The Displaced Nation

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DEAR MARY-SUE: One expat’s horror story is another’s delight

Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt, is back. Her thoughtful advice eases and soothes any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion you may have. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at thedisplacednation@gmail.com

Shoot! Is it October already? I don’t know how the time flies. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of fall. Who would be living in Tulsa. It just gets grey here, no burnt ochres like in Vermont. In fact, I wouldn’t know a burnt ochre if I saw one. Is it like a vole (please don’t feel the need to write in. I’m not that stupid. I know it’s not a rodent). Anyhoo, on with this month’s questions.

Dear Mary-Sue,

I can’t resist asking you: how does the Wallace household celebrate Halloween? I can imagine it’s quite an occasion!

– Ian (a British fan of yours) in Iowa

Dear Ian,

Well I can tell you that we don’t celebrate Halloween like the Larsons across the street. She gives out fruit to the kids in the neighborhood. Why would you even do that? It’s just cruel, isn’t it?

No, it’s a time of excess over at the Wallace household. That’s why I wake up the day after Halloween and don’t have to worry about finding the trees outside my house covered in toilet paper.

I buy plenty of Reese’s peanut butter cups because who doesn’t love them? I hear in Europe they have what they call food mountains when they have too much of a particular food source, well let me tell you that the Wallace household ends up with a Reese’s peanut butter cup mountain come Halloween.

You should come along and grab yourself a treat.

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Dear Mary-Sue,

My wife and I have lived in the United States since last May, and I must say, she is throwing herself into the life here with considerable vigour. She is now talking about hosting a Halloween party for some of our fellow expats, and inviting a few of our American neighbors. She has suggested that she and I dress up as an Elephant and a Donkey, in celebration of the American election season. No pun intended, but that would make me feel a bit of, well, an ass, to use the local dialect.

I wonder if I could talk her into going as a Milkman and Pregnant Lady instead? At least that would be true to our native (British) culture.

– Stephen in St. Louis

Dear Stephen,

So let me guess this right regarding your Halloween costumes, your wife was to be satirical and you want to be lewd? Gee, what is it with you Brits. You always think your jokes are funny and yet they always just seem to be about sex. Just go as something horror related and stop trying to over think it. If you really want to be true to your native culture why not go as King George III. Bam! Yes, I went there.

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Dear Mary-Sue,

My husband writes mystery books for a living. He and I have decided to live in England for a few years while he does research on his latest story. He insists that we look for an old isolated cottage somewhere deep in the heart of the countryside, where he can be free to write. But I feel certain that those oldy-worldy thatched roof places may be haunted. And what if I have to stay in a house like that on my own, should he be called up to London to meet his agent or give a talk.

Do you think I’m strange to be so afraid of (admittedly English) ghosts?

– Susan of Savannah, Georgia, soon to be of Suffolk, East Anglia

Dear Susan,

If you’re going to be living in East Anglia I’d be more concerned with the living than the dead. They’re a scary in-bred bunch, though coming from Georgia you should be able to handle it. I kid, I kid…well not about East Anglia.

*****
Dear Mary-Sue,

Do Westerners see Western ghosts, Chinese see Chinese ghosts, and Africans see African ghosts, or can we see each other’s?

– Just Curious

And does Just Curious see ghosts of low intelligence?

*****

Dear Mary-Sue,

When I first saw the farmhouse in Tuscany that my husband and I are now renting while we look for a place to live for our retirement, I thought to myself: Frances Mayes, eat your heart out! However, we’ve just now found out from one of our neighbors that a murder took place here about ten years ago — and ever since, the house has always been rented to expats. I’m thinking we should consult with the local Catholic priest about whether he could perform an exorcism — casting out evil spirits and all that. But my husband says, don’t be silly — it just adds to the atmosphere.

What do you advise?

-Victoria of Vulterra (formerly of Wellington, NZ)

Dear Vicky,

First thing I would be doing is renegotiating a lower rental fee and not thinking about calling the local Padre.

*****
Dear Mary-Sue,

In my opinion, Asian ghosts are far freakier — and hence scarier — than Western ones. Especially the Japanese kind. I mean, what’s a vampire compared to a wailing Asian woman with a very pale face and long, jet black hair? Actually, I’m scaring myself even as I write this…

– Ted of Tsukuba (formerly of Texas)

Dear Ted,

Yeah, I mean Casper has nothing on the Krasue from Thai legend. Now that’s freaky. I’d like to see Stephen in St Louis go to his party dressed as that.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s episode in the life of our fictional expat heroine, Libby. (What, not keeping up with Libby? Read the first three episodes of her expat adventures.) If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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DEAR MARY-SUE: Can you tell me how to stomach other countries’ bizarre food obsessions?

Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt, is back. Her thoughtful advice eases and soothes any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion you may have. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at thedisplacednation@gmail.com.

Well, this month I’ve been asked to deal with your food-based queries. That’s pretty easy for this gal! I love to chow down. Not in a Paula Deen kinda way, you understand, but I sure do love a refined meal and am pretty well known on the Tulsa culinary scene.

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Dear Mary-Sue,

Fermented salted herring — how does that sound to you as a national dish? [Not great. Think roadkill cooked up in the finest Ozarks tradition sound preferable, if I’m being honest – M-S]  As an American living in Northern Sweden, I have yet to acquire the taste let alone abide the smell. However, a friend at my new church has invited me to a party where they’ll be serving surströmmingsklämma — that’s a sandwich made with slices of surströmming (the name for this fish — quite a mouthful, too, though at least it’s not fermented!) between two pieces of the hard and crispy kind of bread they love so much up here. The bread is buttered and there is a further layer of boiled and sliced or else mashed potatoes.

What to do? Do I accept my friend’s invitation or pretend to be busy “settling in”?

– Mary-Louise from Umeå, Sweden

Dear Mary-Louise,

You don’t have to pretend to be Anthony Bourdain if you don’t want to be. Look at Samantha Brown, she travels all the world and never once leaves her comfort zone or experiences something new.

Also, you’re in Sweden, not some village in the third world where they are honoring you by offering you a slice of roast anteater rump. I’m sure you won’t be insulting anyone by politely declining. Just be graceful and say you’re not big into fish.

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue,

I know you’re very pro-USA, but as an English expat who has just spent his first summer in the United States, I haven’t been able to get the hang of some of your summer desserts.

Take, for instance, strawberry shortcake — overly sweetened strawberries on a sweet biscuit, which should actually be called a scone. Whose bright idea was that? I guess that person hadn’t heard of strawberries and cream?

Moving right along to that traditional American Girl Scout favorite, s’mores. The chocolate and graham crackers are fine, but a roasted marshmallow — that’s OTT. Please, sir, can I have no-more?

