Author Archives: Amy Kao

The Crow and the Bottle

Text: 

“There was a crow and a bottle of water, but the crow’s beak was too big for the head of the bottle. So the crow was wondering how to get to the water, and it started to drop pebbles into the bottle so the water would keep rising. Eventually the water got to the brim and the crow was able to drink. It goes to show that if you’re really smart then you’re able to get what you’re looking for. Persistance is important.”

Background:

This is a Chinese story, and my informant learned it from him mom. He likes it because it shows that persistence goes a long way in achieving your dreams.

Context:

This was just told to him as a child, he doesn’t remember any specific instances that it was told.

Personal Thoughts:

I think persistence has always been a big part of Chinese culture, as well as intelligence and hard work, and these values are very present in this tale. It’s also interesting that a crow is the main character in the story. In Chinese culture, the crow usually has bad connotations, and will oftentimes signal bad luck. However, maybe this tale tries to comment on the fact that even if you are someone of “lower status,” as long as you work hard and are smart, you will still be able to achieve great things.

I Don’t Wanna Be a Chicken

Text:

“I don’t wanna be a chicken, I don’t wanna be a duck, so shake my butt”

Background:

My informant learned it from a couple girls in second grade who made fun of him and shook their butts at them. He said that it feels like it means an insult because you’re calling the other person a chicken/duck. He remembers being very offended.

Context:

This was a song that was sung from time to time among young kids.

Personal Thoughts:

This seems to be the start of young children learning about gender differences, and a way to cope with them. One could even argue that this was a way that girls started learning about their own sexuality since the butt is a fairly sexualized part on a female’s body. Perhaps this was just a way that kids could bond within their own gender.

Table Settings: Rice and Soup

Text:

“This is another custom… you’re supposed to have rice on the left side of you, and soup on the right side when you serve it. Don’t know the reason, but maybe because you eat with your right hand.”

Background:

The informant learned this from his mom. He doesn’t really know the meaning of it, but he doesn’t like it because he think it’s annoying.

Context:

This is a custom that is normally taught to kids at a young age regarding table manners.

Personal Thoughts:

I think this is part of table manners that are taught in Korean culture, similar to the ways that we have rules about where the bread plate, drinks, or utensils are placed on a table. This creates more organization on a table, and since rice and soups are a common part of Korean meals, they have rules about where they go within a table setting.

Origin of the Sikh Khalsa

Text:

“By the time the tenth guru came around, he created the a Khalsa (the body of Sikhs) And they wanted to create a definitive group that would help identify to others who the Sihks were. It’s never been done before because of the caste system. They wanted a shared identity to help them bond. So the 10th guru had this celebration of prayers and hymns being sung. Then guru said that “you guys are all very dear to me” but I need someone to sacrifice themselves. One of them volunteered, so the guru took him into a tent. After a while, he came out with a bloody knife and asked for one more. This happened 3 more times, so 4 others were offered as sacrifice. All five of them and the guru then came out of the tent dressed in navy blue and orange, and the guru called them panj pyare (“five loved ones”). He declared that they were the first members of the khalsa. That day he declared that all have males will have the same last name- Singh (male lion), and all females will be the last name Kaur (female lion). He also created a baptism ceremony where you drink out of amrit, a vessel with holy water that’s blessed by gurus.”

Background:

My informant heard this story from both his grandmas. He likes it because it shows the devotion that people have for his faith. It makes him feel that it’s something you do with a full heart. The fact that they were willing to give their heads for the guru was an ultimate devotion to their gurus. This resonates with him because he believes that if he cares about a certain goal, he’s not going to “half-ass” it. For example, a lot of cousins will shave their beards and trim their hair, which is a forbidden thing in the Sikh religion, but my informant says that if he’s going to believe in it, he’s going to do it all out. A lot of these stories talk about hard work and discipline, which are values that he carries over to his school and work life too.

Context: 

This story is commonly passed down through families, as well as Sunday Schools for Sikhs.

Personal Thoughts:

I think it’s interesting that Sikhism is the only religion that requires it’s followers not to cut their hair. I asked my informant the reasoning behind this, and he said that it’s because they believe that hair is a gift from God, and even after you cut it, it grows, showing that it’s a natural thing. So cutting it is a sign of disrespect. From the information that I gathered from my informant, I can see that respect and devotion are important values int he Sikh religion.

 

Mole-ster

Text:

“What do you call 6.022 times 10 to the 23… wait I messed up. Why did the 6.022 times 10 to the 23rd ester get arrested? Because it was a mole-ster!”

Background:

My informant doesn’t remember where he heard this from, but it’s his favorite Chemistry joke.

Context:

This is a joke that is usually said in a casual setting between friends since it is slightly crude.

Personal Thoughts:

This joke is probably spread between people of higher intelligence, since it does require basic Chemistry knowledge to understand. It’s a bit crude, which is an interesting juxtaposition against the topic of Chemistry, but that’s probably why the punch line is unexpected.