Before you scroll down, I want you to look at this photo of me and try to guess where I’m from.
Do you have a place or two in mind?…
Where am I from? Now that is a question I get asked almost everyday, but never really know how to answer. In order to fully explain to you why that is, I’m going to have to give you a little back story to why I hate this particular question. I just turned 22 this September, and although I’ve been alive for almost a quarter of a century, this question remains unanswerable.
I was born in Tokyo, Japan, the second of three girls, to a Japanese mother and an Indian father (yeah, well get to that later). I lived there for about 4 years until my parents decided to move to Chennai, a city on the south-eastern coast of India, to expand their business ventures. We lived there for about 8 years, so you can imagine, when my father decided he wanted to move closer to his family, I was devastated. Just as we had started getting used to the south Indian culture and had built a life there, we had to pack everything up again and move to the capital city of India – New Delhi. Now for those of you who haven’t been to India and visited different cities, Chennai and New Delhi are worlds apart. The language, culture, food, the people, everything seemed foreign again. From growing up in a house right on the beach, we went to living in a house in the middle of a concrete jungle.
I think at this point it’s imperative that I mention the fact that I was always considered a foreigner no matter where I went. In japan, people treated me as a foreigner because I was half-Indian and comparatively, I didn’t look Japanese at all. It was the same in India as well, only this time, they saw me as a foreigner because I was half-Japanese and I didn’t look Indian either. It was harder when I was younger. You guys know children can sometimes be very cruel. However, as i grew older, I learnt to use my uniqueness to my advantage. I think it has everything to do with how you see yourself first. It’s true what they say – change how you see yourself and everyone else will follow.
Fast forward to 5 years later, I’ve graduated from high school and decided to attend a liberal arts university in a small city called Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick, Canada. So at 17, I packed everything I could into two suitcases and took a flight to the other side of the planet. I was obviously a foreigner in Canada, but it was the first time I felt like I belonged to a place. I met people from all over the world, international students that felt the same culture shock as I did and who were going through the same identity crisis as I was. Today, 4 years later, I’ve graduated with an interdisciplinary double major in Fine Art and Spanish and a minor in French. At 22, I’ve lived in 3 different time zones and can speak 7 different languages and that is definitely something I’m proud of. I’m also grateful to have been fortunate enough to have been exposed to and sculpted by so many beautiful cultures. Although I don’t feel patriotic for any of the countries I’ve lived in, I feel strongly for each one respectively.
Where am I from? I’m not too sure… but home for me is wherever I go, or where my family is or wherever I lived long enough for me to get around the city without help from GoogleMaps. I’m from all of the countries I’ve lived in, and in a way from none of them either. Constantly moving, constantly growing, never in one place for more than a couple of years and hence, never prejudiced.
So… Where did you think I was from? My ethnic background maybe? Japanese? Indian? Were you able to get either one right or maybe both? Let me know what your first guess was in the comments section below! 🙂