I could go on about the American obsession with eating ice cream in a wide variety of sickening flavors, when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with chocolate and vanilla (okay, strawberry, too, if you like) — but I’ll stop there.

Here’s the thing, old girl [??????? M-S]. I would love to tell my various American hosts that nothing beats a tall glass of Pimm’s on a summer’s day, and a slice of summer pudding, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t go down too well.

Nigel of Nevada

Dear Nigel,

Old girl??! Why, aren’t you a little slice of honey pie? I’d certainly like to beat you with a tall glass of Pimms. It actually isn’t too difficult to get hold of a Pimms cup here in the land of the free. As for the rest of your letter: yeah, we like our desserts to be sweet. What a surprise!

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m originally from Winnipeg, in Manitoba, Canada, and am teaching English in Korea. The other day one of my students went so far as to tell me that the reason the Korean economy has gotten strong is because they all eat so much kimchi.

I wanted to tell him that I think there’s something strange about a nation being so obsessed with what is essentially spicy fermented cabbage.

I mean, can’t they think of anything else to brag about?

– Sally from Seoul

Dear Sally,

First Mary-Louise’s problems with fermented fish and now this. I don’t know what it is with foreigners and fermentation — seems crazy to me. The Mary-Sue rule is that unless you’re fermenting something that I can make into a mimosa or margarita, then it’s best not to bother.

My hubby, Jake, is always going off to the Korean barbeque in town. If the owner is sending back all the money he makes off dear ol’ hubby, well, it’s probably that that’s keeping the Korean economy strong.

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue,

Oh. My. God. Do people really eat this stuff? I’m an American student staying with a British family as part of a semester abroad, and they SERIOUSLY just offered me the most foul-tasting stuff imaginable on toast. I thought I was going to spit it out. I mean, it was soooo salty! And then they presented the jar to me as a GIFT! What am I supposed to do with it?!?!?!?

– Patti in Plymouth

Dear Patti,

I’m assuming you’re talking about Marmite. I wouldn’t worry too much, it probably won’t make it past customs when you return to the land of milk and honey.

Mary-Sue

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Anyhoo, that’s all from me readers. I’m so keen to hear about your cultural issues and all your juicy problems. Do drop me a line with any problems you have, or if you want to talk smack about Delilah Rene.

Mary-Sue is a retired travel agent who lives in Tulsa with her husband Jake. She is the best-selling author of Traveling Made Easy, Low-Fat Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul, The Art of War: The Authorized Biography of Samantha Brown, and William Shatner’s TekWar: An Unofficial Guide. If you have any questions that you would like Mary-Sue to answer, you can contact her at thedisplacednation@gmail.com, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post by Jack Scott.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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How to throw a party for a bunch of global nomads

One year has passed since our first random nomad, Anita McKay, crashed through the gates of The Displaced Nation, bribing the guards with chicken tikka masala and cranachan and shouting “bollocks” at several of us who tried to stop and question her.

And now there are 40 such nomads within our ranks — the latest being Annabel Kantaria, who insisted on bringing an alarm clock that looks like a miniature mosque — it rings every morning with the call to prayer. (Note to other founders: perhaps we need to find guards who aren’t so easily intimidated when travelers show a bit of temerity…)

Still, as we now have 40 nomads, randomly selected, why not make the best of the situation and throw a party? And what better excuse than The Displaced Nation’s 1st birthday — which, as announced by Kate Allison in a post a couple of days ago, took place on April 1 (no fooling!).

Further to that end, I’ve come up with a Party Primer that I think should work for this group — as well as for similar gatherings.

PARTY PRIMER FOR DISPLACED NOMADS

Click on the headlines below to go to each section:

  1. INVITATIONS
  2. DRESS CODE
  3. DECORATIONS
  4. MUSIC
  5. TABLE ASSIGNMENTS
  6. FOOD
  7. TOPICS FOR SMALL TALK
  8. PHOTOGRAPHY
  9. GAMES
  10. SONGS

INVITATIONS

As this party marks a special occasion (who ever thought we’d make it to be one year old?), a deluxe printed invitation is in order. The only thing is, our invitees are a bunch of nomads! We’ll be lucky if we can catch them on email, let alone at a fixed address. Let’s compromise on an attractively designed message: see mock-up at top of this page.

DRESS CODE

As some of you may know, Cleopatra recently paid a visit to The Displaced Nation. Based on her observations of today’s international travelers, we’ll be doing well if we can get the men to shower and change before joining us. As for the women, well, allow me to offer these pearls of wisdom from Jennifer Scott — the American guru of Parisian chic who was featured on this blog last week. Jennifer says:

There are certain occasions that always warrant dressing up. Generally any gathering … where others went to a lot of effort for your sake.

DECORATIONS

The theme is easy: the wide wide world! (Rather the opposite of Disney’s “It’s a small world after all” concept.) This calls for tablecloths imprinted with the world map (to make it easy for guests to point out where exactly “Moldova” etc is); globe-patterned balloons (can we coin a new term: globalloons?); and for the centerpieces, flags from each of the adopted country represented at the table in question.

Optional extras include party hats, noisemakers and loot bags. It’s fun when the loot contains some surprises. Given all the items our nomads have insisted upon carrying into The Displaced Nation, we should have plenty to choose from, eg:

  • mosque alarm clocks (thanks, Annabel!)
  • hairy coo fluffy toys (thanks, Nerissa!)
  • fake Harry Potter glasses (thanks, Charlotte!)
  • boomerangs (thanks, Kim & Vicki!)
  • brie bakers (thanks, Toni!)

MUSIC

As Todd Lyon, author of a number of party and lifestyle books, puts it:

Without music, a party isn’t a party. It might be an assembly, a meeting, or a bee, but it can never be a shindig, a bust-up or a ball unless there’s fine tunes that never stop.

Not being a party tunes buff myself, I’ve consulted with The Displaced Nation’s resident music expert, Kate Allison, about the kind of soundtrack that would cultivate just the right ambience. Her suggestions include:

Everybody all around the world, gotta tell you what I just heard
There’s gonna be a party all over the world…

TABLE ASSIGNMENTS

8-10 person tables work well. Since we’ll have 40 guests, I’ve decided on five tables of eight people each, and to mix everyone up as much as possible. Hostesses must also, of course, take steps to reduce the risk of a “silent table,” where people just eat and don’t talk. To be honest, I don’t there is too much risk of that with this crowd — have you ever watched a bunch of expats try to outdo each other with stories of their (cross-cultural, linguistic and travel) adventures? But just in case, I’m offering some “hostess notes” for each table (the hostess’s job being to introduce everyone and make sure the conversation keeps flowing!).

