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[personal profile] herdivineshadow

Sarek: "You will always be a child of two worlds. I am grateful for this, and for you."

I am of mixed ethnicity. Shock horror. I know. So really, I’m a bit like Spock here, only I’ve got just the one slightly pointy ear.  Now, I’ve ranted a little elsewhere about my various issues with how I get treated, so I won’t really go into that here.

Suffice it to say, I’m Chinese and Caucasian. Or actually more specifically, Malaysian Chinese and White British (randomly, it’s kind of interesting how the  word order goes in both of those phrases).

There are attitudes, habits and tastes that seem prevalent in the British/English world and there are others that are prevalent in the Malaysian Chinese world.

As a child of two worlds, I’ve pretty much grabbed a handful from each pile. One of these is that I don’t really get the real aversion to going back to live with your parents after university (or for that matter, the perceived eagerness of parents to watch their kids fly the nest as soon as they hit 18). In the Chinese side of my family, going home to live with Mum and Dad is totally expected and normal. In the English world I grew up in? Not so much.

There’s also other things like how the elderly are treated (they seem to be put out to die more in the English world), how extended family relates to each other (possibly just a personal thing, but as soon as my English grandparents died, we stopped really seeing the rest of that side of the family) and smaller silly things like taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s house (in Malaysia, you ALWAYS take your shoes off).

So while there’s a lot of sort of English things I don’t get, I don’t think I could ever live in Malaysia. Buying clothes there is a pain in the neck, possibly because I’m just looking in the wrong places but mostly because I’m twice the size of nearly all the women on that side of the family (I’m just built differently). The mosquitoes. I am allergic to the damn mosquitoes. It’s not a good thing. The bruises left over from the bites I got last December have just about faded. The weather! I am not a hot, humid weather person. Give me cloudy, overcast, cool days ANYTIME.

Tea. Oh God. As much as I enjoy Chinese tea and Teh Tarik in all its forms, making a decent cup of “English” tea has proved almost impossible unless I’m in a hotel. It might be the milk. It might be the water. It might be the teabags. Who knows?

The traditional Chinese family structure is also kind of out for me – with the father as the dictatorial head of the family, especially now that I’m an adult. I’m pretty easy-going, but there is only so much being told what to do that I’ll put up with. There’s also the expectation that I’ll get married and have children (but I suppose, that’s a universal thing) – as someone who has seriously considered entering the religious life (and it’s not something I’ve totally ruled out yet), I am content with the idea that I might never marry or have children.

Oh. There’s also the small issue of all the bands I like not visiting Malaysia. I don’t think I could live in a place where I’d never go to see live music. What little I’ve seen of popular culture in Malaysia…seems to be all the stuff I avoid at home in the UK.

There’s also attitudes to sexuality (and the issue of homosexuality being illegal in Malaysia), to women, to race, to censorship and the corruption seemingly rife within  not just the political system there. There are complex issues there.

In the end, despite being a child of two worlds, I’m pretty much English/British with the occasional moment where  I identify as Chinese.

Originally published at half girl, half robot. You can comment here or there.

Date: 2012-03-12 02:10 am (UTC)
ceitfianna: (four elements)
From: [personal profile] ceitfianna
Thank you for sharing this. It's wonderful to know so much about how you see yourself.

Date: 2012-03-12 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is good readings. Thankyou for posting.

Date: 2012-03-12 07:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't have a huge extended family any more, but I would say that the passing of my grandmother on my mother's side lead to us making much more of an effort to see that side of the family. And it's good that we did, as so many of them have since passed away too, leaving just my Aunt in Stratford on Avon. Again, might just be a personal thing, it would be interesting to see how other people deal with it.

Date: 2012-03-12 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Was talking to my boss the other day about how arbitrary and unhelpful the Ethnicity tick boxes are on the forms at work. She agrees, but the format is enforced from somewhere high up. The Asian section is a list of nationalities (which misses many out), and there's nowhere for anyone from the Americas (regardless of race) to tick. You can write in on the form, but there's nowhere for us to write in on the system - it's all very stupid.

Date: 2012-03-13 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for sharing this--it was interesting to read and a nice little essay.

You will always be a MESPTer first to me. (-;

Date: 2012-03-17 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's not just a mixed ethnicity thing though. Both my parents are Indian, but being born/growing up here has obviously had it's effect :P And I agree with you on so many points.

While personally going back home after uni was not something I wanted to do, it really isn't weird in Indian culture, and explaining to folk that my parents didn't want me to move out and even thought it was shameful that their unmarried daughter was moving out when I actually did it was a tad difficult :P Of course this isn't just about lovely family dynamics. Traditionally a woman should either be under the control of her father or her husband after all :)

Your post has made me giggle though. When we moved into my (paralysed) grandfather's house to look after him after my gran had passed away, the number of "Couldn't you find a home for him then?" comments we got were unbelievable! The British world in which I grew up leaves family members to fend for themselves once they stop being dependent children.

It seems to me that my Indian heritage and your Chinese heritage has way more in common than either do to Britishness though.

I agree with the rest of your post too. You should see the mosquito related welts I get too! I actually scared family out there some time ago - they thought I'd caught some disease!

The thing that always gets me about India though, is that even though I'm the right colour, and even when I wear the right clothes and speak the right language, I'm perceived to be more of a foreigner there than I ever would be here.
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