I’ve got a beard now. And now that I do, I get all sorts of strange guesses as to where I’m from. Some ask if I’m from the Middle East, some guess Russia, others wonder if I’m German. Why really is it any person’s business to ask where I’m from. We’ve all been asked the same questions a million times, so why aren’t we bored of asking it ourselves. Or is it mandatory small talk? I can’t imagine how hard it is for some people to answer this question. I’ve got this friend who was born in Singapore, lived three of his childhood years in Greece, then went to France, on thereafter to Australia, back to France, and now in China. When someone asks where he’s from, how is he supposed to answer? If he says Singapore, people think that he’s lying or making some sort of a strange joke. When he says he’s from France it’s more acceptable though he doesn’t really carry a French accent, but that isn’t what people are asking now are they? They are asking where he’s from and the answer should be Singapore right? Or is it that they’re asking where he considers home. In that case the answer would be France. Now fast forward many years to a day where he might consider China home. If he answered the question with China, then people would look at him stranger that when he would say Singapore. If he took the time to tell every Joe, Dick, and Harry his whole story, then they might think he was full of himself. So just tell people what they want to hear, or are not surprised about. Now how does a guy answer the question when the question is being asked by someone from that said guy’s hometown? Especially when that guy has lost his accent. That happened to me once, and the guy who asked me actually wanted to punch me saying that I was a liar, and that I should stop changing my accents. Now that I sit here writing this a guy next to me asked me where in Ireland I’m from. Should I just go along with the flow and lie to him? Or should he not try to guess where I’m from? Why do people ask where you’re from anyway? Is it that they’re trying to find a link to somewhere they’ve been, or is it that they’re trying to see how different and or similar you are from their preconceived notions? Or again, is it mandatory small talk? If it is, then why do so many people get so upset when they think that the question isn’t sufficiently answered? Maybe it’s better to ask where someone is going for the holiday. That’s the trick. Either ask them where they spent the past holiday or the coming one. You spend the holidays at home right? That way nobody can consider you a liar or a strange joker. Where are you going to spend your holiday?
By Tim Hoerle