Growing up in a fairly metropolitan part of Australia, I consider that I’ve lived a privileged life in a multicultural environment. Surrounded by academics that had more geeky issues pressing their grey matter, I did sometimes find myself in the company of a strangers which small chatter lead to this question:
“But I mean, where are you from, originally? What are you Thai? Malaysian?”
This question was not very common back home, but in certain places it did happen. I felt mildly irritated that in modern times that this was even worth expending the effort in asking. And why do I have the obligation to divulge some of my history – isn’t it (at least borderline) personal information? Even during primary and high school I don’t recall a time when this was asked.
Now in the UK, I came across this beautifully written article by pure accident and all those moments flooded back. Some of those are fresh from last week: volunteering at the local beer festival. And it’s happened in all the festivals I’ve volunteered for. I get it in pubs too. That irritation I feel each time when I get asked – the article explains rather neatly.
So next time you see a short south-east asian woman and ask which part of south-east asia where she’s from, don’t be surprised to get this response “I’m fuckin’ Australian. Any questions?”