Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh Canada, my home and native land...

I have had to think a lot about the Canadian 'identity' since I have been travelling, because a lot of people are curious just exactly what makes a Canuck different from our neighbours, the Americans. It is something I explain to new friends, my students, my co-workers, you name it. And here is the thing: I didn't realize just how proud I am to be from the land of the maple leaf until I had spent a significant amount of time away from it. I enjoy letting people guess where I am from, because no one ever assumes Canada, and usually these guesses cover pretty much anywhere in western Europe, (lately a lot of people have been saying France) but the Canadian flag on my backpack should make this a fairly easy game to play. With the Olympics about to take place in Vancouver, and visitors from every corner of the globe about to see the splendor of that little corner of my country, my feelings of national pride are burgeoning. I would like to consider for a moment the "I am Canadian" rant used as an advertisment nearly a decade ago...

Hey.
I'm not a lumberjack,
or a fur trader...
and I don't live in an igloo
or eat blubber, or own a dogsled...
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really, really nice.

I have a Prime Minister,
not a President.
I speak English and French,
NOT American.
and I pronouce it ABOUT,
NOT A BOOT.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, NOT policing.
DIVERSITY, NOT assimilation,
AND THAT THE BEAVER IS A TRULY PROUD AND NOBLE ANIMAL.
A TOQUE IS A HAT,
A CHESTERFIELD IS A COUCH,
AND IT IS PRONOUCED 'ZED' NOT 'ZEE', 'ZED'!

CANADA IS THE SECOND LARGEST LANDMASS!
THE FIRST NATION OF HOCKEY!
AND THE BEST PART OF NORTH AMERICA!

MY NAME IS JOE!
AND I AM CANADIAN!


This Joe Canada dude seems to know what he is talking about, but I have a few more things to add.
'Colour' and 'color' are both correct spellings, and I say 'hey' not, 'eh,' and definitely not 'huh?' It is incorrect (and supremely annoying) to call a Canadian 'American,' even if you are referring to North America as opposed to the US, or to assume that American English is the language spoken north of the border.

Enough ranting...

Canada is a fairly distinct country, combining both a British and American influence, and enriched by the multitude of other ethnicities that color our towns and cities with a truly international flavour.

God (or allah or ganesha or buddah...) keep our land,
Glorious and free,
From far and wide,
oh Canada.
we stand on guard for thee...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dreaming of distant places...

Wanderlust– noun: a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.
Dictionary.com

The last few weeks I have been dreaming of India, and simultaneously feeling deeply envious of all my friends who are there right now. Then my conscience kicks in, and I feel a little ridiculous for wanting so badly to travel, because hey guess where I am: 14 time zones away from home in the imperfect but fantastic country that is Indonesia. How can I have such a deep yearning to travel when I am already so far from home? It seems a little selfish considering that many of my students and friends here have never visited another country, yet my passport is adorned with a varied collection of stamps and visas. The truth is though, that after 6 months I have put down some roots, and living in a culture where I am a minority and outsider in every possible sense has stopped feeling like travelling. Having a fairly stable daily routine, a job, and (here's the real clincher) an electric bill, some of the sense of excitement begins to get a little tarnished. There are little blips on the excitement radar, like last Friday when I made a day trip on the train to see Kebun Raya (Botanic Gardens) in Bogor, but for the most part, I have settled right in and at home here. Which also means that the urge has struck to pick up and move again. Where does this wanderlust come from? I have absolutely no idea, (except that it didn't come from my parents,) but I do know that it has got me dreaming up adventures well into the future. The world is a pretty spectacular place, and I would simply like to see as much of it as possible.