012 | Ferdous al-Faruque | "I don't know what you are"

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

Why do we feel the need to put people into boxes, to assign categories in order to decipher them? And what happens to those who fit in many... and none at all? I discussed this and other things with Ferdous "Danny" al-Faruque, a third-culture kid all grown up. The second episode in the Borderlives series, exploring the lives and identities of global citizens, and what home even means.

Music by Dyalla.


Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuses typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.

Isabelle Roughol: [00:00:00] Hey, it's Isabelle. If you like Borderline, please share it. Like right now. Think of a friend who you think would like this podcast and just hit share on the app or send them just a quick text that says "www.borderlinepod.com. Check it out. It's good.

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[00:00:23]  Ferdous al Faruque: [00:00:24] I do consider myself in many ways Polish and American and Swedish and Bengali, you know, and on top of that, there's the identity of I'm an immigrant, I'm Muslim, I'm a journalist, you know, um, I'm a desi . So there's all these identities that are constantly at play. And instead of pitting themselves against each other, I just embrace it all.


[00:00:43]  Isabelle Roughol: [00:00:55] Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol  and this is Borderline.

[00:01:00] My friend Danny has a game or an experiment he taught me. Picture a Midwestern American man in your head. Do you see him? Maybe in a tee shirt or a baseball cap from his college football team? Okay. Keep him in mind. Now, picture a Swede, a Viking. Now picture a man from Bangladesh.

[00:01:20] I'm pretty sure none of the men in your head look, talk or behave anything like Danny. Yeah, he is every one of those things and more, and none of them. Danny lives at the most intense end of the scale of global citizens: he's a third culture kid. They spend their formative years in many countries, often tossed around by the military or diplomatic career of a parent and absorb each culture intensely as their own, creating a cocktail of identities, like a custom signature fragrance only one person can wear, or that you share at most with a sibling.

[00:01:53] I chatted about all that with Danny for today's episode, the second in the Borderlives  series, examining the life stories and identities of global citizens and what home even means. We talked about culture shock and reverse culture shock, which anyone listening who's a former exchange student is going to be well familiar with. And about the difficulty of accepting the status quo at home when you know how things are done elsewhere, how experiencing life abroad opens your eyes to the many nuances of the human experience.

[00:02:24] But also we talked about the urge that others feel to put us in a box -- Midwestern dude, Viking, American-born confused desi -this one will be explained- -- to understand our labels so that they can understand us. And the uncomfortable, but fascinating and joyful places that you inhabit when you fit in nowhere and everywhere.

[00:02:45] Meet my friend, Danny... who's also my friend Ferdous.

[00:02:48]  Ferdous al Faruque: [00:02:51] Officially, my name is Ferdous al-Faruque. Um, and so whenever I write a byline or anything I use Ferdous al-Faruque, but everybody calls me Danny, and it's not something that I gave myself. It's actually a nickname that my parents had been calling me all my life.

[00:03:05]I was born in Bangladesh. Uh, I left when I was four and a half, moved to Sweden. My dad was a diplomat, so that's why we moved. I lived there for about eight and a half years until I was 13. And then I moved back to Bangladesh for about a year and a half.

[00:03:18] And then I moved to Poland for five years. After that I, uh, graduated high school, moved to the U S uh, initially started out in Chicago. Uh, and then, uh, after spending about two years in Chicago, I transferred to University of Missouri. Uh, I finished a, uh, journalism and political science degrees, uh, at the university of Missouri.

[00:03:36]Uh, and then, uh, I moved to Canada for a little bit, uh, in between, and then, uh, was able to come back to Missouri to do my master's, which unfortunately I haven't finished yet because I went through a series of job offers. And essentially that led me to decide that you know, I can do my masters later, but right now I need to make some money. So, um, I am now a journalist covering the medical device and diagnostics industry, uh, for a publication uh, called MedTech Insight.

