22 February 2007

Where are you from?

Pride and Prejudice (recent movie version)

I am currently trying to fix my old lappie since mum wants it and the operating system isn't up to scratch. Meanwhile, as those who know a little about computers, i have some time in between reboots, installs, hard disk scans etc to catch up on emails, blogs and other stuff.

There is something i really need to get off my chest that's been bugging me for a while now. And its not just me, a lot of my friends are bothered by it too. Its the one question that people always ask me here and it almost always rubs me up the wrong way. "Where are you from?"

Why is it annoying? Here is how the conversation usually goes...

Scenario 1

Person A: Where are you from?
Me: Australia.
Person A: But you don't look Australian/But your name looks Arabic.
Me: Yeah, my background is Arabic.
Person A: Oh, OK.

Or sometimes i try a different tactic which is just as ineffective.

Scenario 2

Person A: Where are you from?
Me: Syria.
Person A: Really? But you don't have an Arabic accent.
Me: That's because i grew up in Australia.

One girl, after going through scenario 1, said "well your Arabic then, not Australian". I felt like saying to her "Excuse me? Who the hell are you to tell me what i am or am not!". I wasn't born in Australia, but wasn't born in Syria either, does that make me Saudi since that was where i was born? Ive lived in Australia since i was 4yrs old, i speak/read/write in English 95% of the time. Ive been to Syria 3 times in the 20yrs since leaving the Middle East. I speak Arabic to my mum, English to my brother. So what does that make me?

When I was out with my flatmate E- (an Aussie with a Malay background) on the desert safari tour we did a while back the guide asked us that dreaded question. E- said she was Australian, he nodded, i said Australian... "but you don't look Australian". I just looked at E- and said to her after he left, "but you do?". Admittedly she has her share of problems in this regard too.

The other night we were chatting about an incident that happened to her friend who is also Aussie with Thai roots - she actually has the best Occa accent ever. Anyway a guy trying to get her attention (stupidly) called out "Hey China!". Can you imagine how irritating it must be? Just because they look Asian they get subjected to this sort of idiocy.

We, all three of us are Australian, if you ask us, that's our answer. I know when i say it, i believe it and it doesn't mean I'm disregarding my ethnic roots either. I say Australian because i am. I just happen to have an ethnic background too which unless your a friend i don't need to go into details with you about.

Just my two cents.


1 comment:

  1. Oh god. I hate idiots like that.

    What's the saying, "Home is where you make it?"

    So what about refugees who've moved likw 10 times? If these dumb idiots are right, then they're from everywhere and nowehre. Some people just don't think.

    Most Aussies know that a lot of "Aussies" these days are from backgrounds that originate overseas, it's almost as much a part of being Aussie as Vegemite is!! :p