Investigation of Ageing in Asian Communities


Author: Ka Shing Charles Ko (Great Interactive Education Centre, Hong Kong)
Speaker: Ka Shing Charles Ko
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2022 Colloquium


Abstract

Behaviors, feelings and values are all linked together and presented as symbolic messages in a piece of theatre: as Shu (舒志義, 2010) suggests, there are chances that the misuse of symbols could lead to inappropriate cultural shocks, but it is indeed only the signs and symbols that are interpreted to give meanings once a piece of art work is presented (Barthes, 1968). In The Troublesome Grandpa, it is portrayed the reality of how married couples dislike and mistreat the older generations. While the first scene captures the troublesome quality of the grandfather through his inability to use the TV remote control and his unwelcome taste of watching “noisy” Cantonese opera, in the second scene, the grandfather takes the liberty to order the maid to cook some leftover Chinese herbal medicine, intending to treat his grandson who suffers from influenza. Scene three even depicts the daughter-in-law’s strong objection to such treatment, by threatening to put him into an elderly home; an interesting conversation follows showing another typical point of conflict arising from the uneducated parental style.

Similar situations actually take place in many homes in Hong Kong, with our mother carrying food for our nephew and niece using her own chopsticks, for example. As Shu (2012, p.200) suggests, “[t]his is particularly Chinese, not only because of the use of the chopsticks, but also the older generations believe that they used to raise and feed their kids and nothing went wrong.” I agree that the cultural aspect underneath this belief is the collectivistic assumption—we are one family and this is the way to treat family members intimately (ibid.): The western concern of hygiene fits with the individualistic character and hence the use of the diner’s own plate and public cutlery for carrying food to the plate alternatively.

The last scene pushes the action to the highest point, by having Grandpa experiencing urinary incontinence while watching TV and thus wetting the sofa (ibid.).

In the current study, I attempt to investigate the worldwide phenomenon of aging populations. The problem being even worse, it is found that the moral dilemma stays mostly wit h Chinese/Asian communities.

Keywords: Aging, Ageing, Chinese/Asian communities, Drama