I absolutely LOVE pizza!
Now that I have that off my chest, I think it’s only fair, as I am strongly opposed to false advertising, that I let all of you know that this post is not about the type of product you can purchase at Dominos or Pizza Hut … sorry. You may, however, still want to use their services at the end of this little excerpt, that is of course, if you’re still interested in reading the rest of it, when no free pizza is on the menu.
No, this pizza is about the one we’re all made up of, the one some of us are a little more conscious about, the one we kind of carry around with us, some of us more evidently than others. I became aware of mine fairly early on, I’d say around about eight, when I first came to Australia and one that I am questioned about on a constant, continuous basis. The dialogue often travels the following journey:
Potential friend: “Hmm, so where do you come from?”
Me: With a slightly dumbfounded expression, “Um, what do you mean?”
Potential, nosy friend: “I mean, where were you born?”
Me: “Oh right, the UK”
Possibly a friend (odds are stacked high): “So, you’re British?”
Me: “Well, not really. I mean I was just born there”.
Tiring unlikely friend: “Okay, so you grew up somewhere else?”
Me: “Yeah, the Middle East”
Still unlikely friend (that ship seems to have sailed): “Okay, so you’re Arabic?”
Me: “Well, kind of, but I left the ME and moved to Australia when I was quite young”
Potential murdering acquaintance driven to their wits end: “So, you’re Australian then?”
Me: Shoulder shrug
Declared Idiot: “But you don’t look Australian?”
Me: “Well, why didn’t you just say that in the first place and ask me why I look the way I do, because clearly what you wanted to know is why I’m brown”
Though not all my discourses on my heritage follow this old worn out path, the intent is often there, sometimes clearly, sometimes bizarrely (I didn’t think it was possible to have so many ways to ask someone where they’re “from”), and sometimes downright rudely (the “so what boat did you come on?” enquiries).
My friends (yes I do have some) call me an International citizen which I honestly sort of like, but then, I think we all fall into this category. The fact is I am proud and gratefully thankful of all the little bits and pieces that make me up. My “international citizen” status has helped make me more (at least I hope so) open-minded, more respectful of cultural diversities and nuances, more willing to at least attempt to understand different perspectives, and most importantly, more sympathetic to being different and empathetic to all the trials and tribulations being “different” brings with it.
Some of my immigrant friends tend to look at being distinct from the norm, or part of the minority as somewhat of a handicap, but I have never seen it as such, in fact, what they often shied away from, I normally embraced. I didn’t see being different as a curse, I saw it (and continue to do so till today) as a glorifying unique novelty.
So where does pizza come into it?
Well, I like to view my heritage as a pizza, where the base is a thick, mouth-watering distinctly Indian crust, with a strong Aussie tomato sauce flavour, a British topping of olives and vegetables (I’m vegetarian , so no meat!) and a sprinkling of Middle Eastern, melted cheese. Take any ingredient away, and my pizza lacks that special oomph.
I like the fact that there are so many pizza varieties I can interact with on a daily basis, and I can honestly state that no one pizza is better than the other. Every single one of them brings with it a novel flamboyant flavour and a kaleidoscope of interesting perspectives, but the fact remains that at an organic level, the main ingredients are all the same basically. A pizza is just that – a pizza, and with the main constants being at the crux of any good pizza, I never stop being pleasantly amazed at how all pizzas’ similarities far outweigh their individual diversities.
So, what’s your pizza?