Yesterday I had one of those conversations that reminded me of how very differently Chinese and Americans think about some of the fundamentals of life, in this case hometowns. I was chatting with a taxi driver and asked him if he was a "lao beijing ren" (old Beijinger). He replied that he was, but then clarified that since he was a member of the Man minority (Manchurian), his "hometown" was in the northeast of the country. I asked him how long his family had been in Beijing then. "Oh, about 350 years," he replied.