I made a YouTube channel named “Cantonese Craft” where my mother is showing some of her cooking and sewing skills. She does the voice-over in her first language Hong Kong-Chinese, also known as Cantonese. I’m doing the whole video recording and editing thing, because my parents are not deep into tech. My father is always tired after work, but i might get him sometimes on the channel. I’m just trying to develop another revenue stream for them, so that they do not have to perform physically demanding work anymore. My mother does cleaning in a large hotel on the Rhine, at the kindergarten and some smaller places, while my father is employed in shift work with “polymer processing” in Bonn. My parents were never unemployed for very long. This is why they never had the opportunity to learn German properly, even after all these decades.
You can imagine how it influenced my life. It was like living in two distant countries at the same time. I had to learn different cultures, languages and many other things without any help since the beginning. I was constantly lost and wondering why. But after writing two books, my German got good enough to allow me to draw pictures no one else other than me would understand. And since most people think reading equals understanding, this would lead to nowhere: Just a waste of time. I learned programming by myself, long before my English was enough for anything useful. This is why i’m using the language here more like in a piece of Perl code, straight, but still playfully: Maybe like Lego bricks. My Cantonese is really bad in comparison. And i better not mention Spanish from my school days. At some point in between, i wanted to learn French, and later Italian, but there is nothing left, except for the yellow textbooks by Langenscheidt.
My parents have met the first time in West Germany, 1976. Both came here separately from the British colony Hong Kong to work hard. Back then, the German currency “Deutsche Mark” was quite strong, compared with the Hong Kong dollar. At the age of 19 and 22, they have found each other through mutual connections, and ten years later, i was born in 1986, in a city that is now no longer the capital of Germany. My first years weren’t that bad. Father made enough money as waiter in a chinese restaurant, with a lot of people working for governments as customers, while mother was there for me in my early stage. Even grandma came for a couple of months from Hong Kong to Bad Godesberg. But then they decided to run their own restaurant in Ratingen and things changed.