TABLE 1
Matthew Chozick (American expat in Japan)
Tom Frost (American expat in China)
Lyn Fuchs (American expat in Mexico — Sacred Ground Travel Magazine)
Turner Jansen (American canine in Holland)
Annabel Kantaria (English expat in Dubai — Telegraph Expat blog)
Kirsty Rice (Australian expat in Qatar — 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle)
Jack Scott (English expat in Turkey — Perking the Pansies)
Karen van der Zee (Dutch/American expat in Moldova — Life in the Expat Lane)
Hostess notes: Introduce Tom Frost to Matthew Chozick — Tom used to live in Japan and speaks Japanese. Kirsty Rice should sit next to Turner Jansen, as she travels around with a beagle. Annabel Kantaria, Jack Scott and Kirsty all have in common life in the Middle East. Karen van der Zee and and Lyn Fuchs should find each other fascinating, as both have had some extraordinary adventures (Karen could entertain Lyn with her crocodile tale and Lyn, keep Karen amused talking about the time he went paddling with orcas.)

TABLE 2
Balaka Basu (Indian American in New York City)
Santi Dharmaputra (Indonesian expat in Australia)
Michelle Garrett (American expat in UK — The American Resident)
Robin Graham (Irish expat in Spain — a lot of wind)
Anita McKay (Indonesian expat in Australia — Finally Woken)
Brian Peter (Scottish expat in Brazil — A Kilt and a Camera)
Kate Reuterswärd (American expat in Sweden — Transatlantic Sketches)
Wendy Tokunaga (Former American expat in Japan)
Hostess notes: You might want to break up Santi Dharmaputra and Anita McKay, who are the same nationality (Indonesian) and already friends. Anita should definitely be introduced to Brian Peter, who like her hubby, is Scottish, and will probably be amused by her stories of toasting oatmeal in whisky. And make sure Anita also talks to Wendy Tokunaga — I know from personal experience how intrigued Anita is by stories of Western woman marrying Asian men. To be honest, everyone at this table should really be socializing with everyone else, as each and every one of them has a partner of a different nationality! (Now if that isn’t a talking point, I don’t know what is…)

TABLE 3
Kim Andreasson (Swedish expat in Vietnam)
Jo Gan (American expat in China– Life behind the wall)
Jennifer Greco (American expat in France — Chez Loulou)
David Hagerman (American expat in Malaysia — SkyBlueSky)
Helena Halme (Finnish expat in UK — Helena’s London Life)
Vicki Jeffels (Kiwi expat in UK — Vegemite Vix)
Janet Newenham (Irish internationalist — Journalist on the run)
Adria Schmidt (former Peace Corps worker in the Dominican Republic)
Hostess notes: Seat David Hagerman next to Jennifer Greco — since his wife is a well-known food writer and expert cook, he’ll find nothing strange in her quest to sample all the known French cheeses. Janet Newenham should be near Adria Schmidt and Kim Andreasson as they are all interested in international affairs. Vicki should be introduced to Helena as I’m sure the latter would love to hear about her recent spa experience in Cyprus. Jo Gan, too, should meet Vicki as she is now experiencing visa problems with the Chinese authorities — on a level that may even surpass Vicki’s own nightmare experience in Britain.

TABLE 4
Aaron Ausland (American expat in Colombia — Staying for Tea)
Emily Cannell (American expat in Japan — Hey from Japan)
Charlotte Day (Australian expat in UK)
Toni Hargis (English expat in USA — Expat Mum)
Vilma Ilic (Former aid worker in Uganda)
Jennifer Lentfer (Former American expat in Africa — How Matters)
Camden Luxford (Australian expat in Argentina — The Brink of Something Else)
Piglet in Portugal (English expat in Portugal — Piglet in Portugal)
Hostess notes: Aaron Ausland will naturally gravitate towards Jennifer Lentfer as they are both deeply involved in global aid and development. Make sure you introduce the pair of them to Piglet in Portugal — she’ll ask them some thought-provoking questions about whether it’s better to save the world or cultivate your own garden. Jennifer should also be near Vilma as the two will want to share their Africa experiences, and you might urge Emily Cannell to join that conversation as well — she has such an adventuresome spirit! Along with Toni Hargis, who runs her own charity supporting a school in Ghana. As for Camden Luxford, she’s an easy one: a social butterfly! Perhaps she could take fellow Aussie Charlotte Day under her wing (ha ha) and make sure she gets plenty of material to write about for her courses at Oxford next year!

TABLE 5
Lei Lei Clavey (Australian expat in New York City)
Matt Collin (American expat in UK)
Megan Farrell (American expat in Brazil — Born Again Brazilian)
Liv Hambrett (Australian expat in Germany — A Big Life)
Mardi Michels (Australian expat in Canada — eat. live. travel. write | culinary adventures, near and far)
Iain Mallory (English adventurer — Mallory on Travel | Making Everyday an Adventure)
Nerissa Muijs (Australian expat in Holland — Adventures in Integration)
Simon Wheeler (English expat in Slovakia — Rambling Thoughts of Moon)
Hostess notes: As soon as Lei Lei Clavey, Liv Hambrett, Mardi Michels and Nerissa Muijs discover they all have Australia in common, they will be blabbing away — just hope it doesn’t turn into an Ozfest! Also, make sure Mardi connects with Matt — I suspect he may need her counseling about how to seek creative refuge from academia. Iain Mallory and Simon Wheeler will form a natural pair, exchanging stories of their travel adventures and perhaps even breaking into a rousing chorus of “Jerusalem.” But should their antics get too raucous, ask Mardi to step in: she teaches cooking classes to 9-11-year-old boys in Canada. Megan Farrell should connect with Nerissa and Simon on the topic of what it’s like to raise a child in a nationality (and language) other than your own.

FOOD

One of the purposes of gathering together nomads from the four corners of the earth has to be eating, especially if each of them brings along some of their favorite dishes. For our party, we will have a dazzling tableaux brimming over with rare and exotic foods. (We know that because our Random Nomads have already described their faves to us in their interviews.)

Shall we go over the list? (Warning: Don’t read on an empty stomach, or if on a restricted diet!)

