Friday, 5 March 2010

Immigrant Song

A rare event happened to me this week: Unexpectedly, someone called my name from a moving car on the other side of the street. That someone turned out to be the guy from our video store (who else amongst Australians would know me by name?), but the point of the incident was to highlight just how unlikely bumping into someone I know has become since I moved to Australia.
Back in Israel, I would stumble on people I know wherever I went. If it wasn’t people I knew from school it would be people I know from the army, and if it wasn’t friends of my parents it would be people I went to uni with. So much so that going on a blind date was nothing less than a covert operation deep into enemy territory: I was always afraid someone would spot me. Yet as much as I didn’t particularly liked being spooked upon, there was something reassuring about it all, as if the knowledge that you’re never far from people you know helps your sense of self confidence.
That confidence boost is someone you lose when you migrate to another country. I guess this is one of the main reasons migrant communities in Australia tend to concentrate themselves in their “own” specific areas; I, on the other hand, preferred to do the exact opposite under the assumption that if I want Israelis by my side I’d go and live in Israel. My approach is not exactly foolproof: while I don’t have Israelis living near me, at least not that I know of, the area I live in is certainly made of a very specifically homogeneous portion of society rather than the full spectrum of humans in whose midst I’d prefer to live. Effectively, though, I still gain variety at the price of feeling like somewhat of an outsider.
Is this outside feeling a burden? Not really. Besides, what options do I have? Living as a somewhat of an outsider in Australia is still better than living in Israel (by a mere few orders of magnitude). All it takes is biting the bullet, knowing that this is what the migrant experience is like, and singing Led Zep’s song.

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