[00:04:04] Isabelle Roughol: [00:04:04] All right. So that's a very quick summary of like your entire life. Um,

[00:04:10]Ferdous al Faruque: [00:04:10] I've been through this quite a few times. So I've kind of got it down to a science.Two names [00:04:15]

[00:04:15]Isabelle Roughol: [00:04:15] Um, actually, I kind of want to go back to, to where you started, which is your name, because I am fascinated by that because I know you under two names essentially. I mean, I've always known you as Danny, but um, can you explain a bit more about that, that two names thing? Cause I thought it was something that you had adopted. Like we see a lot of people with hard to pronounce names, kind of adopt an Anglo name to make things easier, but that's not it, is it?

[00:04:44] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:04:44] No, no, no, no. So in, in Bangladesh or, you know, in Bengali culture, uh, you know, you have your official name, which we call bhalo nam uh, and bhalo nam means your good name. It literally means your good name. And so in my case, it's Ferdous, uh, and you know, my family name is Al-faruque.

[00:04:58]I'm Muslim and Ferdous in Islam is the seventh heaven. So Jannatul Ferdous is the highest level of heaven in Islam. Uh, And al-Faruque, I think, uh, in Arabic means um the one who knows right from wrong. We're not really you know, um, Arab or from the middle East, we're from Bangladesh, but somehow, uh, you know, my dad decided, uh, he was going to use his first name as our family name.  And so we got stuck with that.

[00:05:22] And then I don't know exactly how my parents decided to give me the nickname, Danny. Uh, but I think my dad had a boss when he was young working for the minister of statistics named Danny Larson. And I think they kind of like, just liked the name, sound of the name. And so they gave me Danny.

[00:05:39] Because in Bangladesh you have other nicknames or what we call dak nam, uh, and that literally translates to your call name. Um, and in my case, you know, they just gave me Danny, which again, has like biblical references because, or religious references, because Danny's from the name Daniel, which in the Torah, I think means God's judge.

[00:05:58]Um, And typically in Bengali culture, your nickname has a lot more significance than your official name. If you read the book The Namesake, it explains that if you give a nickname, it's kind of supposed to be aspirational. You give it to somebody so that  they're reminded that, you know, this is the, the future or the upbringing or the person that  their parents wanted them to be.

[00:06:23]Uh, but in my case, it was the reverse because, you know, Ferdous was given to me by my grandfather who apparently, uh, saw me and said, Oh, this is heaven. So, um, I ended up getting Ferdous, uh, and, uh, my parents just needed a nickname so they decided on Danny. Typically it would have been the other way around.

[00:06:40] So,  that's how I ended up, you know, with my names. So I hope that explains it.

[00:06:45] Isabelle Roughol: [00:06:45] It does, it's super interesting. That's a lot of meaning in a name. Um, I just have, because my parents liked the sound of it, but

[00:06:52] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:06:52] Yeah, well, you know, it's funny because you know, this idea that I gave myself a name.  I've had friends who, you know, when I was, uh, uh, visiting my parents, um, would call and they thought that, you know, actually a boss of mine did this, uh, uh, she called and she thought, Oh, maybe I use Danny as just a way for like Americans to be able to pronounce my name and she wanted to be respectful. So she called for a job interview and she was like, "can I speak to Ferdous please?"

[00:07:19] And my mom is like, "nobody by that name here." And she like drops the phone and I'm like, literally like maybe two feet. Because I can hear the entire conversation on the phone and I'm just like looking at her. I'm like, "what? You don't remember my name?" Uh, Because you know, she's never called me Ferdous She always calls me Danny, as does everybody else in my family. So I think like, even if I asked my mom right now, " Hey mom, what's my official name?" she'll take a moment to think about it.Where is home [00:07:45]

[00:07:45] Isabelle Roughol: [00:07:45] That's funny. um, well, Danny, it is then. You sound totally American, I have to say, uh, which, which I get as well, and I have the hard last name as well. So, um, I hear you. When you're asked where you're from, what would be your first answer? Like what's the one that resonates most, or is there any of those many identities that resonates most?

