Anthropologists say that people started to group to number of 50 and individuals were recognised as being part of ‘us’. The ‘others’ for them, the individuals from different groups were seen as enemies. A distinguished feature of civilisation, when it appeared was its capacity to bind together groups to form communities beyond 100 even 1000 people. The communities grew into the town, which became the city and then the nation. The circle of ‘us’ expanded to include thousands and later millions of people.
The glue was culture: the common language, beliefs, legends, laws and responsibilities. From this time the individual sharing the same culture was one of ‘US’ and who did not was one of ‘THEM’.
When you come to the capital city of Bratislava in Slovakia in the middle of Europe, you will still feel as a stranger if you do not share the same language and beliefs. It is not metropolitan London or multicultural Sydney. It is the ancient Roman city, the crowning city of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the forgotten city of the Eastern Communist block. 15 years after the fall of Communism, the capital city of new country is still slowly wakes up to the demand of the European Union.
I came back for my Grandmother’s funeral. I came back to face my past. I came back to show mydaughter where she came from and where she was born.I was away too long and felt as a stranger myself walking the narrow streets of my ancient city. Suddenly my native language, my childhood legends came back… I looked at my daughter, who was 5 years old when we left. It was too early for the culture of this place stick in. She is Australian.