“Oh my god! Look at Chow!”
So there I was. Mid-lick, sitting at the edge of the table with a butter knife against my tongue. I was twelve and had just moved to boarding school in Perth. Although I had grown up in rural Australia, the rules of my childhood home had been largely Eastern-centric.
I looked up. With my cheeks a shade pinker. Apparently, there were still some table manners that my keen eyes (which were presently in a state of alarm) had missed from all the playdates and sleepovers as a child. Sitting like a stunned emu, I eventually resolved to laugh with my friends. Afterall, it was somewhat funny. Then, one friend across from me declared her new mission to educate me on proper table manners. It became a running joke for a few weeks. And then, like most jokes, the laughter died away.
When I am asked to share stories on my cultural duality, there are some memories I instantly recall - a snapshot from amongst the clatters of dining hall cutlery, other moments from train platforms, shopping centres, cinemas, homes and faces. There are some moments the East and the West melt together like pavlova on the tongue and some, where it’s more like gum stuck on a gravel road…
When I am asked to share stories on my cultural duality, there are some memories I instantly recall. I am not asked often.