NIBBLES/STARTERS

  • Guacamole & chips (Kim — recipe provided)
  • Selection of mezze with pita bread (Annabel Kantaria)
  • Assorted pinchos (Megan Farrell)
  • Avocado & mango salad (Matt Collin)
  • Bhelpuri (Tom Frost)
  • Satay sticks (Nerissa Muijs)
  • Four kinds of eggs: tea eggs, thousand-year-old eggs, fried eggs with tomato, and boiled salted eggs with a chicken embryo inside (Jo Gan)
  • Shrimp & grits (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Vietnamese caramelized chili prawns (Mardi)
  • Ceviche (Camden Luxford)
  • Bluff oysters from New Zealand (Vicki Jeffels)
  • Gravad lax with Finnish rye bread (Helena Halme)
  • Tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce (Emily Cannell)

COCKTAILS

  • Traditional Bloody Marys (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Caipirinhas (Megan Farrell)
  • Margaritas (Kirsty Rice)

WINE

  • Rich red wines from Lebanon (Annabel K)
  • Red wine from Macedonia (Vilma Ilic)
  • Malbec wine from Argentina (Camden Luxford)
  • Shiraz from Australia (Vicki Jeffels)
  • White wine from Australia (Simon Wheeler)
  • Chilled sake (Tom Frost)
  • Rice wine (Jo Gan)

BEER

  • Carlsberg browns (Matt Collin)
  • Cusqueña beer (Camden Luxford)
  • Mexican Pacifico (Tom Frost)
  • Harbin beer (Jo Gan)
  • Coopers beer (Simon Wheeler)

MAINS
Meat dishes:

  • Carne de Porco a Alentejana (Piglet in Portugal)
  • Schnitzel served with rotkohl (Liv Hambrett)
  • Bondiola-chevre-basil wraps and nattō (Tom Frost)
  • Fried chicken sandwiches with hand-cut fries (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Chicken tikka masala (Anita McKay)
  • Libyan soup (Kirsty Rice — recipe provided)
  • Cuban ropa vieja (Mardi)
  • Argentinian steak cooked rare (Camden Luxford)
  • Tapola black sausage with lingonberry jam (Helena Halme)
  • Barbecued steak, snags & lamb chops (Nerissa Muijs)

Fish dishes:

  • Paella Valenciana (Megan Farrell)
  • Llish in mustard and chili paste, smoked in banana leaves (Balaka Basu)
  • Chambo curry with nsima (Matt Collin)
  • Moreton Bay bugs (Vicki Jeffels)
  • Grilled salmon on a plank (Emily Cannell)
  • Sushi (Simon Wheeler)

Vegetarian offerings:

  • Peanut butter vegetable stew (Jennifer Lentfer)
  • Overcooked spaghetti with carnation milk, canned tomatoes and corn (Adria Schmidt)

DESSERTS

  • Summer pudding (Toni Hargis)
  • Apple crumble (Matt Collin)
  • Cranachan (Anita McKay)
  • Hot fudge sundaes (Lei Lei Clavey)
  • Blackberry gelato (Balaka Basu)
  • Caramel cheesecake (Kirsty Rice)
  • Bread pudding with Bourbon sauce (Jennifer Greco)
  • Île flottante (Mardi)
  • Molotof cake (Piglet in Portugal)
  • Mouse de maracujá (Megan Farrell)
  • Tiramisu (Camden Luxford)
  • Homemade Slovakian cream cakes (Simon Wheeler)
  • Dutch waffles (Turner Jansen)
  • Oblande, tulumbe, kadaif & krempite (Vilma Ilic)
  • Umm Ali (Annabel Kantaria)
  • Sigara borek (Jack Scott)
  • Juustoleipä with fresh cloudberries and cream (Helena Halme)
  • Yangmei fruit (Jo Gan)
  • Languedoc cheese: Roquefort, Pélardon and Tomette des Corbières (Jennifer Greco)

AFTER-DINNER DRINKS

  • Chlicanos (Camden Luxford)
  • Rakija (Vilma Ilic)
  • Fernet (Tom Frost)
  • Homemade Slivovica (Simon Wheeler)
  • Dragon-wall green tea (Jo Gan)
  • Espresso (Balaku Basu)
  • Large “flat whites” (Charlotte Day)

FOR THE TOAST(S):
New Zealand champenoise (Vicki Jeffels)

NOTE: Charlotte Day will be cooking a Sydney-style breakfast for diehards who care to linger to the next morning. (And Nerissa Muijs will be frying up some bacon!)

TOPICS FOR SMALL TALK

There are some topics that should be avoided at all costs. As style writer Rita Konig puts it,

It is very dull to talk about journeys. Once you have arrived somewhere, try to keep quiet about how long it took you to get there.

Should you notice anyone engaging in this, put the kibosh on it by asking them to help with pouring drinks, or with putting away coats in the spare room.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Fortunately, there’s usually one great photographer or two in a group of global nomads, thereby saving unnecessary expenditure. (We will ask David Hagerman — he’s sensational!)

GAMES

Games are a great ice breaker. Here are a few that might be appropriate for a well-traveled crowd:
1) Musical countries: Draw a big map on a piece of vinyl (back of a Twister mat might do), and give everyone a flagpole. When the music stops, they must place the flagpole on a country, Anyone whose flagpole ends up in the ocean is out.

2) Variation on “Pin the Donkey”: Pin the rudder on the 747! (Contributed by Kate Allison.)

3) Word games: As we’ve found out from our interviews, global nomads pick up words and expressions from here and there. Taking some of these and mixing them together, we can come up with some pretty strange exchanges. (Prizes for anyone who manages to decipher!)

A: Prego, could you get me a ba ba ba? Kippis!
B: Inshallah, a barbie would also be awesome. And how about la ziq?
A: Avustralyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınızcasına.
B: So desu ne!

A: Tudo bem? You look a bit daggy.
B: Life can be arbit sometimes.
A: Zvakaoma.

A: Hey.
B: Hey. Das stimmt, sorry to be such a Debbie Downer but I’m knackered after all this work.
A: Bless!
B: Zikomo.

A: Oh la vache! You are lost. Siga, siga. Ni chifan le ma?
B: Bollocks! [Sucking air through gritted teeth.] I think I got lost in the wopwops.
A: Well, there’s the big ol’ tree out the front.
B: Bula! Okay-la. Le bon ton roule!

TOASTS

Toasts should be made repeatedly throughout the latter half of the dinner. Just in case no one feels inspired, prepare one or two classics for the host or hostess to offer, eg:

I’d rather be with all of you than with the finest people in the world.

SONGS

Songs can be sung in several languages. In this case, a stirring rendition of “Happy Birthday” is called for, sung not only in English but in:
Dutch (Karen, Nerissa)
Finnish (Helena)
French (Jennifer, Mardi)
Indonesian (Anita & Santi)
Japanese (Emily, Matthew, Tom, Wendy)
Spanish (Aaron, Adria, Camden, Lyn, Megan, Robin)
Swedish (Kate, Kim)
Woof-woof (Turner)

Finally, the party should end with the Displaced Nation founders treating the guests to a round of:

For you are all jolly good fellows, for you are all jolly good fellows,
For you are all jolly good fellows…
Kate, Anthony, Tony: And so say all of us!
ML: Which nobody can deny!

