Essential Expat Existentialism

Ross Hunter

“Ex-pat”. The word has been in RK’s columns a lot recently.  Are you an ‘expat’? Am I? Is it a question of ‘wherever I hang my hat’, or ‘where the heart is’, or passport colour?  Identity crises are THE fashionable disorder of our times, so join in the fun.

Where to start. How do you self-identify? (See, I have been boning up on the jargon!).

  1. I am a. working here for a while; b. here for a bit of work, c. mostly live here, d. CTO?
  2. I celebrate a. New Xmas, b. Old Xmas, c. New New Year, d. Old New Year, e. все!
  3. I drive a. BMW, b. Lada Niva, c. a black one, d. A Lada XRay (J Michael G) e. Take Metro
  4. I dream a. In English, b. In pictures,  c. In Russian,  d. Of Russians
  5. At weekends I go to a. my friend’s dacha,  b. my Dacha, c. a Banya in Moscow,  d. Дубай
  6. My favourite website is  a. RT, b. BBC, c., d. RussianBrides.con,  e. Спутник (go, John!)
  7. My favourite airport is a. GVA, b. Shannon, c. Vnukovo, d. Дубай
  8. I drink mostly a. Guinness, b. Водка  c. Tea  d. Any given glass  e. Can’t remember.

Scores:  If you need to ask, you are an insecure wannabe. Get a life.  If you answered all the Russian options, you are trying too hard. Chill. If you can’t be bothered with this nonsense: sorted! You have arrived.

Do you know the differences among residence, domicile, economic migrant, high skills worker, resident alien, welcome rich money launderer and human being? If so, please contact the UK government and work for them, as they have not got a clue. Could you take a few ships and cases of medicines with you, please?  

We are no closer to understanding what Ex-pat really means. Let’s go back to basics, and check the Latin. Oops. That’s no effing* (*Anglo Saxon) use, it is Latin already. Ex-Patria: to be outside of (one’s) country. Should you be called upon to make ‘one last sacrifice for the greater good of The Party/patria’, remember the comforting words of Horace (~50BC), borrowed by Wilfred Own (1917): “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”.  Which flag would you like to be wrapped in?

Norman Tebbit, arch little Englander and pre-brexiter, famously asked the question of displaced people, or as we call them in the North of England, “Incomern”: which team do you support? As with most of his fellow travellers, the question is simple, clear, comforting, divisive, … and idiotic. The answer is printed on a Kiwi T-shirt:  “I support New Zealand, and anyone who is playing Australia”. Right now, Go India!!! We are all capable of more than one allegiance; all depends on context. I am resolutely Pro-Pat, but that does not mean I can’t be highly critical of parts of my country, eg the so-called government. Like you, I have many Russian friends, but that does not mean I trust the Siloviki. At all. 

I suppose I am currently a Re-Pat. Given that UK plc is heading for Cow-Pat (I expect brickbats from Prick-Pats for that one) I may have to head for Ex-Isle once more, encore. Any clearer? Over to you, expert Ex-Pats.