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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mistaken Nationality?

Sometimes you remember random moments that are just so random, you wonder why you even remember them. O_o

I don't remember being categorised as anything but Chinese all the time I've been living in Malaysia. I look obviously Chinese - not the single eyelid look for me, nor the skin as pure as snow. The older I got, the more I could not be mistaken for anything but Chinese, or at the very least, Asian.

Nationality, however, is another matter entirely. I've been mistaken for an ABC (Ang moh country-born-Chinese), Singaporean and Japanese in the past.

ABC - I don't like ice kacang. (Off topic, I know) Would you believe it, I actually had rosy cheeks when I was a kid. Oh, and the chubby cheeks to match (although I still have those, FML). I think it was more because of the hot weather than any miracle of the skin, except when I was holidaying somewhere cold. It probably didn't help that I only spoke (mostly) English and Hokkien. There's a photo of me eating noodles or something during a trip to Singapore, which my dad's friend took, where I look positively ang moh-ish. O_o Can I just say it was a trick of the light?

Singaporean - No duh. This is pretty common, I guess. You talk like you know what you're doing, you walk like you know exactly where the hell you're going, dress a bit nicer, and the person behind the counter automatically assumes you're not from KL but probably Singapore.

Japanese - I'm like, "what the heck?!". I still get mistaken for a Japanese sometimes when I'm walking around alone in KLCC, especially when I hang around Kinokuniya's Japanese book section or Isetan supermarket. I remember overhearing a bunch of girls saying (in Mandarin) "She must be Japanese" while furtively glancing in my direction. I was trying not to laugh out loud.

The best is definitely kept for last. The incident that takes the cake was when my dad, brother and myself were all mistaken to be Japanese. We were at KLCC and my dad was taking a shortcut through Isetan, with my bro and I hurrying along behind him. After going through the entrance, I noticed my brother smirking beside me, so I asked him what was so funny. He replied saying "Oh, you didn't hear what a couple of those salesgirls were saying when we passed by the clothing department?"


"They were whispering to each other and saying that 'those three' (meaning us) must be Japanese."

So I admit, both my dad and brother do look sorta Japanese. Dad is short and (slightly) round, but he can pass off as both a typical Malaysian or Chinese or Japanese citizen. [In fact, a Japanese man once mistook him for a fellow countryman on the Eurostar or something when he was young, and thought it was very arrogant of him not to return his bows until it was made clear my dad was not, in fact, a fellow countryman.] My second brother, who is one head taller than me and on the skinny side, can definitely pass as Japanese, which was proven when he went to Japan. I, on the other hand, absolutely lack any Japanese characteristics, except for the fact that I was somehow obviously related to the other two.

So yeah, I'm baffled. And this random memory of a random moment in time has stuck with me for a very long time, lol.

Oh well, it's easy to fool people into thinking you're not a Malaysian. One, dress nicely (and not in those lala zai fashion). Two, don't speak like a local. Say 'lah' and you're busted. If you can muster an English accent, even better. twisted Three, act + dress + walk + talk confidently. Don't wait for the Starbucks person to ask you if you'd like a "Tall, grande or venti" and never go "Huh? I want a medium one". Four, be polite. Say thank you and smile at the cashier after your transaction is done. Thank the waiter for refilling your glass. It's proper etiquette, after all. Five, never ever be a litter bug. How hard is it to hold onto your rubbish until you see a litter bin in a shopping mall anyway?

Don't shoot me for that up there. It's just my personal opinion.

Okay, so that's about it from me. This post went on longer than I expected, but that's not surprising. I'm bored and there's nothing for me to do. I have something to do but I'm too lazy to do it now.


Jo said...

Hey Laura, long time no see!
That was really, really funny, being mistaken as someone of another nationality.

Anyway, I have some similar experiences. People usually think that I'm a banana and strangers that have to talk to me usually give me the look which says, 'Can I try speaking to her in Mandarin?'

And I've been mistaken as a Thai, Filipino and Tibetan. LOL for all of that.

LauraLeia said...

Haha~ Well, I guess that's what makes life just that slightly more interesting. XD

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