The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Tag Archives: World Party Month

RANDOM NOMAD: Wendy Williams, Canadian Expat in Austria

Place of birth: Northern Ontario, Canada
Passport: Canadian, and apparently I can live in Austria forever now with my unlimited Aufenhaltsbewilligung.
Overseas history: Austria (present), Germany, Switzerland, Slovak Republic, UK. I have also worked on a project basis for extended periods in Sweden, Tunisia, Holland and Estonia.
Occupation: Author*
Cyberspace coordinates: The Glolo Blog; The Globalisation of Love (Facebook page); and @WilliamsGloLo (Twitter handle)
*Wendy Williams is the author of The Globalisation of Love, one of the top books for expats in 2011.

What made you leave your homeland in the first place?
Burning curiosity! I just love to know what is around the next corner — and the corner after that, too. My grandparents are all immigrants to Canada from Europe, and I guess listening to their stories about their homelands got me thinking that “home” can be very different and it can be anywhere.

Is anyone else in your family “displaced” besides your grandparents?
I am the only of my siblings who went back across the pond, as my grandmother would say — though they certainly come to visit me in Austria (and to ski!).

You’ve lived in quite a few places in Europe before moving to Vienna with your Austrian husband. Does any one moment of that time abroad stand out as your “most displaced”?
While vacationing on one of the Canary Islands, which belong to Spain, I fell ill and required an injection in my, ahem, gluteus maximus. It was 1995, when the so-called Turbot War took place between Canada and Spain — a dispute over fishing rights along the coast of Canada that challenged international diplomatic relations between the two countries. The doctor held up the rather long needle and said, “So, you’re from Canada are you? You like to fish?” I remember thinking, “Uh-oh, this is going to hurt!” It may be conjecture, but I felt the jab of the needle was particularly forceful.

Is there any particular moment that stands out as your “least displaced”?
It happens all the time while skiing in Austria. I grew up skiing on a tiny little bump of a hill and always dreamed about the long alpine slopes of Austria. I was lucky enough to marry an Austrian who is also a passionate skier, and we ski frequently throughout the winter. I feel right at home as I swish, swish down the slopes. I enjoy the après ski, too!

You may bring one curiosity you’ve collected from your adopted country into The Displaced Nation. What’s in your suitcase?
From Georgia in the Caucasus: Antique brass candle holders
From Murano, a series of islands in the Venetian Lagoon: A red Murano chandelier
From Morocco: An onyx stone bathroom sink
From Austria: An 18th-century Tyrolean kitchen table
From France: A yellow ceramic Pernot jug
My house is a diary of my travels through life, and as you can see, I plan to continue living that way on The Displaced Nation — even though it will entail dragging in a rather large and heavy suitcase!

You are invited to prepare one meal based on your travels for other members of The Displaced Nation. What’s on your menu?

Appetizer: My husband’s pumpkin soup with 100% pure Austrian pumpkin seed oil
Salad: Arugula mixed salad with blue cheese, grapes, cranberries, pear and pistachios — as served at the Loriot in Washington, D.C.
Main course: Viennese Schnitzel with potato salad … of course!
Dessert: My mom’s lemon meringue pie
Drinks: Bubbly to start — Crémant d’Alsace is one of my favourites; and for the main course, red wine from Burgenland in Austria.

And now you may add a word or expression from the country where you live in to The Displaced Nation argot. What will you loan us?
Actually, I would like to loan you an expression that my husband picked it up while living in Australia: Happy as Larry. (I picked it up from him while living in Austria.)

This month we are looking into parties and celebrations abroad. What has been your most memorable party or celebration since you became “displaced” from your native land?
The celebration of my 10th wedding anniversary, in 2008! My husband and I had about 50 friends in a small restaurant in Vienna that served elegant, locally-sourced organic food. An opera singer sang “‘O Sole Mio” so beautifully we thought the wine glasses would burst like in a cartoon. We gave a speech about our 10 years together and then announced what we had planned for the upcoming years — I was four months pregnant. The crowd went wild with excitement and gave a 10-minute standing ovation amongst congratulatory hugs, tears and high fives. It was total kitsch and corny Hollywood romance — and we loved every minute of it!

