Without Cupertino Village, Cupertino just couldnít be Cupertino. Cupertino Village was essentially an entirely Asian plaza fraught with small and large Asian restaurants, Asian bookstores, Asian gift shops, Asian music stores, Asian snack bars, pearl milk tea stores, and even an Asian supermarket called Ranch 99.
Surprisingly, most of the stores and restaurants were mostly authentic. There was little of the Americanization that corrupted Asian stores like Mr. Chauís Chinese Fast Food or Panda Express (although I must admit both of those Americanized stores were delicious). When my godsister from Taiwan came for a summer program at Stanford University (only twenty minutes away from Cupertino), my family took her out to Cupertino Village. When my friends and I were dying for a little authentic Asian stuff, we headed over to Cupertino Village. Cupertino Village was the Asian supercenter.
The Village was an upper-middle class establishment, unlike San Franciscoís dingy Chinatown, but then, who really in the Silicon Valley wasnít upper-middle class, if not straight out upper class? Not too many. Newsweek last year (2004) rated Cupertino as the number one place to go to get rich quick in the U.S. Growing up around all these rich Asians must be a completely different experience than my parentsí who grew up in poverty.
To many of our Asian parents, Cupertino Village must have embodied the ultimate American Dream Ė a wealthy Asian village in America, in one of the most successful areas in the world. At the same time, Iíve noticed this pride comes with a price. A Caucasian man at Cupertino Village definitely attracted some looks. Not that a white person at Cupertino Village was an uncommon thing, but it just felt out of place. Other races came too: Indian, African, Jewish, etc. They all were likewise out of place. Not that they didnít belong, but they were like tourists in the Village. Half the time they couldnít even communicate with the store employees because the employees only spoke Chinese or Japanese or Korean.
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