In Chinese?” asked by someone in the lab as I was fetching my cup of coffee from the coffee dispenser early this morning.
I was almost tempted to blurt out something unintelligible like “shing shang shong” or something like that but the nice person in me decided not to mislead her innocent mistaken assumption. She is half-canadian half-iranian, who has never been to Manila nor to any Asian country for that matter and so I understand her difficulty in distinguishing between Asian nationalities. I cannot blame her for the mistake because I have had the same problem distinguishing the nationalities of white people from one another. For when I was younger way back in my adolescent years in the 1900s, I basically thought that all white people were Americans, and that all their men were named Joe’s. I remembered mentioning this in my masturbating blind chewbacca entry some time ago.
Now after having lived in Northern Europe for a century, I am a bit better in distinguishing between caucasian nationalities, but not that it matters at all because I don’t really give a shit about the country of origin of anyone. I must confess that I consider myself a global citizen, and I can take pride for example that Usain Bolt took the 100 m records, even though I don’t have a trace of Jamaican connection in my body. Although my formal papers say that I am a citizen of such and such countries, my ultimate allegiance is to humanity. As Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “To serve humanity alone is the sole purpose of life.” Indeed put another way even Uncle Albert quipped, “Nationalism is an infantile disease.” And of course, as our favourite John immortalised in his song, “Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for…” Ok enough of aphorisms.
I have been to a number of international conferences and it is often the case that I’d find myself in the company of at least ten other nationalities. Ultimately, guessing my nationality would be the topic of conversation, and it could be amusing indeed to see how almost unknown Da Pelepens (as Doc Meloinks amusingly refers to my country of birth) is to many people, especially to my European colleagues. Perhaps, it is not so often that they meet someone from my country in the context of a scientific meeting. Perhaps they are more used to seeing someone like me cleaning their office toilets, or washing their elders’ asses or serving them cold beer in ships or ferries. But it is much worse I guess for a Filipina (in the academe or not) who’d probably be just mistaken for being a mail-order bride of some old european scumbag.
Now going back to the incident this morning, I was not in any way at all offended at being mistaken for a chinese. She was trying to be friendly, and in fact by the time we finished chatting, she almost told me the story of her fascinating life. But that would be for the next entry or so.
And can anyone out there please tell me how do you say good morning in chinese? Thank you very much.