Sunday, October 02, 2011

Rastaman Vibration: A Brief Intercultural Encounter

Sunday afternoon at Goodluck Garden. From inside my second story concrete nest, I can see the pool, cool transparent blue. Usually the pool by this time of day is filled with kids and doting parents -- of Singaporean Chinese, Indian or Caucasian background -- splashing each other, floating on rafts or shooting water guns. 

But this afternoon is different. There is only one family at the pool today, a mixed family, the wife a Caucasian woman in her early to mid 30s, a pair of cute kids around three or four years old, and nearby, the husband, a very athletic black man with thick dreadlocks dangling to his waist. What makes this scene most unusual is that I have rarely seen any fellow Goodluck Gardeners of African (or African-American? Jamaican? African-European?) origin, much less anyone whose hair  seems to be classic Rastafarian.

I call my daughter from her room to see the family, simply because I know she will admire the man's hair, which she does (she also says he is "amazingly buff").  As we then spy on the group  from our apartment, discussing the wife's midriff bulge, the man's dreads and the beauty of the couple's kids, we witness an unusual occurrence. 

Another couple, seemingly in their 20s and also mixed (she appears Chinese, he Indian), approach the pool area from the area opposite our place, hand in hand with their own kids, twins of two years old or so. They are dressed in bathing suits as well. Suddenly though, when they get a view of the athletic gentleman, they do an about-face, making a hasty retreat. 

Then my daughter and I both wonder: What has just happened?


Rohan Rajiv said...

Very interesting.

Reminds me of a book I read by Historian Will Durant on 'The Lessons of History' (a thesis of his life's work, really..) where he talks about our natural instinct to discriminate and form 'gangs'.

It feels like there was a bit of that instinct on display.

Christopher Tiong said...

Brad, this is really hilarious!

There could be 2 possibilities.
1)I guess the two families recently had conflicts with one another. That was why they wanted to avoid the African.

2) I suppose the young Asian couple or their children had started to stereotype the "amazingly buff" African as some gangster or bad people? When I was young, I love to run around like a monkey. My mother would then scare me about dark-skin, tattooed people who will kidnap me and make me a child beggar syndicate.

Anonymous said...

There's too little information for us to pass judgement on this scenario. In fact, even if we had enough information, it's best to let sleeping dogs lie. But I really would like to know What Just Happened too!