Is your wife from Russia?

In January 2013, my then fiancé (now husband) and I take a cab. The cab driver starts a conversation with my fiancé, not knowing that I understand everything they say.

Cab driver (pointing at the pineapple in my fiancé’s hand): “I love eating these too.”
Y: “It’s probably not the right season for it.”
CD: “I guess it’s imported from Hainan, which really isn’t that far from here. You have a beautiful wife. Is she from Russia?”
Y: “No, she’s from Austria.”
CD: “Having a foreign wife, you must be very talented.”
Y: “I’ve had bad experiences with Chinese girls in the past. My girlfriend, well, she understands the ways of the world, that’s why she suits me.”
CD: “Foreigners are well-educated.”

We arrive at our destination and say goodbye to the cab driver.

While we cross the road, my fiancé asks me: “Am I really that talented?” This is probably the last time he asks this question. After hearing the sentence “You must be very talented” over and over again, he’s getting rather annoyed by it.

Have you ever come across a similar situation? I’d love to read your comments.

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14 thoughts on “Is your wife from Russia?

  1. Hi R. thanks for taking time to post a comment on my blog (a while ago already, sorry if I reciprocate only now) and thanks for making me discover yours. Your little stories are both funny and so real that inevitably made me smile. I am soon moving out of Shenzhen , although won’t go far, but I will continue to read you to keep in touch with this city I lived in for the past six years and that turned my life upside down. Good luck! Mariella

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  2. I guess it’s because most of the foreign-wives are actually Russians, they even have special agencies to hook up with them. he probably assumed that you’re one of them, don’t worry – Russians are told to be beautiful 🙂 for me it was the same – most of my husband’s friend think I’m Russian, but I’m also a typical Slavic person, blond hair, green eye so I’m either Russian or Australian (!!!) 😀

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      • What is your response to ridiculous stereotypes and culture insights about your country that appear to be wildly inaccurate? Do you bother to put the record straight, or just roll with the assumptions, letting people think as they want in order to avoid tension and promote harmony?

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        • It depends. If people talk to me directly, I will put the record straight. If I just pass by someone who says “American” or “Russian” and don’t have enough time to tell them that I’m not, I just leave it at that. But if I’m on the subway and someone sitting next to me tells the person sitting next to him or her some assumption about me (be it where I’m from or that I don’t speak and understand Chinese), I’ll let them know. They usually don’t take this personally but are delighted to know that some foreigners do actually speak Chinese or they’ll ask me something about Austria, which is fine too.

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  3. I forgot to say about taxi-driver curious about… what happens to me and my husband if there’s a culture revolution 😀 we’ve been to Shanghai to see his family and took a cab with his mom, me and my husband were talking to each other but taxi driver keep asking my mom in law questions and then he popped out with the culture revolution thing 🙂

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  4. In the northern part of China they think I am Russian, but in Shanghai now there are all kinds of guesses. I get French a lot – because all Americans should be fat!

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  5. Out of interest, where is your husband’s home province? Would be quite interesting to see how you fare around different provinces – whether you’re more often American in the South, Russian in the North – without turning you into an anthropological study!
    I have a feeling it’s not so much a stereotype as just historical/cultural exposure with these Western ethnicities in specific regions.
    Anyway – great post! Very insightful.

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    • You’re right. I have another post coming up that talks about this difference. My husband is from Jilin province and people there mostly think I’m Russian. The story with the cab driver was in Shenzhen though, so sometimes people here think I’m Russian too.

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