Lost in the Chinese Maze, The American Dream!

After working at the University of Arkansas, my dad ditched his research place in artificial intelligence and began busing tables at Chiang’s Garden in Manhattan. It’s typical for highly educated immigrants from China to start their new life in a Chinese restaurant, the humble beginning of many seeking the American dream.

When our family started in Toronto in 1993, we had no money and was probably in the lowest level of the middle class. I spent my early childhood frequenting garage sales and unlike my new classmates, never had the luxury of going “back to school” shopping every year for new clothes and things. Furniture was not bought, but picked up off the street from what others had deemed too old or broken to use and my bed was an old mattress on the floor. Times were tough and everyone knew it, but no one complained because we were fortunate to be one family again reunited in a part of the world where anything was possible. So that’s how we started in three hundred words or less. But I won’t bore you with the trial and tribulations of our family during the down times, because a poor and struggling Chinese family is hardly something new or even rare.

Fast forward twenty years, I’m in my mid to late twenties and having moved to Seattle, I’ve spent more years abroad than my birth place. I’ve grown up a full-fledged American, receiving a BS in Biochemistry at the University of Washington and worked for one of the largest management consulting firms in the world sitting on some-what of a decent six figure salary. But I think one of the most distinctive traits I’ve developed over the years of being in the West is my interest in women.

I admit that I was a late bloomer, only crushed on but was rejected in high school (mostly by Korean girls but we’ll get back to that) and didn’t get a girlfriend until sophomore year in college. Since then, maybe due to the influence of friends or just something that metamorphosed within me, my view of the opposite sex has gone down the path of promiscuity. It’s obvious that Asian and Confucius mentality towards women is greatly different from those of the West, but an attractive girl will always be objectified in any culture. Some of the things discussed here might be offensive to women, especially those of the feminine movement, but we’re not debating a woman’s place at work or at home. Yellow or white man, when you see a hot piece of apple bottom, you want to hit that. It’s innate, it’s primal, it’s instinctive and it’s the truth.

The biggest difference is growing up in the US presents a different array of rules of engagement when it comes to women. It seems like in mainland China, and this is from personal experience and observations through many visits, men don’t usually engage women directly, or even know how. I feel like much of the interaction is facilitated by monetary means, as evident by a host of shady KTV’s and booking clubs, where the concept is that you pay for the company of a female patron. Or flip side, the army of mistresses and concubines seeking financial support, which is not to say gold diggers don’t exist elsewhere in the world.

The bar is a new setting in mainland China and a Western invention, as I don’t recall in those ancient costume movies seeing different types of rice wine stacked side by side where men and women come to drink and socialize. It’s where the magic happens, where you bump shoulders, on purpose or by accident, with people you’ve never met, and ingest a tonic that reduces both party’s ability to make sound judgments, for better or for worse. But at the end of the day, alcohol is nothing but a lubricant used to ease the friction between two complete strangers.

Complex dynamics happen when men engage women, and you may or may not believe the science around it (for instance taught in books), but the experience is to drive some sort of order into a seemingly chaotic setting. Imagine you see a smoking hot girl that’s of mixed blood (we ran into this example from this past weekend in LA) at a club or bar, how would you approach her? There is the obvious difficulty of her hotness, her friend’s hotness, your level of attractiveness, how many friends she’s with, how many friends you’re with, what are her intentions of the night, what are her friends, etc, etc. Despite all these factors, you usually just go for it. Sometimes it will turn out well, sometimes it won’t and you make a mental note of what you did wrong.

But when thrown into a live social concoction where humor and confidence, among other characteristics, is required to be displayed on the spot to entice the interest of your typical female, most of these guys will stumble. I’m not saying that all Western guys are studs, there are plenty of losers everywhere, but in the mainland this is a particular shortcoming. I don’t think Western guys attract more Asian girls because they’re white, but I do think the lack of audacity puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to the topic of women. The color of your skin may set that ½ second of first impression, but what comes out of your mouth and how you carry yourself will be the nail that drives the right impression there on after.

