came to New Zealand. Actually he wasn't really a migrant, he didn't even have PR. All he had was a work visa, and I think I remember him taking a break for a few months once so he could go back to China and visit his wife. To be honest, it really surprised me that he had a wife, although it shouldn't have. He must have only seen her a couple of times, if not only once, during the first two years in NZ. It makes me think, what sort of resolve does one need to do something like that? To leave behind everything that was familiar, leave behind your wife and job and home, step into a foreign country, and work six days a week at a Chinese takeaway (because where else would take you?) because you had to earn money? He told me in one of those engaging conversations we used to have, that what he earned now, although merely a takeaway job, was so much more than the a lot of the RMB wages people earn back in China.

Being honest, he was quite a charismatic guy. When I first started the job I was so scared and shy and overwhelmed with everything there was to remember. I can't remember when we first started talking - a bit after I came out of my shell perhaps? - but when we did start talking, it was the most amusing conversations, I can't even remember half the stuff, they were just interesting. And his wife, when he told us that she was going to visit for a few months and come live with him here in NZ, oh the anticipation of meeting her was thick in the air alright. She was lovely, really hard working, sensible, strong and reminded me of one of my younger relatives from China. I don't know why I liked them so much, I just did. I felt really happy for them at first, it must have been a really long time coming, that reunion. But nothing's ever so easy right? She had to work on below minimum pay at the takeaway because, how else does someone who didn't know english find a job? Because she couldn't stay at home everyday doing nothing while her husband works 6 days a week right? I remember trying to help her find an english class, like the ones my grandma goes to. But none of the classes take people with no PR. She shouted me some sushi for helping her on that trip, but thinking back now I wonder why I even let her. That must have been worth around two hours of work for her at that time at least, it should be me shouting her.

I'm kinda sad that after I left Hungry Wok near the end of the year for exams and for uni, I never said goodbye properly. Bin Bin went up to Palmerston North towards the end to stay with some of Da Jun's friends, and that was the last I saw of her. I was so naive back then, thinking I could introduce her to the Chinese girls I worked with at Bubble tea so she could make some friends apart from Da Jun's. She seemed so much more mature than them though. The manager at bubble tea was a post-grad accountant student at Vic uni, they were the same age, but she was the sort to shop everyday, have so many pairs of shoes her boyfriend complains, and snack indulgently on the rich cakes and desserts we used to sell. I'm not sure if Bin Bin was that type of girl back in China, but it was just so hard to imagine her indulging in excess like that. Although, I wish she could've instead of the hardship.

Da Jun left work before I left for Auckland. I didn't see him leave, just came to the shop one day after school to say hi and found a new chef where he used to be. Apparently he'd gone to palmy as well. I wonder how they're doing now? Maybe if I visit palmy one of these days, they'll be working at some place there? Or maybe they've gone back to China. We talked about the right time to have a kid once, and it was agreed upon that the time was ripe for the both of them and they had to get a move on with getting Bin Bin pregnant.


  1. rofl i like how you ended this post with the conclusion which you and some guy came to, which was that he gotta knock his wife up.

  2. omg wtf happened to the paragraphs blogger fail ><

  3. on a side not I got completely distracted after you and simon came rofl. gonna head home soon

  4. hahaha oops our bad. im sure you deserved a break anyway xD