The Cermak-Chinatown station brought me right in front of an intersection. Although I have the perfectly trained jus-go-even-when-you-don’-know-where-you’r-goin’ attitude, I just had to stop across the station to see a map that felt like it had sprung up from nothing.

The Chinatown Library is nearby, and I wanted to go quite badly, so I went. There were quite a few parent-child pairs in there, and it was quite nice. When I was ready, I went looking for the dragon gate. I thought it was the only Chinatown I know with such a wide gate, leading to such a wide street. And the streets were quite empty. So I realised that the Chinatowns I’ve known were all more like Hong Kong.

I went there with a mission, though. I went from one grocery shop to another, looking for lemongrass and galangal. In a shop where I bothered asking, the words lemongrass and galangal didn’t spark any positive answer. When I asked them where they think I could find lemongrass and galangal, they said they didn’t know.

More and more I thought that perhaps I wasn’t too much of a Chinese, and much more of a Southeast Asian.