Indre was born in Vilnius, Lithuania. She has a Bachelor's degree in Chinese with Economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a Master's degree in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature from Fudan University in Shanghai. Fluent in Mandarin, Indre has lived in China for more than ten years. Previously responsible for communications at a cross-border consultancy helping Western companies enter the Chinese market, she is now an independent translator, writer, and researcher. She currently lives in central Shanghai with her Shanghainese husband and son.
In China, proper ways of addressing people are of crucial importance. If you are meeting your Chinese girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s parents, always call them shushu (uncle) and ayi (auntie), and never, ever ask them for their first names or call them Mr and Mrs So-and-So. If the expectation is that you and your significant other will be tying the knot, go right ahead and call your prospective in-laws “baba mama”. They will be delighted.
Memorable Travel Experience
A few years ago, we celebrated my Chinese mother-in-law’s sixtieth birthday with a special road trip across the mountainous southwestern provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan and the city of Chongqing, the misty megapolis between the two. My mother-in-law was born in a military base in Chongqing, and, as a youth, moved across the two provinces, following her father, who was an officer in the Liberation army. During our road trip, we stopped and visited every spot that held meaning to her, including many dilapidated and abandoned buildings. But the ultimate treat was visiting the secret missile plant nestled in the mountains of rural Guizhou, where she had worked for ten years, starting as a seventeen-year-old apprentice during the Cultural Revolution. The plant had been abandoned in the nineties and had become an eerie ghost town, with many buildings untouched. We wandered through the canteen, the showers, the many production buildings and offices, and the dormitories. Her old room was locked, but many others weren’t. Posters from the 80s and the 90s were still hanging on the walls. She said it was the best birthday she had ever had.