If there’s one thing for which I never had a problem in India, it was being recognised. And, even though I never was inclined towards any hanky-panky, that was probably what subconsciously kept me from it :)
On my annual visit to Mount Mary, which could pass off as the kumbh mela for its sheer number of devotees, I always told my friends and parents: “If I ever get lost in the crowd, look for the Chinese face!”
That WAS a novelty in India. And, I often revelled in it!
Alas, on my first trip to Hong Kong in 2005 I realized those tactics would be useless there. With its sea of people, all with Mongoloid features, it would be futile to look for the ‘Chinese face’. Now I had to tell my parents, “Look for the darkest, shortest and fattest Chinese-looking person, who is not smooching someone in the middle of the road!” (Yes...Yes! The British rule has left them with a stiff upper lip that needs to be chewed on by another stiff upper lip, so that both sets of lips are moisturised and nourished to seem perky!!! What’s that they say about two negatives making a positive!)
When I first landed in New York in August 2007 and went to the dormitory allotted to me by Columbia University, I swear I thought: “Oh my God! The Chinese have invaded the earth! Run all you mortals who are not Chinese!” The ratio of Chinese to the non-Chinese in my dorm was definitely 10:3. I later learned that, yes, there was a considerable population of Chinese in New York, but the Indian population was also quite sizeable. That put me in a unique situation. Now I would tell my friends, “Look for the Hindi-yakking Chinese-looking person! That has to be me!”
It is now the spring of 2009 and what do I know – I am here in Beijing wondering what I should tell friends here, in the event that I get lost...I can’t tell them “Look for the Chinese face!” – there are too many around. I can’t say, “Look for the darkest or shortest or the one that’s not smooching” – most people here are more or less my height and colour and are not as smooch-loving as their Hong Kong counterparts. I can’t say, “Look for the Hindi-yakking Chinese-looking person!” – because in China if you don’t speak Mandarin, you ARE lost(and it doesn't matter even if you look Chinese)!
I guess I have finally found a place where I CAN indeed get lost...So, all my dear friends in China, if I am ever lost please do just one thing – GO TO THE POLICE STATION!!!