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Pet Sins November 2007

Observations on the permutability of perceived racial identity

I've read your article about "mistaken identity". It's very interesting! I also experienced incidents of mistaken identity. I'm a Southeast Asian-born ethnic Chinese, although some Chinese reckoned that I look a bit Japanese. I'm a language freak especially interested in the uncommon languages.

When I practice my Turkish in a Turkish kebab shop, I was mistaken for a Turk from Tatarstan/Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan/Kazakstan! It happened couple times. When I said "Thanks" in Indian, I was mistaken for a Nepali. I also twice met South Asians (Indians) who looked badly like Chinese! Even one of them could have been the brother of David Wu, one of Hong Kong's famous celebrities.

My Indian friend told me that the Mongoloid face is pretty common in India and Afghanistan . In several states in North-east India even the majority people has strong Mongoloid features.

Sadly, I've never seen any Mongoloid face in any Indian movies :((

When I was joking to a Persian that I was a Persian Iranian, he seemed to believe me seriously . I told him it was a joke eventually though. When I watch a soccer game, the most famous player from Iran is often mistaken as a Chinese because he looks very Chinese.

When I practice my Spanish, I'm mistaken sometimes for a Peruvian. A couple times I also mistook Latinos as Indonesian/Malaysian. In Australia where I live now, It's pretty common that the Mediterranean Europeans (Greeks/Italians/Balkan Europeans etc.) is mistaken for West Asians or West Asians got chatted up in Italian/Greek/Spanish.

Australian Chinese
2000