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Chinatown, NYC. Reflection or Anomaly?

April 23, 2010

Depends who you ask.

My father works in Chinatown at the New York Jewelers Exchange.  It was his father’s business, and he has been there for 20+ years now.

Me: “So when are you going to come visit me in Beijing?”

Dad: “China?  I go there every day.  Why would I want to travel half way across the world?”

Several of my students in China commented on Chinatown’s in America as it came up in conversation.  None of them had actually been for themselves, but they had friends or family who had visited.

“It was embarrassing,” one student commented.  “They were ashamed.”   “It doesn’t make Chinese people look respectable,” said another.  “They have forgotten about our culture.”

There was sentiment though.  Some students realized that moving to another country will inevitably force certain elements of change, of assimilation.  Either way, the Chinese people who populate Chinatown have made it a place unlike anywhere else in the city.  San Francisco supposedly has the largest Chinatown in America, but that doesn’t take away from the hussle that goes on everyday in downtown Manhattan—which, on any given day can be any or all the elements of hypnotic, bizarre, repulsive, fun and comedic.

One day I will make a point to post some media to give you a sample.   One indisputable fact is that you won’t find better prices for fruit, vegetable’s, seafood or meat anywhere in Manhattan.

Mott Street -- Downtown Manhattan.

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