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Sunday, July 01, 2007

An Indian guiri in Italy

Indian is Indian, and Italian is Italian, and never the twain shall meet. That is, unless you happen to be dark-skinned and strolling through the streets of Italy – and are wearing more than a loin cloth. Indian-Canadian comedian Russell Peters talks about being a guiri in Italy, and how people assumed he was Italian because of his skin color and “western” sartorial style. I totally relate to him. I’m often mistaken for Mexican - or even Spanish or Moroccan - and when I tell people I’m American with Eurasian ancestry, they are always amazed. But Americans are supposed to be blonde and fat! Blonde and fat like the beer we swill when we are unleashed on the streets of Barcelona!

A funny story: a couple years ago I was on my way to the market in my old neighborhood of Sant Pere and coming down the street was this Moroccan guy. I had heartburn that day, and as we were about to pass each other I tapped my chest with my right hand. It was just a natural reaction to the pain in my chest. But the Moroccan guy, seeing me do this, also tapped his chest and said, “Salam Alaikum”. I looked behind me to see if there was anyone else there, but it was just me. Me and my heartburn. I said “Salam Alaikum” back to him and walked on down to the market.