We’re the Hú 胡 family. This is our blog about living in Hangzhou, China.
Now if you’re not smiling already, left us explain: In China, 胡 is a fairly common surname. We count President Hu as a relative. But the word hú 胡 is also a mildly comical appellation for us, since it was originally used by the ancient agrarian Chinese to refer to the hairy, babble-talking, un-Chinese barbarian louts who occasionally caused trouble on their northwest borders. Later, as these tribes were pacified and incorporated into Chinese civilization, their families took on the name for themselves. But the word also continued as an exonym for those strange peoples of the West: you know, Sogdians, bandits, and other untrustworthy types.
If you’re still not smiling, well then the humor just isn’t intended for you. It’s an inside joke, on us, started by Nick’s Chinese teacher in the States (who gave him the name), for the benefit of all the Chinese we meet in the next two years.
Anyway, here’s the lineup, from right to left in the above picture:
Ruìlì 锐立 (‘sharp,’ ‘immediate’). No connection with his English name. The Chinese equivalent of Max Powers or Rex Steele, this was perhaps another joke, played by that same Chinese teacher.
Báilì 白丽 (‘white beauty’ — or, according to one output from Google Translate, “snowy Korea”). But at least it sounds like ‘Bayley.’
Oūwén 鸥汶 (something like, “Wen River of the seagull??”). Combines a famous river mentioned in the teachings of Confucius, China’s most revered philospher, with a bird that swoops in on picnics. And sounds like ‘Owen.’
So that’s us, and this is our blog. Here we’ll share with friends, family, and older brother 大哥 all of our mundane misadventures while studying, traveling, and raising our little Seagull over the next two years. Of course, the existing canon of ‘self-deprecating China expat complaints and observations’ literature is already a rich one; nevertheless, we’ll see if we can contribute. Probably not. But check back here anyway, for lousy writing, bad photos, inconsistent postings, ‘confucian’ Chinese references, and of course puns so awful you’ll forget how bad everything else is. Welcome to the 中国!