You cannot talk about Chinatown, whether it's disappearing or expanding or changing... without talking about Quincy. Chinatown used to be the center of Chinese community... and it still is. But Quincy is becoming a hub too. Not only is it growing and are there more and more Chinese there, but people are saying, "Chinatown is as good as gone it will all be in Quincy in the future." or "Chinatown should just move to Quincy."
But does the growth of Quincy's Chinese community (and other Asian community things that benefit from a Chinese hub), mean necessarily that Chinatown has to shrink? Do the two compete or help each other?
My mother in law is Taiwanese, and she never has anything good to say about Chinatown. Sour face and junky this junky that... "not as good as New Jersey... Not as good as New York."
But when we went to Kam Man, here eyes glazed over and lit up at the same time and she moved like a moth to the fire waving goodbye to us, unable to control the pull toward the the supermarket, a buzzing of Asian Commerce. A movement of life.
She's traveled the world and she always has something good to say about Kam Man, or rather Kim Men.
"Much better than Chinatown.... why not move to Quincy."
The first few times I went to Quincy I really enjoyed it. I was surrounded by Asian people, eating my pre-made food court food (which I actually enjoy more fro some reason), snarfing it down. I felt that touristy feeling. It's awesome to go get your food, and not really be part of the community. Why? I don't have to worry about how I look because I don't know any of these people. I don't have to wave every two seconds. I can just snarf my food down. I mean I knew people who lived in Quincy at the time. But in Chinatown it's like you know everyone. The second I put my hand down I have to lift it back up to wave at someone else. Not a bad problem to have. But sort of difficult to finish chewing your food. And then if you don't say hi... that can cause trouble right?
(I no longer have this problem in Chinatown btw. It is now full of a ton of new faces I don't recognize who speak Mandarin. It is now surpising when I run into someone I know.)
As we went to Quincy over and over... well I did start to recognize people and I realized that Quincy is not it's own Chinatown... I mean it is... but there is a lot of connection and carry over between the two communities.
Well more to come on this.
Till then, ponder this scenario.
You are an Asian Monk living in a Buddhist Temple in Quincy. You want to learn English because you are in America. You take classes to learn English at:
a) the Buddhist Temple where you live, because in addition to religious services it offers an English/Vietnamese or Thai or whatever exchange where Americans can learn a new language and monks and other immigrants can learn English.
b) A community center in Quincy because due to the vast amount of Asian Immigrants there are a ton of English conversation groups and classes or
C) Chinatown.. which supposedly has become nothing but "an ethnic playground" according to a New York times article promoting New York's Chinatown and jabbing Boston's.
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btw: if you live in the Jamaica Plain Area, I'm starting a Kung Fu and Meditation class at the First Baptist Church on Centre Street. It's not going to be free but it will be extremely affordable. Like $20.00 a month affordable. $10.00 if you sign up with a big group. Jan 12th! 8-9pm sign up ahead of time.