Posted in cross-cultural

My Life in a Museum

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British teapot and small colander, representing an internationally mobile, single person household (of which there are many) in Berlin/Germany.

Imagine that you have been asked to collect items for a museum exhibition that will take place in the future – 30 to 40 years from now. Look around your home. What grabs your eye? What items have special meaning? We would like you to find two things or objects from your own home that are signficant to you in some way.

 

This was a recent assignment for online Anthropology course I am currently taking. Intriguing! I pondered for a while, not really sure what to pick. Some things hold deep personal meaning but would not really communicate to others (and we were only allowed 20 words of explanation). I settled on the teapot one morning, after using it. It seemed to me that there definitely needed to be some British influence J Aside from the personal, there are so many international, very mobile people in Berlin, that the object seemed to have wider significance as well.

So that was one item. What else? What would go with it? I have to confess, the first thing that drew me to the colander was the colour. It seemed to go so well with the teapot. Yup, I am quite a visual person. Beyond that, though – how might it be significant? It struck me that many homes would not have a small colander like this one. It is typical of big city living in the 21st century, where there are many single person households.

So there you have it, my life in a museum.

What would you have chosen? What items do you feel are significant, have a story to tell?

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Posted in Culture

From Grandma with Love

What a wonderful idea!  Going to lots of different countries and asking grandmothers to make a dish they would normally prepare for their families.

I am intrigued by the food, but even more so by the ladies!  I would love to sit down with each one them and hear their stories.  How amazing would that be?!

And the kitchens, they are all so different!  I wonder about the lives that have been (and that are being) lived in those homes – the fun, the laughter, the tears..

And now: enjoy your culinary trip around the world!

(Sadly the pictures don’t seem to display correctly…  sorry about that!)

1. Italy: Swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with meat sauce

Italy: Swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with meat sauce

Marisa Batini, 80 years old – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

This wonderful photography project comes from Gabriele Galimberte, who works with Riverboom, a Swiss publishing group of journalists and photographers. From the website’s introduction:

Gabriele Galimberti pays homage to all the grandmothers in the world and to their love for good cooking, starting from his own very Tuscan grandmother Marisa who, before the departure for his tour around the world by couchsurfing, took care to prepare her renowned “ravioli ripieni.” She was not so concerned about the possible risks or mishaps her grandson might face in his adventurous travelling worldwide, but her major concern was, “what will he eat”?

You can see the whole “Delicatessen with love” collection (including recipes and written portraits of each grandmother) on Galimberti’s website. H/t to PinkRobotBoogaloo for sharing.

2. Albania: Burekoep domate (layered egg custard pie)

Albania: Burekoep domate (layered egg custard pie)

Neriman Mitrolari, 52 years old – Albania

3. Algeria: Chicken and vegetable couscous

Algeria: Chicken and vegetable couscous

Lebgaa Fanana, 42 years old – Timimoun, Algeria

4. Argentina: Asado criollo (mixed meats barbecue)

Argentina: Asado criollo (mixed meats barbecue)

Isolina Perez De Vargas, 83 years old – Mendoza, Argentina

5. Armenia: Tolma (roll of beef and rice wrapped into grape leaves)

Armenia: Tolma (roll of beef and rice wrapped into grape leaves)

Jenya Shalikashuili, 58 years old – Alaverdi, Armenia

6. Bolivia: Queso humacha (vegetables and fresh cheese soup)

Bolivia: Queso humacha (vegetables and fresh cheese soup)

Julia Enaigua, 71 years old – La Paz, Bolivia

7. Brazil: Fejoada (pork and bean stew), light version

Brazil: Fejoada (pork and bean stew), light version

Ana Lucia Souza Pascoal, 53 years old – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8. Canada: Bison stew under the midnight sun

Canada: Bison stew under the midnight sun

Kathy O’€™Donovan, 64 years old – Whitehorse, Canada

9. Cayman Islands: Iguana with rice and beans

Cayman Islands: Iguana with rice and beans

Maria Luz Fedric, 53 years old – Cayman Islands

10. China: Hui guo rou (twice-cooked pork with vegetables)

China: Hui guo rou (twice-cooked pork with vegetables)

Pan Guang Mei, 62 years old – Chongqing, China

11. Egypt: Kuoshry (pasta, rice and bean pie)

Egypt: Kuoshry (pasta, rice and bean pie)

Fifi Makhmer, 62 years old – Cairo, Egypt

12. Ethiopia: Injera with curry and vegetables

Ethiopia: Injera with curry and vegetables

Bisrat Melake, 60 years old – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

13. Georgia: Khinkali (pork and beef dumplings)

Georgia: Khinkali (pork and beef dumplings)

