First of all, as an Asian American living in Asia, this is an interesting (and dare I say, amusing) topic to investigate. I’ve been trying to understand why this is entertaining for me though. I guess because I have what I consider a more balanced view of stereotypes.
My best friend from high school looked at me, paused, and then said, “Yes.”
I nodded. That’s all I needed to know.
“Desirable views have a hint of mystery. We like to understand and enjoy what is happening around us, and to imagine that if we traveled from where we are into the unknown we would meet with pleasant surprises…” – Psychology Today
When we first arrived back to Thailand, the skies were muddy and grey. They didn’t possess white bright clouds that you wished you were rolling around in. This was late January.
Upon learning that I am half-Thai, folks want to know, “Can you cook Thai food?” When I was younger, the answer was no. As in why on God’s green and blue earth would I want to? My mom can cook wonderfully though, thank you.
As I got older, I became annoyed by my mom’s badgering.
There’s a Thai word “greng jai” that has always annoyed me. It’s basically used to describe a person who doesn’t want to be an inconvenience to anyone. They don’t want to be a bother, and it’s supposed to be a positive trait. We have this same idea, too, in American culture, but I feel it does more harm than good.
Sometimes I feel like an anomaly. I’m a 45 year old American Thai-Chinese woman who was born in Hawaii, who has lived on three continents, and who was raised by a Thai immigrant mother and a working class white male. I can’t squeeze into an “ism”. My dress size is small in America, but extra-large in Asia. I’m too American in Asia and not Asian enough in America.
I remember the first time I used chopsticks. We were at Aiea Chop Suey (HA!); it was my mom, my younger brother, and me. We were not given any silverware, just those horrible off-white plastic set of sticks.
“Uh, I said. “How are we supposed to eat this?”
My mom was already eating. She laughed.