The other night, I went out for drinks with my new very cool Italian friend Chiara. As we walked through the lively Piazza Navona area of Rome, a group of guys started making their typical cat calls.
But instead of chanting their usual, “Bellissima, bellissima”…
These guys started a chorus of, “Konichiwa, konichiwa.”
For starters, I’m not Japanese. Second of all, that’s stupid.
I get this a lot actually, people greeting me with the only Asian words they know.
When I was at a pub in Dublin last month, one guy tried hitting on me by saying “ni hao” (“hello” in Mandarin Chinese) followed by an attempt to stick his tongue down my throat. Ew.
I get it folks! I’m ASIAN! And quite pleased about that. But I don’t need to be reminded of it by random strangers every time I wander a new city.
The best ignorant greeting I’ve received in my travels has to be when I was in Mumbai. I was at a pretty hip nightclub with a large group of seemingly worldly, cultured friends, when one guy told me I looked like Jackie Chan.
Really dude? Jackie Chan?
I let it slide because he was a friend of the two very kind people who were letting me stay at their house at last minute’s notice (long story).
Anyway, the guy didn’t stop there. He carried on to ask me if I could show him some Kung Fu moves. He attempted martial arts poses and made fake karate chops in the air.
I’m not kidding.
Pre-Traveling Thy would’ve stuck around and berated him until he cried, maybe karate-chopped his ass into a plate of Tikka Masala. A series of Indian racial stereotypes raced through my head and stopped right at the tip of my tongue.
That’s because now-Traveling Thy is a far more patient and tolerant gal. I feigned a chuckle and ignored him the rest of the night.
Ignorance (and just plain stupidity) is international.
For the record, if you wanna pigeon-hole me into any Asian stereotype, make it a Vietnamese one.
“Hello” in Vietnamese is “Xin Chao” or “Chao.”
Incidentally, it sounds a heck of a lot like “ciao” – which we all know is “hello” in Italian. Imagine that.