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  • On the train ride to Beijing, a man with a bushy mustache, probably around 55 years old, came bustling on the train with his female Chinese counterpart maybe 5 years younger. He was wearing a cap and Dodgers t-shirt, enthusiastically saying, “I wanna see” when she asked if he wanted a window seat. Later on, when he was walking the isle to use the bathroom, he came beside me and touched the In-N-Out logo on the sleeve of my shirt, sputtering the name out loud.

    “Oh you know them?” I said.

    “Yeah they make burgers! Where are you from?”

    “I’m from LA.”

    “No kidding, which part?”

    “Pasadena area”

    “So the Rosebowl?”

    “Yeah the Rosebowl.”

    “Do you live in the hills?”

    “No I don’t live in hills...“

    “You live at the top of the hill, don’t you!”

    “…No I don’t live at the top of the hill, who lives at the top of the hill?”

    “No I mean the San Gabriel Mountains! Those hills, you don’t live at the top of the hill?”

    “Do you live at the top of the hill...?”

    “No I don’t live at the top of the hill, I’m asking if you live at the top of the hill.”

    “Oh… I don’t live at the top of the hill.”

    I wasn’t sure if he was just asking if I was rich. Which in that case no, I don’t live at the top of the hill in Los Angeles. Figuratively and literally. When I asked him what brought him to China, he gestured at the Chinese woman, who responded with a smile and a small “Ni hao.” She must have adopted him from the U.S. So sweet of her. I thought my cross-cultural experiences were interesting, but nope… this was my own culture. Either way my train ride experience was complete.
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