Wherever I lay my hat?

Posted on November 21, 2012


It was a little weird returning to Beijing after a few weeks in London, and then Vietnam and, for the first time, thinking of a place other than England as “going home.”

It was odd to start with when answering what should have been a very basic question from those in Ho Chi Mihn City – “where are you from?”

My traditional, built-in response has always been “London, well Yorkshire originally, but I live in London.”

Except, now I don’t.

“Beijing… well London… well originally Yorkshire but…”

Did they really care?  Or were they just being polite on finding out that, no, it’s not an Australian accent, and, no I’m not an American so you don’t have to worry about mentioning the war (not that that seems to be a problem for the average Vietnamese who seem positively obsessed by it.)

Looking back to those first few encounters six months ago, I certainly didn’t feel like coming home to Beijing would ever elicit familiar and comforting feelings.  Yet three days struggling to work out which language to respond to people in in Vietnam and, even worse, the seven hours spent in a Moscow airport on the way back to Blighty (pshepresham, what does tak mean again? Djenkujie – or is that actually Polish??!?) meant that a trip to the local shop where nothing other than Mandarin will do was exactly what I needed to make me feel settled again.  That and a nice cup of tea, of course…