COMMENT | I could be among the thousands of Australian residents stranded overseas if I had extended my Chinese New Year break in KL. But, stranded for an extended period with extended family in an apartment ‘home’ would not be that bad. Or perhaps it would, when my sense of ‘home’ tends to sway like a rustic pendulum with changing circumstance and context.
I was rooted in Malaysian soil - studied, worked, thought, and ate ‘Malaysian’. But like my father and grandparents who left Hainan for Penang in the early 1900s for greener pastures, I left KL for Perth in the late ‘80s with two oversized bags, an Olivetti typewriter, and a Tokai guitar for a better paying job in the newsroom.
As the only Asian reporter in a city weekly, I was the alien who eschewed trying to fit in. The guitar was my companion. But I staked my rightful place at the news desk by breaking stories on migrant entrepreneurship at a period when Chinese restaurants in Perth were firebombed.
Our Australian-born son and daughter, now ‘Malaysian-Chinese-Aussie’ adults, were spared the tensile experience of disconnection and alienation, adaptation and acculturation – the conscious choice that migrants make to absorb the ‘good’ practices and values of other cultures...