“I was born in Tana, Madagascar’s capital city. I was adopted when I was four. I remained in Madagascar until I was seven, and then moved to the Netherlands. I can still remember the day of my adoption very clearly; a big white house with coloured things on the ceiling which ended up being festoons. And I got a cake, which I had never seen before.
Am I happy that I live here and not there? I don’t know. Often yes, sometimes no. Seven years ago I went back to Madagascar for the first time in twenty four years and at first I thought, “Yes, I’m home. I look the same. This is how it’s supposed to be!” I was worried I wouldn’t feel like I belonged. Since then I’ve been back four times. Materialistically I have a great life in Amsterdam; Madagascar is a very poor country. Emotionally, life can be less satisfactory as these feelings can be seen in a number of ways and be confusing.
It’s a cliché, I know, but I miss Tana’s weather; not too hot, just right. And the food. I can clearly remember the food from when I still lived there. When I arrived, I went to the market to get a ‘nemmetje’ which is a sort of spring roll with zebu mince, the Madagascan cow. And when I drink Fanta I call it ‘tropic’ Fanta, as it tastes so much different than here. It tastes exactly how I remembered it. From November to February you can get lychees at the Amsterdam markets. They come from places like Madagascar. I scour all the markets looking for crates marked ‘Madagascar’. I used to think this was a strange hobby, but I don’t anymore.
I really wanted to live in Amsterdam. I was tired of living in the provinces. I enjoyed my school years in Deventer, but everyone spread their wings and I wanted to too. I found myself a job in Amsterdam in 2008 and came here to live. I already knew Amsterdam from day trips. My first impression of the city was that it was busy and huge. The trams were strange, but I also thought, “Great”. In my first six months here I must have got lost at least ten times. I really had to spend time exploring and enjoyed doing it. Amsterdam is a city full of possibilities. But there’s also another side to it. It’s a very individualistic city and you really have to make an effort to find friends. After living in Bijlmer for the past fourteen years it has become almost like a village to me. But once I shut the front door, that’s it.
6 people in Amsterdam have the Malagasy nationality