Where is home

Posted: May 12, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

Being unemployed gives you a lot of time to ponder, surf the net, and then ponder some more. I came across a blog discussion by a Singaporean gal, Peishan, back in 2006. See below for the piece or the link here to the original source.
"Where is home?"A worrying trend: More Singaporeans are viewing themselves as 'citizens of the world'. A blog discussion.Mar 23, 2006

Home is where the heart is?By Peishan, a Singaporean in Chicago.March 18th, 2006

Stripping away the lyrics from one of Singapore's many trite National Day songs, "This is home, truly, where I know I must be, where my dreams wait for me, where the river always flows…" Where's home? What's home?
Perhaps, if you've lived in one place all your life, the answer should come easily, instantaneously. Where else, otherwise, could you call home, if you've never experienced something different?
But it's a question that has been put to me rather frequently of late; by my friends, myself, and most importantly, my parents.
To my friends, I tell them blithely, "I'm a citizen of the world"; to myself, I scratch my head and try to banish the question into the depths of my mind; to my parents, well, I make non-committal, guilty noises.
Tonight, I asked my aunt, "Where is home for you?" Her answer was quick, immediate, "Why, right now, it's in DC of course."
"How about in the future? Where would you finally call home?" I pressed on, eager to hear from someone who's lived away from home in various stages of her life.
"Wherever Sam [my uncle] wants to go, [and that'll probably be Melbourne]."
"But won't Gong [Grandpa] be upset that you don't call Singapore home, don't call where he is home?"
Difficult questions, even more difficult answers.
How to tell my parents that Singapore isn't really my home anymore? I mean, yes, they are back there, I grew up there, they took care of me there, but how do you call home a place where you haven't lived in years, and do not intend to live in for the next few years?
How do you call home a place where the only constants are your parents - a place where the landscape is always changing, a place where your friends are moving on, have moved on, and are living their own separate lives?
My aunt's answer was a guilt-free one - home is where her husband is.
My answer on the other hand, is a guilty one. If family is the one thing home is defined by, then of course, home is in Singapore. But it is not. Again I ask, what is it you call home?
Let me let you in on a secret though: Chicago is not home either. Yes, it is where I stay now, where I work, where I lead my life. But how do you call home a place that you do not own, but rent?
(I think the Singapore government got it right when they said that people feel like they belong when they can assign ownership to something concrete…)
How do you call home a room you stacked with furniture you did not lovingly procure, but hastily assembled together from the amongst the cheapest you could find?
To answer the question my mum posited me just now, yes, I can just as easily pack up and leave. Move to another city, another state, another country, stay there, and perhaps be just as happy. "I'm a citizen of the world."
Is it that important to have a home? To feel like we belong to somewhere, to someone, to something? Ah rhetorical question it might be, but it leads me no closer to what I could call home… You?


For me, that answer will always be Singapore even though I am unable to see my immediate future here. I was schooled here, I formed all my lifelong friendships here, all the good and bad moments of my life etched in the memory bank were here, heck I met my love of my life here.

When I returned to Singapore in 2007 after spending about 2 years away in Arizona, the first whiff of Singapore air as I emerged from Changi airport smelt distinctively like home. My good friend came to fetch me and as I sat in the car heading for Jurong via the PIE, the radio station Class 95fm love songs played in the background. I remembered remarking aloud how great it felt to be home, how comforting it was to hear the familiar voices of our Singaporean DJs.

Singapore is to me decidedly home, albeit it housing the system I desperately wish to get away from.