But I Don't Have A Footie Team!

 

I imagine if you're not a third culture kid, the second of hesitation after the question "Where are you from?" must look a little misplaced.

I usually size up the person who's asking.

Do they want to know what kind of brown I am? Are they curious about why I look like a local but don't sound like one? Or the really crappy question (that's never really a question at all) - have they already cemented that my entire ancestry is Indian (wrong!) and just need me to validate their genius?

With the well-intended queries I find that starting with a short answer still leads to me explaining my entire life from birth to death:

"I'm Sri Lankan."

"Oh okay! How long have you been in Australia?"

"Well, I'm Australian too - I was just born in Sri Lanka."

"Ohh. Your accent sounds quite unusual..."

"Yeahhh. I grew up in Dubai - I lived there for about 13 years before I moved here."

"Ahh. And you've lived in Melbourne ever since?"

"Yeah! Well, I lived in Tokyo for two years after I finished my Bachelors. So, no?"

That's usually how it unravels: I try valiantly to get the whole story wrapped up in one go, but invariably end up explaining that I lived in Tasmania and went to kindergarten in Bahrain too.

I'm always a little split when replying to this peek into my identity: I love my story and know how interesting it is but I feel half fraudulent too - especially when conversing with a 'real' local. A little voice from the back of my mind pipes up: "well you've only lived in Melbourne for 7 years." Then it squeaks, "you don't support an AFL team and you have a total of 8 Australian friends! They're going to think you're pretending to be from here!"

I still don't know who this 'they' is and exactly what kind of trouble I'm supposed to be getting into. 

My favourite version of the question is: "where do you consider to be home?" I love this one because I have the chance to express my identity in my own terms. 

"I don't really have a home and I love that," is how I start. "I do tend to have a more emotional connection to Sri Lanka because my grandparents live there, but that might be as close as it gets? Hmm? Oh sure - I have always loved living in Melbourne, but I don't think it's 'home'. I guess moving around means I get to chose to adopt parts of the cultures I like from the places I've lived in. Yes, I think I'm planning to move again in a year or so. I get this itching in my bones sometimes..."

Letter from the Editor

How Do You Justify Your Customs?

How Do You Justify Your Customs?