Feb 7, 2014

Leading double lives

Today, I did a double-take. I parked my car in Westfield, and when I went back looking for it, I couldn't find it. I was looking for a white car with the number plate 8093. I walked up to this car which looked incredibly like my car - yet it had another plate.

I gingerly peered inside. Yes, it is my car! You see, for the past three weeks, we had been driving around in a similar white car (rented) in Malaysia with the license plate 8093.

It's surreal to call two places home. It's like being in two alternate dimensions. When we went back to Malaysia this round, at first we could not drive well enough by Malaysian standards. At the junction, we kept waiting, and waiting, for a reasonable gap to come out into the road. But the cars sped by, and came in an endless stream. The next day, we braved going out with a smaller gap. By the end of the week, we were zipping out and making cars brake to let us in, because, well, that is how you drive in Malaysia. I found my Malaysian accent becoming more pronounced as the days went by. I remembered the roads. I revelled in the malls.

After learning again, how to live like Malaysians, it was surreal to come back to Australia. I held Australian dollars in my hands as I paid the cashier, and after holding ringgit for 3 weeks, the dollars looked alien. When I first arrived in Malaysia, I had to fumble with the cash for a bit, and when I came back to Australia, it was the reverse! In Australia we found, the world went by slower, and the light was incredibly bright. 

I am incredibly proud of my kids though. The boys adjusted to the humidity and dirty public toilets without complaint, and they ate with gusto, (any non-Malaysian food was banned for 3 weeks) and didn't mind getting teased about their accents or the fact that many people couldn't understand them, even people who spoke English! I think they feel as though they belong in a way, and yet, not belong, and I hope to always bring them back to these familiar people and things and places so they will keep that part of them that belongs.

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