Natalie Bakradze, 60 years old – Tblisi, Georgia

14. Haiti: Lambi (conch) in Creole sauce

Haiti: Lambi (conch) in Creole sauce

Serette Charles, 63 years old – Saint-Jean du Sud, Haiti

15. Iceland: Kjotsùpa (lamb and vegetable soup)

Iceland: Kjotsùpa (lamb and vegetable soup)

Valagerdur Olafsdòttir, 63 years old – Reykjavìk, Iceland

16. India: Chicken vindaloo

India: Chicken vindaloo

Grace Estibero, 82 years old – Mumbai, India

17. Indonesia: Soto Betawi (beef soup with coconut and vegetables)

Indonesia: Soto Betawi (beef soup with coconut and vegetables)

Eti Rumiati, 63 years old – Jakarta, Indonesia

18. Kenya: Mboga and orgali (white corn polenta with vegetables and goat meat)

Kenya: Mboga and orgali (white corn polenta with vegetables and goat meat)

Normita Sambu Arap, 65 years old – Oltepessi (masaai mara) Kenya

19. Latvia: Silke (herring with potatoes and cottage cheese)

Latvia: Silke (herring with potatoes and cottage cheese)

Inara Runtule, 68 years old – Kekava, Latvia

20. Lebanon: Mjadara (rice and lentils cream)

Lebanon: Mjadara (rice and lentils cream)

Wadad Achi, 66 years old – Beirut, Lebanon

21. Malawi: Finkubala (caterpillar in tomato sauce)

Malawi: Finkubala (caterpillar in tomato sauce)

Regina Lifumbo, 53 years old – Mchinji, Malawi

22. Malaysia: Nasi lemak (coconut rice with vegetables and fried dried anchovies)

Malaysia: Nasi lemak (coconut rice with vegetables and fried dried anchovies)

Thilaga Vadhi, 55 years old – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

23. Mexico: Vegetarian Tamales

Mexico: Vegetarian Tamales

Laura Ronz Herrera, 81 years old – Veracruz, Mexico

24. Morocco: Chicken tajine

Morocco: Chicken tajine

Eija Bankach, 62 years old – Massa, Morocco

25. Norway: Kjottsuppe (Icelandic beef and vegetable soup)

Norway: Kjottsuppe (Icelandic beef and vegetable soup)

Synnove Rasmussen, 77 years old – Bergen, Norway

26. Peru: Corvina ceviche

Peru: Corvina ceviche

Itala Revello Rosas, 77 years old – Lima, Peru

27. Philippines: Sinigang (tamarind soup with pork and vegetables)

Philippines: Sinigang (tamarind soup with pork and vegetables)

Fernanda De Guia, 71 years old – Manila, Philippines

28. Spain: Asadura de cordero lecca con arroz (milk-fed lamb offal with rice)

Spain: Asadura de cordero lecca con arroz (milk-fed lamb offal with rice)

Carmina Fernandez, 73 years old – Madrid, Spain

29. Sweden: Inkokt Lax (poached cold salmon and vegetables)

Sweden: Inkokt Lax (poached cold salmon and vegetables)

Brigitta Fransson, 70 years old – Stockholm, Sweden

30. Thailand: Kai Yat Sai (stuffed omelette)

Thailand: Kai Yat Sai (stuffed omelette)

Boonlom Thongpor, 69 years old – Bangkok, Thailand

31. Turkey: Karniyarik (stuffed eggplants with meat and vegetables)

Turkey: Karniyarik (stuffed eggplants with meat and vegetables)

Ayten Okgu , 76 years old -€“ Istanbul, Turkey

32. USA: Moose steak

USA: Moose steak

Susann Soresen, 81 years old – Homer, Alaska, USA

33. Zanzibar: Wali, mchuzina mbogamboga (rice, fish and vegetables in green mango sauce)

Zanzibar: Wali, mchuzina mbogamboga (rice, fish and vegetables in green mango sauce)

Miraji Mussa Kheir, 56 years old – Bububu, Zanzibar

34. Zimbabwe: Sadza (white maize flour) and pumpkin leaves cooked in peanut butter

Zimbabwe: Sadza (white maize flour) and pumpkin leaves cooked in peanut butter

Flatar Ncube, 52 years old – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

I would really like to try the Latvian dish!  Not so sure about the Malawian one, though…

What about you – any favourites?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/dishes-foods-cooked-by-grandmothers-around-the-world

http://www.gabrielegalimberti.com/projects/delicatessen-with-love-2/#

Posted in Culture

United in Mutual Revulsion: Spit and Shoes

So true! Isn’t it just amazing how deeply ingrained some of these reactions are? Some things are “disgusting”, whereas others are “completely normal” (how about blowing your nose and then putting the tissue in your pocket?). So good to be confronted by someone else’s “normal” every once in a while!

