Some time ago, I was told I am the fake Japanese dude and the fake Singaporean dude. Because for one, I’m not Japanese but being here for so long now, I do not have the latest information about all things Singaporean. So, fake Japanese and fake Singaporean.
I recall a documentary I saw a long time ago on the predicaments American-Chinese working in China face. These Chinese people do not feel a sense of belonging anywhere, because in America, they are the Asians; the Chinese. People see them as different. Regardless of how one speaks, they are perceived as foreigners who settled in the States. Likewise in China, these American-Chinese do not think, speak, nor behave like the common Chinese. To the Chinese people, they are foreigners of Chinese descent. At either place, people view them as different and it is difficult for them to gel into any particular group, which makes it a little sad but at the same time, I wonder how it’s like to be in their shoes. Not that I wish to be.
I do not exactly feel that way since I grew up in Singapore and still retain the Singaporean accent. Or rather, gained back my Singaporean accent from a couple of months ago when I started talking with Ms. D. But the truth is, I do feel like a foreigner back home, since the place has changed so much from the time I left. MBS was still under construction back in 2010 and there wasn’t a USS; I see on Facebook, friends bringing their children to places I’ve never seen before and realise there are so many more things to do now. Back in early 2000, I always recommended 3-day trips to Singapore to my foreign friends but now, I think we can afford to have them around for 5 days and still want to come back.
When I talk to locals in Singapore, subconsciously, I am worried that I don’t sound local anymore. As I speak, I would be thinking in my mind, “Ok, tread on your words carefully, or you may end up sounding like a foreigner.” But as much as I want to sound like a local wherever I may be, I feel that it doesn’t bother me if people in Japan see me as a foreigner and people in Singapore see me the same way. It’s probably more of a challenge on my ability to melt into wherever I may be; to adapt well. At this age, I already have a small group of close friends I know I can trust and count on and I don’t need that many more. So, as long as I am real as a person, it doesn’t matter whether I’m a fake Japanese or fake Singaporean.