It’s a running joke, “What’s the main difference between Australia and Yoghurt?” The answer: Yoghurt has more culture than Australia.”
Australians may laugh at this joke, others may be offended. For me, it’s symbolic of the way I feel living in Australia & how I feel about my country. It’s cheeky, it’s fun and, in my eyes, it’s literally true.
On the one hand, I have grown up alongside friends of Macedonian, Lebanese, Croatian, Vietnamese & Chinese descent. In my adulthood, I have visited these countries as a result of my blessed time with these people. I now cook balkan cabbage rolls and I always have sumac in my pantry. I find their stories about their culture and their religions fascinating and I often acknowledge know how lucky I am.
On the other hand, (and this is difficult for me to acknowledge), I often feel “on the outer”. This sounds harsh but it’s the only way I can describe it. I have felt this way ever since I was the only one without colour-dyed eggs to bring to school during Orthodox Easter! I guess it’s the sense of belonging that accompanies being part of a culture or a nation more than 200 years old.
If I was of aboriginal descent, I would have 40,000 years of rich history and culture to learn about and feel a part of. The culture has had thousands of years to develop. Aside from what has happened in recent times, I would feel ‘part’ of something deep, something special. “Part of” a culture, a history, a people.
If I was Chinese, there would be endless cultural events I would partake in that would ensure I always felt Chinese! If I was Vietnamese, there would be endless extended family gatherings around hotpots and karaoke!
Some people may say that all of these things are tiresome, that it may look rosy from the outside but it’s not all hotpots and festivities. This may be true, but like it or not, if Anglo-Australians like myself have only meatpies, Phar Lap (actually, he was a Kiwi), Pavlova (possibily Kiwi too), Shane Warne & Russle Crowe (Kiwi!) to rely on when someone asks me about my ‘culture,’ then I think I have a valid reason to sometimes feel a little underwhelmed and on the cultural ‘outer.’
This blog celebrates the absorption of the cultures around me, both near by and far away. I make no apologies for my enthusiasm in soaking up all that the people of different nationalities I live with have to offer. I also make no apologies for sometimes wishing my food shopping had to be done at a market in northern Thailand or that I could live in that little village in Syria, where everyone knows everyone’s name and where no one starts eating until Babba sits down.
Ultimately, while I comfortably blog about different cultures & travel to other countries, I know it is a privilege to do so. Most people in the world worry about where their next meal will come from. This is always top of my mind and always puts my feelings of being on the Aussie cultural ‘outer’ into very clear perspective.