I am sure most Caucasians living here in Tokyo have this experience – the waitress is only talking to your Japanese friends because she thinks you don’t speak the language. It’s always fun when I go out with a Caucasian friend whose Japanese is better than mine and watch his annoyed face because the waitress ignores him completely. Well I might look more Japanese than my friend, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I can speak better Japanese than him.
But this time when I was in the Kiwiland, I had this interesting conversation - a very kind man asked me very slowly, “How much English can you understand? Every other word? Every third word?” So I smiled up at him sweetly and replied, “Every word, unfortunately.”
Of course I understand he was just trying to be nice. I certainly don’t look like a native English speaker. And for them, all Asians are from China - just like for Japanese, all Caucasians are from America.
Some of my new Kiwi friends decided, after talking to me, that I am “normal” after all and that I am more European than Asian when they talk to me. I suppose I should be happy that they’ve accepted me – if only they knew how abnormal I am!