By: Our Correspondent

Kirsten Zimmern is a photographer of Chinese and Scottish descent who
has taken what she called "a fleeting glimpse into the lives and faces
of a number of Eurasians," and ended up fascinated by what she
discovered. She has produced a lovely and evocative book to tell their
stories.

"Despite my different approaches (to different
subjects), she writes, "I found that many held similar views and
beliefs, especially with regards to having 'Chinese' morals and
'Western' social habits, most subjects were keen to enforce the idea
that they felt equal amounts of each and it was also striking that many
subjects employed the same terms, such as 'best of both worlds' –
despite not having conferred with each other. There was an overwhelming
desire to portray being Eurasian as a positive and enviable state of
being."

Each of the 70-odd people in this book, photographed
full-face, has a story to tell. For some, like retired schoolteacher
Jean Consigliere, early life was difficult. The child of an English
father and a Ceylonese mother, she was raised in Kuala Lumpur. "When I
was a child, we were often called 'mixed devils' and the like," she told
Zimmern. Into the early 1960s, she said, foreign private companies
stipulated in their contracts that their employees were not allowed to
marry locally.

That has changed dramatically over the years.
Although some, like Sarra Jayne Lau, the daughter of a Scottish mother
and a Chinese father, have had bad experiences "with some ignorant
people who make comments about the 'purity' of my race…I don't feel
discriminated against at all."

That is in Asia. Lisa Rosentreter
grew up in a hamlet in the northern prairies of Manitoba, where
virtually everyone shared a German migratory history. Being half German
and half Chinese, "I couldn't evade feelings of embarrassment that my
mother was Chinese and that our staple starch was rice." Going to school
every day, she told Zimmern, she "was taunted by the singsong, 'me
Chinese, me so dumb, me stick chopsticks up my bum,' (which) never
failed to put knots in my belly. "

As Asia Sentinel has noted in several stories — the most recent about Maria Venus Raj,
the reigning Miss Philippines and runner-up for Miss Universe 2010 —
mixed parentage has resulted in people, women in particular, of uncommon
beauty. They have peopled many of the beauty contest stages of Asia and
the world.

That is not the point of Zimmern's book. It is to
allow each of the people to tell his or her story about what it means to
be of mixed parentage.

"There is a feeling of sisterhood
between Eurasians," Jeanine Hsu told Zimmern. "I instantly feel some
sort of silent connection with other Eurasians and can usually tell who
they are. I feel so luck to be accepted into different cultures and
likewise, to understand different cultures."

For the swelling
ranks of the Eurasians across the world, Zimmern's book ought to be
welcome because it should be able to tell they are hardly alone in their
feelings.