A New Sense of Rootedness

It isn't easy for anyone to survive or even flourish with a family in an entirely new environment. In our context, I believe 10 years qualifies someone there "been there, done that" status. These days, many of us will find it a challenge surviving in any company for a decade, much less living in a new country which pretty much encapsulate an entire spectrum of survival achievements, including employment. For that, I never stop learning from people who walk the path before me.

I am pleased to receive a gift from Serena Wong, a generous giver who gave me the permission to share her vivid articulation with people who seek these rare accounts of their private lives straight from their heart. I hope you'll enjoy "A New Sense of Rootedness" as much as I did.


Serena Wong
1 December 2013


Took me more than ten years to come to this realisation – that I feel deeply rooted in Australia. I can see myself growing old WITH Australia (as opposed to growing old IN Australia); I may choose to live somewhere in the future (who knows? Life is full of surprises) but Australia is always home.

This is not to deny many of the flaws here……the much steeper taxes, the higher crime rate and cost of living, the political comedies, and the oft-seen inefficiencies as well as the annoying flies in the too hot summer. It is just that Australia has offered us so much – the pink lake of Port Gregory, the blue skies in the day and scores of twinkling stars in the night sky, the awesome beaches and white sand, the national parks, the cool winter and perfect autumn and spring. But most of all, it is here that my children are allowed to find and nurture their gifts – for Isabel, it is photography (she is the founder of her school photography club and her teachers encouraged her! There are no CCA points to talk about here, all for the love of photography) and for Ignatius, it is chess. It is also here that I found myself; I could explore new interests and take on new ventures without disapproval. It is here that I have completely accepted and embraced my own faults and strengths.

We carve out our own lives; there is neither a societal script that we have to abide by nor a government that breathes down our neck. The media questions rather than endorses everything the government does. Our children are taught in school to query and look at things from different perspectives instead of accepting everything in society. There is no need to compare ourselves with the Joneses; everybody is different and the differences are embraced. Needless to say, the ample space here is much treasured; we don’t have to jostle on the MRT or squeeze ourselves through throngs of people or experience claustrophobia-induced panic attacks at the expensive malls of Orchard Road. I did not realise how physical space can actually open up one’s mind and heart when I was living in Singapore.

This is not to say that I love my family, relatives and friends in Singapore any less. In fact, the opposite is true; we now value any opportunity we have to connect with family and friends while we allowed other seemingly more important things to take priority when we were living in economic-driven Singapore.

Despite the distance and perhaps because of it, many relationships back home have been renewed with fresh vigour and many friendships, revitalised. This includes the relationship my children have with our relations and friends back home – my son idolises his first cousin and Isabel gets along famously with my sister and aunties. This is partly because my children are blessed with the gift of switching from Singlish to Australian-accented English with ease. They blend in perfectly at the malls in Perth as they do at the pasah malam in Singapore.

Of course, the easily accessible Asian food outlets and supermarkets with their plethora of offering, such as peanut pancakes, nasi lemak, laksa…..and even taw-huay and the mountain king durians can be found here, albeit at ransom prices, make living here much easier for us.

Therefore, like the odd couple who celebrates their ten years of marriage – I thank God for this wonderful opportunity and say with my hand on my heart that, ‘YES, AUSTRALIA, I CAN SEE MYSELF GROWING OLD WITH YOU’.


  1. Congradulations on your milestone!

  2. Hi there

    Your mountain king durians in Perth got smell or no smell one (snap frozen?)

  3. Well Said. I salute you!