I was at my parents making Thai curry and realized we were out of coconut milk. I went around the corner to to a tiny grocery stand which have been in existence since I was very little.
I asked in Chinese, "do you sell coconut milk in a can?" The man looked at me as if I were from outer planet and replied with disgust in Taiwanese, "can you speak Taiwanese?" Heck of course I speak the language, not super great but comprehensible. All I had in mind was that my curry was sitting on the stove and I was in desperate need of this very ingredient, which the traditional taste relied mainly on. You know how some words can slip off the word bank when you need it the most. I stood there and thought about it for two seconds, only failed to remember how to say it in Taiwanese. I looked on the shelves to ignore his question, "it comes in a can, you know, coconut milk," I said again. The mid-day sun was scorching me badly that I was starting to lose patience in looking and decided to head home. "No, I don't think you have it." I talked to myself. "No", he said those words in Chinese. Apparently he heard my self-talk. "But you don't speak Taiwanese?" He raised his voice. I was irritated. It sounded like he was interrogating me like this:
1. How sad that you don't speak Taiwanese living in Taiwan, or.
2. Taiwanese should be used more predominantly than Chinese in Taiwan. And, this woman does not speak it? That is just not right. She has to speak Taiwanese.
I felt being disciminated upon at that very moment. In smaller towns of Taiwan where people claim the real Taiwanese identity, discrimination like this does happen. But I've only seen it on TV or heard about it. To be confronted like this was novelty to me. And it happened in my very home town.
I waved to the store impatiently and said, "no, I don't" in Chinese and then as I walked away, I made a face that he couldn't see and continued with my self-talk "non, je ne parle pas and it is none of your business!" I wasn't even PMSing but was not a happy camper either.
Enough about this. I went home and made myself some English fruit tea. Immediately I felt much better. English tea does wonders to me.