Lately I’ve been recognized more as Chinese.
Are you Filipino? Vietnamese? Japanese?
I seem to be a chameleon of sorts.
Now as I walk in to a Chinese restaurant,
they ask “How many?” in my language.
My language. What is it?
I’m fluent in one, but I don’t know all the cultural nuances.
I’m embarrassed of my limited skill of the other, yet understanding many of the cultural implications. When speaking this language, I often find myself grasping for air.
Today an Chinese elderly man spoke to me at the market.
It was in Chinese. I was really surprised.
It must have been my blouse from Hong Kong. Maybe it makes me look more Chinese.
He mentioned how he doesn’t know what meat is what.
He was looking for Chinese sausage. “It’s really good.”
“Yea, you can put it in fried rice.” Me, being polite while thinking of an escape.
I told him there wasn’t any here and that he could find it at FoodNet (a chinese market).
“Food net? It’s too far!”
Hmm. I wanted to ask if he had a car, but if he said it was too far, he must have walked here from his home.
He complained more about how there’s too much meat. We looked at the marked down bulky “Max Packs.” He told me that if it’s so cheap, it must not be good (or fresh).
I realized he was giving me some wisdom, the way my dad is giving me advice.
He picked up some pork, then asked me what it was.
I realized he couldn’t read English. Maybe he immigrated here recently.
So I asked what he was looking for, then helped him pick out some beef for beef stew. I thought that since the pieces looked little, it wouldn’t seem as bulky for him.
“Are there bones?”