* * *
Have I left out any important details? Any tweaks you can suggest? Your turn!!! Let’s work together to make this the most awesome gathering of global nomads ever. Onegaishimasu, shokran — and all that!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s installment from our displaced fictional heroine, Libby. She is expecting a visitor: her own mother, who is — in theory — coming to help as her due date gets closer. Will Granny Jane be an improvement on Sandra, the MIL from hell — or will she prove to be one more spanner in the works for our poor displaced heroine? (What, not keeping up with Libby? Read the first three episodes of her expat adventures.)

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12 NOMADS OF CHRISTMAS: Kate Reuterswärd, American expat in Sweden (12/12)

Current home: Lund, Sweden
Past overseas locations: Italy (Perugia) and Austria (Vienna) — both for six months
Cyberspace coordinates: transatlantic sketches (personal blog), Expat Blog (guest blog for Swedish Institute, a division of the Swedish government) and @kwise321 (Twitter handle)
Recent posts: “You’re Celebrating on the Wrong Day! — and other things you didn’t know about Christmas in Sweden” (Expat Blog: December 27, 2011); “Work makes me happy” (transatlantic sketches: December 29, 2011); “What a year!” (Expat Blog: December 31, 2011)

Where are you spending the holidays this year?
Actually, it’s my first Christmas outside the United States! I’ll be in Lund with my husband and his parents, his sister and her family, and some family friends. I’m looking forward to it.

What do you most like doing during the holidays?
In the US, I always looked forward to baking Christmas cookies and getting gifts for my family and friends. Sometimes my gifts are homemade, sometimes bought at a store, but I love brainstorming the perfect thing for someone. Here, though, the season is full of Christmassy activities: attending glögg parties, decorating the house with lights and going to Christmas markets. It’s the active part of the holiday season that I like the most in Sweden.

Will you be on or offline?
Totally online and hopefully Skyping with my family and friends on a regular basis.

Are you sending any cards?
My husband and I just got married and it was a sort of spur-of-the-moment decision, so we’re sending a combination Christmas/“Oh hey, we’re married!” card. We’ll be writing thank you’s to the people who were there and a little update to people who weren’t.

What’s the thing you most look forward to eating?
Panettone. My family eats this traditional Italian holiday bread for Christmas breakfast with fruit salad, coffee, and mimosas every year. They sell it in Sweden, too, so I’ll be introducing the tradition here.

Have you read any good books this year other expats or “internationals” might enjoy?
I have really enjoyed these two essay collections (though I have to admit that I haven’t finished either of them yet):
1) The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton (Pantheon, 2002): A thoughtful contemplation on different aspects of travel. As de Botton says, “Few things are as exciting as the idea of travelling somewhere else, but the reality of travel seldom matches our daydreams.”
2) A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, by David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown, 1997): His essay on taking a week long cruise in the Caribbean was so true and so funny that I laughed out loud at several points.

If you could travel anywhere for the holidays, where would it be?
No travel dreams for Christmas unless it were to assemble my family and my husband’s all in the same place at the same time. But for New Year’s Eve, I’d love to return to the countryside in County Cork, Ireland, where I went two years ago with a group of eight friends, one of whom has a cabin there. We would all hole up that cabin again to eat, drink lots of champagne, and welcome in the New Year.

What famous person do you think it would be fun to spend New Year’s Eve with?
Despite having attended some exciting New Year’s Eve parties in the U.S. and Europe, I’m not sure I would want to spend New Year’s Eve with a famous person I didn’t feel close to. That said, Dorothy Parker would be hilarious to sit next to at an event like New Year’s Eve — as long as she didn’t turn against me. I would just want to be a fly on the wall.

What’s been your most displaced holiday experience?
Two days come to mind — both having to do with the Fourth of July, not Christmas. The first was in 2010. I had flown back to the States for my friend’s wedding, and then on July 4th I had to fly back to Vienna to go back to work. I spent the entire day in the no man’s land of the Charlotte, JFK, Dusseldorf, and Vienna airports. (I am an extreme budget flyer.) Actually, I’m not sure whether this counts — I didn’t really experience a displaced holiday; I just missed it altogether.

The other time was July 4, 2009. I was spending the summer in Sweden with my then boyfriend (now husband) — my first extended stay in which I started to really get to know his friends and family. We tried to throw a 4th of July party, but something was off. We grilled, we had flags, we had Jell-o shots for a little novelty Americana, but there wasn’t any patriotism and there weren’t any fireworks. For me it felt like a regular barbecue party trying too hard to be something else rather than an actual holiday.

How about the least displaced experience — when you’ve felt the true joy of the season?
Again, it wasn’t Christmas but Thanksgiving, in 2010. I cooked a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all of my mom’s recipes for almost 30 Swedes. We borrowed a friend’s parents’ apartment to fit everyone in, and it was the coziest, most wonderful celebration. My husband downloaded the Macy’s Day Parade for me as a surprise and streamed it while we were cooking and eating. Best of all, one of my Swedish friends asked me halfway through the meal, “Aren’t we supposed to say what we’re thankful for?” I hadn’t wanted to force them to do that, but everyone got really excited about it, and the whole group took turns saying what they were thankful for in what turned out to be really beautiful toasts to the people in their lives. It was amazing.

How do you feel when the holidays are over?
Rested but a little bit sad. So much energy goes into enjoying the holiday season, anticipating Christmas and New Year’s, gift-giving, baking, merry making — and then suddenly it’s all over! And you’ve got all of January and February to slog through until spring is on its way again.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me:
TWELVE STRANGE TRADITIONS,
ELEVEN CAMERAS CLICKING,
TEN SPROUTS A-BRUSSELING,
NINE CELLPHONES DANCING,
EIGHT WHOOPHIS WHOOPING,
SEVEN SKIERS A-PARTYING,
SIX SPOUSES TRAILING,
FIVE GOOOOOOOFY EXPATS.
FOUR ENGLISH CHEESES,
THREE DECENT WHISKIES,
TWO CANDY BOXES,
& AN IRISHMAN IN A PALM TREE!

STAY TUNED for Monday’s post, setting a new theme for the month’s posts on the connection between the displaced life and spiritual awakenings.

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Random Nomads to the rescue! How to have an enchanted August (2/2)

Every year in mid-August, I swear I can still hear the beat of the taiko drums, even though it’s been years since I lived in Japan as an expat.

As I mentioned in my comment on Anthony Windram’s post of last week, the Japanese hold their Obon Festival in the dead of August. Appropriately, it’s the Buddhist version of the Festival of the Dead — when the dead are supposed to come back and visit.

That said, I have always thought of obon festivities as an attempt to arouse the living dead, which is what most people are after enduring the agonies of a Japanese summer. Just hearing the lively drumbeat can be revitalizing, getting one’s blood flowing again.

