"You Taiwanese (in Mandarin)?"
Without giving me a chance to reply, the neighborhood Chinese buffet owner was quick to launch into her thoughts about former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bien's corruption scandals. For 99.9% of the world who aren't keen on Taiwanese political news, the former head of the island's Democratic Progressive Party has been accused of all sorts of bad behavior while he served in office (like lining his own pockets and money laundering).
I'm getting off message here. What I'm trying to say is I'm confused.
When I'm in the United States and I speak with Chinese speakers, they hear my accent and assume that I'm from Taiwan. But in reality, I only have the accent because my parents speak Taiwanese Mandarin with me at home.
But when I am in Taiwan, I stick out like a sore thumb. I look like an American; I dress like an American; and I wait in line for services like I'm an American. I say my "thank yous" to shopkeepers and even acknowledge street vendors promoting their wares like I'm a polite gringo. Although my accent may disguise my nationality for a little while, locals find me out very quickly. For one I don't parler the newest cool street slangs like the local kids.
Sometimes the Taiwanese also accuse me to be a Singaporean. I guess it makes sense; I speak both English and Mandarin well enough and Singapore is one of the few places on Earth that considers both tongues their official language.
When I'm in Europe people assume I'm American because of my accent. I was once mistaken to be Japanese Peruvian when I was in the Chilean Patagonian town of Puerto Natales.
I don't know what I'm saying anymore. I just remember starting this entry because I'm really confused. Now I'm more confused.