Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Things my Grandmother taught me

Ever since my weekend of watching a marathon session of Chinese movies (I do that when I need a hit of Hong Kong fabulousness), I've been reminded of my Grandmother - "Po Po" (grandma in Chinese-on mothers side), who was a remarkle woman.
'In the Mood for Love' , a super stunning and amazing movie, brought back memories of how stylish my grandma was, 'Ip Man' reminded me how crazy awesome she was at martial arts, yes, she totally kicked ass and was also a survivor of the 2nd Sino-Japanese war.

My grandmother in 1966, she always swept her hair up in a chic chignon with beehive, Amy Winehouse would have been proud!

Like I said, she's pretty extraordinary. Sadly, she passed away last year but I'll never forget the influence she had on my life. In a way this is my little tribute to her, my fabulous Po Po, I'm so lucky to have had her in my life.

Wong Kar-Wai's stylish masterpiece - "In the Mood for Love" screenshot

It was after watching a random selection of movies that reminded me of some of the things she used to always drill into my head whenever we saw each other or whenever we spoke.

Family is important.

Be kind, generous and courteous to others. A huge thing my grandmother instilled in me & my brother is respect others, especially the elders.

Exercise & eat your greens
Whilst eating right and exercising is important so is vitality. My grandmother was trained from the age of 6 by different Sifu and grandmasters in all types of martial arts (even by the same sifu as Bruce Lee at one time) and she continued doing Tai Chi throughout her later years in life. It brought her great inner strength and focus. Oh, and you can bet your ass she taught me kung fu when I was a kid! After all it was my late great grandfather, Grandmaster, Chan Dau's ( 陳斗 ) wishes that this be passed onto other generations.

Being scrupulous with money
My grandmother came from an extremely wealthy family, but all that changed after the Sino-Japanese War, when her family lost everything. Life was extremely tough but she hung in there and she worked hard to get where she was. (She never really volunteered her experiences of this war on me and I never asked). She also taught me the importance of saving up and not spending more than I earnt - especially on credit cards.

Hard Work, Excellence & Success
She always encouraged my brother & I to work (really) hard and strive for excellence in everything, which meant that getting anything less that a 100/100 mark or an A grade at school was out of the question. I think by the time our other cousins were born, the academic pressure to succeed was greatly reduced but that still didn't stop my supergran from wanting either of us to become doctors, lawyers, engineers or accountants (- all relatively Chinese stereotypical career choices)! Still, she truly believed that hard work equated to success.

Cook things from scratch
Po Po was an amazing cook, she knew how to pick her greens, fresh fish, meat and all sorts of weird and wonderful Chinese ingredients from the market. I used to marvel at her cooking loads of amazing, nutritious dishes & the daily 3 litre vat of soup over a tiny 2 gas ringed stove for 10 people. Alas, for me, I haven't quite mastered the art of cooking like my grandmother, my only talent is that I love to eat. That's good enough for me.

Sometimes when we just wanted a quick meal in under 15 minutes, she used to make us a funny dish for lunch of macaroni or ramen noodles in a bowl of steaming soup with spam, a common dish in Hong Kong and S.E Asia! I don't think i've had this dish in 2 decades!

Keeping a clean home
She would wax lyrical about this one! She also used to break out the Dettol, when anyone had just flown over to HK and give their suitcases a full-on wipedown - for real!

Giving yourself an egg white face mask - not as gross as it sounds!
I didn't think this used to work, but it's actually great for tightening pores & providing a temporary face lift! She also believed in removing every trace of make up before going to bed and not putting anything on your face that you wouldn't eat.

Po Po celebrating her 80th!

Overcome your past
My grandmother endured a lot throughout her life, if anything she's always said it's good to let go of the past (including mistakes & failures) to bring peace into your life. Otherwise you'll be fighting a life long battle of regret/frustration/pain.
She always said life doesn't always go as planned, there will always be highs and lows, but that it's important to embrace the highs and keep strong & positive when enduring the lows.
Ah, such wise words.

Believing in A Higher Power
No visit to Bonkers Honkers was complete without a visit to the temple, especially if we were visiting in the New Year. My grandmother firmly believed there were greater powers above looking after us all.

Guys, do share if there's something you've learnt from your grandmother! I'd love to hear your little bite of wisdom.

(Yeah I know, some of you thought I was Greek right? For those of you who might be a wee bit confused about my nationality after reading this post, I'm 1st gen, British Born Chinese who has been residing in Greece for 3 yrs, all in the name of love!) Wanna know which animal ruled the year you were born in on the Chinese Lunar calendar?

One more for giggles:
My Grandmother, my aunt, my brother and me (almost 4 yrs old)
Po Po told me that Peter Pan collars will always be in fashion. She said accessorizing is important and she also assured me that page-boy style, bowl haircuts really were the norm!
Man, I really loved that studded frame bag! It went everywhere with me on my visit in HK.

Other movies I watched:
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