Following a recent trip back to Hong Kong, without the kid or hubby (thank you, 身 份 證), I stayed in the family village in Sheung Shui (上水). Every morning I was woken by the soft and penetrating sound of a flute playing Cantopop songs of the 1970s/1980s. It was beautiful and took away the pain of sleeping on a hard mattress that caused either a neck or hip ache, or even one side to go completely numb. I imagine this is something quite a lot of us who are not born or raised in Hong Kong, can relate to.
It struck me how much knowledge I had of old music from my parents’ generation that was generally played on a vinyl record player, or cassette recordings of Hong Kong music shows like 勁歌金曲.
After returning home, I started listening to these songs again on Spotify and instantly felt nostalgic and it transported me to when I was young; listening to my mother sing/hum the songs whilst working on her industrial sized sewing machine, mass sewing blouses for Marks and Spencer. I also remember the distinct smell of the vinyl record that was slotted in a thick cardboard sleeve that usually had some plastic protector around it.
When I grew up, part of learning Chinese included listening to my mother’s records collection (not by choice), along with watching TV series that were either cheesy or incredibly depressing.
Anyway, this post is not about books or reviewing old songs, it is more of a salute to my parents who successfully/unsuccessfully, depending on whose perspective you are looking at it from, kept us learning about Hong Kong culture, Cantonese and what it means to be Chinese, in a society so unfamiliar to them, yet taught us to remain respectful to other cultures (although arguably their opinions of other cultures were controversial).
The next generation of Cantonese speakers will now come in different forms as I suspect second generation Chinese, of which I am one of them, have differing abilities in Cantonese that I wonder the third/fourth generation will have distinct dialects of Cantonese that have morphed from effectively speaking ‘Chinglish’.
Anyway, here’s to a promising 2019 and an acknowledgement to our parents for all their efforts.
If you would like to have a walk down memory lane, or if you’re too young to know, but would like to know what music was like in the 70s/80s, here’s the playlist on Spotify. My favourite is 舊夢不須記
Things of interest
In my quest for bi-lingual excellence (although I fail quite often), I have found a few resources that may be of interest.