Tag Archives: abroad

Expat Blog Awards….

This is kind of exciting.

I’ve been nominated for the Expat Blog Awards for my writing about living in India.

If you have a second, please vote for me by leaving a comment here…
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/466/a-reason-to-write

Thanks!

Force to Fly 2………

You may (not) remember that I told you one of my essays about living in India was going to be published in an anthology called Forced to Fly 2. Jo Parfitt is the editor and she asked for submissions.

I read through some of my blog posts and submitted one about the time I went to the Post Office in Delhi all.by.my.lonesome. (Which doesn’t really sound very brave, but it felt very brave.) Then I stood on my keyboard with my hands in the air and screamed, “Pick mine, pick mine. Oh. Oh. Oh. Please pick mine.” And then Jo did just that!

This is very exciting for me because this is the first time my writing will be published in an actual book – well, minus the literary magazine in high school. But that doesn’t seem to count as much as this does. This is very exciting.

The book contains humorous accounts of living abroad and will launch on Oct. 5th – don’t worry, you’ll hear (lots) more about it then. And it will be available on Amazon. Yahoo. Amazon will be selling something I wrote – seriously?

But Jo sent out the cover design. So, I thought I would share it with you!

The used-to-be me……

This whole blog started off as a way of journaling our move to India so we would capture – and never forget – the details of our adventure. I wanted to remember the monuments and the memories but had no real way of knowing that, while those were fun, they were insignificant in what we should remember from our experience. The memories came from traveling – but the lessons came from everyday life. The routine that never actually became routine.

We have been home for over a year now and I still have not written about everything. And I have (finally) accepted that I will never write about everything. You just cannot remember it all – and even if you could remember every detail – there is simply no way to explain it all. Partly because India hits everyone a little differently and partly because there are just not enough words.

Unfortunately, I drop little pieces of our India experiences like sand falling off my shoe.  Some of them are hard reminders and I eagerly (and unfortunately) toss them out like I would a rock cradled under my toe. Others just drift away all on their own. And this blog was supposed to be like a big broom and sweep up everything. It turns out there is not a blog or broom big enough for that task.

One by one, you barely miss a piece of sand – but together they can form a beach. It is not good to lose a beach of experience. It’s really not.

Alas.

But what is making me really frustrated and sad is that I changed in India and I am losing some of that. India taught me to be more patient and to have a bigger world perspective. To remember the reality of it all. And, damnit, I am letting myself get caught up in some of the nonsense again. My perspective is shrinking and re-framing.

In many ways, India brings non-Indians to their knees. It’s hard to live in an “all-about-me” bubble when you are constantly bombarded with people suffering and struggling and still surviving – and surviving happily. The people who have the most to legitimately complain about actually complain about nothing. I am not sure if they don’t complain because they don’t think it will do any good or if they just find it unnecessary. But complain they do not.

Please know that this is not an “India is so dirty, the people are so poor” story. If you are a big lover of India, please do not take this as insulting. But the reality is that there are people in India who survive on very little and it is hard to be selfish and self-absorbed when you are reminded of that every single time you step outside. Not everyone owns an ipod – or an outlet to plug it into.

Even when you are inside. It is inescapable.

When you have to give your cook and his wife water when they go home at night because they don’t have access to water, you suddenly remember to turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. You realize that what you absolutely take for granted as ever-flowing and abundant and even safe is non-existent for someone else – really, most everyone else. It puts you in your place a little bit.

And you have a lot less energy to worry about what other people are doing and what other people aren’t doing. You are busy getting through a day that is just exhausting to get through. And you are often even more busy getting your children through a day in a world that doesn’t make a lot of sense to them. You try to let them experience the reality of it, while protecting them from the reality of it.

I remember one day in India that we got in the car to go to school. The kids were fighting about who was going to sit where. My head almost spun off my neck. My tirade went something like this………..

Holy Hell. You are really going to sit in an air conditioned car with a full belly which is covered by clean clothes and with a head that slept on a pillow on a bed in a room that you do not have to share and drive by all of “this” and complain about anything. Seriously. What are we doing here? Have you really not learned anything? You ate breakfast made by someone else, put the leftovers on a side plate for Ravi to eat at lunch (he would literally eat the crusts they left on their plates), and left your dishes in a sink for someone else to wash. In fact, I should have stopped with “you ate breakfast“. Turn to the left, look out the window and turn to the right, look out that window and shut the hell up.

It was not one of my stellar mommy moments. But that morning had an impact on all of us. The kids didn’t complain (that morning or the next and maybe not even the next). And I wondered how we could walk and live and breathe in India and not lose more of our selfishness.

How could we drive by children without clothes or a roof over their heads or even morsels of food on a plate – dear God, who am I kidding? A plate. No, you are right, they didn’t own need plates – and complain about which comfy cozy seat our bigger than necessary arses were going to snuggle into so that the air conditioning could hit our faces just right.

