Monday, August 30, 2010

Nomad & the Singapore Eurasian

Today a Nomad visited the Eurasian association in Singapore. Singapore is one of the few countries that acknowledges Eurasians as a distinctive group of the national population. Unlike other countries where the Eurasian is assimilated into broader segments of the population or a country like Indonesia where Eurasians were (r)ejected together with the the full blooded European population during and after the national revolution.
Although just a small percentage of the total population in Singapore their contribution to the country is attentively acknowledged and the Eurasians are part of the 4 official ethnic groups in Singapore. They form the demographic majority of the Christian population and speak English as there first language, although the oldest sub-group of Portuguese Eurasians also speak a creole called 'Papia Kristang'. The Portuguese, as always very protective of their historic heritage, maintain close ties with their descendents in Singapore as can be seen from the ceramic tilework donated by the Portuguese embassy. It is clearly exhibited at the entrance of the community house in Singapore.
The Eurasian community house is located on a square on Ceylon road, right next to the seemingly humble house of the current prime minister of Singapore and across a newly build Christian church. It is well maintained and financially supported by afluent Eurasian sponsors who's (often Portuguese) names are displayed on a plaque at the entrance.
The faces of the people look familiar, they could very well be Indo-European I think. The elderly man at the counter is very friendly and polite. The young guy leasuring and chatting vividly with some friends after a chore is obviously 'brani'. There's a lot of music in the air and many folders in the lobby are about upcoming musical performances. I enjoy my high tea and start to wonder how interesting it would be to perform here.
The community house center clearly evolves around it's restaurant that has Eurasian favorites like 'Pork Smore' and 'Pot Roast Beef' on the menu and is often frequented by non Eurasian patrons. Apparently the core of these Eurasians' identity is also rooted in their tastes and cuisine. A Nomad can identify.
Perhaps what I am seeing here is somewhat like 'what could have been', when the grinding wheels of history had not cut the ties between Indonesia's historic Indo Eurasian population and their beloved land of origin.

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting group that isnt however acknowledged as a seperate ethnic group in Singapore are the so called Peranakan Chinese. Similar to Indonesia these Chinese descent from old Chinese/Malay families and have greatly adopted Malay langauge and culture. In Singapore they are also known as Baba Nyonya. Sometimes indistinguishable from Malay and speaking Malay as their first language. The Nyonya (a word derived from the Portuguese word Dona / Nona which means lady) in fact wear Malay dress (sarong kebaya). When also mixed with European ancestors they are often integrated into the Eurasian group.