“Bosom Friend” by Harry Tu – August 2020

Jizheng Harry Tu. Born in Shanghai, China,1933. Came to the U.S. in 1980. Now retired and living in California..


The Webster Dictionary’s definition of “bosom friend” is “intimate or confidential friend.”

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition is “A very close or intimate friend.”

The Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition is “a friend that you like a lot and have a very close relationship with.”

The Urban Dictionary defines the term as “An intimate friend; a really kindred spirit to whom you can confide your inmost soul. Very hard to find.”

I like the last one.

An English-Chinese Dictionary would usually translate it as “知心朋友” (zhī xīn péng yǒu), which back translates literally as “a friend who knows your heart.”

Just as in English, where there is more than one way to describe  a bosom friend, e.g. “kindred spirit”, or “soul mate”, etc., in Chinese there are also several terms that express the same meaning as “知心朋友”.

“知心朋友” is an expression used in spoken (vernacular) Chinese. In classical Chinese, the Chinese used in ancient times for written works, expressions were abbreviated to their bare minimum, because paper hadn’t been invented, written works had to be carved on bamboo slips. That means a lot of carving and a lot of bamboo, plus the space to store these works. The classical Chinese phrase for “知心朋友” would become “知友” (zhī yǒu), omitting the two middle characters; “知交” (zhī jiāo), replacing “友” (friend) with “交” (association, relationship); or “至交” (zhì jiāo), replacing “知” (know) with “至” (extreme, utmost), note the same spelling of “知” and “至”, but different intonation).

There is another, I think, more elegant expression in classical Chinese for describing a special friendship — “知音” (zhī yīn), a friend appreciative of one’s music.

And there’s a story behind it. This happened during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.E.). Yú Bóyá (俞伯牙), a qín (ancient Chinese zither) player, was playing his instrument. Zhōng Zǐqī (鍾子期), a woodcutter returning from work, heard Boya playing, and remarked that Boya’s tune was “lofty as the towering mountains”. Then Boya changed his tune, and Ziqi remarked that his music was “magnificent as the flowing waters.” Whatever Boya played, Ziqi would grasp the former’s feelings. They became “知音” (zhī yīn) (a friend appreciative of one’s music). When Ziqi died, Boya felt that no one else could understand his music, so he broke his qin and cut the strings, and never played again. Thus the term zhi yin has been carried forward till this day.


Billy’s Comments: Harry is my cousin-in-law , married to my cousin Yihua Li. He is one of the most interesting persons to talk to – full of passion and has deep knowledge in both Eastern and Western Cultures.


FF Moments In Bro. Louis Chan’s Travels – Billy Lee – August 2020

Louis Chan is one of the most loyal FF Fraternity Brothers that I hold dearly. Louis and Ivy are residents in the beautiful city of San Francisco.  They have been married for 43 happy years, and have a son and a daughter.  Now retired, their days are filled with volunteer work, and reading up on history and literature. They also have a passion for traveling, a curiosity to learn about other places, and enjoy immersing in different ways of life. But most significantly they consciously try to extend, expand, and nurture FF Friendship and Bonding whenever possible – taking advantage of special locations on unique occasions.

In 1984 he traveled to HongKong to attend a FF Reunion where he reunited with manyformer Montreal FF Brothers. Bro. Louis graduated from McGill University in Montreal.

In 1992, Louis visited Bro. Billy Lee and Sister Lucille in Rome, Italy. A special memory was touring the Vatican with Sister Lucille and actually saw The Pope – John Paul II.

In 2009, they visited Istanbul, Turkey, and met up with Bro. Bill Chen and Sister Sandra.Bro. Bill treated them to a sumptuous dinner at the festive Taksim Square.

In 2014, they traveled to Shanghai to celebrate the establishment of FF’s Shanghai Lodge. They participated in a post FF Reunion tour, saw Bro. I.M.Pei-designed museum in  Suzhou, and the famous Leifeng Tower in Hangzhou.

In November 2015, they made a trip to India, with Sister Ancilla Kwok and her friend, Rosemarie Chung. Highlights were the Taj Mahai Jama Masjid Mosque, in Delhi, and the Amber Fort in Jaipur and the magnificent Temple of Khajuraho.

New Years Eve 2017, FF Reunion in HongHong again. A Post Reunion tour of Guangzhou was enjoyed together with a number of Brothers, Sisters, and Friends, including Bros. Audie Chang from S.F. and Patrick Yau from NYC. A boat ride along Pearl River was most memorable. BTW, they visited Aiqun Hotel, the tallest Building in 1937 – designed by Louis’ uncle Wing Chan, also a FF Brother 1929.

April 2018, a stop over in Shanghai again and met up with the young but dynamic FF Shanghai Lodge. Visited Hangzhou again and met up with Bro. David Guo and Sister Lan. The Guos showed them Nine Creeks Smoke Trees and the famous Long Jing Tea Center.

November 2019, last day in Chengdu, they learned from Bro. Billy’s email that Bro. Mike Shiu and Sister Jean lived there. Immediately contact was made and they had a wonderful get together.

Later that year 2019, they visited Tianjin and FF Founding Bro. Wellington Koo’s Home at 267 Hebei Road in the historic “ 5 Great Avenue District : built in 1927. That was an incredible FF Moment for Louis, indeed.

I learn from Louis that in a Fraternity or Friendship organization, the more one reaches out to the other members and share positive experiences together the deeper and more meaningful bonding one receives in return. Traveling has made Louis a much more interesting conversationist, and history when made relevant adds magic to realization. Also, photography really helps in recording happy moments and telling good stories.

Below are a few of Bro.Louis’ photos:

Top:  FF.Group in front of Leifeng Tower, Hangzhou – Louis with Billy in Rome, Italy – Louis with Bill and Sandra Chen in Istanbul

Middle: Louis at Bro. Wellington Koo’s Tianjin home – Cruise on the Pearl River, Guangzhou – Louis and Ivy with Mike and Jean Shiu, in Chengdu

Bottom: One of Brother Louis and Sister Ivy’s favorite photos in Europe