This aggressive attitude effectively makes one a hunter, and as a hunter, the hunt itself is half the thrill. When my friends are I are roaming the floor, stalking models outside of the women’s bathroom, we stand out as no one else operates like us. We avoid prostitutes not because we don’t pay for sex, but because paying for sex means you score every time, and where is the fun in that? I read a quote on Facebook by Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”. How do you build character when you haven’t faced adversity? Like the old saying goes, keep your friends close, but your adversaries closer.

Endosulfan pesticide Indias’ Cheap Alternative!

Diagram showing development of pesticide resis...
Image via Wikipedia

Endosulfan became a highly controversial agrichemicals due to its acute toxicity, potential for bioaccumulation, and role as an endocrine disruptor. Because of its threats to human health and the environment, a global ban on the manufacture and use of endosulfan was negotiated under the Stockholm Convention in April 2011. The ban will take effect in mid 2012, with certain uses exempted for 5 more years. More than 80 countries, including the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, several West African nations,  the United States,  Brazil, and Canada had already banned it or announced phase outs by the time the Stockholm Convention ban was agreed upon. It is still used extensively in India, China, and few other countries. It is produced by Makhteshim Agan and several manufacturers in India and China.

Cheap, effective and highly toxic Endosulfan pesticide is banned in most countries, but still widely embraced by farmers in India. While the government claims there is no affordable alternative to the chemical, families are paying a high price.

­Until recently, India was one of the few countries in the world that allowed the use of Endosulfan. The agriculture ministry says there is no other cheap alternative to the powerful pesticide. But finally, after mounting pressure at home and abroad, the Supreme Court voted on an eight-week ban on the pesticide which is set to expire in mid-July.

The use of the pesticide has resulted in serious consequences, with a whole generation of children suffering devastating health problems. Umaibath Sariya’s body is the size of a baby, but in reality, she is five years old. In her short life, she has endured an operation to reduce the size of her abnormally large head. And she is not the only one suffering like this. “The doctor said that we have to put a tube into our child’s head otherwise there would be complications,” says Hajira Kaithdu, Sariya’s mother. And Sariya’s mother thinks she knows what has caused it.

In the cashew plantations in India’s southern state of Kerala, the government sprayed the highly-controversial pesticide Endosulfan on the crops during the 90s, which locals say has led to a generation of deformed children. Victims groups believe there are around 9,000 children like Sariya, with swollen heads, and developing at only half the rate they should.

For some women that prospect is too much and they opt for abortion, sometimes disturbingly late. “My daughter was operated on in the eighth month of her pregnancy,” says M.K. Leela Kumari Amma, an advocate for Endosulfan victims.

While studies show that Endosulfan causes severe developmental and reproductive problems in humans and animals, proponents of the pesticide say their rivals are the ones pushing this ban. “This pressure is only from the EU because the EU has various newly invented products which are waiting to enter the market,” states Pradip Dave, a representative of the Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India.

But the families of the sick feel that they have been forgotten for long enough. “There is no value for a human life, it’s all about the money,” Amma says. “People don’t care about each other these days. People who have money are categorized as high caste and the poor people are counted as low caste and nobody cares whether we are dead or alive”. The families are drained, emotionally and financially – their life savings wiped out to care for their severely disabled children. “I feel very sad when I see my child like this. Though it’s disturbing, we have to tolerate it,” says E.K. Mohammed Lami, father of an Endosulfan victim.

There is little point waiting for government relief as repeated requests seem to fall on deaf ears in the capital. All these families can do is to make the most of the short lives their disfigured children will have. Most will die before their 20th birthday.

There is no mercy! When pesticides are used to save the Nut [Cashew] Plantation,  because it is a cheap solution to an expensive problem, and saving Nuts, is all about money, and what is cheap, versus the preservation of life!