From time to time, bus drivers tell me “Ni hao”. Or people in the workplace will ask me if I know Japanese/Korean/Mandarin, etc. They are often kindly old men, or working-class types to whom I am obviously somewhat exotic.
I don’t get upset in these instances. Perhaps a little puzzled. Bewildered, and disappointed that I couldn’t help. But not angry, even when others tell me I would have been within my rights to slap the person in question. I suppose this is a form of racism, albeit one that is not deliberate or hateful.
But heck, I can barely tell various Asian ethniticies apart at a glance. Sometimes it’s more obvious than others. But I’m not of the breed that can take one look at a person and declare “That is a mainland Chinaman” (Mum…). Although if you hail from Malaysia or Singapore, I will recognise your accent.
After all, I don’t get angry when random Asians on the street accost me in the hope that I speak their language (although to be fair, maybe every one of those approachers has actually been Chinese. Maybe to them it’s obvious).
So, I don’t really know. Am I underreacting? For those of you who experience this, are you insulted when it happens?