Monday, 27 April 2009

Telling a person by their clothes...

On my second day in Beijing, a member of the foreign affairs department of my office said to me rather gleefully, “Today you are looking more Chinese!”

I didn’t know whether I should take that statement as a compliment or as something that was being said to me sarcastically, given my Indian birth and Chinese ancestry. When I looked quizzically and queried, “…Mmmmm…more Chinese? What is that supposed to mean?”

I was told. “On the day you reached and even yesterday you looked very colourful…But today, you are sober like the Chinese…”

On the day I arrived, I was wearing white slacks and a brightly embellished aqua blue kurta with an equally bejeweled pair of Kolhapuri sandals. And, on my first day at work, I topped up my rather formal (and sober) outfit with a deep purple sweater, hurriedly borrowed from my friend Marisha Thakur, after I was caught unaware by Beijing's wind.

On Day 3, when I was told I "looked more Chinese", I was wearing a grey sweater.

Yes, the Chinese may be a little less sober than the Americans when it comes to the colour of their work clothes, but they are still not half as adventurous as Indians.

Their choice can be traced back to their history. First, emperors and kings dictated what they wore (during the Sui Dynasty, in the 500’s AD, the emperor ordered his subjects to wear only blue or black, while royalty were permitted to wear colourful clothing). Later, during the Cultural Revolution, most people wore military uniforms as a symbol of the revolution.

I guess I should take the statement of me “looking more Chinese” as an indication that the person who said it to me, embraced me as his own. I am happy, if that was the case.

However, that will not change my choice in colours...I am happy to "look" Indian :):):)


  1. Now Chang, if you get lost in Beijing, am not gonna go to the cops. I'll just look for the most colourfully-dressed Chinese-looking Indian ;)

  2. Well done Mors! I'm proud of you...So now I will not even get lost in Beijing ;) Yippie! Yay!

  3. Kya re angle mein fotu lagaya :P

    Great posts... keep writing! :)

  4. Guruji: Bahut, shukriya. Glad you liked the posts :) Aap ki shishu hoon, kuch toh seekhna padega na :)

  5. Hey Arlene, I love your blog. It's great fun, and I am glad to see you tripping around the world. By the way, HT has a correspondent in Bejing. Another Bombay girl in Bejing. Here's her blog: She's on annual leave in Pune right now but will be back soon, if you two want to link up. Keep the posts coming.

  6. Hindi-Chinni bhai bhai..Am sure the guy who made this racist comment is a small chinki

  7. Samar: Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you are enjoying my blog.

    Mustafa: Thanks for reading my blog :) Arre...actually the guy who made the comment is quite a nice fellow and I don't think he meant it in a bad way. But it's just strange to see how the Chinese react to me ;)