I am therefore personally curious to see how The Displaced Nation’s Random Nomads who live in Asia are doing. Are they managing to have some enchanting moments despite the heat — which, if anything, appears to be even more brutal in that part of the world than it was in my day? And what advice can they impart to the rest of us? (Besides the fact that compared to them, we shouldn’t really be complaining…)

Three of them got back with answers to these questions:
1) What has been your most enchanting moment of Summer 2011 thus far?
2) What has been your least enchanting moment?
3) Do you have any survival tips for people who can’t escape?

Please note:
a. You can read interviews with each of these three Random Nomads about their “displacement” by clicking on their names. They, and their lives, are fabulously inspiring regardless of season.
b. In Part 1 of this post, five US/Europe-based Random Nomads answered the same three questions. Check it out!

KIM ANDREASSON — Swedish passport; current home: Vietnam (Saigon)
Most enchanting:
Vacationing in my native Sweden with my wife. It was the longest time I have spent in my homeland in over a decade, and I have a new-found appreciation for the proverb: “Away is good, but home is best.”

Least enchanting:
Trying to do work while vacationing in Italy. An hour before an important conference call, the Internet went down at our 4-star hotel, and the hotel manager airily proclaimed, “That’s what usually happens when it rains.”

Survival tips:
We live in Saigon, where it’s basically 90 degrees all the time so there are only two options: stay inside and use AC; or if you go outside, wear light-colored clothes and drink lots of liquid.

EMILY CANNELL — U.S. passport; current home: Japan (Tokyo)
Most enchanting:
In spite of not being terribly interested in the rainforest or the quest to save it, I found myself smack dab in the middle of Borneo, Malaysia, on an Ecotour. Searching for the endangered orang-utans, we happened upon what became one of the highlights of my summer — and life. A pygmy elephant emerged from the trees, and just like the rest of us, he was hot. Slowly, he ambled in to the river where he proceeded to entertain us with his cooling down antics — scratching his ears on the trees, blowing water out of his trunk, and completely submerging himself while only 10 feet away from our boat. What a gift! I got out my checkbook then and there.

Least enchanting:
Getting up at 4:00 a.m. for the fifth time this summer in order to catch a 7:00 a.m. flight to somewhere. Once is okay, but five times?

Survival tips:
Currently I’m writing from the complete darkness of the guest bedroom, fan on high. Keep the curtains closed and the fans on high to circulate the air. When outside, wear a hat to keep the sun off the top of the head. It’ll do wonders.

JO GAN — U.S. passport; current home: China (Yuyao City, Zhejiang Province)
Most enchanting:
Since my summer is usually spent teaching high school and university students on their summer holidays, I usually don’t get many enchanting moments.  However, I did have one thing that was kind of nice.  After a long day at the language school, I walked down to the Yaojiang River that flows through the downtown area, with some fellow expat teachers and a couple of our adult students.  To our great surprise, white plastic chairs and tables had been set up all along the river underneath the willow trees. Cold beer and hot tea was being served, and there was a lone guitarist playing Chinese folk music for all to enjoy. We sat down and chatted, drank our beers, and watched the river float by with a slight breeze. The servers kept the beggars at bay so we were not hounded for money.

The best part of the evening was around midnight when they started shooting fireworks over the river.

It wasn’t a special occasion or even a special event — just the right mix of people and location, at just the right moment.

Least enchanting:
That would have to be when it rained for a month. I don’t know what was going on with the weather, but in the month of June I thought we were going to have to build an ark. It rained for three weeks straight every day without stopping. I didn’t want to do anything, but had to trek in the rain and puddles all the way to school every day. One day was particularly miserable because the electricity went out.  So it was hot and rainy, and we had no lights. I just kept thinking, why me?

Survival tips:
In the small Chinese city where I live, it’s the little things that count. Taking a trip around the city center in a rickshaw may cost you a little, but you get to sit back and survey the different things going on — and if that special person joins you, it can be romantic.

Another option is going out to the local parks every evening from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. to dance with the older locals. They are almost always playing some salsa or pop music and dancing the cha cha, or there’s some line dancing action. It is actually kind of fun to join them even if your are not in their age set. They always are excited to teach you their moves.

Lastly, we live close to Siming Mountain. You can take a trolley bus to the top and then float down the small river in a little orange raft. The river has added twists, turns and drops that make you scream out for your mama to help you. It makes for an interesting day, and you are bound to get wet and cool off.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, in which Anthony Windram debuts his new Agony Aunt column!

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RETURN TRIP: Seven deadly dishes — global grub to die for

While our writers take off on what they hope will be enchanting August breaks, The Displaced Nation will occasionally be reissuing some posts that, for one reason or another, enchanted our readers. Enjoy these “return trips”!
Some months ago, The Displaced Nation explored the theme of Gothic tales — the idea that many of us return from our world travels with some horrific stories to tell. That’s assuming we return at all, of course. Displaced Nation writer Kate Allison contributed this piece on deadly dishes as part of our “It’s Food!” category. It’s one of our most popular posts to date.

A Briton abroad spends a surprising amount of time defending his native national cuisine. I remember going to a steak house in Connecticut where the waitress, upon taking our order and hearing our accents, said brightly, “From England, huh? I hear you don’t get anything good to eat over there. ” When she brought the filet mignon to the table, she did so with the pitying smile of one delivering alms to the starving.

British super-chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver may be taking the US by storm, but still this delusion of bad food persists. To which I say: whatever the perceived faults of English cuisine, at least no one has to take out extra life insurance before eating Yorkshire pudding.

Yet there are quite a few delicacies from countries without this dismal food reputation, where a top-up premium might be useful before you take that first bite.

In ascending order of danger or toxicity:

7. Snake wine – Vietnam, Southeast Asian, Southern China.

An assortment of herbs, small snakes, and a large venomous snake are steeped for many months in a glass jar of rice wine, then consumed in small shots for medicinal purposes. Fortunately, the ethanol renders snake venom harmless.

6. Surströmming – Sweden.

Fermented Baltic herring. Stored in cans, where the fermentation continues, causing the cans to bulge. In 2006, Air France and British Airways banned surstromming from their flights because they said the cans were potentially explosive. According to a Japanese study, the smell of this Scandinavian rotten fish is the most putrid food smell in the world.

5. Fried tarantula – Cambodia.

Tarantulas, tossed in MSG, sugar, and salt, are fried with garlic until their legs are stiff and the abdomen contents less liquid. The flesh tastes a little like chicken or white fish, and the body is gooey inside. Certain breeds of tarantula have urticating hairs on their abdomen, which they use for self-defense. If the spiders are not prepared properly – i.e., if the offending hairs are not removed with a blow torch or similar – these hairs can cause pharyngeal irritation in the consumer.

