Friday, May 20, 2005


Reading the Platypus' post this morning rang some memory bells for me....

During my time in HK I have dated a Eurasian guy and a Chinese guy...the first relationship was just when I arrived in HK (so about 12 years ago), seeing Western women and Chinese guys together then was not common and we used to get odd looks and in some cases derogatory comments...(fortunately for me, in Cantonese so it went right over my head!).

I remember being very apprehensive when they met my family, but shouldn't have worried, friends of mine never commented...the biggest problem was strangers - passers by, taxi drivers, shop assistants who just couldn't resist making the odd comment or two - basically those people for whom this should have been of no concern!

Then I moved to the Middle East.....slightly different ball game (no pun intended!) there...culture and religion play a far greater role than race ever will.

A male friend of mine married a Muslim girl and had to convert to Islam (if a Muslim man marries a Christian girl, the girl does not have to convert to Islam, however vice versa - the man must convert) as friends and colleagues we were concerned as this is a huge step to take...we may have made jokes about no more bacon sandwiches but at heart we were more concerned about the change in lifestyle and any possible future ramifications if the marriage did not work out....fortunately they are still happily married and it seems all our worries were for nothing.

About a year after my friend's wedding I was approached by an Iraqi friend of mine with a view to moving country with him and looking 'to the future'....only one real meaning behind given that up until then he had been a friend/working colleague and nothing more I found it fairly difficult to reject his overture diplomatically and still remain friends (in hindsight I shouldn't have worried, he bounced back very quickly, from what I can gather he approached a number of other girls very soon after - like the next day!! Obviously I was just slightly closer to the top of the list!!!). My rejection was not based on race, religion or culture...just wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time.....

He is a wonderful guy, charming, good looking and all in all a very good 'catch' but in the back of my mind at the time was "What will my parents say if I marry a Muslim?", I know that if I had been happy and he had made me happy they would have eventually come round but I would have been an issue...and this is not a racist issue.....more just awareness that a mixed religion marriage can have huge challenges.

In this world that we now live where people up sticks and move countries at the drop of a hat, mixed race/religion/culture relationships are becoming more and more common but they are still not as accepted as they should be and racism and misunderstanding will continue to rear their ugly heads. I have seen changes in people's attitudes and I am sure that things will continue to change for the better....but it all takes time!


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