Monday, 2 July 2012

The expat brat pack

By: Mia

As a child of wanderers, I have always felt like a foreigner. I do even now, after more than a decade in the UK. I've discovered that looking foreign invites people to put you in a neat little box. 

Not Greek - honest.
With freckles and curly hair in Hong Kong, I certainly looked the part of the expat brat. But in Cyprus it was trickier, because I could pass for a native. On discovering that I am not Greek-Cypriot, the common response was “Are you sure? Because you look Greek and your name ends in ‘OU’.

I always found the insinuation that I do not know my OWN ORIGINS mildly annoying but extremely amusing. 

The 'where are you from' question tends to get people truly confused. They don't get the answer they expect, so they usually try with increasing desperation to find the correct pigeon hole for me. 

I have fine tuned my answers over the years. This is a typical exchange:

“So where are you from?"

"Many places."

"Where did you grow up?” 

"My parents traveled a lot."

“OK, so where are your parents from?”

"My father is from Brittany and my mother is an Egyptian Jew brought up in Rio, then London."

"And where did you go to school?"

"Paris, Jerusalem, Cannes, Hong Kong, Cyprus, London."

Then, with escalating panic over the seemingly impossible but strangely necessary task of finding my ONE TRUE ORIGIN, they ask the clincher question: "Hah! Where were you BORN?”

Here I grin like a happy Cheshire cat grin and pull out my aces: “Tokyo.”

~ Part of Strangers in Strange Lands. Mia Navellou is is a voice-over artist based in London, however her ONE TRUE ORIGIN is always liable to change at any time without prior notice. You can ask her "why London?" if you like, but your line of questioning is likely to end in futility and frustration. 

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