my two homes

Being a mix of nationalities and religions, I have always felt home in different places, and yet never 100% home. It’s an internal back and forth between two worlds, a sense of belonging and of being a complete stranger. Born in Beirut, few years before the war broke in 1975, I was raised in between bombs, electricity shortcuts, no telephone lines, and wonderful summer vacations spent in my grandmother’s country house in southern Denmark. A mix from the beginning of two completely opposite worlds.

pics by ruth mousharafieh & yen baet

pics by ruth mousharafieh & yen baet

And when i say opposite, i mean OPPOSITE! As in the weather, the mentality, the hospitality traditions, working ethic, children’s education, couples and marriage, independence of women and young girls, nature, respect of animals, architecture, human & social relations, beauty, transportation, environmental issues, time management, planning & spontaneity…

At the age of 14, war drove us away from Beirut. Fortunately for us, my brother and I had a Danish passport, thus making it quite easy to settle in Copenhagen, amongst our maternal family members. Becoming an adult in Europe had a tremendous effect on my values, views, opinions, behavior, ambitions and aspirations.

My point is, that despite the differences, living in the two countries have taught me valuable aspects of the human race. There is no right or wrong, better or worse. It reminds me of the most asked question when i was a kid; which country do like the most, Lebanon or Denmark? I find that question hilarious, because i love both my homes. Their opposite lifestyle are part of my upbringing. I miss them equally when i am not around.

Does happiness come in one form? are the Danes happier than the Lebanese? or can they both be happy in each their own way, but with different values? How to learn from both and create a better world?

That is my question…

More of that in a later post…

5 thoughts on “my two homes

  1. :)…he he…even the most asked question shows exactly how opposite the 2 countries are: In Denmark they would never ask you that question (EVER!) and here in Lebanon it the most asked question of your childhood!…I hope my kids end up with balance and appresiation of both countries too…fingers crossed:)

  2. Very similar experiences here. Well no, not very similar, just a bit similar actually as I did not have any bond with Holland (we went to Holland from Beirut not to Denmark) but I still do recognize a lot in your post.

  3. This is the dilemma of many a few glorified cosmopolitan gypsies…..Being half this and half that creates this sense of belonging and not belonging that becomes with time just who one is… I mean, i am used to this by now and I always saw you as being comfortable with who you are. The happiness question is another. With all our moves and changes due to the war, dual nationalities, etc… I have come to the conclusion that people make their happiness….During my many years in Paris, one of the most beautiful cities, it was surprising to see soooo many miserable faces. This made me ponder that they were in no way affected by the daily beauty they were subjected too for they were willowing in their own pathos….and here in beirut we also have our share of grumpy people….and in both cities and other worse cities to live in, you have some people who have an easy smile and who cultivate the positive…..perhaps it s a gift to have that- the ability to see the good in what we have. I chose to see the good, for yes Lebanon has many shortcomings but for now my life is here and good too. Sometimes it is not the place you re in it’s your present mindframe…and to answer your question some Danes are pathetically miserable and others are content and happy and some Lebanese are just as negative and depressed whilst others see only their blessings….it s never just the place for that would be to simple.

  4. I know excatly what you mean Leila. I remember people especialy in Denmark will ask me: ” In which languag do you think” ??? And I acctualy never knew what to answer as I could talk several languages. Yes, I was also asked in Denmark, “Which country do you like?” I can say and as I always said there are good and bad things in both countries!!! So, no where is perfect!!

    • thank you friends for your comments! this is an interesting issue, touching many of us half-breeds… and while happiness is where the heart is, which in my case is both places (!), it is important to remember that the grass is not greener on the other side, and that every world has its charm, its flaws, its mysteries and its craziness… Stephanie is right in saying that our happiness depends on our perspective and that we must learn to focus on the positive aspects where ever we are… the funny part of being a dano-lebanese is the extremes those two worlds have.. to be developed in another post!!! 🙂

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