Thursday, October 09, 2008

Met other Asians

In my company I was the only Asian looking person. Today I met 2 others.

I was in the cafeteria and I bumped into a typical Chinese looking man. I spoke to him in French and introduce myself. Here goes the conversation:

Me: Hello, are you Chinese?
Him: Yes.
Me: I'm Malaysian, we can speak in Chinese.
Him: ... You speak Chinese?
Me: Yes. (start to introduce myself in Mandarin)
He was speechless for a while. He looked at me very curiously as if he was seeing an alien. He then engaged in the conversation by speaking very slowly in Mandarin. After a long sentence, he would ask whether I really understand what he was saying. I wanted to laugh so much! We ended up having lunch together and talked over an hour. When I left the cafeteria, I asked him why he has that big surprise look when I said I speak Mandarin.

His answer: First of all, you don't look Chinese. Second of all, you said you are Malaysian. Third of all, I didn't know there exist a Mandarin speaker in this company. So the surprise!

Gosh, now only I know I don't look Chinese to a Chinese. No wonder I always have those friendly stares or smile from Vietnamese or Cambodian people, they must have mistakenly though that I'm from their country.

Anyway, at the end of the conversation, we were so happy to have met each other!

About the second Asian: The other day I was telling my boss that the new member in our team has a Korean name so there is probably two Asians working on the same project, which is rare in this office. He was like, well that would be weird. And tada, today this woman showed up and my boss introduced her to me. We stared at each other and don't know what to say. It is so weird, it seems like the company is hiring more and more Asian.


  1. Anonymous11:02 AM

    I myself had several similar experiences. And I had been asked by people from most of the asian pacific and SE asian countries. BUt quite normal la I think, geographical and cultural differences could make us look different phisically from Chinese even though our ancesters were from there.

    I was in a presentation with a group of japanese yesterday as I speak extremely little japanese... when my french colleague asked me if I understand what they said in Japanese, I answered: Je suis comme toi. hahha!

  2. It was my first experience. I had never expected a Chinese telling me that I don't look Chinese.

    What were you doing there if you didn't understand what they were talking about? :-)

  3. Anonymous8:33 PM

    HEhe bcos I am one of the Drs in the group, so was there to complement the presentation given by my colleague (In english, then translated to Japanese by their translator).

  4. Anonymous8:33 PM

    Well, I guess we Malaysian Chinese look slightly different from Chinese from China?

  5. yeah, i know what you mean. Most of the chinese here in Abilene Tx are from HK or China, v. minimal from m'sia, and so when i come across a chinese person and they ask me if i can speak chinese, they are super surprised too that I can, and they give the same "reason" - i.e. I'm Malaysian and it was amazing to them that I could speak chinese. And then they're really blown away when they know i can speak SEVERAL dialects some more. LOL. Too funny.