Black and white, from a "yellow perspective"

Shanghai -- One of the things that thrills me the most about living in this side of the world is how you can barely take anything for granted. Over here you can't be too confident that words, situations, scenes have the same meaning you are used to attached to them.
This entails a continuous process of discovery, amazement, analysis. And yes, also confusion and challenge at times, because you can't afford to "rest" on a common ground, so small and fragile is it.
Most times, though, it's an exciting exercise and one that shows how globalization and all of that haven't standardized the world (yet) - luckily.

Here's a fresh example: Early in June I went on holidays to some tropical islands in the Pacific. As usual, I got sunburnt. But this time I managed to go beyond the stage where I am just as red as a prawn and succeded to turn brownish, which is pretty much a luxury for me, white-skinned and green-eyed as I am.
Back home, there in the Old World, people around me would have mostly envied it. Not exactly the same as I came back to Shanghai where the Chinese, as is generally the case with Asians, cherish white complexions and do anything they can to keep the sun away from their skin, including shopping for "whitening creams" at the supermarket and walking under their umbrellas in summer.

Day 1. Monday morning, back to the office: As soon as I sit down on my desk, my assistant turns to me and goes: "Oh gosh, what happened to you?". "I went to the beach and I got tanned", I explain, still trying to retain a bit of pride for my most rare tan (again, I was brown, not traffic light-red!).
She slightly smirks and pauses, less because she agreed with me than because she didn't want to hurt my pride.
Knowing her straightforward and honest character, I know that isn't just it.
In fact, a few hours later as I pass by her desk, she turns and partially disgusted comments: "You almost look like an Asian now".
(I told her that' s honestly a compliment for me but am not sure she believed I really meant it. She thought I was probably mocking her).

Day 2. Meeting with a Chinese business partner: He knew I had been on holidays the previous week, looks at me and tells me right away: "You are like one of us now!".
I start thinking that they must really mean it then!

Day 3. Chinese class: As we start the lesson, the teacher stares at me and puts up a scared/disgusted face. If commiseration had a face, it would have surely been hers in that exact moment.
"What happened to you, Silvia? Does it hurt?", she asks me.
To which, I try to explain that I had simply gone on holidays and I was quite happy with what "had happened to me". Yet, given the precedents I am not that motivated to put efforts into a convincing explanation anymore.

Day 20+: Idle moment with my assistant as we are waiting in line. She looks at me and tells me: "Look at you, you are so white already!".
I feel a bit sorry for myself but, again, I am wrong. I realize that what she means is that she is sincerely envious for my being able of getting rid of that skin color that quickly!
"Look at your face" - she goes on on fact - "already so white! Ha, I hate you!".

There you go!
So, good news for you white Caucasians out there:
1. You are lucky to be "so white"
2. and even luckier to be able to recover your white complexion so quickly after those horrible tans!