[00:08:09]Ferdous al Faruque: [00:08:09] I would say like the place that I feel most at home is Stockholm, Sweden. I've had so, so many good memories, it's a wonderful place. The people are wonderful. Um, and it's kind of got this, I dunno, like, a utopian feel to it.

[00:08:24]Um, Every data um, on societies out there basically says the Nordic countries are the best  places to live.  And living there uh, some of my formative years and large part of my childhood, um, you kind of  didn't appreciate it because you were like, "this is what everybody else is living through. This is normal."

[00:08:42] And then I moved to Bangladesh, which, you know, I also consider home as well, but it is a very, very different kind of place.  I kind of got this like shock, cause I went from living in what is essentially the closest thing to a utopia, um, you know, uh, today to a kind of a place where you know, it's kind of a dog eat dog world. Uh, Poverty is really bad, pollution is really bad. Um, There is just uh, so much, uh,  uh,  that contrasts negatively against Sweden, um, that it was a bit of a shock uh, as soon as I got to um, um, uh, Bangladesh.

[00:09:15]Isabelle Roughol: [00:09:15] So tell me more about that. When you went back from Sweden to Bangladesh and that, that feeling, how old were you then?

[00:09:23] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:09:23] I was 13.

[00:09:24] Isabelle Roughol: [00:09:24] 13. Okay. So yeah. And that's a particular time as well, kind of that transition from childhood to adolescence.

[00:09:31] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:09:31] yeah.

[00:09:32]Reverse culture shock in Bangladesh [00:09:32] Isabelle Roughol: [00:09:32] how was that sort of that culture shock that, that reverse culture shock going back to Bangladesh and how were you received by your peers in Bangladesh?

[00:09:43] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:09:43] So I think, uh, you know what I would say in Bangladesh, um, uh, the, the way that I was received, uh, there's a couple of ways to explain it. One. I'm the eldest in the family. Um, so, uh, I ended up, you know, uh, getting a lot of respect, a lot of um, admiration just because, because of my position in the family. Um, uh, But also I think, uh, a lot of people are very curious about uh, Westerners and they kind of saw me as a bit of a westerner, uh, because I had lived so much of my life there. Um,

[00:10:11] But I'm also a bit of a chameleon. Very quickly, uh, after I moved to Bangladesh, I adopted a more Bangladeshi uh, clothing, um, and my Bengali got better. Um, I lost any accent that I might've had. Um, And so when I would go out, I don't think people realized that I was raised outside of Bangladesh. And a lot of my relatives were kind of surprised about that as well um, that I adapted so quickly.  I was kind of able to experience Bangladesh from a very local level, um, but also brought this perspective,  this Western perspective to Bangladesh.

[00:10:45]Bangladesh is still very much a patriarchal society, um, very much a society where you know, there is a giant difference between the rich and the poor. Um, I remember, um, my family ended up um, eventually being forced by you know, my grandparents to um take in a servant girl who was maybe, I don't know, I think maybe like five or six, it was ridiculous. Um, And she only  stayed with us for like two weeks. My mom was like, "nah, I can't do this. I can't have her you know, working." And it's funny because my mom was  raised in that culture. But having lived in Sweden for so long, it just felt wrong. Um, and so, you know, we sent her back home.

[00:11:22]there was a lot of these things that happen that kind of you know, felt uncomfortable. Um, because, you know, I was again like raised in this kind of egalitarian Swedish society. Um,

[00:11:33] I remember in particular. Uh, we had this one kid, uh, so his dad was a rickshaw driver and, uh, his dad got really ill. So he decided to take over his dad's rickshaw and provide for the family because if he didn't, they would basically starve to death. And this kid was maybe, I would say nine, you know, maybe even like eight. Um, And he was pulling a rickshaw, like he was a grown man. And so my parents, they had this deal with him and it was like, éall right, you know, every day at this time you come and take my kids to school," even though I was older than this kid and my brother was about his age at the time. They're like, "all right, you take him to school and you bring him back."

