I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I am, you are, we are Australian....

This past weekend was election weekend, where everyone in Australia buys a sausage in bread for $2.50 at their local primary school. And oh yeah, they (compulsorily) vote as well. If I ever wondered what the cultural differences were between the US and Australia, the weeks leading up to an election are a great time to observe these differences in action.

Instead of writing a witty, interesting post about that, I'm going to tell you about something I hear on the radio a few weeks ago. The breakfast radio people were talking about the definition of "Australian" and what, exactly, it means to be Australian. To me this is a pretty simple thing. Either a) you were born here or b) you have a passport from here or c) you've altered your American accent enough and thrown in enough slang that people have stopped asking you if you're "...here on holiday, luv?"

So listeners had to call in and finish the sentence which began, "You know you're Australian when..." The answers were all pretty funny. "...when you drive to work and pick your nose unashamedly..." "...when you think a snag in bread is a complete meal..." and so on and so forth. Sadly, none of the answers were very insightful. Since then I've been thinking about the whole country and identity thing. I've mentioned before that I don't feel particularly patriotic to the US, nor to Israel, and not really here either. (....the day after the election I was asking, "So who won?") What, exactly, makes us part of the cultural landscape of our countries?

Is it the accent?
The ability to fit in?
The way we look?
Social attitudes?
Is it our ability to drive and nose pick?

I'm not really sure, you know. Let's examine me as a case in point and put these to the test.

SUBJECT: American born to Israeli parents but living in Australia.

Accent: Somewhere between Aussie and American. Reverts to American within 24 hours of hitting US soil. On any given day I get, "You're American? Really? I couldn't pick it." and "Wow, your accent is still REALLY strong." RESULT: Inconclusive.

Ability to fit in: Into my little Asian import car, I still (mostly) fit. RESULT: Inconclusive, although a new car may be in order.

The way I look: Ummm, pretty much unique, just like everyone else. RESULT: Inconclusive. Couldn't pick me from a native Australian in a line up, as long as I kept my mouth shut.

Social attitudes: I do think a sausage in bread can be a full meal (Aussie culinary icon), but only when joined by a Coke Slurpee (American culinary icon). Result: Inconclusive, although possibly Australian as I am embracing American concepts (while still pretending to hate America.) Possibly also American by virtue of eating something high fat on nutrient-devoid white bread.

Drive and nose pick: No probs there. RESULT: Citizen of the world, really.

So. Anyone of my non-commenters want to weigh in on the debate? No? Well, then let's just say that our cultural identity can be summed up in one sentence:

You are what you are and that's all that you are

....mate!

Or

...dude! (Do people in the US still use that word?)

1 comment:

Jen Jen in Jakarta, Indonesia said...

I was only thinking similar thoughts this week......
I have found that I can pick an Aussie from a distance here in Indonesia.
There is something about Australians that you can't define but you can clearly see. It's the same for Americans too.I wonder what it is?

Remember ages ago you lamented about Australian Mayonnaise.....I just didn't know what you meant. But oh my goodness I do now.....we get mayo imported from the States here...I will never go back to Aussie grey goop again!LOL