Sometimes when I'm walking down the street, I see faces that remind me of my own family. I see slanted eyes, high cheekbones, and wide nostrils, and I think, "This looks like my grandmother. Or, this man could be my grandfather." In Texas, there's not usually a feeling like that; in fact, growing up, it was more like, "Whoa, we look and talk funny compared to everyone else." And of course, there's the complete opposite experience when I go to Asia.
Take this picture of my grandfather. If you weren't paying attention to his clothing, he could very easily be mistaken for an indigenous fella in the highlands of Chiapas doing what most indigenous do--farming the land. This picture was taken last summer on our trip to Taiwan to visit my grandparents "in the village", as we city-slicker Asians like to say.
In the following two photos, I've juxtaposed a photo of my grandmother and an indigenous woman. Their similarity in appearance is striking, and only their clothes and my grandmother's slight plumpness distinguish them from one another.
The first day I moved here, I locked eyes with an indigenous muchacha, the colloquial term for housekeeper. She tends to an apartment in my complex and we passed each other briefly on the staircase. Maybe she didn't think anything of it, but my hypersensitive, racial American synapses were firing away--she looked so Asian to me, like we could be sisters. I was intrigued by the thought that our shared history was having a chance reunion on a staircase in Mexico City thousands of years and thousands of miles away from where our ancestors parted ways. A far-fetched theory, some might say, but you can't deny the physical similarities. If nothing else, these occasional face-to-face moments with the indigenous here remind me that we're all more interconnected than we know.