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This is Ian's piece of web. See it go. Go, weblog, go! Go travel in Asia. Go study in Tokyo. Go home to Portland. Nah, what the hell. Go, study in Beijing.

Stop. I am a student studying Chinese language in Beijing.

I started this weblog in the Summer of 2002. It keeps following me wherever I go. But, I'm glad to have the company.

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The Gaijin Stare

A phenomenon I had noticed but could never put my finger on before was pointed out to me yesterday. It's called the "gaijin stare".

An odd errand takes you (where you is a foreigner) off the beaten path, and you find yourself in some obscure burb of Tokyo. You think yourself a Magellan, charting new territory. Now don't be fooled, an expat has most defiantly nested in this area, and they guard it with the vicious malice only those steeped in illusion can muster.

You see a foreigner and think to yourself "This is a grand opportunity to tip my hat to an unknown. To extend greeting to a fellow brother of man and remind us that while Tokyo can be a lonely place, we are never alone. In fact, we are all one and it is only our illusion that we apart from one another that keeps us from realizing infinite love and acceptance."

But all of the sudden, you are hit by it: the foreigner shoots you a harsh stare, striking at the heart of your optimism. You have been given the gaijin stare. That icy gaze that's equal parts "you have impinged on my sovereignty" and "confused anguish, I thought I was special being the only foreigner in Tokyo."

You are not special, neither am I. If we're both unspecial, we must be equal. If we are equal our differences must be small, and there's no reason we shouldn't be friends. So enough with the staring, like there isn't enough hate in the world?

I have adopted a strict policy of implementing the Gaijin Smile®. When I see other foreigners, I flash them the 'ol pearly whites and let that personal warmth flow. I encourage all expatriates to use the Gaijin Smile at home, work, or play. It's great for all occasions.
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Posted by Ian at 3/17/2003 11:49:55 AM    Permalink