4. Sannakji – Korea.

Small, live, wriggling octopus, seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The suction cups are still active, so bits of tentacle may stick to your throat as you swallow, especially if you’ve had one too many drinks before dinner. The trick is to chew thoroughly so no piece is big enough to take hold of your tonsils. Some veteran sannakji eaters, however, enjoy the feel of longer pieces of writhing arm and are prepared to take the risk.

3. Stinkhead – Alaska

Heads of salmon, left to ferment in a hole in the ground for a few weeks. Traditionally, the fish was wrapped in long grasses and fermented in cool temperatures, but then someone discovered Baggies and plastic buckets, which increase the speed of the process. Unfortunately, they also increase the number of botulism cases.

2. Casu Marzu – Sardinia

Made by introducing the eggs of the cheese fly to whole Pecorino cheese (hard cheese made from sheep’s milk) and letting the cheese ferment to a stage of terminal decomposition. Locally, the cheese is considered dangerous to eat when the maggots are dead, so you eat them live and squirming. As the larvae can jump six inches in the air, it is advisable to cover your cheese sandwich with your hand while eating to prevent being smacked in the face by grubs. An alternative is to put the cheese in a paper bag to suffocate the maggots, then eat it straight away. The maggots will jump around in the bag for a while, making a sound, I imagine, not unlike that of popcorn in the microwave. Although the European Union outlawed this food for a while, it has since been classified as a “traditional” food and therefore exempt from EU food hygiene regulations.

1. Fugu (Puffer fish) – Japan

Considered to be the second most toxic vertebrate in the world, puffer fish is a delicacy in Japan, but preparation of the food is strictly controlled, with only specially trained chefs in licensed restaurants permitted to deal with the fish. Fugu contains tetrodotoxin, a poison about 1200 times stronger than cyanide, which is most highly concentrated in the fish’s liver — the tastiest part. Sadly, for gourmets who like to live life on the edge, fugu liver in restaurants was banned in Japan in 1984.

Question: What is the most adventurous dish you’ve ever eaten?

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe for email delivery of The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of the week’s posts from The Displaced Nation. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Seven deadly dishes — global grub to die for

A Briton abroad spends a surprising amount of time defending his native national cuisine. I remember going to a steak house in Connecticut where the waitress, upon taking our order and hearing our accents, said brightly, “From England, huh? I hear you don’t get anything good to eat over there. ”  When she brought the filet mignon to the table, she did so with the pitying smile of one delivering alms to the starving.

British super-chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver may be taking the US by storm, but still this delusion of bad food persists. To which I say: whatever the perceived faults of English cuisine, at least no one has to take out extra life insurance before eating Yorkshire pudding.

Yet there are quite a few delicacies from countries without this dismal food reputation, where a top-up premium might be useful before you take that first bite.

In ascending order of danger or toxicity:

7.   Snake wine – Vietnam, Southeast Asian, Southern China.
An assortment of herbs, small snakes, and a large venomous snake are steeped for many months in a glass jar of rice wine, then consumed in small shots for medicinal purposes. Fortunately, the ethanol renders snake venom harmless.

6.   Surströmming – Sweden.
Fermented  Baltic herring. Stored in cans, where the fermentation continues, causing the cans to bulge. In 2006, Air France and British Airways banned surstromming from their flights because they said the cans were potentially explosive.  According to a Japanese study, the smell of this Scandinavian rotten fish is the most putrid food smell in the world.

5.   Fried tarantula – Cambodia.
Tarantulas, tossed in MSG, sugar, and salt, are fried with garlic  until their legs are stiff and the abdomen contents less liquid. The flesh tastes a little like chicken or white fish, and the body is gooey inside. Certain breeds of tarantula have urticating hairs on their abdomen, which they use for self-defense. If the spiders are not prepared properly – i.e., if the offending hairs are not removed with a blow torch or similar – these hairs can cause pharyngeal irritation in the consumer.

4.   Sannakji – Korea.
Small, live, wriggling octopus, seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The suction cups are still active, so bits of tentacle may stick to your throat as you swallow, especially if you’ve had one too many drinks before dinner. The trick is to chew thoroughly so no piece is big enough to take hold of your tonsils. Some veteran sannakji eaters, however, enjoy the feel of longer pieces of writhing arm and are prepared to take the risk.

3.   Stinkhead – Alaska
Heads of salmon, left to ferment in a hole in the ground for a few weeks. Traditionally, the fish was wrapped in long grasses and fermented in cool temperatures, but then someone discovered Baggies and plastic buckets, which increase the speed of the process. Unfortunately, they also increase the number of botulism cases.

2.   Casu Marzu – Sardinia
Made by introducing the eggs of the cheese fly to whole Pecorino cheese (hard cheese made from sheep’s milk) and letting the cheese ferment to a stage of terminal decomposition. Locally, the cheese is considered dangerous to eat when the maggots are dead, so you eat them live and squirming. As the larvae can jump six inches in the air, it is advisable to cover your cheese sandwich with your hand while eating to prevent being smacked in the face by grubs. An alternative is to put the cheese in a paper bag to suffocate the maggots, then eat it straight away. The maggots will jump around in the bag for a while, making a sound, I imagine, not unlike that of popcorn in the microwave. Although the European Union outlawed this food for a while, it has since been classified as a “traditional” food and therefore exempt from EU food hygiene regulations.

1.   Fugu (Puffer fish) – Japan
Considered to be the second most toxic vertebrate in the world, puffer fish is a delicacy in Japan, but preparation of the food is strictly controlled, with only specially trained chefs in licensed restaurants permitted to deal with the fish. Fugu contains tetrodotoxin, a poison about 1200 times stronger than cyanide, which is most highly concentrated in the fish’s liver —  the tastiest part. Sadly, for gourmets who like to live life on the edge, fugu liver in restaurants was banned in Japan in 1984.

Question: What is the most adventurous dish you’ve ever eaten?

For tamer foods that won’t mean a trip to the emergency room, sign up to receive our posts by email and receive your free copy of “A Royally Displaced Tea,” with recipes for Victoria Sponge, Fruit Scones, Princess Pairs, Queen of Puddings and Tiffin. All English. All good.

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A toast to two displaced writers with passionate views of royal passion

Special notice: The writers we are celebrating in today’s post — best-selling novelist Jane Green and expat blogger Karen Van Drie — have kindly agreed to “come in” and respond to your comments and questions on the topic of the hour: yesterday’s royal wedding. Don’t be shy!

