Tuesday, July 26, 2011

America the Beautiful(l of Diversity)

Over the past fortnight, I was reminded of how much diversity surrounds me in my everyday life. Mind you, as healthcare professionals, Nicole and I are no strangers to diversity, continuously dealing with a parade of patients from all different backgrounds, languages, smells, and socioeconomic status.

Speaking of parades, don't you think diversity makes them more robust, more fulfilling to watch? You pick one -- Mardi Gras or a Ku Klux Klan march? The Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics (the United Nations of athletes) or that march at the Winter Olympics (only those athletes who are -asian: Caucasian or East Asian)? Well, you get my point.

Having recently re-relocated to New York City, I was again reminded of the tremendous diversity here in this crazy metropolis. I was running late to a college admissions event, and I certainly did not want to deprive overly-ambitious high school kids (of all different colors and fashion styles, of course) from sucking up to me in the hopes of getting into my alma mater. So, like a good New Yorker, I hailed a cab. Sidebar: I was merely a volunteer without any say in admissions decisions, but it was funny to hear squeaky-voiced high schoolers suck up to me anyway.

In the cab, I immediately struck up a conversation with the driver, a Gambian-American who'd been living in New York for 17+ years. Not only that, he volunteered to guess my ethnic background... and he got it right on the first try! Then we spent the next five minutes trying to guess the ethnic backgrounds of pedestrians and passersby around us. I must say, he wasn't bad. He would make comments like: "Oh yes, she's gotta be a spoiled Korean girl... look at her dress and her handbag!" Ha ha ha. Gees.

Lucky guesses aside, he also turned out to be married to a Tibetan Buddhist lady (he even showed me pictures of his wife and their kids) who he'd first met when she was his passenger on a rainy commute back home. Are you kidding me? A Gambian-Tibetan couple? Not a combination you encounter on a daily basis... when's the last time you had West African/Tibetan fusion food? Actually, did you even know Gambia was located in West Africa? Not if you watched only the Winter Olympics (Gambians don't ski much).

I wonder where the nearest Tibetan restaurant is to my apartment, but I know there is one somewhere here in New York (diver)City. And I know there are Gambian joints somewhere in the Bronx. But if I ever find a West African/Tibetan fusion place, you can bet that I'll be taking Nicole there!


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