Once upon a time I was out with my boyfriend and somehow he started talking to this man. (My boyfriend talks to everyone.) With one rough glance, I thought the man was my boyfriend’s cousin because he has the same hairstyle. But with a second glance, I saw the man was far healthier looking. He was also far more attractive than the cousin and a great number of people in this world. He had this great thick, curly, dark hair. He had exquisite bone structure. His skin had a lovely complexion and color. He was tall and thin, in the way that is very en vogue in this country.
At a certain point, I heard him speak. And at a later point, I overheard someone else commenting on his ethnicity. He said to him, “I would have thought you were Spanish or something.” And I said, “Until you hear him speak.”
The man was clearly Pakistani or Indian by his speech. His English was grammatically correct and non-colloquial. And it contained the lilt that only a Pakistani or Indian can have. I don’t even know how to explain it, but it’s a sort of questioning lift of the tone at the end of every phrase, not just every sentence. There’s also a sort of full stop at the end of certain words. I can’t explain it! I had barely spoken to the man, but based solely on his speech, I had decided that it was the thing that made him non-European and non-Arab.
I’m terrible at determining ethnicity. But I am becoming far better at sorting out my stereotypes the longer I’m out here in this multi-national city. Unfortunately, I’m also attaching some negative opinions to the people I stereotype. Lebanese, I like. Spanish, I like. Pakistaini… meh. No matter how gorgeous.