I am part Indonesian, part German; in other words, I
I grew up in Singapore, living there for most of my
life. I walked the same streets every other day, met the same
friends out by the park and ate the same food at hawker centres as
cravings hit. I became familiar and comfortable within the only
country I ever knew. Singapore was my home.
I talked as the locals did, acted as the locals did,
did life as the locals did. The very essence of Singapore is its
melting-pot culture one which came about thanks to the immigration
of people from all over the world, one which made an amalgamation
of lifestyles the norm, and one which greatly helped me assimilate
into its way of life. Singapore is a great place for a person of
mixed heritage to feel welcome and accepted. But as much as the
country is home, I am only a permanent resident, with plans to
return to either my father or mothers birth country one day.
Growing up, my parents never really made a conscious
effort to make sure their mother tongues were spoken within the
household. English, the language that initially made it possible
for them to communicate with each other all those years back, was
preferred. The only time I would hear them speak their native
languages were when they communicated with family and friends back
In addition to a lack of proficiency in either
language, I also lacked in exposure to either countrys customs. I
didnt grow up in communities that embraced the strong cultures of
Indonesia or Germany. I have never worn the traditional costumes,
nor did I take part in any traditional celebrations. I also never
joined any societies or clubs that allowed me to meet people in the
My upbringing, as much as I loved it, left me in a
place where I could call myself neither this nor that; where I
couldnt say I belonged here, nor there.
Travelling is something I have always loved, but
every visit to Germany brings back feelings of anxiety.
Machst du hier einen Urlaub (Are you coming
here on holiday)? the German immigration officers ask.
Entschuldigung, ich kann nicht gut Deutsch
sprechen (Sorry, I cant speak good German), I sheepishly
But youre from Germany you have a German passport.
You should be able to speak German, comes the response, accompanied
with a judgmental look....