Thursday, September 3, 2009

Interesting Conversation With Interesting People

My friend Claire and her daughter, Jenny visited us in San Francisco recently.

Claire is Chinese and came to live in Toronto when she started at Rotman in 2007. During my interaction with Claire, I have found her to be extremely open-minded and curious. She is also eager to learn about different cultures like myself. Jenny is an equally curious and a friendly child. Over the last 2 years, Claire and I have enjoyed mock interview preparation, Wii sessions, Sushi eating and discussions about future.

Other than the fun things we did together in San Francisco, two conversations stuck in my mind:

  • Claire and I were discussing the similarities in Chinese and Indian culture. Many things are similar and I couldn't help wonder how China has been able to contain their population over the years. I asked her to explain the strategy to me. Apparently, the Chinese government taxes people equivalent to about $2000 or $20,000 if they want to have a second child. Since not many people can afford high taxes, the problem has been addressed. This is a great strategy. However, it has a loop hole as well. Let's assume if a Chinese resident wanted to have a second child, they could live in Canada or United States and have the child there. They would be able to bring the kid back to China since that child is technically a non-Chinese resident. I think Claire mentioned that residents may still have to pay taxes. She also mentioned that there are clinics somewhere in the US, (she did not know where though) which Chinese residents have access to in order to have their delivery done at the clinic! The clinics probably cost an arm and a leg, so I am guessing they are only for an elite few.
I was very surprised by this revelation. But, there is a lesson here: The government was able to contain the population by enforcing strict laws. It must have been a hard transition, but it worked. I think Indian government should get inspiration from China.

  • Claire and I had this conversation about how her decision to stay back in Canada for another year is good for Jenny. She is learning a new language, getting exposed to all sorts of cultures, and good at several things (such as swimming, reading, piano, sports etc). Claire mentioned that hypothetically, when she and her husband die, Jenny will have no one to call 'family'. I agree, because siblings are your best links to your past and family. I cannot imagine having no one to share your memories with long after your parents are gone.
For most of my life, I have thought that one child in one household is enough. Perhaps, Claire is right - we do need a link to our past and parents.

I know that had the population not shot up in China, the government would not have enforced such strict rules. Wouldn't it be neat when the population goes back to normal in China, the government allows its residents to have another child?

I would love to get an older Chinese person's opinion on things when they were children. I am quite fascinated by Chinese culture. I hope I get an opportunity to visit my friend, Claire in China at some point.

Thanks Claire for sharing your thoughts with me and changing my point of view on children.

Oh, and the fabulous part of Claire and Jenny's visit - Claire taught me how to make Sushi! I can proudly call myself a 'Su Chef' now :)

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