When I first started working here in Abu Dhabi, I was quite proud of my work experience in Canada, where everyone at work had great understanding of different cultures, and rules and regulations were in place to ensure a harassment-free work environment. In fact, not only I was proud, I was maybe a little snobbish about it, thinking that I have seen it all.
Well, it didn’t take long before things started to bother me at work. A month ago, an Australian joined our team and we got along fabulously well. Then a few days later he walked into my cubicle calling me “Shu Man-Chu”! Now that did not sit well with me. In Canada, everyone knows how taboo it is to address co-workers by hinting his/her ethnic background. A few days later I jokingly mentioned my annoyance to the Australian colleague, who, to my surprise, was very offended that I didn't like it. You see, his logic is that it was a show of endearment and friendship. This was further confirmed after I confided with another Australian friend – apparently Aussies like to give each other politically-incorrect nicknames. Other examples of Aussie nicks include "Baldie" (for a girl!) and "Little Man". Q also reminded me that the Dutch are also famous for being very un-PC.
So after this and a few other incidents (such as an English colleague giving me fashion critism on my work outfit and calling another girl colleague ‘fat’. *GASP!*), I have come to a better understanding of the work environment here: Not only it is multi-cultural, but also multi-national! As much as confusing, it is also great fun and eye-opening experience. I just have to grow my skin thicker!
To end this blog posting, maybe it is best that I pull a survey and enlist everyone’s input: Do you think Shu Man-Chu makes a cute nickname for work?