Our home is where we want to feel at home. Practicing the art and science of Feng Shui is one way we can make this happen, possibly bringing around peace, wealth and overall positivity to our lives.
Feng Shui, pronounced foong shway, translates to wind (fēng, 风) and water (shuǐ, 水). It is a Chinese means of creating harmony and balance within our personal and professional spaces through design, centring around the flow of energy (Chi or qi, 氣) and the yin and yang. The practice is closely aligned with the Five Elements of Chinese culture: wood, earth, fire, metal and water.
My parents always lived by the traditional Chinese mentality, and they’ve always been keen on aligning the places we lived in Australia and South East Asia with the elements of Feng Shui. For them, rooms and furniture have to be laid out a certain way. Although I learnt why my parents are meticulous about Feng Shui, it’s not something I’m sold on today. At least not completely.
Home. It sounds like a simple word to define. But it’s a word that has layers and layers of meanings.
For many migrants, third culture kids, parachute families, expats, travellers, interracial couples, refugees, asylum seekers, Asian Australians, Asian Americans, African communities, Indian diaporas and really anyone who has moved around or hangs around different cultural groups, home can be hard to define. Home can be more than one place.
Home is a place and all that space around us.
There’s always a personal connection to home and each of us understands home differently. What is ‘home’ to someone may not be ‘home’ to someone else.
Each colour has different meanings in each culture. Different cultures perceive different colours differently. Different colours speak differently to each community and individual over time, past and present.
Time and time again, some of us get the question, “Where are you from?” We might dislike this question, or we might not. It’s a matter of perspective, or rather how we’re feeling in a moment in time that we decide if we like or hate the question there and then.
Chances are if we’re migrants, immigrants, refugees, third culture kids, expats or find ourselves part of a cultural minority community (think an Asian Australian in Australia, an Asian American in the States, we’re much more likely to hear the question. So too if we’re some place where our skin colour, accent or hair style sticks out from the rest.
A while back I wrote a blog post on the different answers to this question. It’s a question carrying quite a few assumptions, a question I’ve been asked all my life as an Australian-born Chinese living in different countries such as Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Sometimes it rubs me the wrong way. Sometimes it amuses me.
Eating together at home as a family. It’s important to a lot of us. A tradition. Saying no to having meals together at home, especially dinner, is usually hard.
When I was a kid, my parents insisted my dependent younger brother and I all ate dinner together most nights, which we naturally did. These days it’s a different story. Some days when I finish work, I eat dinner in the city and then make my way home. Later on in the evening when I’m engrossed in touching up photos to share on Instagram in my room, mum or dad usually come in and quietly ask, “Are you eating dinner with us at home tomorrow?”
Family dinners are still quite the norm in Australia. According to a survey in 2012, 77% of Australian families eat dinner together at home five or six times a week, albeit a proportion of this in front of the TV. There’s certainly something significant about eating with family at the dining table. It’s more than just a habit.
As an Asian Australian living in Australia, I get the question “Where are you from?” thrown at me quite a bit.
When I get asked this, I pause: it’s a confusing question. Where exactly is “from”? The place where we were born? Where we live? Our heritage? One of my favourite responses to this question is, “I’m from three countries. Guess” (I grew up in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore to Chinese-Malaysian parents; see previous post). It’s also an intrusive question that demands a very personal answer, maybe demanding that we give our life story away.
We usually feel the urge to ask the question when get the feeling the person we’re talking to has a different story than us, judging by the accent on the tip of their tongue, the colour of their skin, the way they dress.