When you look for sth here

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Bamboo Stick

I'm reading. Again. But this time it is a long read, as I come back to it when possible, usually at night time, or in the early morning hours before all the usual rush starts ...

(and let's face it, however irritating that rush may be, pulling me away from a book, it is one of these life-defining elements, the one I know I will miss when it's gone, and feel truly good that I can witness it now, and be a part of it nearly every day... As once in a while it happens that they sleep longer, giving me an extra hour which I waste almost completely anyway, staring at them in their sleep... typical:)

Anyway, I stumbled upon this book one day. Since it was raining. And sun decided it was better to wait the weather out behind the clouds. I followed the example, my clouds being bookshelves at my local bookshop. And then I saw the cover, with bamboo stick on white background. And the title: 'Bend, Not Break. A Life in Two Worlds.'

There is something utterly refreshing and invigorating in white&green combination. It has this springy vibe and appeal that it is going to be better, whatever the weather.

The book though: it is a story of Ping Fu, a woman who was taken away from her family when she was 7 years old, told by the soldiers few years older than her that she was another people's child (awful way of finding out but that was the least of her problems), and taken to a sort of education / work camp. Where she not only had to survive, minding her newly identified little sister (completely on her own! At 7! That is incredible even by Medieval standards!), but worked at a factory. Learning electrical circuits, compiling radio transistors, polishing metal pieces until they looked like mirrors, spotless and clean... Only to become computer engineering student in the US years later, and a co-founder of a successful engineering software company.

I look at my 7-year old when reading this story and think how life can twist and twirl. Our lives have made a huge turn, too, but on a completely different level. Yet, I feel so many connections with that read. It's extraordinary.

Here is a story of a woman, like me, who grew up in a communism era, like me, who had incredibly difficult childhood, unlike me. Yet, I feel for her with every single page I turn.

And the thoughts she shares about ethics of work. Incredible. Like this one, from her early US working experience:
'There was no explanation of why we should perform our tasks or that the end product would look like. I was stunned. My approach to work had always been precisely the opposite. I had sought to understand the why before what and how. It was as though we were masons constructing a magnificent cathedral, only without the vision being communicated or an architectural plan presented. How could we be inspired if we received nothing more than instructions about how to lay bricks?'



  1. This memoir Bend Not Break is full of contradictory fabrications mixed with high-minded talking. A lot of the stories in this book have been proven fake beyond doubt. Ms. Ping Fu herself had to retract quite a few major claims and correct quite a few "errors." Ping Fu has become so notorious in Chinese American communities that her name is synonymous with liar. Plug "Ping Fu" and "liar" into Google these days and the combo yields more than 6,300 hits.

    ​I have read the Ping Fu's 2012 English memoir, her 1996 Chinese memoir, her resumes, and her student record at Suzhou (Soochow) University. There are many contradictions among them. ​The major problem is: a Red Guard made up stories to portray herself as a victim during the Cultural Revolution.

    ​In this book Ms. Ping Fu depicted herself as a victim of the Cultural Revolution, but her registration form at Suzhou University that Ping Fu filled out with her own hand-writing says that she joined the Communist Youth League (CYP) in April, 1973. At that time members of CYP in schools were selected from active Red Guards. Indeed I saw a photo on the Internet that teenager Ping Fu was smiling with other Red Guards under the flag of "Red Guard Brigade". Yes, Ping Fu was a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution.

    In this book Ping Fu never went to school between 8 to 18 years old, she was a child labor for 10 years. But her student registration form at Suzhou University that Ping Fu filled out with her own hand-writing says that she was a class monitor in her high school, and she joined the Communist Youth League in her middle school.

    In this book Ms. Ping Fu suffered a lot in China, as she is telling her suffering stories in China to American readers. Back in 1996 she was telling her suffering stories in America to her readers in China. In her 1996 Chinese memoir Ping Fu wrote that she never suffered any hardship in China but suffered a lot in America. In the Abstract of her 1996 Chinese memoir, Ms. Ping Fu wrote: "Once stepping on the land of America, all the dreams that I had back in China were shattered in the face of this nakedly, cruelly, realistic society, ..... There is no boat to the shore of freedom."

    In this book Ms. Ping Fu never graduated from Suzhou University, and Suzhou University confirmed that she withdrew before graduation. But in her resumes which she submitted to apply government job and grants, she put a BA degree and MA degree in Chinese literature from Suzhou University, which means Ms. Ping Fu provided false information to apply government job and grants.

    In this book Ms. Ping Fu was persecuted by the Chinese government and virtually under house arrest from 1982 to 1983, but in her resume she was working as a lecturer at NUAA, a semi-military university in China​ during 1982 to 1983​.

    In summary, Ping Fu did not suffer during the Cultural Revolution, actually she was privileged. In July, 2013, Suzhou University disclosed Ping Fu's student file. She was a Red Guard and a member of the Communist Youth League, she was a class monitor in high school. Her story of from 8 to 18 working in factories without school was completely made up.

    Ping Fu's 1996 Chinese memoir tells different stories from her English memoir Bend Not Break. You can find English translations and observations of excerpts from Ping Fu's 1996 Chinese memoir at www.amazon.com.

    ​For the readers who don't know much about China, some of Ping Fu's America stories in this book are just as fake as her China stories, such as she was kidnapped the first day when she arrived in America although Albuquerque Police Department has no record even though 3 minors were alleged to be involved, or served John Wayne in 1984 while John Wayne died in 1979, or Sylvester Stallone grabbed her rear end with his "enormous right hand" while Stallone doesn't have an enormous right hand......

  2. Hiya!
    Thank you for reading my post, and for the insights into Ping Fu's biography.
    I still find the book amazing; it's my first encounter, and definitely not the last, with Chinese and American culture faced, clashed, and challenged...
    All the best to you!