[00:12:17] I remember this one particular day, we were in a monsoon storm. My dad came with the kid to pick me up um, and the kid tried to like cover us with this tarp. But the, the tarp didn't really do much. Um, And we got soaked, but the kid got really soaked, and for  every two pedals he would make forward, he would be pushed back one pedal. And it was just this awful struggle. And I just felt incredibly guilty. And then finally, when we got home, I told my dad like, you know, like I cried. I was like, "please give him more money. Um, because you know, I was really afraid the kid was going to get pneumonia and die." And I understood um, that in Bangladesh, you know, if somebody gets you know, some of these very common diseases that we  you know, accept in the West, they can literally die because they can't afford health care.

[00:13:03]Um, and so, yeah, I just remember " not accepting the reality in Bangladesh as reality, because I was raised in Sweden. I couldn't accept that this is unfortunately how people live and die in Bangladesh.

[00:13:17] Isabelle Roughol: [00:13:17] Yeah, that's really, it's a really powerful story. And it's, it's really interesting because living somewhere else, opened your eyes to how different things could be, which makes accepting the status quo much harder.

[00:13:33]Experience of the US [00:13:33] I wonder, um, you know, since you sort of contrasted that experience of you know, living in sort of the ultimate social democracy, uh, and then, you know, a very unequal and much poorer country. Um, How does it work then when you move to the U S cause that's, you know, kind of yet another side of that coin where it's a much richer country, but also not equal one, uh, in many ways. How does that work? Did you, you know, kind of bring that perspective as well?

[00:13:57] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:13:57] I did. I mean, I kind of found it shocking that you know, you kind of hear these like clichés: the United States is the richest country in the world, the most free country in the world. Um, you know, and, uh, looking at again, like my upbringing in Sweden, um, I disagreed. I'm like, "no, I don't think you are the most free country in the world" because I think Sweden has more freedoms in many ways um, and, and uh, rights.

[00:14:19]For example, I think you know, women um, have more freedom and rights in Sweden um, than the US. Um, I think, uh, freedom of expression in many ways, um, is less curtailed, um, in a country like Sweden.

[00:14:33] Obviously it's not, it's no Bangladesh. I think it's far better than Bangladesh and many other countries. But when it comes to  you know, contrasting it with uh, other Western industrialized democratic countries, um, it is uh, lagging in so many ways. Um, There's a lot of idealism, I think people talk about a lot of values, but at the end of the day, uh, those don't show up in the system of government that we have.

[00:14:59] I mean, I would say that we don't actually even have a democratic system of government because if we look at, and I'm not trying to be political here, but as a political scientist, if we look at you know, the 2016 election and the fact that the president lost 3 million more votes Uh, than Hillary Clinton did, and yet still won the election.

[00:15:16] If that had happened in any other country, we would laugh at that. You know, As Americans, we would say, that's a joke, that's not a democracy. Um, And yet we accept it when it happens in our own country. And again, not trying to be political, but I just, you know, we have to have a serious conversation about what is a democracy um, and what does it mean to be an American?

[00:15:35]"I don't know what you are." [00:15:35]  Isabelle Roughol: [00:15:35] I noticed that, you know, you, you say we as American, cause you, you do have American citizenship now, do you?

[00:15:41] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:15:41] Yeah, I do. Yep.

[00:15:42] Isabelle Roughol: [00:15:42] Yeah. So that's yet another kind of layer of identity as well. Um,

[00:15:48]Ferdous al Faruque: [00:15:48] Yeah. whenever I'm having a conversation, I'm like, Oh yeah, like, so, you know, as a Swede or as a Pole or as an American, and you know, I think, one of my friends, it really frustrated her cause she's like, "I don't know what you are." And I'm like, You know, and that's fine.

