- I walk into an Upstate New York post office in my lovely Indonesian calf-length kaftan. I spot an American friend. Her eyes flicker my way, and without a word, she bolts. Later I ask her why on the phone, and she tells me she didn’t want to embarrass me by letting on that she caught me sneaking out in my nightie.
- I walk into a supermarket in Guyana in my North American style frayed cut-off jeans, and the security guard strides towards me purposefully, ready to show me the door. He thinks I’m a vagrant.
- I’m sailing through an European airport, my designer lambswool cape billowing behind me, spike heels, showgirl hairstyle, two English colleagues with bags in tow, and onlookers stop them to ask, “Who is she? Which film star?”
- In Hong Kong, I’m riding up an hospital elevator in a raw silk Chinese top, my hair swept upwards in an Oriental ‘do, and I’m chatting with a friend in Mandarin. She gets off, and then I notice the Egyptian man in the corner of the elevator giving me furtive glances. Eventually he plucks up the courage to ask, “Are you Chinese?”
Am I simply being judged by the garments I wear, or is there a chameleon in me that allows me to convincingly play the role my clothes dictate?