More firsts.

I was out riding my bike this morning when I passed an older guy who was also riding.  He had a bike that looked like it was equipped for utility.  So I called out “Good morning!” and he responded, “Ni hao!”

That may qualify as the first time in history I have been “nihaoed” by a stranger who was also Asian.

Anyway, I responded, “Ni hao!” and he came to a sudden, screeching halt and stared at me.  Then the questions started.  We talked briefly (briefly, because all I can do is briefly) before parting ways.  I suspect he must have experience speaking with non-native Chinese speakers because he spoke very clearly and used small words.

6 thoughts on “More firsts.

  1. I dunno if this is the case for you, but I react differently than if it were a white person (even if the Asian person gets my ethnicity wrong).

    I mean, obviously, there’s an explanation for that, the context behind which a white person says it. But still, curious.

  2. * and by react differently, I mean, I would react angrily to a white person but it wouldn’t bother me if it were another Asian person

  3. That’s great though, even though you aren’t of Chinese descent (or…are you? I seem to recall reading you were Vietnamese somewhere???). Also, you left out one thing: Where do you live? Was this in Paris, Beijing or Khartoum? :)

    Oh, and when white people do it it’s offensive. Misappropriation of culture and ethnic labeling.

    Besides, why would a white person, who was greeted by a non-white person in english, respond in a foreign language? That is is clearly a form of labeling or the typical guessing where you are from (because they always make that a point). So patronizing.

    They should make that a post at SWPL:

    “Stuff white people like # xxx

    Greeting individuals with a visible non-white appearance in the language they think applies to said non-white persons background, even if they were greeted in english (i.e. East-Asians get greeted with Mandarin or Japanese, because that is all of East Asia). White people do this to demonstrate friendliness, to attempt to disarm racial tensions or to let you know that they ‘know about’ your culture and heritage.”

    Whoops, didn’t mean to rant. Nice post, good times.

  4. Hmm, makes me think of my deep feelings of awkwardness the couple times I’ve misidentifed people as fellow Koreans and started speaking to them in Korean. Not the same situation at all, of course… Just makes me think.

  5. I am a white person, living in South Korea, and lately it’s started to get on my nerves how often I hear “외국인이다!” (“It’s a foreigner!”) on the street, often followed by laughing, or “Weird!” or “HELLOHOWAREYOUWHEREAREYOUFROMMYNAMEISJINHONICETOMEETYOUGOODBYE.”

    I was riding my bike to the grocery store when I saw this adorable 2 year old walking next to her mom. She saw me, pointed at me and began to giggle. I started to get really tense and complain in my head *She’s going to say it, goddamn it I wish I was invisible, why is my being white such a big deal, go away!*

    The little girl spoke.
    “자전거!!” (“A BICYCLE!”) I almost fell over, I was so shocked. I gave her the biggest grin ever. Reminded me not to hold on to the bad things or anticipate them.

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