[00:16:01] that's kind of, my upbringing is I do feel connected to all the places I've lived in. And, and I, I say like, um, when I say I'm a pole, I don't mean that, "Hey, I, I went to Poland for a brief period of time and kind of like lived, uh, you know, this kind of isolated, um, expat life that a lot of people do." I actually lived in Polish society and, you know, had to like adjust to Polish society. Um, And the same thing for the U S you know, when I, when I moved here, I kind of had to like, you know, adjust to U S um, life. Um,

[00:16:34]So I do consider myself in many ways Polish and American and Swedish and Bengali, you know, and on top of that, there's the identity of I'm an immigrant, I'm Muslim, I'm a journalist, you know, um, I'm a desi, which encompasses much of South Asia. So there's all these identities that are constantly at play. And instead of pitting themselves against each other, I just embrace it all.

[00:16:58]Putting you in a box [00:16:58]

[00:16:58] Isabelle Roughol: [00:16:58] I love that. um, it's interesting cause you're talking about sort of how you know, people from the outside are like, you know, "I can't pin you down." Um, Which, which I find fascinating I find it is something that, that people really want to do is be able to put you in a box. I know when, when people hear me speak here, um, they always just give me this, look that I'm like, I know what you're trying to do right now, which is you're trying to figure out where my accent is from so that you can put me in the box that you want to put me in.

[00:17:23] And because I don't sound French when I say I'm French, they're like what? Um, and they, they absolutely want to, you know, put me as a, in as a, as a Canadian. Cause they were like, I kind of sound North American with some French in there. So maybe it's Canadian except I really don't sound Canadian. And I've heard everything from Dutch to Irish somehow.

[00:17:42]Ferdous al Faruque: [00:17:42] Honestly, now that I think about it, I would have probably done the same thing. If we first started talking, I would have heard slight bit of the accent,I would have said, "Oh, you're probably Canadian."

[00:17:50] Isabelle Roughol: [00:17:50] Yeah, Yeah, because this is completely... I don't blame people for it. It's completely natural. We're used to um,  putting people in categories because it helps us understand where they come from and start to make assumptions about how they're going to react to particular things, which is kind of how you decode someone before you really know them.

[00:18:10]Accents & stereotypes [00:18:10]

[00:18:10]Ferdous al Faruque: [00:18:10] I would say growing up, you know, I've gone through a lot of different accents, um, cause I've had teachers... you know, My first accent was actually Scottish.

[00:18:19] cause Wait what?

[00:18:21] My kindergarten teacher was Scottish. So I talked to her like this, like coming in and she was very proper with her because she'd say things with more of an English accent, but every now and then she'd like dive right into her Scottish side. And so I'd, uh, I'd come in in the morning and I was always hungry. So I'd walk in and be like, "Ms. Holden, can I have lunch?" It's like, "no Danny, it's too early for lunch. You know, You gotta wait until lunch for later."

[00:18:46] So,

[00:18:47] Isabelle Roughol: [00:18:47] I'm trying to picture a little Bengali boy sounding like full Edinburgh...

[00:18:52] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:18:52] So, no, I had a little bit of that accent, you know, and then growing up, I also grew up with a, you know, Robin Williams. So I loved, you know, how he would do accents and voices and stuff like that. So I started doing a lot of that, and I've lost most of it because in college, me and my roommate kind of sat there and we kind of went through all the different accents that I could do.

[00:19:12] So my, my ongoing joke, when everybody is like, "well, your English is so good" because a lot of times that comes off as a little offensive and like, yeah, duh, but then I'm like, "well, actually this is my real accent and all the other times I am doing an accent for you." And, uh, so that, that confused the hell out of them.

[00:19:30]recently, uh, one of my friends, uh, he's a journalism professor, um, and he invited me. We kind of teach his classes, interviewing class and every year I'll go in and the kids will interview me and they'll try to you know, dig into who I am and try to, you know, write a story about me. Um, But this year I went in and immediately I went with my Indian accent and so I talked like this for like about 10, 15 minutes and they would ask me questions. And they were not as um, engaged or interested or asking deeper questions um, until my friend tapped me on the shoulder and in the middle of my conversation, I switched to my midWestern regular accent here. And literally their eyes looked like they would explode out of their sockets. They were just like, what is going on? They freaked out. And so we stopped the class at that point.

