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  • Hetain Patel: (In Chinese)

  • Yuyu Rau: Hi, I'm Hetain. I'm an artist.

  • And this is Yuyu,

  • who is a dancer I have been working with.

  • I have asked her to translate for me.

  • HP: (In Chinese)

  • YR: If I may, I would like to tell you

  • a little bit about myself

  • and my artwork.

  • HP: (In Chinese)

  • YR: I was born and raised near Manchester,

  • in England,

  • but I'm not going to say it in English to you,

  • because I'm trying to avoid any assumptions

  • that might be made from my northern accent.

  • (Laughter)

  • HP: (In Chinese)

  • YR: The only problem with masking it

  • with Chinese Mandarin

  • is I can only speak this paragraph,

  • which I have learned by heart

  • when I was visiting in China. (Laughter)

  • So all I can do is keep repeating it in different tones

  • and hope you won't notice.

  • (Laughter)

  • HP: (In Chinese)

  • (Laughter)

  • YR: Needless to say, I would like to apologize

  • to any Mandarin speakers in the audience.

  • As a child, I would hate being made

  • to wear the Indian kurta pajama,

  • because I didn't think it was very cool.

  • It felt a bit girly to me, like a dress,

  • and it had this baggy trouser part

  • you had to tie really tight

  • to avoid the embarrassment of them falling down.

  • My dad never wore it,

  • so I didn't see why I had to.

  • Also, it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable,

  • that people assume I represent something

  • genuinely Indian when I wear it,

  • because that's not how I feel.

  • HP: (In Chinese)

  • YR: Actually, the only way I feel comfortable

  • wearing it is by pretending

  • they are the robes of a kung fu warrior

  • like Li Mu Bai from that film,

  • "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

  • (Music)

  • Okay.

  • So my artwork is about identity and language,

  • challenging common assumptions

  • based on how we look like or where we come from,

  • gender, race, class.

  • What makes us who we are anyway?

  • HP: (In Chinese)

  • YR: I used to read Spider-Man comics,

  • watch kung fu movies,

  • take philosophy lessons from Bruce Lee.

  • He would say things like --

  • HP: Empty your mind.

  • (Laughter)

  • Be formless, shapeless, like water.

  • Now you put water into a cup.

  • It becomes the cup.

  • You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.

  • Put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.

  • Now, water can flow

  • or it can crash.

  • Be water, my friend. (Applause)

  • YR: This year, I am 32 years old,

  • the same age Bruce Lee was when he died.

  • I have been wondering recently,

  • if he were alive today,

  • what advice he would give me

  • about making this TED Talk.

  • HP: Don't imitate my voice.

  • It offends me.

  • (Laughter)

  • YR: Good advice,

  • but I still think that we learn who we are

  • by copying others.

  • Who here hasn't imitated their childhood hero

  • in the playground, or mum or father?

  • I have.

  • HP: A few years ago, in order to make this video

  • for my artwork, I shaved off all my hair

  • so that I could grow it back as my father had it

  • when he first emigrated from India

  • to the U.K. in the 1960s.

  • He had a side parting and a neat mustache.

  • At first, it was going very well.

  • I even started to get discounts in Indian shops.

  • (Laughter)

  • But then very quickly,

  • I started to underestimate

  • my mustache growing ability,

  • and it got way too big.

  • It didn't look Indian anymore.

  • Instead, people from across the road,

  • they would shout things like --

  • HP and YR: Arriba! Arriba! Ándale! Ándale!

  • (Laughter)

  • HP: Actually, I don't know why I am even talking like this.

  • My dad doesn't even have an Indian accent anymore.

  • He talks like this now.

  • So it's not just my father that I've imitated.

  • A few years ago I went to China for a few months,

  • and I couldn't speak Chinese,

  • and this frustrated me,

  • so I wrote about this and had it translated

  • into Chinese, and then I learned this by heart,

  • like music, I guess.

  • YR: This phrase is now etched into my mind

  • clearer than the pin number to my bank card,

  • so I can pretend I speak Chinese fluently.

  • When I had learned this phrase,

  • I had an artist over there hear me out

  • to see how accurate it sounded.

  • I spoke the phrase, and then he laughed

  • and told me, "Oh yeah, that's great,

  • only it kind of sounds like a woman."

  • I said, "What?"

  • He said, "Yeah, you learned from a woman?"

  • I said, "Yes. So?"

  • He then explained the tonal differences

  • between male and female voices

  • are very different and distinct, and that I had learned it very well,

  • but in a woman's voice.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • HP: Okay. So this imitation business

  • does come with risk.

  • It doesn't always go as you plan it,

  • even with a talented translator.

  • But I am going to stick with it,

  • because contrary to what we might usually assume,

  • imitating somebody can reveal something unique.

  • So every time I fail

  • to become more like my father,

  • I become more like myself.

  • Every time I fail to become Bruce Lee,

  • I become more authentically me.

  • This is my art.

  • I strive for authenticity,

  • even if it comes in a shape

  • that we might not usually expect.

  • It's only recently that I've started to understand

  • that I didn't learn to sit like this

  • through being Indian.

  • I learned this from Spider-Man.

  • (Laughter)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Hetain Patel: (In Chinese)

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B1 TED chinese laughter indian bruce lee learned

【TED】Hetain Patel: Who am I? Think again (Who am I? Think again | Hetain Patel)

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    VoiceTube posted on 2013/11/02
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