The Displaced Nation has just turned one year old. Can you give us some advice on themes to cover in our second year — anything you think should be on our radar?
Multicultural couples — what I call GloLo couples — usually meet in interesting ways. Chance and coincidence often conspire to bring two people together. It would be fun if The Displaced Nation could feature some stories from GloLo couples about how they met — and whether their displaced lives brought them together — and how they worked things out so they can stay together.

Editor’s note: In February Wendy Williams contributed a post to The Displaced Nation that has remained very popular: Why “expat” is a misleading term for multicultural couples.

Readers — yay or nay for letting Wendy William into The Displaced Nation? Tell us your reasons. (Note: It’s fine to vote “nay” as long as you couch your reasoning in terms we all — including Wendy — find amusing.)

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s installment from our displaced fictional heroine, Libby, as she discovers that Oliver’s mum and her own mother have more in common than she’d realized. (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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img: Wendy wrapped up against the elements — but is she in Austria, her adopted home, or Northern Ontario, her birthplace? (Hint: It was minus 25 degrees Celsius.)


Party big! 5 of the world’s biggest bashes, to end all bashes

“Celebrate we will, because life is short but sweet for certain.”
Dave Matthews Band, lyrics from “Two Step”

Because it’s our birthday here at the Displaced Nation, I’ve been having a think about my favorite parties from around the world. I’ve been to quite a few!

There are some I’ll never forget, some I wish I could forget — and some I’m still hoping to experience…

So today I present my top five picks of parties that I wish could be held every year in my own back yard, as it were, for my immediate attending pleasure.

For my first choice, there is simply no contest:

1) The Full Moon Party (Koh Phangan, Thailand)

This Full Moon Party is the bash to end them all. Upwards of 20,000 crowd the Haad Rin beach, on the southern tip of Koh Phangan, an island in the Gulf of Thailand. The party is so epic it has spawned imitators all around the world (especially in Thailand). There are people twirling fire sticks and jumping through fire hoops. Bars line the beach, and vast amounts of alcohol in plastic buckets fuels frantic dancing right through ‘till dawn — and beyond.

By the morning the survivors, usually the most party-savvy (or those who’ve paced their drinking), head off around the coast to start the after-party!

Everyone else falls into two categories:

  1. Those who made it home before they passed out, in which case they’ll have nothing worse than a hangover and the occasional burn mark as souvenirs.
  2. Those who collapsed on the sand mid-party. These unfortunates most likely will have been robbed of everything — including clothes. They face the unenviable task of getting home with no money, no car/bike keys, a raging headaches and a crippling sunburn. That, and the scorn of local taxi drivers, who tend to frown on naked passengers. (You only make this mistake once!)

And if this Full Moon bash is slightly too hard-core and crowded for your tastes, the enterprising organizers have come up with lesser parties for every week of the year: Black Moon, Half Moon, Blue Moon…along with the occasional Jungle Party scattered between.

Go there. Do it. Your liver will never be the same again!

TONY’S TIP: Don’t do drugs. Plain-clothed cops roam the beach, and have been known to try and sell drugs to unsuspecting tourists — and then arrest them if they agree to buy!

From one that’s free to all to one that’s recently become very hard to get to:

2) Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, Nevada)

Burning Man, a week-long event that pays tribute to radical self-expression, began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice. It is now so popular that it’s running a lottery system to see who gets to go. If you get the chance, it has to be one of the best New-Age festivals around: a mix of art, performance, story-telling, meeting, camping and surviving, all under the relentless desert sun (or the freezing desert night!).

Oh, did I mention? It’s in the desert.

