Today I changed the header of this blog. My new tagline is: Now England has become my home.
It is important that people who visit this site are clear about what they may find, therefore I tried to be descriptive.
The tagline I used before was “From the south of England”. This old tagline was a bit vague, as some people might be disappointed to find that I did not feature sun, sea, and beach huts from Plymouth or Brighton on this site.
Creating a relevant tagline
When I was considering a new tagline, I had an idea of “From a kampung to an England’s suburb”. However, most overseas readers may find it difficult to comprehend the concept of a kampung in Malaysia. A kampung is a typical Malaysian village or enclosure, characterised by lots of greenery, such as coconut trees, papaya trees, and sugar cane.
An old kampung, as far as I remember it, represents a relaxed, traditional, unsophisticated way of life. Building materials are basic, lanes might be unmarked or unpaved, lighting is poor, but people in the kampung form a supportive and friendly community. Human relationship was more intimate. Eating, drinking, and chatting took place under shaded coconut trees.
I later thought of a new tagline: “From hibiscus to Tudor Rose.” Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia, and Tudor Rose (or the Hampshire Rose) is connected with the history of Hampshire, where I’m living.
The problem is using flowers as a tagline may mislead readers (again). Gardening enthusiasts won’t be too happy to find that I’m not a horticulture expert. I can’t tell a weed from a plant.
Finally I changed my tagline to a simple fact: “Now England has become my home”. If I later find this tagline doesn’t work, I’ll brainstorm and change it again. Blogging is an experiment, isn’t it?
“Now England has become my home”
In 2013, I told you my dilemma about whether I should apply to become a British citizen. I wrote about it and my post Am I British enough? generated more than 84 responses in the comments.
I’m delighted to tell you that last year I went back to the Malaysian High Commission in London to renew my Malaysian passport.
I’ve kept my national identity, though England has now become my home – my main home, not my second home.
Visiting Malaysian High Commission in London
In April 2014, I visited the Malaysian High Commission in Belgrave Square near Hyde Park Corner at 8am, and waited for the door to be opened. My purpose was to get my passport renewed.
I wasn’t the first visitor. A lady in her 60s travelled from Scotland through the night to be the first in the queue. Later a young Malay family with three well-behaved toddlers arrived from Manchester.
It was lovely to meet people from my own country at the High Commission in London. I recognised their colour, their tone of voice, and mannerism. I detected friendliness and warmth through our eye contacts. Their presence made me feel comfortable.
More importantly, we love the same food. At the basement, there was a little unpolished hut selling authentic Malaysian food, the kind of food I used to have from street vendors and hawker centres.
My favourite food is Nasi lemak, a fragrant rice dish rich in fresh coconut milk. Traditional Nasi Lemak uses pandan leaves, which brings out floral aroma, and dried anchovies (or known as ikan bilis). Sambal chili is the soul to the dish.
The modest hut at the High Commission felt just like home. All food was of course halal. Popular dishes included Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng (meaning fried rice in the Malay language), and Mee Goreng (fried noodles).
The snack included karipap (curry puff), cucur keria (sweet potato doughnut), and bingka ubi (cassava cake). The root vegetable cassava evokes painful war-time memories to many older people in Malaysia. When Malaya came under the Japanese Occupation during the Second World War, rice became scare, cassave became a staple food.
Lost in London
I had a few hours to spare in London before collecting my new passport. With another Malaysian lady whom we had just met, we ventured into Harrods with a rucksack and wearing stained jeans. We acted appropriately like stupid tourists.
Harrods is apparently the world’s most famous upmarket department store, located in Knightsbridge.
As it was before Easter, lots of Easter eggs were on display. I saw some astonishingly expensive, and the most extravagant Easter eggs. For example, one handcrafted exclusive Belgium chocolate – one metre Easter Egg – cost £1,149.
I wonder why people would even want to eat these eggs. What was the purpose of creating these eggs?
My new friend and I somehow managed to lose our sense of direction in Belgrave Square. How do you spot an embassy in a large square full of flags? I spotted the Bruneian Embassy, but the Malaysian Embassy was on the other side, next to the Turkish Embassy. If only all embassies were located logically as in the real world.
I picked up my passport at 3pm.
Am I British enough?
Now I might not have answered the most difficult question on this website: Am I British enough?. With pride, I’m a Malaysian national, and I am also a rather well-behaved citizen in the UK. The true fact is that now England has become my home. My life has been enriched in many wonderful ways in this country, for which I’m grateful.