Now England has become my home

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.

The round oak table at the Great Hall in Winchester is painted with Tudor rose.

The round oak table at the Great Hall in Winchester is painted with Tudor rose.

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

Malaysian High Commission 45 Belgrave Square, London.

Malaysian High Commission 45 Belgrave Square, 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.

The best Malaysian dish - Nasi Lemak. I had this dish at Malaysian High Commission in London.

The best Malaysian dish – Nasi Lemak. I had this dish at Malaysian High Commission in London.Authentic Malaysian Food

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.

Glorious food: Favourite Malaysian food available at the High Commission in London.

Glorious food: Favourite Malaysian food available at the High Commission in London.

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.

Absolutely delicious dessert - sold at Malaysian High Commission in London.

Absolutely delicious dessert – sold at Malaysian High Commission in London.

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.

Easter eggs at Harrods. This one metre Easter egg cost £1,149.

Easter eggs at Harrods. This one metre Easter egg cost £1,149.

Cooked coloured Easter Eggs at Harrods.

Cooked coloured Easter Eggs at Harrods.

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.

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11 thoughts on “Now England has become my home

  1. Birgit Möller

    Hi Janet, Lovely to see you back on this blog and to hear some of your news. I believe we had lunch in China Town before you went to apply for your passport!
    Incidentally, I made a similar decision regarding my nationality. After 30 years in the UK I still have my German passport. I can’t really say where I belong more these days. With a Bruneian husband and a son who considers himself very British I will settle for “Citizen of the World”

    Reply
    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Birgit,

      It’s so lovely to hear from you through WordPress. My visit to London last year was less stressful that I had thought. Meeting up with you was of course the highlight of my trip.

      I like the ‘citizen of the world’ title. However it is a shame that it means you can’t vote in the UK despite having lived here for 30 years, but I can. I cherish my vote.

      Thanks for feedback.

      Note: My son also thinks he is very British and I am a foreigner. He makes a point every time I use ‘he/she/it’ interchangeably as he would mutter ‘you foreigner can’t speak English properly!’

      Reply
  2. calidoventus

    Janet. I am delighted that you are here whatever nationality you are. If only all the English could manage their language as well as you can.
    You can get your own back on your son when you take him to your Kampung.
    Mike

    Reply
  3. Debbie

    hi Janet, i like the idea of naming your blog “from hibiscus to tudor rose” but you are right, it would attract gardening enthusiasts. maybe you can make a post with that title cause it is so lovely. its hard getting just the right titles sometimes…
    debbie

    Reply
  4. Behind the Story

    I’m glad to see you back on “Janet’s Notebook.”

    From what I know of you, you’re loyal to both England and Malaysia. That’s what matters most. My late husband became an American citizen. He was always loyal to America and also to his Chinese heritage.

    Looking at all that Malaysian food makes my mouth water. I love the smell of pandan, and coconut milk makes everything taste better.

    Reply
  5. Gallivanta

    No matter how long we live in a place we are often not sure which passport to hold. I sometimes wish passports were less attached to citizenship, and were more a universal identity document.

    Reply

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