Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Heritage

My interest in my heritage is something that has evolved over time. I suspect it is also a process of maturation. In the early years it was all about me, but it was also a lot about assimilation. To immigrate to a new country for the transitional generation it is almost a process of denying one's roots. You're in the thrust of adaptation and you want so much to blend in and belong that you put your heritage on the back shelf. As I became an adult and particularly after my parents passed away, I realize that all those values and wisdom and lessons taught to me came from "the old country" so to speak - from another era, from my roots. I pity those who were not guided by parents. It is that parental guidance that stays with a person for a lifetime.

My heritage is a badge of honor. When asked what my background is, it becomes a lesson in history. It is so complex and so alien that I grapple to illustrate an element that they can connect with. Sometimes I explain the parallels to the British in India and the Anglo-Indians. Some examples of Eurasians are: Burghers of Sri Lanka (British-Sri Lankans), Bui Doi (French-Vietnamese), Anglo-Burmese (English-Burma), Filipino Mestizo (European-Phillipino). And it's ever evolving as more mixed marriages occur in this ever global society.

I always like to think that Indos (Dutch-Indonesians) are the quintessential prototype to diversity and multiculturism, but in fact we are not. It's just that we can identify our beginnings back 350 years when the Portuguese Maritime Explorers landed on the shores of the Spice Islands and went on from there to the Dutch.

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