The term in history usually refers to Mongolian eminence in the battlefield in the era of Genghis Khan's grandson Batu who went knocking on Europe's door by the Danube. The word “golden” may have referred to the sovereign's tent that was allegedly colored gold, though Russia at first referred to the Mongolian invaders as the Blue (western) and White (eastern) Hordes.
The word Golden was never used in the Mongolian and later Turkic Khanate, but adopted by Russian writers a century after. Sometimes, the color reference also alludes to the skin coloration of the folks from the steppes.
I had previously exaggerated in characterizing the number of women of Harbin as half-blondes and half-brunettes when I went by there a few weeks ago from Inner Mongolia. The exaggeration was not by much as, again, Lady Clairol's influence seems to prevail widely. When the university opened its doors to the incoming class and the returning second, third, and fourth upper “grades” (word used similar to “year” in the West), the hair coloring company was obviously doing a brisk business.
We are again enticing students in the upper grades to speak the English they learned the last 8-10 years. It is said that students already have a vocabulary of 4,000 words, which they recognize when reading, use in writing when they have to (mostly those aspiring to study further at the master's level), but hardly used in verbal discourse.
Upper grade students started a week earlier than the incoming first graders. When the Freshies came in, they had parents in tow, or rather, Mama and Papa wanted to make sure their only daughter or son had everything s/he needed to survive the lonesome but much sought-after life in higher education.
We take college life for granted in the United States, and most of democratic states, where the option to attend an institution of higher learning is pretty much a matter of choice and finances. One's subject of study is a personal preference though the influence of parents' careers, not unlike those among the Chinese, bears considerable influence on the choice. Not so in China, but we will reserve this for another reflection.
It's the end of summer and in one of my classes, a tall 6-footer on black laced corked elevated heels, wearing skimpy shorts that only Hefner's playmates might wear along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, towered over everyone else. A Shanghai colleague once quipped that Chinese girls are built like the Great Wall, solid and sturdy, and flat on both sides. Our tall lass skipped the mold. What genetics might have been stingy in providing in the upper extremities, Victoria's Secret was only ready to accentuate!
The lady turned out to be a visiting sister who was at the university a year before, and dropped out to hold a job and support younger sister through school. She could have been one of the elegant statuettes priming to be airline stewards seen along our university lanes, but this time, our tall one was just out relishing the feel of memory lane. Had deep regrets to find out she was only attending my session once this semester!
Our aside is not meant just to delight the memory of our sexist eye. It reveals the disparity that some folks have when referring with great fear the resurgence of the golden horde. To begin with, the Mongols are a minority in the emergent China of our present dispensation, and the only passion our predominantly Han population have is in the field of commerce where they find every other way a means to trade something that might be needed and wanted.
For a couple of years in the '70s, across the prairie of Saskatchewan in Canada, I was with a group of folk who promoted participatory methods in the social process through a program of community forum. I stopped in small towns of predominantly European migrants invariably encountering a Chinese restaurant. The food offering were seasoned to the customers' taste, so I would walk in at lunch eschewing the menu and asking for similar food “like they had for lunch.” Surprised, the Sino-chefs were only too happy to comply.
Like the Ilocanos of the Philippines where the “frozen” culture is more evident in remote Hawaiian settlements than the Pea Eye villages that have sold out to current urban ethos, the China of Pearl Buck has pretty much disappeared following in the steps of Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.
China's finances are heading the Wall Street way. Male enthusiasm follows Europe's football kicks, and NBA hook shots. The females evidently grew up with Barbie, in all her glorious hair colorations! HClinton who was in Beijing in '96 for the UN Women's Conference, and slated to visit this week after belligerent words at the Asian-Pacific gathering more appropriate for LPinetta than the former first lady, may tone done what is perceived as misplaced militancy.
If there is a golden horde in the offing, it will come in the form of the genial Panda, or a Zhongguoren (Chinese) version of today's computer animations where the young's talents seem bent to join C++ programming.
Oh, darn. I missed clicking a photo of my stunning one-time class lass!
Jaime R. Vergara (email@example.com) is a former PSS teacher and is currently writing from the campus of Shenyang Aerospace University in China.