Self-sufficiency is the key. Leave no trace. Meet up with like-minded, free spirited people from all over the world, and burn a gigantic man-shaped bonfire with them. Then cover yourself with body paint and go do something arty.

Sounds like heaven, eh?

Alas, my friends at Technomadia (a pair of technology-enable nomads) couldn’t get tickets this time, despite being an organizational hub for a whole “sect” of attendees over the last few years. As far as I know, the policy of offering tickets via lottery has been universally hated, and is under review.

The festival starts the last week in August, and the namesake (giant burning man) event takes place on the Saturday night before Labor Day.

And now to one that’s still just about doable:

3) Glastonbury! (Glastonbury, Somerset, UK)

Depending on your point of view, the Glastonbury Festival can be seen as one of the most famous music festivals in the world, with five days of top acts for every taste … or a deafening week camping in a muddy field in England!

I had to include it, because (to my shame) I’ve still never been — despite the fact it’s held less than 15 miles from the house where I grew up! Yup — I lived close enough to smell the unwashed hairy hippies! (I’ve been to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan but not to the Glastonbury Festival — now is that displaced, or what?)

But tickets are very expensive, and you’ve got to be quick. I happened to be home visiting someone in hospital on the day the tix went on sale in 2011. There was a whole ward full of people sitting there on laptops, hitting the refresh button constantly, trying to buy them — only three (out of 14) managed it!

Those lucky few contended with the notoriously poor English weather, which turned last year’s festival into a filthy quagmire — but I expect they were far too stoned to care!

TONY’S TIP: Get in FREE as a volunteer litter picker. It’s getting tougher though — you have to join a festival staff agency and convince them you actually plan to pick up litter, instead of doing what most of the staff end up doing: watching bands and getting high!

Moving right along…is it cheating to have another one from Thailand? Well if it is, I don’t care, as this one is unmissable:

4) Songkran (Thailand)

The Thai New Year festival, known as Songkran, is the most fun you’ll ever have with your clothes on. (Anyone who’s traveling in Southeast Asia, hurry up: it’s held this week, April 13-15.) Just don’t expect your clothes to survive the ordeal! This country-wide water fight comes to a head in the cramped city streets, where tourists and locals stand toe to toe — and try to drown each other! Traffic snarls every road, and from the back of every truck buckets of water are being flung.

The year I attended (I was living in Bangkok), I drove up to a policeman and threw a water balloon right in his face — the only time I’ve done that in my life! You gotta watch out for those cops, though — they’re usually packing…super-soakers! The long squirt of the law should never be underestimated; not least because these guys have more practice at firing!

Drinking is a big part of the fun in the touristy areas of Bangkok, as is the throwing of flour, food coloring, dyes and pastes of many kinds — hence the clothes warning. But even if you ruin your clothes, believe me, it’s worth it!

And then, there is the granddaddy of them all…

5) The celebration to mark the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar (Belize)

This has to be most exclusive event on the planet. Attend this year’s Maya Winter Solstice in Chaa Creek, Belize, and you’ll own ultimate bragging rights — it’s as simple as that.

Brangelina wedding? Pah, there’ll be another one. Maybe two.

Meteorites will strike, popes will die, entire nations will rise in triumphant revolution, and then fall — again and again and again.

But the end of the Mesoamerican/Maya/Mayan Long Count calendar will only ever happen once, because a) the first one has taken 5,200 years, and b) there’s no ancient Mayans left to do another count. So even if you live to be a million, you still won’t get to see this party again!

Not to mention, the world is going to end.

Joke! In fact, no one knows what the end of the long count signified to the Mayans — other than it being time to buy a new calendar. There is NO apocalyptic event prophesied in their culture, and never was. But it does make you think — just why did they pick the winter solstice, 21st December 2012, for the end of their five-millennia-long cycle?

Don’t you want to know? I do!

So that’s where I’ll be. Although I may have to sell my house to afford the ticket. And…I don’t own a house.


