Wednesday 27th July 2016.
This was the day I realized that for the 16 years I lived in England at some point or another I had felt uncomfortable in the place that I lived, the place I called home. In one of my lectures we were discussing the terms of culture and industry and whether these two terms could be placed together. We talked about tourism and how when visiting non-western countries you can feel uncomfortable and out of place. This got me thinking about how I felt out of place in a place I lived for 16 years of my life. This made me realise that intercultural engagement can often feel foreign even in the countries we’ve lived all our lives.
We all feel uncomfortable when we are taken out of our comfort zones, often happening while we’re on holiday, visiting non-western countries where the language, customs and traditions are completely different to our own. But no one expects to feel uncomfortable in the country that they call “home”. However this happens more often than you think.
Many western countries are a melting pot of culture, customs and traditions, allowing families to create their own identity in places that may not correlate to where their heritage began. And within this melting point I have found settlements whereby people of the same cultures come together to create a community in a particular area. Often giving them titles, such as, “Little India”, “Little China”, “Little Spain” and so forth.
However, due to these settlements it has created segregation within the different generations who have take the customs of the countries they are in to live out their lives, opposing to those who have brought and lived through the cultures that they are accustomed to.
Now here’s my story, I am a British Indian, meaning I was born in England but my heritage is Indian. I was not raised knowing Indian traditions but did often participate in events. My parents instead allowed me to amerce myself in the western culture as they believed that as I was living in a western country it was better for me to learn their ways rather than completely teach me the Indian culture. This making me, what my family refers to, as “brown on the outside and white on the inside”. I am a British Indian, with very little knowledge of Indian culture. (I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or not but I think that can be left to another blog post.)
But back to my story, as in many countries, England has an area that is mostly populated by Indians, a place that I did not live in but I did visit on the odd occasion when meeting my grandparents for dinner or when having to shop for traditional attire for weddings. But every time I visited this place, I would always start to feel uncomfortable, it was as if everybody staring at me as I walked down the street knew I wasn’t “their kind”. This feeling made me sick to my stomach, as I knew I didn’t really fit in. Every time I had to visit this area I would immediately want to leave before I had even got there.
It’s strange how people don’t often talk about how they felt uncomfortable in the countries they call “home”, but are quick to say how they felt out of place whilst on holiday.
Do you have any stories that have made you feel uncomfortable within the country you live or while on holiday?
If so comment them below, I would love to hear some of your insights.