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Hullabaloo written by maria anne fitzgerald

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

I came across the word ‘hullabaloo’ after ages. The last I heard it used was by one of my paternal grandparents. The word hullabaloo refers to a fuss over some incident, thing or person. In other words, it’s a sort of situation that arises when something thought of as trivial is given a lot of unnecessary attention. I consciously chose ‘hullabaloo’ as the title for my first post because I think that’s what my cross-cultural identity has unknowingly stirred up. My intention is not to create a hullaballoo about it but replace it with a dialogue that threads commonalities of its experience with others who come from cross-cultural backgrounds.

As I write this, I’m thinking about the common reactions my cross-cultural identity shares with yours or someone known to you. Perhaps like me, you have met with cringed faces, blank looks, big eyes, unmuted silences, and greeted in return with a new conversation topic as a response to it. You may have even been asked to provide logical explanations to assure them you’re not from ‘the outside’. If you were fortunate enough, you may have felt encouraged to talk about it. My pre-supposition of a hullabaloo taking place is because of these reactions I have received on account of talking about my cross-cultural identity outside home. On reflecting, I feel sometimes hullabaloos are needed to make us review the weight we attach to our own consequentialities.

With that thought, I want to introduce you to two different interpretations in my life of being cross-cultural. The first is my Anglo-Indian identity which by itself literally implies a blending of European and Indian traits and the second is my parentage of an Anglo-Indian father and a Malayali mother. Growing up, I was a firm believer in the ‘best of both worlds’ concept – a phrase I was taught to use to comfort my ambiguity. However, the realities of growing up taught me that allegiance is rarely shared and picking a side was crucial in marking your coordinates. But what do you do when coordinates do not make a grid like they’re suppose to? – Make a hullabaloo?

As a geographer, I remember the concept of graticules – grids created by the intersection of latitudes and longitudes at right angles. Imagine neat, precise, explicit, exact boxes with no area of ambiguity. As I reflect on this spatial pattern, it makes me ponder on my arrangements. I realize the only difference with my latitudes and longitudes is that they don’t intersect, they overlap. This makes me think – What if latitudes and longitudes overlapped? I imagine the answers and chaos that question would stir up. I can’t control the smile this thought brings, not out of flippancy, but that it could be similar to their plausible feeling towards my cross cultural identity. The distinct unique boxes being replaced with messy, undefined, blurred, unclear demarcations are unsettling for most because it’s not the status quo. I tell myself it’s not invalid either – because I am living and thriving within the uncertainty. So the hullaballoo is definitely not mine, it’s a reaction to what is mine.

I’m okay with being, as they say, all mixed up because it reminds me of the potential of space to create – its inherency. Can you see that potential too? I hope you will in the forthcoming posts.

Stay safe and tuned for more !

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