I had a partial English education, and could converse in English without difficulty. Although she had a thick African accent and a way of speaking, which is, at best called "cart before the horse," the unabashed African made herself clearly understood. Other two Asians, coming from different parts of Asia, found it an uphill task to hold an ordinary conversation. But I could see that they were learning fast. People took some time to understand our accented and rather hurried way of speaking and this was, at times, a huge embarrassment. In frustration sometimes, we blamed it on the racism prevalent in UK, although we knew that we were being unfair. African had an aggressive 'back home' accent and was unexpectedly comfortable with it. We had initial problems to understand the original British English, and had always been nervous if someone spoke to us directly. Slowly we started understanding the British way of speaking and that problem was partially left behind. It is fantastic that we know a common language, even though at varying degrees of fluency. "For many theorists within mainstream linguistics, the term discourse signifies a turning away from sentences as exemplars of usage in the abstract, that is examples of the way that language is structured as a system, to a concern with language in use." Brown and Yule (1983, taken from Mills, 1997, p. 9).
Discourse across race and regions has many colours and shades. Our discourse that has remained formal even to this day with the British also shows the delicate nature of our relationship. It took only a few days for the rest of us to be informal. With formal conversation, very often one hits a brick wall. "What I have said is not 'what I think' but often what I wonder whether it couldn't be thought," said Faucault (1979d. 58) (Taken from Mills, 1997, p. 14). Language and discourse are crucial in cross-cultural interactions and mostly becomes the sole reason of hindrance in furthering a friendship.
When it comes to gender, it is difficult to feel much of racism in that arena. Gender is the social aspect of the differentiation of the sexes and here only two biological differences exist without the influence of race and region. It could be slightly complex, but the gender reigns supreme here, and a genuine attempt has been made by Sociologists to understand it in its own background. "Emphasis has shifted towards understanding the diversity of the social practices which constitute gender in different nations, classes and generations," Mills (p. 40).
On the other hand sexism is considered to be closely linked with patriarchy, slightly an ancient concept that smells with ideas like men are superior to women and still remains "a set of beliefs, practices and institutional structures which reinforces, and is reinforced by, patriarchy," Mills (p. 41). From that point of view, Asian and African societies are still struggling to come out of this age-old concept, whereas Western societies have wriggled out of it successfully, though they had to fight for their suffrage rights and we received them automatically, thanks to our enlightened heavenly leaders!
Reverting back to our own story, all of us are heterosexuals and the two British girls had their boyfriends visiting often. Their open attitude towards sex never failed to embarrass the rest of us, the hesitating