Since founding The Displaced Nation on April Fool’s Day (no fooling?), Kate Allison, Anthony Windram and I have been coming across travel writers who understand just how befuddling the life of the global nomad can be.
We are inclined to think that they have channeled Lewis Carroll’s Alice.
Offering themselves up as examples, such writers talk about what’s it like for a crossborder traveler to be plagued with feelings akin to adolescent self-doubt: what am I doing here, and will I ever get over this feeling of displacedness?
And they’ve shown us how to emerge from such escapades as more fulfilled human beings, full of stories to tell, perhaps to our grandkids, one day…
In recognition of these models of displacedness, my colleagues and I have created a new accolade for the travel writing profession: the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Award, otherwise known as an “Alice.”
And The Displaced Nation‘s very first Alices go to…drumroll!…(listed in reverse chronological order)
1. ANABEL KANTARIA for Do we all need behavior lessons?, in the Daily Telegraph:
“Just remember, you’re not playing in your own backyard now,” my boss told me when I took my first job in the UAE. “You’re in someone else’s yard now, and you play by their rules.” It was probably the best piece of advice I was ever given about the UAE, and one that’s kept me out of trouble on numerous occasions.
Alice link: “I don’t think they play at all fairly,” Alice began, in rather a complaining tone, “… I should have croqueted the Queen’s hedgehog just now, only it ran away when it saw mine coming!”
2. SUZY GUESE for The Unexpected Benefits to Solo Travel, in Suzy Guese: Traveling with a redheaded temperament:
While I know people who travel with others can have their share of weird conversations, solo travel for some reason brings this about almost with every day. … From a musician at the Giant’s Causeway [Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site] who started talking to me by insulting my shoes, to a B&B owner who told me her “journey of life”, leaving in all of the gory details, I have had some strange encounters.
Alice link: “Your hair wants cutting,” said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.
3. ANDREA MARTINS for Expat women living the high life or secretly struggling?, in the Daily Telegraph:
In mid-2005, April Davidson’s world was turned upside down following her husband’s job transfer to Mexico City. … She could not understand what was happening to her and she started taking medication for anxiety and unexplained stomach problems. Little did April realise that her feelings represented a completely normal piece of the relocation jigsaw, and that taking medication to cope with the transition process was again, not uncommon.
Alice link: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” said Alice, “a great girl like you,” (she might well say this), “to go on crying in this way! Stop this moment, I tell you!” But she went on all the same, shedding gallons of tears, until there was a large pool all round her, about four inches deep and reaching half down the hall.
4. SEBASTIAN DOGGART for Elegy to English shepherd’s pie, in the Daily Telegraph:
One of the things I miss the most about living outside England is shepherd’s pie. … The greatest desecration is found in Quebec, where they call it “Chinese pâté” (pâté chinois). To suggest this sacred dish has anything Chinese about it is preposterous.
Alice link: “When I’m a Duchess,” she said to herself…”I won’t have any pepper in my kitchen at all. Soup does very well without…”
5. SALLY THELEN for 4 Tips on Embracing Your Inner Weirdo, in Unbrave Girl:
This morning, when I went running [in Wuxi, China], I happened upon a group of teenagers dressed up as anime characters. A crowd had formed around them to gape at their hot pink wigs, Nutcracker-like jackets and French maid dresses.
I stopped for a minute to stare slack-jawed with the rest of the crowd.
I was baffled.
I was confused.
And, frankly, I was a bit miffed. After all, didn’t these kids know that I was the main attraction at this park?
Alice link: This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off, the Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back one or twice, half hoping that they would call after her…
6. SEZIN KOEHLER for My foreign body: geocharacteristics of a population, in Expat+HAREM:
When I first arrived in Prague I was a size 7, had an acceptable C-cup and chocolate-colored skin. Three years later I’ve become a size 12 and an overbearing DD-cup with skin the color of weak tea.
Aging plays only a small part….
Alice link: “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!”
7. JENNIFER EREMEEVA for Conversation is a One-way Street, in Dividing my time: finding the funnier side of life in Russia:
“Let me tell you about New York,” he [a Russian friend of my husband’s] said, “I was really impressed: the streets are completely strait, from one end of Manhattan to the other — ”
“– Well, except for the Village down to Wall Street,” I interjected absent-mindedly.
“Jennifer went to University in New York,” said my husband apologetically to the group.
Sergei squinted at me suspiciously, and then, changing tack, began to expand on the virtues of vacationing at Valaam on Lake Ladoga.
Alice link: “I’ve been to a day-school, too,” said Alice; “you needn’t be so proud as all that.” … “…[Y]ours wasn’t a really good school,” said the Mock Turtle in a tone of great relief. “Now at ours they had at the end of the bill, ‘French, music, and washing — extra.”
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite from the above, and do you have any other writers/posts to nominate for our next round of Alices? We’d love to hear your suggestions.
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s interview with Random Nomad Balaka Basu. She appeals for citizenship in The Displaced Nation — and agrees to answer one Alice question!
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