A cheery hello to you all. We have a special treat in store for Displaced Nation readers: a royal wedding-themed party in honor of two expat writers — one an acclaimed author, the other an acclaimed blogger — who take very different views of yesterday’s “wedding of the century.”

Jane Green is the author of a dozen novels dealing with real women, real life, and all the things life throws at them. She is also an expat. Born in London — she spent her early career as a writer of women’s features for the Daily Express — she now lives in Connecticut with her husband, six children, and assorted pets.

Karen Van Drie is an American who decided to travel the world after her youngest daughter left for college. Based in Istanbul and Prague, she travels extensively and records her observations in her award-winning blog, Empty Nest Expat. The blog was called out last year in the Wall Street Journal as a “fun read for anyone looking for reassurance that change can be a wonderful thing.”

No in-betweens, even (especially?) among expats

Vogue magazine editor Alexandra Shulman observed that Britain’s “wedding of the century” divided the British nation into lovers and loathers — so was a “perfect Marmite moment.”

Well, she could have been talking about the Displaced Nation just as well as the British nation. Over the past few weeks, we English-speaking expats and repats have divided into two opposing camps.

If anything, we tend to be even more passionate about our views because of the distance factor.

GREEN: “A modern fairytale”

As explained in an April 13 blog post on her newly released e-book for ABC News* on three generations of royal love stories, Jane Green knew little about Kate and William before starting her research but came away impressed:

I loved discovering just how unusual William and Kate are: grounded, humble, and thoroughly modern, eschewing much of the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the wedding of Charles and Diana.

Her book, which blends text, video, still images and interactive features, celebrates Kate for achieving the seemingly impossible feat of bringing an age-old fairytale up to date.

VAN DRIE: “If princesses didn’t exist…”

In the overheated countdown to the Big Day, Karen Van Drie resurrected a post she had written in February about the evolution of her personal views on royals, especially princesses.

Van Drie was prompted to write on this topic during a week-long visit to Sweden, where she noticed that the Swedish Royal Palace gift shop was packed out with tourists snapping up merchandise related to last year’s wedding between Princess Victoria and her personal trainer, Daniel Westling.

Somewhat to her surprise, Van Drie could not get into the spirit. This apathy marked a change from her twenties when she’d fallen head over heels for the fairy tale of Prince Charles and Lady Diana and studied every detail of their royal wedding. When she got married herself, she asked the florist to reproduce Diana’s bouquet exactly.

What’s more, after reading an article about the Swedish Republican Association, Van Drie decided they were thought leaders on the subject of monarchy elimination. She wondered aloud on her blog:

If princesses didn’t exist, what would young women dream of being? Could it likely be a healthier idea for humanity and relationships? A more realistic idea? Can you imagine people of the future laughing at us for even allowing the idea of undemocratic monarchies to exist? For needing the “idea” of princesses?

Where do you stand?

Dear readers, it’s your turn now. While we put out the bunting, pour glasses of Pimms, make pots of tea, and prepare plates of crustless cucumber sandwiches, scones, and Tiffin, for our feast in honor of Green and Van Drie, we’re hoping you will tell us: what do you see when you look at the relationship between William and Kate close up? Do you share Green’s picture of a modern fairytale, or are you more inclined to Van Drie’s notion of a gothic horror story?

* A Modern Fairytale is ABC’s first e-book and Green’s first-ever work of nonfiction. It is available through top etailers — Apple’s iBookstore, Kindle, Nook, etc. — and through the new ABC Video Bookstore app.

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RANDOM NOMAD: Kim Andreasson, Management Consultant

Kim AndreassonBorn in: Sweden
Passport: Swedish
Countries lived in: Australia(Sydney): 1988-89; USA (New York and LA): 1996-2010; Vietnam (Saigon): 2010-present
Cyberspace coordinates: DAKA Advisory (business)

What made you leave your homeland in the first place?
My parents decided to travel around the world in 1988-89 and took me along for the ride. We left a snowy Sweden in December and arrived at our first destination, Los Angeles, in 72 degrees and sunshine, staying in the Hyatt on Sunset (now the Andaz West Hollywood). We explored the city’s many attractions including Disneyland and Universal Studios. I was sold and ever since, have considered LA to be the greatest city in the world. At the same time, my curiosity was piqued and I was sold on the idea of leaving something you know well for something different. I have never looked back.

Is anyone else in your immediate family a “displaced” person?
My California-born wife is now displaced as we are living in Saigon. By the way, we first met at a Swedish restaurant in Chinatown in New York City — call it displacement in microcosm.

Describe the moment when you felt the most displaced over the course of your various travels.
I’ve been fortunate to live in the kinds of cities where it’s relatively easy to blend in. But I’ve certainly experienced some memorable cultural contrasts. Soccer (what we Europeans call “football”) is a good example. During the World Cup in 2002 I was in an Irish pub on New York City’s Upper East Side at 4 a.m. watching the match between Sweden and Argentina. I believe I was the only one there watching the game. That was a really strange feeling. By contrast, during the 2009 qualifying match, the time difference was better and there were thousands of of us Swedes watching the games at a bar near Times Square in the middle of the day. This time, I thought I was in Sweden, which was also strange, in its way.

Describe the moment when you felt least displaced.
It’s a curious thing, but it’s when I leave my adopted homeland(s) that I feel especially at home in them. If you ask me my nationality in Vietnam, I’ll always say I’m Swedish. But if you ask me when I’ve just left Vietnam, I’ll say I’m Saigonese (a resident of Saigon). I was in Bangkok recently and couldn’t stop talking about how much I preferred life in Saigon. Likewise, when I lived in the U.S. and went home to Europe, I would feel more American than European during my visit.

You may bring one curiosity you’ve collected from your travels into the Displaced Nation. What’s in your suitcase?
From Australia, a boomerang, for the symbolism of always coming back. From America, a basketball because I enjoy the game and would like to continue playing it. And from Vietnam, a business suit — you can get world-class tailoring here at a very good price.

You’re invited to prepare one meal based on your travels for other Displaced Nation members. What’s on your menu?
Without a doubt, as a Swede, I am known for my guacamole. No, really. I guess because I lived in LA for so long, I came to love Mexican food. I would prepare it for you according to a classic recipe, something like:
1 tablespoon red onion
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon jalapeno
1 avocado
2 tablespoons diced tomato
1 pinch of salt

You may add one word or expression from each of the countries you’ve lived in to The Displaced Nation argot. What words do you loan us?
From Australia: “G’day mate” — for its friendliness.
From the USA: “Awesome” — it reminds me of how globalized LA jargon has become, courtesy of Hollywood.
From Vietnam: “Ba” — and if you repeat it three times, you get a beer (333)!

img: Kim Andreasson on his way to Bến Thành Market, in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) — that’s if he can navigate the intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street.

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