So what have I missed out, eh? This is a great big world full or parties and festivals — what are your favorites? And why are they so great?

Let me know in the comments!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s Random Nomad interview with author Wendy Williams (she recently contributed a popular guest post to The Displaced Nation).

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img: MorgueFile

Ask Mary-Sue: Dyngus Day and other great excuses for partying

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

Well, hello there, Mary-Suers. Hope you and yours had an EGGciting Easter (or Passover, though forget the egg-pun if that was the case).

I have to admit to being pooped by Easter weekend! It was one thing after the other in the Wallace household, and that means plenty of work for me, with hubby Jake nowhere to be seen (if the Easter bunny gave away charcoal to the undeserving, like a certain Mr Claus does, then that’s what hubby Jake would have gotten yesterday). So I was left to cook the ham, supervise the little ones when they made a total mess with the egg dying, and organize the egg hunt that we put on in our garden for all the neighborhood kids. Jake just kept watching the golf on TV, telling me someone called Bubba had won — I was unimpressed, let me tell you. If we had a dog house (we don’t, the dogs sleep on the bed with us), that’s where Jake would have been last night.

Anyhoo, you’ve probably had enough of my yapping when there’s your problems to solve, so let’s get on with them — two on this month’s theme of partying, and one a holdover from last month, when I was bombarded with questions on fashion and beauty.


Dear Mary-Sue,

I am an American living in Poland. I’ve found it interesting to celebrate Easter here, though to be honest, I have my doubts about Dyngus Day, which is celebrated the Monday after Easter (what we used to call Easter Monday back in the town where I grew up in Kansas). On Dyngus Day, the men chase after the ladies with squirt guns, buckets, or other containers of water. They also  hit them on the legs with switches or pussy willows. Ladies allegedly get their revenge the following day by throwing crockery at the men.

What do you make of this custom? I think it all sounds rather pagan — more like a rite of spring than a proper Easter celebration. Would love to get your opinion.

Wendy from Wichita via Warsaw

Dear Wendy,

I’ll be honest, I’m not impressed. Sounds like the sort of shenanigans that my younger, trashy brother Dan and his wife Sandy get up to in Ringling. Dan’s always off getting drunk at the local dive bars, I know for a fact he and his buddies there have organized wet T-shirt competitions. Put Dan near a pert, pretty thing and he’ll bring out his water gun.

Once she finds out, his wife Sandy lets him know precisely what she thinks of him. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she’s thrown a fair few pieces of crockery in her time. Can’t say I blame her, but my sympathies end when one of them comes asking if I can “loan” them the money to bail the other one out.

Is Warsaw like Ringling, Wendy? Think I may have to give it a miss, or open a bail bond there — sounds like I’d make a fortune!



Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m an English expat in the US — an experience that to be honest has made me even prouder of my British heritage. I’ve just now learned that today is Winston Churchill Day in the US, to celebrate the day in 1963 when our great PM was made an honorary US citizen (posthumously). Looking around, though, I don’t see much sign of celebration, and I’d like to do my part in changing that, for instance, by hanging up a Union Jack flag outside my house. Can you suggest any other measures I could take that would appeal to my new American friends? Perhaps a little party might be in order?

Harry from Harrow on the Hill via Hoboken, NJ

Dear Harry,

Own it completely. Organize a shindig centered around Sir Winston. Perhaps you could hit a cigar bar where you could all smoke like ol’ Winny and maybe indulge in a few brandies. When nicely lubricated, you could then, in the spirit of greater national understanding and that there’s no hard feelings, head to your nearest German restaurant for bratwurst, wiener schnitzel and beer.



Dear Mary-Sue,

I can’t sleep! I recently spent a week in Rome and did some serious window shopping and all I saw was bald mannequins! Just have a look here

I have a hair appointment tomorrow: Should I go bald?


