Sunday 28 July 2019

On being Asian (continued)

(at a cousin's birthday party - everybody in attendance was Vietnamese)
Girl (speaking in American): Hey!
Me: Hello.
Girl: I was wondering... Where are you from?
Me: Erm... It's my cousin's birthday... and she's French-Vietnamese, so...
Girl: Yeah I know, but I thought you look Mexican... Are you Filippino?
Me: ... That girl, my cousin who invited you. You know she has Vietnamese blood, don't you? And everybody here is Vietnamese
Girl: Yea I know... But you could be, you know... adopted, and Mexican, or Filippino...
Me: Now that I think of it, you look Filippino too!
Girl: NOOO! I'm Vietnamese!
X: What's your name?
Me: An.
X: You mean Anne?
Me: No. It's An. A.N.
X: Ann?
Me: It's a Vietnamese name. It is spelled 'A' 'N'.
X: Anh? 
Me: Anh means 'bigger brother' in Vietnamese. 'An' means 'contentment'
X: I see.... And how do you pronounce it already...?

X: What's your name?
Me: It is An.
X: Anne? Like the girl's name?
Me: In my country, An is a masculine name.
X: Of course! Anne used to be a masculine name! In the 17th century. Anne de Montmorency for instance... 
Me: (Indeed. Give me a powdered wig and the costume that goes with it, and you will see a striking resemblance with that Anne de Montmorency....)

(At a Vietnamese rally) 
Lady: Good evening young man. I saw you standing there all by yourself. 
Me: Good evening.
Lady: It is the first time for my daughter... (puts her hand on a shy girls shoulder). It's her first year studying medicine. What do you study?
Me: I'm a musician.
Lady: (after a pause) Oh... a musician... That's interesting... Oh sorry, I see a very dear friend of mine over there. I will go to greet her! Goodbye!
[...] after a couple of hours
Lady: Oh sorry! Here I am again. I heard that you were Ton That Tiet's son...? The composer? 
Me: Indeed I am. I surprised that you know about him...
Lady: Don't be modest! Your father is famous!!! ... My daughter also plays music. She has learned piano for three years, haven't you, dear? (looks at the shy girl)

(At another Vietnamese rally
Lady: (with her daughter) Good evening young man! 
Me: Good evening
Lady: This is my daughter L. She shoudn't be here tonight, because she should be home and study! But it's an important event!
Me: Yes, the exams are near...
Lady: Absolutely! So what do you study? Medicine too? 
Me: I'm trying to graduate from high school for the second time this year.
Lady: (after a surprised pause) Oh...
My mother: And he will PASS this year! Won't you? (looks at me with a wink)
... Then you can study hairstyling as you have always wanted!
Lady: Oh well... Good luck! (walks away with her shy daughter)

(at the LGBT center where I was volunteering)
X: I would like to introduce you to our new group. It's for people who love Asian culture, Asians and their friends...
Me: (weird way to put it...)
X: Yes, we want to promote Asian culture and organise cultural events, go to see shows and exhibition...
Me: Is that so...?
X: Where are you from?
Me: Vietnam.
X: A beautiful country!!!
[...] later...
X: So I hope to see you at some of our events! Maybe you can wear a kimono...? (wink wink)
Me: (Me? A kimono? ... So much for the promotion of Asian culture)

X: Where are you from?
Me: Vietnam
X: But you speak French so well!!!
Me: I was born in Paris.
X: Oh yes, because you don't really look French... And is your family name Nguyên? 
Me: No. It's Tôn Thât.
X: Oh really??? I thought all the Vietnamese were called Nguyên.
Me: As much as all French people are called 'Durand'

X: Where are you from?
Me: I'm a French born Vi.... I'm Vietnamese
X: Do you speak Chinese?
Me: Do you speak English?
X: But I'm French!!!

(at the ticketing desk of a concert venue in Paris) 
Girl: Here's your ticket... Hey... aren't you... An? 
Me: (trying to remember her face as quickly as possible) Yeeeesssss.... I am. 
Girl: You don't remember me, do you?
Me: I'm afraid not... 
Girl: I used to work at [...] 15 years ago. 
Me: Oh you know... Since I have moved to Taipei, I find that all Caucasians look alike...
Girl: (burst out laughing) Ha ha ha!!!! That's great! that's a good one! We totally deserve it! 

Little black boy: 你好
Me: 你好
Little black boy gives me a super happy smile.

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