When I was a little girl, my mother would take us to the afternoon matinee in cinemas in Malaya (before it became Malaysia) in the early 50’s. In these movies, for the first time I saw people kissing each other…. but I never saw my parents show any physical attention to each other, let alone kiss! As I grew older I often wonder whether or not Chinese kiss each other like the movies stars.
Then I came to Australia. My first cross-cultural drama and trauma in Australia was being kissed by a Mr. Day, a geology lecturer at the Ballarat School of Mines. I was one of the Days’ “Asian students” and part of their extended family. A wonderful family with their three children. Mrs. Day was the first ‘Mum’ I knew who could stand on her head in a yoga pose. Now Mr. and Mrs. Day kissed each other and everyone as a way of greeting and farewell. After Mr. Day’s kiss landed on my nose instead of my cheek during my first visit to their warm and welcoming home, I tried to avoid this rather alien form of greeting and farewell whenever I could. I employed certain tactics of avoidance without being seemingly rude. This included averting my face to one side each time his be-whiskered face drew near, but that was not such a neat tactic as more often than not, his kiss would land on places such as the left side of my nose or an open eye. Now an open eye receiving a smacking kiss is something to be experienced. Another time, the kiss landed on my right ear. However, nothing could compare to the evening when I stepped backwards swiftly as Mr. Day bent down to plant a kiss on my cheek to bid farewell. I landed in a ditch! Continue reading “Do Chinese Kiss?”