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Where are you from?

How can such a simple question lead to such trauma? Not other people's trauma, but my trauma, trauma to my well being. There are several answers I could give, each one correct yet wrong. Taking the question literally I would answer, London, UK. That is where I was born and raised, home for the first eighteen years of my life. But the question is never just simply asking that, it is asking a lot more. Locked away in that small question are numerous questions all being asked at the same time: Where do you live? What is your background? What culture are you from? Tenuously it is even asking 'what languages do you speak?'

Answering London, UK as I normally do leads to much more misinformation than answers. Each encounter other than the most briefest of meetings inevitably ends up in a long monologue qualifying my answer giving my whole history right back to where my grandparents are from to answer that small, simple question. In the end I actually end up disqualifying my own answer.

The monologue starts with the geographical location of my birth: London, UK. Then the fun begins... 'I was born and raised in London, UK in a predominantly Indian culture smattered with some East African and an ever increasing chunk of English-ness. My parents are from Kenya and my grandparents (all of them) are from Gujarat, India. I spent the first eighteen years (about 60%) of my life in London. Due to university and work the following 20% was spent dotted around the UK (one has to differentiate London from the rest of the UK because for all intents and purposes London may as well be a separate country). 10% of my life has been spent travelling and expeditioning around the world and 10% has been in France. The answer to where I am now living? 'Nowhere'.

But no one wants a long answer to that question. What is the short answer? I don't know. The dilemma! The trauma! Maybe the only short, truthful answer I can give is exactly that: 'I don't know'. Oh, but then more times than not I would be dubbed as a pretentious 'new-found-hippie-child-of-the-world'. Any ideas?

Answers on a post(card) please...

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