Where are you from?

The golden question, “Where are you from?” Funnily enough, has been increasingly asked to me in the last 7 months since I’ve had the hijab on. Sometimes I humorously reply “What do you mean?”

I come from here, Australia. Born and raised, can you not tell by my accent? It’s as if some people (mainly customers at work) are expecting that I’m from war torn Afghanistan or Lebanon or Syria and that I fled here when I was 9 years old. Or when I say my parents are Turkish, they expect that I’ve “been back to see my family” mate I’ve never even been. It’s like they’re expecting an amazing story of how ‘cultural’ or ‘stereotypical’ my life is. And how this hijab has a ridiculously interesting story behind it.

Obviously I’ve been asked this question before I was scarfed, but no where near as much. On second thought, before I wore the hijab, the question was more like “What’s your nationality?” There is a difference in the two questions, one is about finding out the background of someone and the other is asking which country they ‘came’ from, as if being a hijabi or a Muslim, or really anyone who wears religious or cultural attire makes you less Australian.

It’s made me do some thinking last few months, how people intentionally and unintentionally make you feel as though you don’t belong. And then the other day, I came across an amazing Ted talk which I could relate to completely, and it made me ponder even more. The question was, ‘What are we looking to find in someone when we ask them where they’re from?’ Are we looking to stereotype each other or define each other? What is it that we want? Sure most people would say, it’s a harmless question, what’s the big deal? It is a harmless question but it is the intent behind the question that makes all the difference. Like today, for example, I had a customer who asked me that very question and continued on to talk about his trip to a Muslim country on a Muslim airline. And he asked me why they had the adhan (call to prayer) on at 4:30 am on the plane and if it’s because ‘we’re’ trying to convert him. Why would I know the answer to that? Maybe because it’s a Muslim airline..? I don’t know.. And jokingly yet insultingly carried on to talk about how we pray 5000 times a day, I corrected him to 5 and he replied ‘whatever it is, it’s a lot’. This old guy continued to jokingly mock my religion to my face and thought I had the answer to everything. And he talked about how he went to a country near Malaysia and his hotel was next to the mosque and terribly mimicked the noise of the adhan. Well, if you travel to another country and you see and hear different things, that’s kinda the whole point of travelling, right? That’s the beauty of travelling, that you get to experience different cultures and different scenery, etc.

Back to the point, I’m just an Australian, who has parents that were born overseas, I love this country just as much as you. I just practice a different religion, and no my aim is not to ‘convert you’ or take over Australia with Sharia law. Get a grip.
I was born and raised here, just like you. I’m an aussie, just like you.
I’m just as Australian as you are, I just don’t drink VB and have bacon and eggs for breakfast- it’s more like sucuk and eggs. 😂
I definately enjoy a good old barbie just like you.

And yet, over and over again, so many customers are surprised when I go out of my way to help them with their mobile issues or their bill etc. Yes it’s my job, but going that extra mile, always seems to surprise the average person, as if a Muslim is not capable of being nice and sincere (don’t get me wrong, sometimes I wanna brawl)😂

And it got me thinking (again) why can’t we be friends? 🎶🎵
Who cares where you’re from, what you do, what you believe, can we all just get along? Respect each other regardless of religion, gender, nationality, etc. If only the media promoted love, not hate, I think we would be living a little differently, and accepting a lot more.

#cheersmate #todaysrant #icomefromalanddownunder