Dear Anon,

As George Santayana so wisely put it, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Do we really want to repeat the mistakes of the early 1990s?

I lived through Sinéad O’Connor once, I won’t do so again. If I catch you, Anon, all bald and tearing up a photo of the Pope on Letterman, I will be VERY disappointed.


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, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Tuesday’s post. Mary-Sue has heard it’s going to be great.

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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Interesting celebrations around the world, as selected by Canada’s famed Dr Magister

Continuing this month’s theme of celebrations, today’s post sees Dr Simon Magister, a social anthropologist and skateboarding enthusiast from British Columbia, select his most interesting and strangest celebrations from around the world. We haven’t verified Dr Magister’s research, but we’re pretty confident that he can be trusted.

1. Cargo Cult Ceremony

Every March 13th on the island of Manus in Papua New Guinea, the members of the Tadel tribe celebrate Inspection Day. Being a “cargo” cult, this ceremony involves the chief of the tribe donning the ceremonial overalls of an aeronautical engineer and then conducting a two-hour safety check on the life-size straw replica of a plane that the tribe crafted. When the safety check has been completed, the tribe celebrates with roast hog served on in-flight meal trays whittled from wood.

2. The Festival of the Badger

A leading figure in the Celtic revival of the late-Victorian era, Amelia Mudd, established the Festival of the Badger in her home village of Eppingsop, Wiltshire. Now in its 125th year, and popular with adherents of Druidism, the festival, celebrated on the Spring Equinox, sees a giant wicker badger burnt on the village square. The success of the festival can be seen in the Wiltshire Tourist Board rebranding of the county as “the county of badgers.”

3. Nicaragua celebrates Australia Day

Following Crocodile Dundee‘s a.k.a. Paul Hogan‘s brave service fighting for the Sandinistas during the Nicaraguan Revolution, the Nicaraguan government have declared Australia Day an official public holiday.

4. Ted Bernard Month

The residents of Parlor, Arizona probably weren’t expecting too many changes when they voted in mechanic Ted Bernard as the town’s mayor in 2008. Mayor Bernard, however, had other ideas, one of his first acts being to pass a town ordinance that the month of May was now to be known as “Bernardbury in Parlor.” During Bernardbury, downtown Parlor is host to numerous arts festivals. At Cafe Duvet people can enjoy the jazz festival (featuring Ted Bernard playing his saxophone), at Stern’s Movie House there’s the film festival (featuring exclusive footage Ted Bernard filmed on his flip) and at Claremont Green people can enjoy Shakespeare in the Park (featuring performances from the RSC, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Habima, the national theatre of Israel).

Whether Bernardbury continues when the mayor’s term ends in 2013 is, as yet, undetermined.

5. The war that wasn’t

Each October 3rd the island of Vosha in Micronesia commemorates the end of the conflict known as the Battle of Joshua’s Chicken, which most historians now agree didn’t actually take place. The reason for the confusion lies in the published memoirs of Captain William Joshua of the Royal Navy, published in 1817. Joshua recounts how in the 1790s when traveling in the Pacific and in need of fresh produce as well as wood to make some minor repairs to his ship, he docked off the island of Vosha where he was cordially greeted by the island’s king. Joshua’s tale is that sick of all the breadfruit they’d been eating, the crew’s cook stole a chicken that belonged to the king,  and treated the crew to, according to Joshua’s memoirs, a “delicious, richly broth’d casserole.”

Unbeknown to the cook, the chicken was, in fact, the Voshaian’s living deity. Enraged at the death of their god, the people of Vosha engaged in a three-day struggle with the British. At the end of the three days Joshua surmised that the casualties on the Vosha’s side stood at six hundred, with their main settlement burnt down. Joshua then ends that chapter with the cook’s recipe for chicken casserole.