Expat Lingo

Comic on spitting and shoes

It is amusing how horrified we can be about the behaviors of others, while turning a blind eye to our own horrifying habits.

Spitting is an entrenched habit of many in Mainland China. Entering the elevator in my Chinese high-rise apartment, I was often greeted by a slick of opaque spit in the corner. Fortunately, in my present home of Hong Kong, a SARS-related aversion to germ-spreading has wiped out most public spitting.

A spitter has explained the logic behind the habit to me: essentially, since the air is so polluted and your phlegm captures this pollution, why would you dream of swallowing it? Far more healthy to eject this filth. I can understand the logic. (The logic, however, would still work if a tissue were employed between a person’s mouth and the ground.)

While I have yet to established my own ‘cleansing-through-spitting’ practice, my time in Asia has completely…

View original post 85 more words

Posted in Culture

One Thing

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One of the joys and stresses of an international move is all the de-cluttering that happens!  Knowing you pay for every box  does focus the mind and I gave/threw away so many things before moving back across the channel nearly 3 years ago.  And yet I still had so.much.stuff.

“What is your most valued possession?”

Out of all that, what would I have chosen had someone asked me that question?  Immediately, I think of items that hold sentimental value, things that remind me of people and times that are precious to me.  Practicality doesn’t come into it, probably because (thankfully) I have not had to experience life reduced to the bare minimum.

“What is your most valued possession?”

That is the question photographer Brian Sokol asked a number of Sudanese and Syrian refugees.  The result is a deeply moving series of portraits you can see here.

“What is your most valued possession?”

A jerrycan for water, a sword to defend the family with, a diploma to be able to continue her education, a ring her mother had given her, a mobile phone that lets him keep in touch with family.  From the very practical to the deeply personal and significant.

Possessions. 

Sometimes they seem so important.  And some of them are, because of the memories they hold, because they are irreplaceable.  And then they’re gone.  Because your home gets broken into and stuff stolen (as happened to my parents a few weeks ago).  Or because all your possessions are destroyed.  This is what happened to both my mum’s and my dad’s families 70 years ago, in the bombing raids on Hamburg.

While I am sad for the things that have been lost, these reminders have also made me more thankful for what I do have.  And, more than anything, that even with the tangible reminders gone, the memories are still there to be treasured.

THANK YOU to Marilyn at communicating.across.boundaries for the inspiration and challenge in her blog post “What would you take?“!

Posted in Culture, Uncategorized

Through the Mist of a Waterfall

carsaig_wfallrainbo

(picture from http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/islandblogging/blogs/000017/0000010839.shtml)

The walls demarcating cultures are not made of brick; rather they are like a slow-moving  wall of water. Like the objects at the bottom of a river, a person on one side can hazily see people  on the other side, they can even put part of their body through to experience it, but to completely move to the other side would require some kind of death and rebirth.

What a beautiful quote from an amazing blog I only recently discovered!

Isn’t it just so true?  We encounter another culture, and we see it as if through the haze of a waterfall.  We catch glimpses and try to guess what might be going on.  It looks intriguing and draws us in.  Or we see things we don’t like, things that offend or annoy us, and we want to walk away.  Sometimes rainbows form – beautiful to look at but distracting us from seeing what is behind the waterfall.

We might be sure of our conclusions and yet we have only seen through the mist of a waterfall.

“a person on one side can hazily see people  on the other side”

It happens all the time.  Not just when we move overseas, but every day.  We travel on the underground and observe an immigrant family.  Our neighbours have moved here with their jobs and don’t know yet what’s expected.  We travel abroad on a well-deserved break and struggle with things being different.  Or we enjoy the strangeness of it all.

“they can even put part of their body through to experience it”

Sometimes we’re brave and “put part of [our] body through to experience it”.  We enter into an experience, a relationship.  We are invited into a home, a life.  The mist might not immediately clear (it might even feel like it’s getting more dense), but we do see more clearly, understand more deeply.  We see more of the real thing, not the hazy image.

“…to completely move to the other side would require some kind of death and rebirth.”

So true!  It is a kind of death, a letting go of parts of who you were, of roots.  At the same time a rebirth, discovering who you are in a new context.

Here’s to lots more waterfalls to take a peek behind!

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 21 April 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Propaganda: North Korea is a “Socialist Fairyland” and Expat Life is Glamorous!”  Entertaining and thought-provoking blog post, reflecting on how we’re often tempted to embellish the expat life, leaving out the hard bits.

Reflections (and great stories!) on the unique nature of friendships in the expat community.  The joy of sharing life much more quickly, and the sadness of continuously saying good bye.