What was the first word that came to your mind when you saw the picture above?
That was my word. Now you think I’m crazy, eh? Why on earth would a busy intersection in the middle of chaotic, central London full of impatient drivers waiting to get home after a long day at work scream ‘bliss’ to me?
As crazy as it sounds, its an association of ‘home’ to me; a sense of belonging. As a typical Third Culture Kid, I can’t quite pinpoint a city to call my ‘home’ . But over the years, in my head, I’ve come to identify ‘home’ as a metaphorical place where I find solace amidst constant chaos. Quite obviously then, every buzzing, chaotic metropolitan city becomes one of my ‘homes’ very very quickly.
Yes, I believe that is a defining characteristic of a Third Culture Kid – we find peace in all things crazy. The many moves across the world, culture shock, leaving old friends behind, starting a new life in a new place where you know nobody – its chaotic. But over time, this change is so constant (yes, the paradox) that it gets ingrained and these very same things become exhilarating. I’m looking forward to living in as many cities as I can before I settle down! We’re global nomads after all.
Peace in chaos? Yes, as counterintuitive and paradoxical as it sounds, it is probably the reason why I can’t choose a ‘hometown’ on Facebook’s profile. I’ve come around to identifying with every place I live in that has those chaotic characteristics so familiar to me – yes, even bustling, crowded airports where I’ve spent countless, frantic hours in delayed transit due to the tenth snowstorm of the month or an engine failure, hoping to catch my next flight. After a couple of times, you actually look forward to your routine of rushing through the gates to get your favourite caffeine fix at the airport in some remote part of the world before another long leg of flying. Anyone wanna know where to get delicious Dutch stroopwafels at Frankfurt Airport to munch on during your long-haul flight? Or where the Jamba Juice is at the Jet Blue terminal at JFK Airport? All you need to do is holler right here.
If Facebook let me choose, Singapore Airlines would definitely be one of my top choices for a ‘hometown’. I’ve been more at peace watching back to back movies on their entertainment system on my way to see my family after a crazy semester of college than I have sitting on my couch at home worrying about things due the next day.
Needless to say then, London is very quickly becoming ‘home’. Biting into the perfect macaron at the Food Hall you battled crazy crowds in Harrods to get to, or dodging my way through Oxford Street’s endless tourists on a weekend because my favourite dimsum pitstop happens to be right off the main street – they don’t ruffle any feathers anymore. Anyone tried to walk down Orchard Road on a burning, Sunday afternoon in Singapore without crashing into tourists that stop to admire the endless stretch of shopping malls? And of course, London isn’t home without taking a packed tube every morning, jammed up beside finely dressed people trying to get to work. Don’t forget the traffic snarls at High Street Kensington when it hits 5pm, life isn’t complete without a few angry honks from drivers while impatiently trying to cross the street.
Jokes apart, there really is solace for me in a chaotic city. The hustle and bustle, the people everywhere – its a constant reminder that I’m not the only one stepping out into the unknown in search for that perfect life. Every single individual around me is doing exactly the same, and knowing that is strangely comforting. I’m Natasha in my microcosm of college, work and family, but I’m also just one of the thousands of commuters on the tube to Paddington every morning; a city is the perfect land of opportunities, but also the perfect escape when you need one…And London hasn’t failed to disappoint. I’m building my life as an MPH student here, but I can also be just another tourist when the stress gets to me by stepping off into yet another undiscovered street to marvel at London’s wonders….