Most modern historians, however, feel that Joshua’s account has no basis in fact and that at no point did the people of Vosha ever worship a chicken. Professor Hopkins of Cornell has posited that Joshua’s memoir — where Joshua also alleges that he had been the lover of both George III and Catherine the Great — was the work of a man writing out delusions brought upon by the late-stage syphilis he must have been suffering from.

What strange celebrations have you seen? Dr Magister is curious to know for his research. From Rodeos to cheese-rolling…what did you think of them?

STAY TUNED, next Monday sees Mary-Sue Wallace dishing out advice like a homeless shelter dishes out soup.

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Image: MorgueFile

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.


Click on the headlines below to go to each section:

  4. MUSIC
  6. FOOD
  9. GAMES
  10. SONGS


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.


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.


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!)


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…


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!).

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.)

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…)

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.

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!

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.


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!)


  • 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)


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


  • 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)


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

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)


  • 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)


  • 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)

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!)


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.


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 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 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 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.)

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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THE DISPLACED Q: What’s your most memorable birthday abroad?

Hi everyone!

Now, since it’s our one-year birthday here at the Displaced Nation — okay, let’s hear some crazy party horns <|8-P~ <|8-P~ — I thought I’d ask you about your most memorable birthday experiences whilst traveling. Crazy drunken escapades? Chance meetings with exotic strangers?

Everyone has a tale inside them, so it’s said.

Here’s mine… 🙂

It is better to wear out than to rust out.
Bishop Richard Cumberland

It was cold. Chillingly, bone-achingly cold — and wet. Rain drenched the outside of me, remorselessly overpowering every chink in my defenses. Neckline, accidentally exposed cuffs — all were soaking wet in spite of my otherwise impenetrable Gore-Tex-clad outline.

My fingers and toes were freezing. My feet were blistered. The bag on my back was so heavy I could barely breathe beneath its crushing weight, and the effort of carrying it was causing me to sweat profusely. It was very nearly as moist inside my clothes as it was outside them.

It was my birthday, and I was utterly, utterly miserable.

Now, spending a birthday hiking through the vast Australian wilderness can sound like a dream to some — whereas other people, more sensible than I, might think of it as more of a nightmare.

I was torn between the two. On the one hand, I was out there, achieving something awesome with the people I loved most in the world — my girlfriend and my sister. On the other hand…well, did I mention the rain?

It hadn’t stopped for two weeks straight.

So far the three of us had hiked over 150 miles in it, and to be honest my enthusiasm was getting a little damp.

I remember wondering what kind of idiot hikes nearly twenty miles in the filthiest weather known to man, with his only goal being to reach a three-sided wooden shelter where he could collapse exhausted? I would then go to sleep — on a bed made of planks — only to wake up the next morning and do it all over again!

Apparently, I am just that kind of idiot.

But extremes of hardship give you more than a feeling of triumph just for surviving; they also make you appreciate the little things.

On that particular evening, as I stripped off my sopping trousers and unrolled my sleeping bag, I had all but forgotten about my birthday. Back home I might have hoped for a novel the size of a house-brick or some awesome piece of electronic gadgetry; here, with no power, the light failing rapidly and a rucksack already verging on the spine-snapping, all I wanted was sleep.

But my girlfriend, Roo, was determined to celebrate. And she was nothing if not resourceful. It had been three days since we’d seen another human soul (unless you count my sister; I usually don’t) — yet somehow Roo had acquired and carefully preserved my present until now.

She unveiled it with a flourish: a marshmallow!

Unbeknownst to me, she’d carried it all the way from home unsquashed, in some hidden corner of her bag. In the top she stuck a tiny candle which she must have begged off the last group of hikers we met. The plan had been to use a match in lieu of a candle, she said, until by pure chance she’d met an old lady who’d been carrying this. Amazing!

I blew it out and made a wish. Actually I made two. “Please, God,” I thought, “let me be in a better place this time next year. Or, ideally, tomorrow morning. And more than anything, tonight, let me sleep…”

The marshmallow I would save for breakfast.

