Saturday, January 15, 2011

When can I claim I've lived somewhere?

Before I left for Paris, I wondered what were the requirements for me to say that I lived somewhere. Can I visit Bali for a week and say that I've lived there? I've been in Lebanon for 2.5 months one summer. Can I say I lived there? After my wonderful experience in Paris comes to an end, can I tell others that I lived in Paris? Do I have to have a job to say I lived in a country? Maybe it depends on how often and for how much I paid rent.

And then I wondered, when can I say I'm Parisian. I'm sure that takes years in some minds, or it's dependent on how long it takes me to get accustomed to the way of life as others will argue. Perhaps I need to have Parisian blood, or I have to have been born and raised in this city. What if it's when I go along for a conference about empowering French entrepreneurs to commercialize their innovations? I accompanied my manager to a great event Thursday night. It was at a wonderful location as well.

From the outside, from the inside, and as the first speaker starts the introduction.

Before I arrived to Paris, Zeina and I discussed what made us Hamiltonians or Torontonians. We concluded that if we are comfortably able to give directions if a tourist asks, we can hold that noun as our own. I arrived in Paris with that mind set. The funny thing is that it happened the day that I arrived. I was buying some groceries on my first day of being in Paris and a Spanish family asked me where the Louvre was. I was able to tell them! So then, what is it? What is required for me to claim a city as my own and have others easily agree to the claim? Is it relative? Is it a clear definition? One thing's for sure. I am not Saudi though I lived most of my childhood in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I am from Beirut, though I have never been able to say that I live there. I am from Montreal, though we only became Canadian there. And I am from Hamilton, though I only lived there for my post-secondary education and without my parents. What city do I call my own? If I got to choose, I would say Paris, but what is 4 months out of my 24 years of life?

Till the next,


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