Where do you call home? Is it your place of birth? Where your family lives? Where your wife/husband goes? That was a question recently posed by a Singaporean blogger currently living abroad…
For me I don’t mind living anywhere in the world, so long as there’s an Internet connection (I’m serious!). I’ve two younger siblings so my parents encourage me to go as far as I can (career-wise, not proximically-speaking!). I must admit though that my decision to go anywhere would be limited to where my partner can go, which is something I fully respect. While I would miss Singaporean food as well as my friends and family (no particular order!), I can live with the idea of the Internet giving me a compressed experience of home. After all, I think it’s always good to experience new cultures and to learn a few things from them. Take note though my heart still belongs to Singapore; friends will attest that I still have a distinctly Singaporean accent while Penny and I always crave Singaporean delights, so she whips them up pretty often!
From what Peishan said, I think she is experiencing the loss of identity. When she wrote “Home is where the heart is?“, she couldn’t seem to call a distinct place as home, be it Singapore or Chicago. In the end, she proclaimed that perhaps one of those who considered themselves “citizens of the world”. By that she meant how mobile people like herself could move to any state, or any country for that matter and still be equally happy.
While readers left her their personal thoughts and decisions on that matter, her story was cited on Tomorrow.sg (the “BoingBoing” of Singapore) where it fell under the context of her being a Quitter, one who in Singaporean terms, leaves home (Singapore) for greener pastures. Witnessing the crime of over-generalization, I felt a need to address this and so I share the following:
“Quitter” is a harsh term designed for invoking shame, useful for keeping up the local economy (yup politics!). However, we now live in a globalized world, where the norm is for goods and services to cross international borders, just as well for people to make difficult cultural transitions. Whether someone decides to work in Singapore or work abroad, they shouldn’t be treated any differently… it’s seriously another day’s work. As Peishan said, this isn’t an issue for her. What she faces is more of a cultural issue which might be something straight out of the book, Mammon Inc. If you guys remember, it was written by Singaporean novelist, Hwee Hwee Tan. This was later commissioned by the National Arts Council to be a play at the 2002 Arts Festival. I totally recommend reading it, especially if you are in that transition phase, so here’s a book review.
That said, Mammon Inc is one of the best novels I’ve read. I couldn’t help but picture myself reaching such a level of economic success, only to realize that it could be all for nothing if we don’t have a greater overarching meaning for our lives. A pretty poignant tale for anyone living the globetrotting lifestyle and finding it hard to find a place called home.
Aside: If you’re interested in what life is like for Singaporeans living abroad, check out this simple blog aggregator I’ve put together at what.isthereason.com. This is where you’ll discover interesting stories like this, this and of course, that.
Update: Straydog believes that we must remove ourselves from the old notion that home is something physical. That is just an address of your current abode. By that definition, many people will be homeless. I wouldn’t mind one address though… a static IP address 😛