When you first start to ponder about British traditions, culture, and cuisine, you may think of hot British accents, picturesque little towns, royalty, pubs, an English breakfast, fish and chips, and a Sunday roast. But there is more to Britain than just that. Few may give a second thought about British multiculturalism, but just like North America, England is a land of immigrants. The United Kingdom is similar to the United States and Canada, which are countries that are made up of generations of immigrants from all over the world. It seems that for anyone on this side of the Atlantic, the United Kingdom is/was the land of possibilities where dreams are made of.
Roaming the streets of London and Cambridge, I have come to realize that much like North America, there is no longer a standard for the ‘British look’. Of course, there are Caucasians with full British ancestry, but you see quite a lot of mutt mixes like myself. For the most part, it appears as though much of the immigration has come from Southern Asia, also known as the southern Himalayan countries, and the old Eastern European bloc. In essence, England seems to have become a cocktail of races that has given birth to a whole new perspective and market for British culture.
Many years ago, before it was acceptable for women to wear 3 inch heels, there was an old saying that still holds truth: The sun never sets on the British Empire. In essence, Great Britain colonized nations far and wide by bringing their race, language, and culture to places like India, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and the list goes on. After wars, treaties, and red lipstick, most of these countries gained independence and became part of the Commonwealth. The British couldn’t resist the temptation of the beautiful Indian exports, cold Canadian winters and tan-tastic Australian beaches. However, now in the 21st century, the roles have reversed. It appears as though ‘New World’ people have decided to re-colonize the world by going back to where it all started. At least I and several other globe trotters have.
I have now resided in the UK for exactly three months, and to be honest, I have yet to try Fish and Chips and a Sunday Roast. However, I have had several curry and other Asian delicacies. I even attended a Pakistani wedding in which I got the chance to wear a Shalwar Kameez! How cool is that? It’s definitely an outfit I would not have worn anywhere else in Western Europe.
Even though I do not look typically Canadian, I have yet to hear a British person say “but darling you don’t look Canadian.” The British do not associate a Canadian to only be of Caucasian British or French descent. I’m in a country in which I do not have to justify my heritage or the colour of my passport.