Okay, but where are you really from?


Most people don’t have trouble answering the question ‘where are you from?’. Okay, I don’t have trouble answering the question either. It’s the people asking the question who have a problem with my answer. And thus I’m just as familiar with the question ‘where are you really from?’.

Recently on a flight I had one gentleman ask me if I was British. When I said I wasn’t, he asked if I was American. I would have excused him for not being able to distinguish between American and British accents had he not been American. He spent the next few minutes telling me it was a rarity to be competent at English while being from neither of those nations. He’s in for a big surprise if he ever goes to Australia or Canada.

I’m often puzzled at how a person who has known me for about 3 minutes thinks they have a better understanding of my background than I do. I think these people should skip asking me where I’m from and ask one of the following questions:

What passport do you have?
Where did you grow up?
Where are your parents from?
How did you acquire that accent?

You’ll note that I left out asking me where I feel I belong. People aren’t particularly interested in that information. While I’ve had my fair share of being exasperated with people who are not happy with my answer about where I’m from, I’ve also spent time being the exasperator.

A former co-worker of mine, who is half-French and half-Moroccan always insists on being called Moroccan. Upon discovering how opposed he was to being called French, I couldn’t help myself from calling him just that. In order to put an end to my teasing, he set out on a quest to prove his Africaness to me. Spotting me in the distance,  he ran behind a bush and started making unintelligible noises which he claimed were African mating calls.