For Pete’s sake, our driver rode his motor scooter in traffic and dust for an hour to come and clean our car and wait for us to be ready to go somewhere, anywhere  – at any time. He held the door for us and swept up our messes and ran our errands. And at night he took our leftovers to a home with no air conditioning whenever we declared ourselves done for the day. He just waited for us to decide when we were finished so that he could see his family at some point before they laid on a threadborne mattress all in the same room together and went to sleep. Just to wake up early to do it all again.

And we did learn those lessons and we do embrace letting go of some very unnecessary involvement in things. But sometimes I slip and those slips are coming more often. I am getting caught up in minutiae and it is making me nuts. I have an opinion about too many things.

Anyway, this little rant is almost over. Pinky swear.

The bottom line is that I am going to start praying harder for (and working harder toward) patience and perspective. And, yes, a winning lottery ticket would certainly be nice – but if perspective kicks in properly, I won’t push my luck. 😎

Fiction Writing Contest for Expats…………..

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – DEADLINE 15 OCTOBER 2010 – SHORT STORIES ABOUT EXPAT LIFE BY EXPAT WRITERS

Organised by Writers Abroad
National Short Story Week (www.nationalshortstoryweek.org.uk) will take place during the week 22nd – 28th November. In support of the event, Writers Abroad will be publishing an anthology of fictional short stories.

Title: ‘Writers Abroad’

Theme: Fictional Short Stories on any aspect of Expat Life, the pains and the pleasure. Submissions can be based on real life experiences but should be fictionalised.

Contributions: From Expat writers (either currently an Expat or previously an Expat)

Word Count: Anything up to 2,500 words. Submissions can be flash fiction i.e up to 500 words or short stories up to 2,500. Word count does not include the title.

Submission and Entry Rules:

  • All stories must be previously unpublished
  • Submissions should be received by midnight Friday 15th October 2010
  • Submissions must be in English
  • References to porn or racism will not be accepted
  • Manuscripts must be submitted in either Word or RTF format (No DOCX or other format will be accepted).
  • The approximate word count should be inserted at the end of the story
  • Author name and story title should be placed in the left header of the document and page numbers in the right footer
  • Manuscripts should be presented with double spacing and Times New Roman Font.
  • Submissions are by email only to expatwritersabroad@gmail.com – in the subject line please quote ‘Writers Abroad submission’ and provide your contact details and story title in the body of the email
  • Entries are free, only one entry per author plus a short bio of 30 words
  • Successful authors will be informed within two weeks of the closing date
  • It will not be possible to provide feedback on stories but successful stories will be edited and authors may be required to undertake minor changes for publication purposes

Copyright will remain with the author and the stories will be published in an anthology in a number of formats

Life in a Flying House…………

Is that not the coolest title ever? I wish I had thunk of it myself. Dang it. 

I received an email that those of you expats with children definitely want to keep in mind for next year. It’s a scholarship contest for children living abroad.

Unfortunately the deadline has passed for this year but the winners will be announced in early September and I cannot wait to read their entries.

But mark your calendars for next year. I am excited to even hear what the theme will be  – this year’s rocks.

Anyhouse, here’s the low down……..

Dear A Reason To Write:

I came across your blog online and really enjoyed your posts. As a member of the expat community, you have a unique voice among your peers. (I am really crossing my pencils that this is not simply a form letter because that was a nice compliment. 😉 )

I’m contacting you because I wanted to share some news with you about the Expat Youth Scholarship. I’m with Clements International, the scholarship sponsor, and the leading provider of insurance solutions for expatriates and international organizations. (Yes, that is what we call a plug – but please know that I do not know this company at all and am not recommending them or endorsing their products – they might be fantastic – I just do not know. But their contest sounds great so please read on.)  We’re awarding a total of $10,000 in scholarships to six students (remember I am not a numbers gal but if I do the math right that is a decent chunk o’change) and announcing the finalists on September 13.

Our company started this scholarship program in 2009 to give back to our clients and the expatriate community we serve. Now in its second year, the 2010 Expat Youth Scholarship offered participants a chance to use their experiences living in a foreign country to imagine where their journey might take them next. The scholarship’s theme, “Life in a Flying House,” is inspired by the idea that expat students who spend their childhoods moving between different countries and cultures develop rich life experiences. This year we received over 500 entries and will be awarding a total of $10,000 in scholarships to six, talented students from all over the world!

As an active representative of the expat community, I’m reaching out to solicit your help in promoting the scholarship to your readers. The winning entries are amazing and will be posted online for the world to see at www.expatyouthscholarship.com once the finalists are announced. We also plan to post details about the 2011 scholarship in the coming months, which may be of interest to your readers who wish to enter next year. (P.S. Kathy – if you are looking for judges next year, pick me pick me!)

You can sign up to receive e-mail updates at www.expatscholarship.com and visit our Facebook page (with over 500 fans!).

Thanks, Kathy

Good luck writers – get those pencils sharpened.