[00:20:24] And, you know, we asked them like, why do we do this? And the response was, we did this. And one of the students got it right. She like immediately raised her hand and was the one Asian student in the class. Um, and she like, because when people see you, they come with all sorts of preconceived notions about who you are and when you're interviewing people, you kind of have to throw those preconceived notions out the window and let the person kind of stand on their own and ask them questions, really basic questions to try to kind of you know, dig into who they are.

[00:20:59] Because you know, stereotypes can be useful. They can help you  understand a person, um, Uh, but only to a certain degree because generalizing who a person is, is where you get in trouble, as a journalist especially. So you don't want to generalize um, you know, a person's upbringing, um, just by the way they look, by the way they talk or generalize what they believe in, you know, who they are.

[00:21:23] I like hunting, I like shooting, um, kind of like an outdoorsy guy. Um, and every time I go out in the U S it confuses everybody. I remember I went uh, to a hunting trip and they're all these like very, I would say, Southern, very kind of uh, stereotypically you know, red state kind of guys. And so we're sitting there and we're talking you know, about you know, hunting rifles and you know, hunting practices, stuff like this. And at one point, one of the guy is kind of like, he was just sitting there the entire time, kind of like with this look of disbelief in his eyes. And he kind of looked at me and goes, "son, you must be the first Muslim redneck there ever was." And I was like, yeah, that's nice. I'll take that. Um,

[00:22:06]Isabelle Roughol: [00:22:06] Muslim redneck. That should be your tagline.

[00:22:09] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:22:09] That should be my tagline. I should, I should write a, I should write a biography called The Muslim Redneck.  again, like this is natural human behavior. You're trying to understand a person, you're trying to understand where they're from. And, uh, and so, you know, when somebody kind of like comes out of left field and it starts talking about things that you never associate with that culture or that group of people, it can be a little jarring.

[00:22:32] Isabelle Roughol: [00:22:32] Yeah.  just thinking back of that thing in the journalism class, I think it's a great unconscious bias exercise. Um, To just put those students in front of the assumptions that they made or the efforts that they didn't make um, based on the accent that you came in with. That's, that's really fascinating. Um,

[00:22:49]Ferdous al Faruque: [00:22:49] My favorite part was how much more engaged and how much more excited they became about the class, because I had a little apprehension about it. I was like, I'm kind of deceiving them, you know,  I don't want them to feel like I'm calling them stupid or something. Um, I, that was definitely not my intention.

[00:23:05] So I was a little worried about doing it. And it was my idea from the start, you know, my, my buddy was like, "Oh, I'm not so sure." And then he was like, "you know what, go for it." Um, so, but when they opened up and they started asking questions and they showed so much more enthusiasm and interest, I was like, okay, this, this makes up for it. You know, I did the right, I've made the right call.

[00:23:25]Isabelle Roughol: [00:23:25] And that's what, um, that's what representation is great for. The more people you can encounter, the more images you can show, um, from all sorts of backgrounds and, and who, you know, buck those, those trends and those stereotypes, um, the more real it becomes, you know, and, and someone who's met you, you know, isn't going to think about Bangladesh in a way in the image that they had of Bangladesh in their head, maybe beforehand. Um,  Or of Sweden, or of um, rednecks for that matter. Right?

[00:23:52]Ferdous al Faruque: [00:23:52] The funny thing is even within you know, the Bengali community, when I engaged in Bengali community, they think I'm like born in the U S. You know, We have these phrases, ABCD and FOB. ABCD means American-born confused Desi, and then FOB is fresh off the boat.

[00:24:09] So I'm not necessarily a FOB, but I'm also not an ABCD. I'm kind of somewhere in between. This is one of those things where I kind of feel like this is more of an American thing than any other country I've lived in. When I was in college in the U S  there were a lot of cliques. The South Asian fobs had their own clique and the ABCDs had their own clique.

[00:24:29] And I was the one guy who could like you know, cross into both cliques, uh, because I could identify with the FOBs and I could identify with the ABCDs. Uh, So that again, like in some ways allowed me to be this kind of chameleon, uh, you know, moving from clique to clique, culture to culture. Um, And it's not just with those two groups.

