As you step through the red-colored gates, the buttery smell of popcorn overwhelms you. You step forward …. Bubam! A roller-coaster soars above you. Minutes later, you find yourself at the front of a line, roller-coaster tracks dazzling you. As you board the small car, your phobia of heights hits you. You speed through the deep blue sky and scream so hard your vocal chords are pushed to the limit. Again, light-headed, you hear a light ping. A small ice-cream trolley rolls by. “Ice cream!” the vendor yells. You find yourself lapping up melted melted ice-cream off the cone as you saunter dreamingly out the gates you entered from. That day was an adventure. What next?
Monthly Archives: March 2009
[A version of this was published in the Almaden Resident newspaper (Aug 14, 2009, page 10) under the title “Ethnic melting pot in middle school? Not exactly” and caused quite a stir. It was subsequently followed by executive editor Dale Bryant’s editorial in the Almaden Resident (Aug 27, 2009, page 12) addressed to the community.]
You have probably heard about the great diversity of the Bay Area, but in my school, diversity doesn’t seem to be the way to go. At lunch, everyone branches off into their racial groups. The Mexicans sit by the cafeteria, the Caucasians sit on the steps and on the walls, and the Asians sit behind the library. I sit with the Asians, in K-Town.
The story of the formation of K-Town is actually quite amusing. At the beginning of the school year, there were two Asian Towns. There was Chinatown, in the shade near the office, and Korea Town, which was by the library.
Chinatown was aptly named based on the ethnicity ratio (9/10 were Chinese), the overpopulation (about 60 kids sat in a space the size of a living room), and because of the horrible littering (after lunch, you could walk on trash for 30 feet if you tried). Kids who were assigned Trash Duty would go directly to Chinatown to fill their trash bucket in seconds.
Korea Town, on the other hand, was composed of only 10 kids (myself included, although I’m Indian) – 8 were Korean, one was Chinese, and then there was me. Korea was always striving to increase the population. There was a bitter feud going on between Korea Town and Chinatown. Our “leader” Kim Jong-Il was always talking trash about the “Chinatown Boys”. We wouldn’t even loan each other lunch money.
Besides the population, there was one major thing that separated Korea Town and Chinatown – the trash. Korea Town was always clean. Every day, we would pile up our trash in a lunch carrier, and one person would throw it away. Chinatown members just put their trash on the ground, and left whenever a yard duty attendant came by to reprimand them. Soon enough, the Chinatown area was declared off limits by yard duty. The Chinatown members had nowhere to go but Korea Town, because we were Asian and we had plenty of space. Our “leader” allowed the Chinatown people to sit in Korea Town on one condition: Chinatown was history, and all the members would unconditionally become Korea Town members. So now almost all the 8th grade Asians in the school sit in this mass of Asians.
Korea Town is now divided into a couple of parts. There is the “Sacred Circle”, a ring of the original 8 Koreans. Then follows the main mass, a jumble of Chinatowners that make up the bulk of Korea Town. Finally, there are the suburbs, which are groups of people that aren’t exactly in the mass, but are a little distance away from them.
All people in Korea Town must be:
- Primary Asian (meaning small-eyed and yellow-skinned)
- Secondary Asian (Indian, Pilipino) with at least 3.5 GPA 🙂
- Non-caucasian (exception: 4.0 GPA with partly Asian Heritage)
- In the suburbs, Caucasians with 3.5 GPA or higher are allowed
Koreans are known as “Originals.” People of other races can be “ambassadors” or “members.” People that were part of the original Korea Town that weren’t Korean (like me or Chairman Mao) are ambassadors from their original country. I’m an Indian Ambassador. It’s pretty funky. Everyone that joined post-Off Limits Act is just a member, but they can rise up to become an ambassador through rites of passage, e.g., writing your name on the library wall with your backside, with at least 5 originals or ambassadors watching.
Ironically, the littering in Korea Town is now very heavy, and whenever a yard duty attendant comes by, we pull an “Asian Migration” and drift away before being ordered to pick up trash.
My original friends remain in the sacred circle, but we’ve drifted apart.
Me – I’m living in the suburbs and at peace with it.