In this modern city called KL, there are many Chinese who grew up like foreigners.
Their parents are highly educated, successful and well-to-do. Their offsprings grew up under the best education that could be offered — some even went to foreign boarding schools as young as 15-year-old and naturally progressed to foreign colleges and universities.
Their lifestyle is totally immersed in western culture. Many do not speak Mandarin — and for some, not even a single Chinese dialect. When they were young many felt alienated by the ching-chong-changs around them, the Redbox karaokes and the Halo cafes. They would rather be in Zouk catching Architecture in Helsinki, or maybe filling up their iPods with another Damien Rice, James Blunt, Mylo or My Chemical Romance downloads.
They just can’t blend in with Chinese.
Many years down the road, this group of Chinese would undergo a strange transformation. They become advocates of Chinese culture — enthusiastic collectors of antiques, art and artefacts, fabrics, furniture, literature, musical instruments, etc etc. Just fervently embracing something they never had when they were growing up as Chinese.
They become the reborned Chinese.
On this conservative side of this city called KL, there are also many Chinese who grew up attached firmly to Chinese roots. They hung on to all the cultural traditions and thinkings, observing all the superstitions and the do-nots, worshipping all the Gods and ancestors that they could name. Their children grew up trying to shake off that cultural beast their parents had imposed on them. They perceived all these as outdated and old-fashioned ideologies.
This is the group of people who would eventually adorn their dwelling space with minimalist Scandinavian furniture (Ikea!), modern art and black and white photography — to make their homes look like a page off Elle Decor or Ikea Catalogue. They would try not to speak Mandarin (or any dialect). Some would start speaking English with an accent. They would stop reading Chinese papers or books and instead, chew on The Star or Tash Aw.
They would go through a bleaching process to wash off all that is yellow about them.
To be a whiter Chinese or a yellower Banana — that is a prevailing paradox.