Born in: Indonesia
Passport(s): Indonesian and British Permanent Resident
Countries lived in: Australia (Sydney): 1999-2001; Scotland (Aberdeen): 2007-2009; Western Australia (Perth): 2009-2013
Cyberspace coordinates: Finally Woken (blog)
What made you leave your homeland in the first place?
I left in 2000 to study for a master’s degree in Sydney. I left again in 2007 because my then fiance (now husband) got a job in the UK. Philosophically, I have never really felt at “home” in my own home country of Indonesia. Lots of its values don’t match with mine. From the time I was a child, I felt like an alien and longed to go away.
Is anyone else in your immediate family a “displaced” person?
No. My brother doesn’t like to travel and still lives at home with my parents. But three of my father’s sisters are married to Germans: two still in Germany and one in Indonesia. And I have four cousins living in the Netherlands and Germany.
Describe the moment when you felt the most displaced over the course of your various travels.
It was in Sydney. I was working as a casual staff at an ice cream shop while doing my postgraduate study. It was winter, around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. I had just closed the shop and was waiting for the bus. It was rainy and cold, and then all of a sudden, there was a hailstorm. I almost cried, I felt so sorry for myself. I was thinking about how if I’d stayed put in Indonesia, I could have been working for a big company and earning a nice salary by then, living with maids and a chauffeur. I wouldn’t have to mop floors or clean windows to pay the rent. In the Indonesian island where I come from, everyone knows me and my family, but here in Sydney, no one cares who I am or whose daughter I am…
Describe the moment when you felt least displaced.
Weirdly, I almost always feel more at home in anywhere but my own country.
You may bring one curiosity you’ve collected from your travels into the Displaced Nation. What’s in your suitcase?
A flash disk containing thousands of photos.
You’re invited to prepare one meal based on your travels for other Displaced Nation members. What’s on your menu?
Chicken tikka masala — it’s originally from Glasgow, most people don’t know that — and cranachan for dessert.
You may add one word or expression you’ve picked up from the countries you’ve lived in to The Displaced Nation argot. What word(s) do you loan us?
“Bollocks.” My hubby, who is Scottish, says it sounds cute when I say it. I try to use a Scottish intonation. He would let me say it whenever I wanted — until I said it in front of his 95-year-old grandmother, and then he explained it was actually a very very rude word.
img: Anita McKay (left) with a good Indonesian friend who was visiting her in Scotland, in front of Balmoral Castle, the only royal residence outside England.
If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe for email delivery of The Displaced Nation. That way, you won’t miss a single issue.