Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Antique Roadshow

Antique Roadshow is a TV show on PBS that has people bring in stuff to be appraised by antique experts. I've watched it a couple of times and wondered how junk from people's homes can be worth so much.

However, something else came to mind. An ad for the show said something about finding valuable stuff in your house/attic and I realized that I couldn't relate to that statement. Having grown up in three different countries, our family tossed everything when we moved across the ocean and across continents. Sure we brought over some stuff but I never had an attic or closet full of items from many generations ago.

Part of being on the losing side of a civil war and having to run is that I don't have any connections to my "roots" in China. I don't know anything about my paternal grandfather other than that he was the controller of the Nationalist Air Force during WWII. He is supposedly from Zhejiang but what his ancestors did or where they came from is a mystery to me. Our family name was one of the warring states in Chinese history, which is located in Shangong province today, a few hundred miles north of Zhejiang. Chinese people always ask one another where they're from, meaning which province. When I get this question, I can only go back two generations. BTW, by saying that I'm Zhejiang-ren, my father was born in Chengdu, and that I was born in Taiwan, everyone in China can guess that my family was part of the KMT.

On my mom's side, I know that my grandfather was the Minister of Education for Malaysia while it was still a British colony. My maternal grandmother's family were either rubber plantation owners or missionaries. I think they used to be pretty well off but that was several generations ago. Likewise, I don't know how they got from Teochew (southern China) to Malaysia. I think I need to visit East Malaysia with my mom and meet my distant relatives and find out more about family history. Maybe they can give me something to bring to Antique Roadshow!

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