Friday, March 5, 2010

where do you belong?

We had our first chinese new year celebration away from home this year.

It felt different, somehow. Although we did have a proper reunion dinner (though not on the 'proper' day - we had exams on 初二 - so our dinner was postponed to a few days after the actual day). We had all the food that we were supposed to eat during a 'proper' reunion dinner, even the lou sang, and it was a great celebration with friends, awesome festive mood, and good food.

But it felt different, without family.

Although I have always (and I really mean always) find CNY a huge hassle to prepare for and celebrate back at home, and I detest the socialising we're supposed to do during the first few days of CNY with relatives and friends. I mean, I meet these people once a year (twice, if I'm lucky) and we practically know nothing about each other. Heck, I'm closer to my online penpals (not that I have any now) than I am to them. I have always thought CNY forced us to be with people we don't like and do things we don't like because the situation warrants it. I'm always happiest on the day school reopens after the whole fiasco. Seriously!

Well, I certainly don't miss that part of CNY now I'm in the UK. But I do miss spending time with my parents, decorating the house with new year paraphernalia, baking biscuits and cakes for the new year, and even watching corny new year television shows with them. I miss the joy and smiles that comes easily and watching my dad doubling over with laughter when someone cracks a really funny joke.

That made me think: What exactly is home, anyway?

Would Glasgow seem less foreign if my parents were here with me?

Would Malaysia seem less familiar if my parents were away from the country?

What is home, anyway?

I have spent three seasons away from my homeland until now, and I understand how it feels to be a foreigner, stepping on foreign soil and being with people that see you as a foreigner. I know that, no matter how much I like it here, this is not my home.

But then again, I wondered to myself: would Glasgow seem any more like home if I spent ten years and settled down with a family in this piece of 'foreign' soil?

I don't know.

Some people spend a month away from their homeland and feel perfectly at home, wherever they are.
Some people spend a lifetime in a land away from their homeland and never feel as if they belong.

Feeling as though we belong - does it make us happier?

I think it makes us feel more secure, more grounded, to be in a place where the people see you as one of their own. Where people will not treat you differently just because you came from a different place as them.

Nine months down the road, it's sometimes easy for me to forget I'm not a local. When I'm walking down a street, when I'm browsing in stores, or when I'm simply having a coffee in a roadside cafe, I look at the faces of the people around me and never feel like I'm any different.

But there are times when a look, a twitch of the eye, or an unconscious expression, from the people to me, suddenly reminds me that although I may not feel like a foreigner, they certainly, somewhere deep inside (or sometimes it's on the surface), see me as a foreigner.

What about those who travel for a living? What about those who circle around the world and never stay in the same place for more than a week? Where is their 'home', then?

Perhaps, home is their hotel for the day, where they can put down their bags and rest, and be protected from the outer environment.

Perhaps, home is a certain cafe with similar outlets all around the world, so when they step foot inside the cafe wherever they are, they feel they're home.

Perhaps, home is where their loved ones are, who greet them with smiles and a simple 'How was your day?', and let them be themselves without being judged, and feel as though they're finally 'home'.

Where do you belong?

Where is your home? =)