[00:24:49] There was a lot of other groups, you know, where I could easily kind of like fit in and people would think like I'm part of them. And then the moment I show the opposite side of the coin, they would be really confused.

[00:25:03] People tend to kind of you know, um, uh, hover towards their own kind of identity, um, which, uh, in some ways is good because it kind of gives them a sense of security, but it's also bad because they kind of miss out on such a large part of life um, when they stay within their own little communities.

[00:25:21] I love the, uh, you know, the Vulcan saying, what is it... Infinite, um, uh, Oh God. It's it's. It's...

[00:25:26] if it's a

[00:25:27] Isabelle Roughol: [00:25:27] Trekkie thing, I can't help you.

[00:25:28] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:25:28] Yeah,  the idea is that, you know, it's beautiful when you have people of so many different backgrounds interacting with each other. Um, and, uh, it's going to come to me. Oh, infinite diversity in infinite combinations. I think that's what it is. Um, but I mean, this idea that the more you you know, intermingle with different groups of people, the more different kinds of possibilities in humanity that you can, you know, bring about. And I think that's kind of the normal evolutionary process.

[00:26:01]You know, whether you're talking about, you know, physical, I mean, biological evolution, or you're talking about cultural evolution, uh, allowing those kinds of interactions and getting out of your comfort zone, um, is what I think humanity should be about.

[00:26:16] Isabelle Roughol: [00:26:16] I think that's a good note to end on. For me, that's what this, this whole global citizen tribe is about. Whenever I've lived in other countries, I've, I've tried to avoid hanging out with other French people, I actually hate how many French people there are in London cause it makes it really hard to avoid. Um, But I would much rather kind of blend in locally. Um, But, but, but there is a tribe that I always end up hanging out with and that's, you know, whoever is not from wherever we are. Um, I think there's just a, a kinship there that is, that is very special.

[00:26:48] Ferdous al Faruque: [00:26:48] Yeah. Yeah. I think it's important. I think you've got to get out of your comfort zone. Cause you know, I can guarantee you this life. I can't guarantee you the life after. And if you miss out on these opportunities, you're kind of wasting it. So go have fun.

[00:27:00]  Isabelle Roughol: [00:27:02] Go have fun indeed. Cause the global life is fun. And even if I report on immigration and pandemic and ugly politics, I don't want to lose sight of that.

[00:27:12] What really got to me in this conversation with Danny, it was just a few seconds. I don't know if you caught it, but I made it the title of this episode: the friend who says, "I don't know what you are."  I'm fascinated by this need that we have to classify people, to assign them a category in order to decipher them. I know I do it too. I'm sure. But what happens when people don't fit a category? Do any of us truly?

[00:27:38] If this happens to you too, people trying to figure you out, share your story. I'd love to hear from you. And also if you'd like to be the next guest in the Borderlives series, reach out and tell me a bit more about who you are and your life story. You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter or find all the links and the contacts that you need at borderlinepod.com, where you can also sign up for the newsletter or support Borderline by becoming a member.

[00:28:01]Everything you're hearing here is produced, edited, mixed, sound designed, and all the action verbs of podcasting by me. If you'd like to hear more and to keep Borderline running, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Any small pledge helps and members get the episode early, as well as extra content, access and gratitude.

[00:28:20]You can pledge any amount by going to borderlinepod.com or looking for Borderline on Patreon. If you speak French at all, don't forget to check out my French podcast, La V.F., where I'm having tons of fun explaining the arcane areas of the US elections. And there are many.

[00:28:40] I want to give a huge thank you to Danny also known, though not by his mother, as  Ferdous al-Faruque. I'm your host, Isabelle Roughol. Borderline is a One Lane Bridge  production. Music by Dyalla. Talk to you next week.

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Journalist, podcaster, media consultant. Telling stories & building better newsrooms. Writes The Lede. Ex- LinkedIn News, Le Figaro, The Cambodia Daily. 🎓 Mizzou '08, Birkbeck '25.