My country is a melting pot of different ethnicities. While the cohesive social fabric exists, growing up as someone of Indian ethnicity had its challenges. From being made fun of of my skin color to having to work harder to chase the promised rainbow.
I grew up as the child of immigrants in the southern United States where I was often asked to choose a specific identity. American. Or South Indian. Never both. Choosing one always meant I would be left out (judged) by the other. Now I'm raising a multiethnic family in the Middle East where we are called expatriates. My children, and many of their friends, claim with ease all backgrounds in their rich heritage. So much has changed in a generation. This book explores how identity, migration, and childhood have evolved in the last 30 years.
Girls are often brought up with the idea of falling in love, getting married, having children and living happily ever after. And while it would be convenient to have everything nicely streamlined with societal expectations, my life provided a different set of questions. Am I happy as a single? How could I share my love and home with a child? Could I travel the world? This is a story about what happens when we ask questions without traditional answers and end up in the beautiful unknown.
Born and raised in a small town in rural Alberta Canada and being the only "ethnic" family around highlighted the differences between me and the "others". From not being accepted for who I was based on my looks, and my school lunches (thanks mom for the zaatar sandwiches aka bug food) to seeing open discrimination against my father and our family business, changed how I identified myself. Was I Lebanese or was I Canadian like everyone else? Did I want to be Lebanese and have to deal with all the trauma it entailed or did I want to lose my heritage and "fit in" so that I wouldn't be bullied anymore?
In her home country, people shouted at her: “Hey Chinese, go back to your own country, you do not belong here.” When she travelled abroad, people never suspected that she was from Indonesia. The closest guess is usually from Philippines. Many of them looked surprised when they learn the truth. It is immediately followed with “But you look Chinese?” or “But you are not wearing a hijab?”. In Qatar it was the same. “Are you from China? Korea? Philippines?” When she went out to have a meal in a restaurant with her children she was told “Your boss is very nice to let you eat in a nice restaurant.” This book is the story of an Indonesian-Chinese woman navigating her identity and the stereotypes around her, both in her home country and abroad. It is her journey of finding peace and acceptance with her identity.
Our choices at the dinner table are deeply personal. I’ve been choosing to follow a vegan diet for 7 years, across three countries and many cities. Come hear why I think eating plants is awesome, and ask me anything about what it’s like for me to be vegan in Doha. Why did I choose to follow a vegan diet? What’s it like to make this choice? My story is about making small, routine choices each day that have a meaningful impact over time.