Sunday, September 28, 2008


Fungible: being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation; interchangeable.

I’ve been away from the computer for 24 hours – always a challenge for my particular addictions, emaileosis and bloggeritis. We went to visit friends who live in a small town outside of Fort Worth. K., the son of my college roommate, was playing the prince in a community theatre production of The King and I (great examples of colonialism -- I loved it when Anna suggests dressing up the king's wives in western garb for the visiting English, and then agrees with the king's suggestion to paint their faces paler so they'll look more English).

K was really terrific, and we loved our visit there. The girls just love K, and his brother C. The poor boys were completely worn out from the girls’ antics! In fact, C declared he wouldn't last two days if the girls were there permanently! Are all girls this age fascinated by teenage boys? Zoe and Maya are just insatiable with all their teen cousins (K & C count as cousins, too!).

But, of course, the big danger of knowing me is that EVERYTHING is blog-fodder! This visit is no exception!

It was funny when we walked up to buy tickets to the show, and I saw Chinese characters -- longevity, good fortune – decorating the table. For a minute, I couldn’t figure out why they were there – maybe left over from the Autumn Moon Festival? And then it hit me: oh, yeah, Siam! The play is set in Siam (Thailand), so there are Chinese decorations, what could be more obvious!? My friend, who has lived in Taiwan and Singapore, warned me before the play started that the costumes were a weird mix of China and India. Sure enough, the saris outnumbered the qi paos, but NOTHING looked Thai.

It’s not like there was anything unique here, lots of people figure all Asian culture is fungible. I'm sure you've seen it, too -- kimonos called Chinese, for example. Other than the real basics, I’m not sure how good I am at differentiating among Asian cultures. But at least I recognize that the cultures ARE different!

Remember when the on-line “faces” quiz came out, challenging people to differentiate between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean faces? Well, they’ve expanded it to include food, architecture, art, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (the girls won’t stop with the etceteras, since the King said it over, and over again!). Check it out! I’m pretty good at faces and food (their "pretty good" category allows for LOTS of mistakes!), and lousy at everything else.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Sadly I am seeing this interchangable nature as typical in areas that are heavy on the white side. We were at Chinese school yesterday and were talking with a woman from Thailand who wants her sons to speak Mandarin along with Thai and English. She says people come up to her all the time and start saying "ni hao", especially since the Olympics. She has also had a lot of the adopted girls come and start talking to her in all the Chinese that they know. She said she doesn't mind because she sees the girls find an Asian connection.

I don't know why this phenomenon is happening, but then again I have seen people mistake Aussies for English (their accents are not even the same). Ignorance seems reign--maybe do to lack of education or lack of caring.

My mother loves the "King and I", I have explained more the once my objections, but she looks beyond to the musical aspects. I don't know if she will ever see the realities of shows like that. I guess I just have to be happy that she knows it is unacceptable to us and that she will not watch them when M is over.