I am going to escort another friend, a French woman who shares my interest in Chinese painting, on a little walking tour of the shops and sights in Chinatown. (I'm thinking of this as a dry run for actually escorting a group of like-minded folks in China itself.) Thirty years ago, this neighborhood was strange to me, when Popo, my aged Chinese next-door landlady took my arm for a tour, said "Call me Popo", and introduced me to her best noodle shop, her best duck shop, and her best bun shop. She told the proprietors,"This is my friend, take care of her." Popo liked us as tenants: "God always sends me Episcopalians," she said, weirdly. She was an Episcopalian, and we visited the Chinese Episcopal parish a few times. A Hakka woman, likely first generation in Hawaii, she shared a lot of old Honolulu and China with me. It was a blessing both ways, I guess. I used to answer her calls for help sometimes when her husband, seriously afflicted with Alzheimer's, had fallen or she needed something from Longs. It only occurs to me now how horrible it would be to denounce your landlord. She was a shengren, really. We lived in her ohana house only for about two years, but it was a crucial part of our Hawaii adaptation.
Laozi, the San Qing, and the Anglican/Catholic Holy Week to boot! Passover too, but that is not really part of my heritage (I think, although, one never knows, do one?), except in the Catholic echoes. I have Good Friday off as well, working for a Catholic institution as I do.
Popo would be proud. I will think of her today, surely passed on by now, an ohana ancestor, as I meander the old neighborhood. I am sure I will tell my French companion of things that have changed since Popo's tour.
I missed this year's New Year festival in Chinatown, but here are some images from 2012. I don't think too much has changed in a year, but over 30, probably quite a bit.
|Popo probably saw this building when it was first constructed.|
|Actually, I think Popo's grandchildren live in one of those high-rises in the back.|
|Protecting tradition. That low building is probably worth several million bucks.|