R is for Rhubarb Crumble.
As a young teenager, I found myself displaced into a British boarding school in Somerset, England. I was translocated there from Kenya by agreements that I did not fully understand, and what felt like strange juju and out-of-body teleportation.
It was in this cold, damp and foreign world, in my dazed and disoriented state, that I encountered Rhubarb Crumble – it shone like a beacon of light in the darkened sea - a lifeline - a diamond in the rough. Somehow, it reminded me of home.
It was a rare and occasional treat that helped maintain my faith in a world that otherwise felt badly 'void of course'. It was something to look forward to – even in its boarding school version of food-for-the-masses.
While I was never able to finish the lumpy porridge at breakfast (and willing to take the consequences) I was always able to make my way through the crumble – served with clotted cream.
It's funny what we cling to in heavy seas, and how we find ways to make sense in an upside-down world.
R is for Really?
In my subsequent wanderings in the world of displaced identities, cultural schisms, diasporas and other such distortion fields, I came across the term Third Culture Kids (TCK)... and there it was, a rabbit hole that opened a warren full of mismatched socks...
Third culture kids (TCK) or third culture individuals (TCI) are people who were raised in a culture other than their parents' or the culture of their country of nationality, and also live in a different environment during a significant part of their child development years. They typically are exposed to a greater volume and variety of cultural influences than those who grow up in one particular cultural setting.
TCKs move between cultures before they have had the opportunity to fully develop their personal and cultural identity. The first culture of such individuals refers to the culture of the country from which the parents originated, the second culture refers to the culture in which the family currently resides, and the third culture refers to the distinct cultural ties among all third culture individuals that share no connection to the first two cultures
Third culture individuals are particularly adept at building relationships with other cultures while not possessing a cultural identity of their own. They can also be referred to as cultural hybrids, cultural chameleons, and global nomads.
Third culture kids can experience a lot of confusion with politics and values. This is especially the case when moving from collectivist to individualist cultures, or vice versa... This issue is also related with the identity crisis, on a cultural level, not being able to feel a sense of oneness with any one nationality or culture. Oftentimes, TCKs cannot answer the question: "Where is home?"
Wikipedia - Third Culture Kid (TCK)
R is for Roots
For me, these formative cross-cultural experiences created the roots of a pluralist worldview and fostered a lifelong exploration of cultural displacement.
From an experiential perspective, our idiosyncracies and ways of seeing often appear as artifacts of a personal miasma – enlightening then, to see our quirks reflected in others, and to recognize larger patterns at work (I've always loved Brazil's hybridized DNA pool – truly a population of mixed-origins.)
I wonder about the lost promise of TCK and globalization which held promise for hybridized international communities – One World... instead, here we are reckoning with an ongoing Balkanization that has brought a rapid fade to any promise of global harmony.
Frack baby frack.
There is a Bedouin proverb which says...
انا على أخوي وأنا وأخوي على ابن عمي وأنا وابن عمي على الغريب
“Me against my brother. Me and my brother against my cousin. Me and my cousin against a stranger”.
R is for Ressurection?
I haven't tried the BBC's Rhubarb Crumble – it is a recipe from a good source, though.
As always, thanks for reading and indulging!