Monday, 7 April 2008


it's so frustrating that all the good programmes/movies are on at the least accessible times. late last night, tv1 screened "banana in a nutshell", a nz made film made by a chinese new zealander. it's mostly about her relationship with her parents, particularly in light of the fact that she has a white boyfriend.

i guess it's what you call a documentary, in the sense that it's a real story, her story. it's beautifully done, and i found that i could relate to it, even though i've never been in that particular situation.

i found so many similarities in my own experiences of being torn between two cultures. of the difficulties in being able develop my own identity, when there were so many forces trying to tell me who to be and how to behave. it took a lot of time and energy to develop the strength to carve out my own place in the world.

in doing so, i've strained some relationships more than i would have liked. even though i feel so much frustration, i can at the same time recognise the huge cultural adjustment that i'm requiring those around me to make. and i realise that if i had to make that same adjustment, it would be almost impossible.

in expecting the people around me to accept me as i am, i realise that i too need to accept they can't always do that. it's finding a way through the friction, to a place where we can at least be comfortable with each other - well, that is the most difficult thing. i guess one of my main tactics is to avoid the tender areas, to never bring them up in conversation. leaving things unsaid seems so much easier than the endless battles that cause so much pain. it means that we can at least be in the same room with each other. it seems to me that it's more important to maintain relationships, be they however much strained, than to walk away.

at least i know i have it much easier with my own children. we understand each other much better, maybe through shared experiences and shared values. i can't imagine that we'll have that same strain between us, but then we haven't really been tested yet.

this is one of the costs of migration, this disconnect between parents and children. well, between parents who are determined to hold on to every last aspect of their culture, who don't want to adapt to their new environment but want to move through it unchanged. it's when they expect their children to do the same that the real problems start.

it's pretty hard to move to a country where the predominant culture is different to your own. it's a struggle to settle down roots, and holding on to their own culture is often the strongest survival mechanism people have. it grounds them, gives them that strong sense of identity and values that helps them to cope in new environment. taking that away from them would make their lives impossible. yet holding on so strongly to that culture can make their children's lives impossible.

there's no easy way out. some families survive, some fall apart. "banana in a nutshell" is a story of one of the survivors. it's such an important nz story, i hope everyone takes the time to see it, if they haven't yet.

No comments: