Wednesday, April 06, 2005


A nationally stereotypical scene at a bar with an international crowd could go this way.

A group of friends are sitting around a table, trading tales over mugs of cold beer.

It's the Australian's turn, and he starts out with One time, my mates and I went out drinking.... The word pints, plural and never ever singular, and the statement We're not sure how we got there, really. would be somewhere in the story. Possibly more than once.

The Italian, just back from the men's room after fixing his hair, finds himself without a seat. It had been taken without a word by the Chinese guy over in the next table.

The Englishman checks his watch and decides it's time to get a curry. He calls over the Filipino waiter.

The American asks for a cheeseburger and is apologetically told that this establishment does not have cheeseburgers in its menu. Aggravated by the Indonesians chain-smoking behind him, he bitterly questions the place's legitimacy and decency.

The Egyptian didn't make it to the bar. He got delayed getting out of the airport due to some very thorough questioning by Immigration.

The friends pile into a cab later in the evening. Thankfully, one of them manages to give intelligible, if alcohol-tinged, directions to the Indian driver.

No thinking individual should stand by stereotypes. On the other side, it's easy enough to see how they can be sustained. Just try keeping up with Aussies in any bar in all the world or watching the Italian national soccer team during the World Cup qualifiers. And there's always Lucky Plaza.

I've managed not to have been recognized as a Filipino. I was in a suit and tie and I wasn't serving the drinks and appetizers. The ideal would be if we can be equally known for manning desks and cleaning toilets, with both diligence and dignity.

Well, there is no reason to abandon all hope. It was fish and chips before curry, and convicts before alcoholics.

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