I slept remarkably well that night.

In the morning I woke up in the same place — but the sun was shining, a phenomenon I’d started to think I’d never see again! I stood outside in my underwear and luxuriated in the warmth, safe in the knowledge that no one would see me. Something was going right for a change, and that by itself was a minor miracle.

A pity the same couldn’t be said for my marshmallow.

I’d placed it next to my tiny travel pillow as I slept; mere inches from my nostrils (which were the only part of me that dared protrude from the sleeping bag).

Now, the bright sunlight revealed the damage; my marshmallow was half eaten, having been thoroughly enjoyed in the middle of the night by some kind of rodent. I could only be grateful that the tip of my nose hadn’t shared the same fate.

Did I eat the rest of it though? That’s what you really want to know, isn’t it?

Well, you know what? There are some things better left unsaid…

“I’ll do better next year,” Roo promised as we shouldered our rucksacks for the hike ahead.

“Ipad?” I asked.

“Hm. We’ll work up to that. Next year you can have two marshmallows…”

I’ve had birthdays on four different continents, but this one has always stood out for me. So what I’d like to know from you kind folks is this:

What is YOUR most memorable birthday abroad?

Tell me about ’em in the comments!

I’m looking forward to reading… <l:0

STAY TUNED for Wednesday’s post, a virtual celebration with all of our Random Nomads of the past year!

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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Happy World Party Day to our virtual friends! Just because we’re Displaced doesn’t mean we can’t have parties!

By the time many of you read this, it will already be April 3. (Actually, if I don’t type faster, it will be April 3 by the time I post this – but I digress.)

The significance of April 3? It’s World Party Day, defined by Wikipedia as:

A synchronized global mass celebration of a better world and the active creation of desirable reality.

…which, I have to say, doesn’t sound a whole lot of festive fun. It doesn’t inspire me to hang out in someone else’s house, eat their food, drink their drink, nosy through their bookshelves, iTunes library, and  medicine cabinets, then spill red wine on their new rug, which is usually what happens at parties.

But it gets better. Sort of. Wiki goes on to say that:

World Party Day began as a grassroots effort in 1996 and…is observed yearly on April 3 through personal and public observances of party-like atmosphere. A basic premise is that the opposite of war is not passive action or peace, but party.

Aha! So you mean that while people have been campaigning for World Peace, waving CND placards, and making records in Amsterdam hotel rooms — it’s all been a waste of time? That they would have been better stockpiling boxes of peanuts and Zinfandel, then heading down to iParty for some paper leis and a plastic punchbowl?

It’s all clear now. This is where the world has been going wrong for so long.

Instead of chanting “Make peace, not war!” we should have been shouting “Party on!” and head-banging to Bohemian Rhapsody.

Quantity, not quality

Perhaps the real problem is that one day of partying a year is simply not enough to end global conflict. A trifling 24 hours shows no stamina, no devotion to the anti-war effort.

So, ladies and gentlemen, in the selfless interests of world peace — I beg your pardon; an absence of war — The Displaced Nation team, for April’s theme, will be bringing you a month of cyber parties. Just because we are all Displaced doesn’t mean we can’t have parties together.

Now, clearly, this is not an undertaking for the fainthearted. We expect, by April 30, to be exhausted and in dire need of Alka Seltzer and carpet cleaner, or at the very least, a new WordPress background.

But sacrifices must be made. Revelries must be organized. Balloons must be filled with helium and hilariously inhaled.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s party!


Actually, we’ve already tested the punch and vol-au-vents, just a little bit, because Party Month started two days early for the TDN team. Nothing to do with the active creation of desirable reality, though.

More the creation of desirable unreality, in fact.

On April 1, 2012, The Displaced Nation celebrated its first birthday.


STAY TUNED for Tuesday’s Displaced Q, when Tony J Slater asks: “What’s been your most memorable birthday abroad?”

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!

Image: MorgueFile

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