March 2, 2010

Double and Triple Expats

There is new and growing group of people whom I will call Double Expats. These are people who are from country A, who immigrated and became naturalized in country B and now are living and working in country C. There are also triple expats, those who after working in country C have decided to retire and live in country D.

An example- a Lebanese engineering student who emigrates to Canada, receives Canadian citizenship and dgrees and goes to work in Kuwait as a Canadian engineer. After he makes oodles of money in Kuwait, instead of retiring in Canada or Lebanon, he goes to Indonesia, marries a local beauty, buys a house and stays in Indonesia forever.

There is also a growing group of people who when faced with the simple question of "Where are you from?" or "What is your nationality?" in casual conversation feel confused, put on the spot and don't know what to answer.

Take one friend of mine- He is half French and half Italian but he grew up in Hong Kong. Basically he is almost Chinese in thinking and in manners. He then left for the Philippines and settled there. What will he say to people when he travels to another country?

Such people were not so common in the past when international travel was lengthy and expensive and working overseas involved only one country at the most. Nowadays, however, they are growing in numbers and we will be seeing them more and more often in the future.

***If you have a long layover at Dubai airport and are tired of shopping, reading and do not want to spend your money on expensive lounges, kickback and play a solitary game called "Ey Jinsiya". "Ey Jinsiya" in Arabic means: "What Nationality?" People from all over the world fly through or out of Dubai. Just sit down and try and guess what they are.
Can you tell Filipinos from Indonesians?

Filipinos have a certain European skin color because of the Spanish mixture which the Indonesians do not have- they look "purely native". Filipinos also try and "look American"- many wear jeans and T-shirts that say "USA", or "USA sports." They have big round eyes and are relaxed in the way they walk. They like to make eye contact with other people and observe what is happening around them. Indonesians walk in a tense manner and with more determination, so to speak. They are not interested too much in what the other people at the airport are doing.

Can you tell Americans from Brits? Brits are usually skinnier and have sharper features. They all dress in solid colors usually denim and black and do not look around much or try to have an eye contact with anybody. Americans also dress in subdued colors but are generally fatter. They turn their heads more and make eye contact with others more than the Brits. Can you tell Canadians from Americans without listening to their accents? Can you tell the Irish from the Brits? If you can't, keep trying, soon you will pick up on that certain something that will make you say- "Oh, a Canadian!", "Oh, an Irishman!"

Can you tell a Pakistani from an Indian or a Bangladeshi? Pakistanis are mixed with Iranians- their skin is whiter and they are taller than Indians. If you cross an Indian with a Persian, you get a Pakistani. They also wear these long shirts that go down below their knees. Indians are darker for the most part and they all walk like Gandhi. The look on their faces is strong. Many wear glasses. Most look like traveling businessmen. They are officious in their demeanor whereas Pakistanis look much more humble and less formal. Bangladeshis are very short and have round faces.

Can you pick out Sri Lankans? They are very dark for the most part and short with a certain "Sri Lankan face". I can't even begin to describe it. Sort of Indian but not quite.

Can you tell different Arabs from each other? Actually it is not that hard. Gulf Arabs may be harder to distinguish if by facial features- to an unpracticed eye, at least- but you can tell them by their dress and mannerism. Emiratis wear white headdress and they look very polite in the way they move. Kuwaitis dress the same way but have different expressions on their faces- either they look crazed from a night of wild partying and have that devil- may-care mien of an unruly teenager, or they look arrogant, like they own the Gulf (and the world for that manner). Saudis and Qataris are very hard to tell apart as they both wear red headdresses but Saudis seem to look like they are poorer- they walk like peasants lumbering along in a somewhat insecure manner. Qataris appear to have more class and move with a certain spring in their step that is uniquely Qatari.

Egyptians stand out by their aggressive walk and their oily skin, a special way their hair curls and the Arab/Nubian/ Pharaonic racial characteristics.

Can you tell an Ethiopian from a Sudanese? The Sudanese look like dark Semites but Ethiopians look like Africans but they have thin European features. Many have big teeth.

Anyway, "Ey Jinsiya" is a great game that you can play solo or with a friend. The problem is checking your guesses for correctness. Short of running after these people and asking to see their passport, there is really no way to do it. You may follow them to the departure gates and hope you will get a peek of the passport. But then you can get a punch in the eye.

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