Like every girl who always wants to show the most charming facet of her before her beloved boy, I always want to show the best side of my city to my foreign friends. So last year, when a Canadian friend of mine paid a short visit to Guangzhou, without a second thought, I took her to the new CBD. Expecting complements and praise for the dazzling sky-crappers, I was amazed by her remarks. "Well, it is a modern metropolis indeed."she said, "But... Where is the 'REAL' Guangzhou."
I looked around, trying to find the traces of the city that raised me. But I failed. The old little house my grandmother used to live in was replaced by a glaring office building. The tranquil alley where I used to play hide-and-seek with my little buddies were widened, crowded with shoppers and cars. The shy little girl I knew when I was young has grown to a charming metropolitan lady that I hardly recognized.
At that moment, I could 't help asking: Where is the city I used to be familiar with? What really defines us, the breath-taking architecture which visitors admire, or the common roof under which every household continues its own story from generation to generation?
The real Guangzhou should be the miraculous cuisine that smells like a warm bowl of Tingzai porridge and tastes like a delicious cage of shrimp dumplings, a lovely garden where the old walks the dogs and the young plays the games, and a wonderland which attracts millions of tourists and fortune-hunters while its people call "home".
Are cultural clashes inevitable? Yes, because we are different. And thanks to the differences, curious travelers like me never find it disappointing to explore the wonderfulness of the world.
However, cultural clashes don't indicate that different cultures are incompatible. I firmly believe diversified cultures can coexist because as human beings we must have shared something in common. We celebrate harvest and mourn over death. That's why when Chinese people are having fun at Christmas, the top of the Empire State Building is also lit to red for celebrating the Chinese Spring Festival.
To coexist, we need to treasure the similarities we share. More significantly, we need to preserve cultural diversity because it is way more substantial than mere tourist attraction. It is closely related to every individual's everyday life, the way we eat and the way we speak.
Whatever colors we are, wherever we are from, we express feelings, tell stories and sing folk songs to our descendants in our own words. We are no great people, but also making history, in an oral way. The demise of any language or dialect not only takes away the medium of a culture, but also the spiritual sustenance of generations. In preserving cultural diversity, we are not only protecting the treasury of human wisdom, but also showing respect for different people's life styles. And the respect for every individual composes the foundation of a peaceful cultural coexistence.
I've promised to my Canadian friend, next time she comes to China, I'll take her home and cook the soup from my great-grandmother's secret recipe. It may not be state-of-the-art, but it must be one-of-a-kind.