IFComp 2020: Congee

I may be mellowing. Here we have a Twine piece with minimal interactivity and text delays and pages that give you just two sentences and a link to go forward. It’s a format that usually gets up my nose, but I found I didn’t mind it here. I’m always more forgiving when the writing is good.

It’s a sweet, simple story. You’re ill, and you miss the congee you used to eat back home in Hong Kong under similar circumstances, but you just can’t get it in the UK, a land of Chinese restaurants that cater to the non-Chinese. So your best friend makes some and brings it to you, resolving (for the moment, at least) the meditations on social displacement and being a foreigner and losing connections to your birth culture that the predicament inspired.

That’s it. A bunch of worried feelings followed by a kind gesture. There’s also a phone call with your mom in there, because how could there not be. But mainly, it manages to say a few things about the expat experience, in simple and understated terms that anyone can understand and sympathize with. Perhaps the reassuring ending makes it easier to swallow. There’s a bit of irony there, if you look at it right: the very discomfort of seeing seeing your culture repackaged to be more palatable to outsiders is itself here repackaged for outsiders.

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