Bin Chen

Chinatown does not mean “town” to me. It blends with Calgary's urban fabric and I could not find the fun in wondering in the hutong (Chinese alley) with countless chances to encounter different people and things. Most people speak Cantonese and still have a hard time communicating in English. Why did I come to Chinatown? for Chinese food? Chinese herb? Or Chinese …

Is this a town as we expect even it is ubiquitous? I find culture is not easy to duplicate. A Chinese king built an exact same village near his palace for his parents because he could not convince them to live with him, he also forced all original village residents to move into this new town to mimic the social structure that the old village had. Unfortunately, people began to escape from this new village after they moved in because they could not find the sense of “home”.

However, when my parents came to Canada, they instantly made my house a true Chinatown. Cuisine is my favorite, their stories are my familiar things, their Chinese dilate makes me feel at home. I told them there are lots of good places in Calgary worth checking out but their answer always surprised me - “what about Chinatown?” They might have a good reason to go to Chinatown for meeting their curiosity as a foreigner, but what about people like me who already living in Canada for more than 10 years?

Whatever the scale of Chinatown in North American is, it already turns to a collective memory rather than individual memory, at least, it could not work for everybody.