This, i.e. North Korea, or rather the DPRK, was my first trip when I didn’t have a straight-forward answer to that. Where am I from? I am travelling on an Italian passport but am I from Italy really? I feel Turkish. After burbling and gurgling because I didn't know what to answer the first two times I got asked “the question”, I decided “Turkish by birth, Italian by marriage” to be the proper answer.
When we were travelling as a family, Carlo usually replied “From Italy and Turkey...” It was explanatory. Well, sort of...
Where are you from? That question should be eliminated from the vocabulary as well.
Where were you born? Or where do you live? These are straight-forward questions that have an answer. You are born in one place. It doesn’t have to be a country, you can name the city. Or even the town if you wish. It’s specific. Gives much more information. Even “Which hospital were you born in?” is an interesting question that may lead to some conversation topics. For example, I was born in Zeynep Kamil, which is almost where everybody my age was born in İstanbul. Zeynep is a female name, Kamil is a male name. So children born in that hospital were given the names or at least the middle names Zeynep or Kamil according to their sex. That’s why my middle name, which actually corresponds to the first name on my ID, is Zeynep. It is also a Muslim name, the name of the daughter of the prophet Muhammed. I use Zeynep when I am travelling in Muslim countries, they remember the name and since they find the name close to them, they find me closer to themselves, too.
Somebody might say they weren’t born in a hospital, that their mother gave birth at home. Or you may ask if they were born by caesarean-section or normal birth. “How were you born, was it an easy birth, do you know? Did you ask your mother?” etc. These are all legitimate questions, unlike “Where are you from?”
What does that question signify?
“It's where you were born,” replied Carlo without hesitation. Of course it's easy for him as he's been born and living in Italy ever since. He doesn't have any questions as to where he belongs.
"So should I have told the Chinese police that I was from Turkey then?" I asked. I was travelling on an Italian passport, it wouldn't have been appropriate if I had said that I suppose.
"That's a matter of convenience," Carlo said.
Ah okay then. If it's convenient, answers can be bent around!
I personally don't know where I am from. If I'm from Jupiter or Saturn...
“Where do you live?”
“I live six months here, six months there. I live in X, but travel most of the time.”
Even "Where do you feel you belong?"...
These are valid questions… But “Where are you from?”? No no no no... I’m not asking that question again to anybody!
Didn't I ever ask that question?
I did, I am guilty.
I sinned. I repent. I won’t be doing it again.