Tuesday, 21 April 2015

NEW BLOG

Dear expatliv - followers: This blog is not in use anymore. Please come with me to the new blog: AGlobalFusionista


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Happy birthday expatliv!

2 years ago today I published my very first blogpost. A handful of people read that one, mostly family and friends (who I think felt that they had no choice really)..

During those 2 years lots of things has happened and my baby has grown into a more confident and mature 2 year old. But still a 2 year old...You know how they can be like...:-)

Expatliv: 
  • has 264 blogposts
  • has 98 859 pageviews
  • has 3374 published comments
  • has most readers from India, USA, Norway, France, Germany and Russia
  • 's most read blogpost is Expat Epidorpio
  • 's most commented blogpost is D for Disneyland
As I have mentioned before, the wonderful side effect of blogging is the network of friends, fellow bloggers, writers and others I have connected with all around the world through my blog. Sharing excitement, laughter, tears and anger through comments and communication has been wonderful. I have loved writing and receiving guestposts



More and more expatliv has turned into a global fusion blog... where people, music, culture, food, idea, thoughts and philosophy travel across borders of countries. I think that has become the essence of me and my blog. Know your roots, but be open to new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking. There is always something new to learn from another person. And a new friend - can pop up from anywhere. That's what I believe anyway. 




So, dear reader, a warm Thank You for coming along so far. I hope you have enjoyed the ride, and do stay tuned for more. Let's see where that two year old will take us next...:-)

PS:



 


Saturday, 8 November 2014

The World Through Expat Eyes

Once you leave your home country, you become a foreigner. Did you ever think about it that way? No matter where you go, are you a visitor, an explorer, a tourist, a traveler, an expat or a foreigner? Not a native anymore? Maybe you have more than one home country? Perhaps you are a global soul, feeling at home anywhere, because home is where the hearth is? After many years abroad, maybe you have that sense of belonging to more than one country? Is your home country your native country, the place where your roots are?

For an expat, all this can be confusing, whether we are talking about a serial-expat, an expat who only feels at home in one country or one who belong in several.

I think I have always enjoyed seeing places through different perspectives, and through eyes other than my own. I love finding out What does an Indian think about France? What does a Chinese think of India? How do you find the food, culture, festivals, literature, art, sports, nature and the people? And when the answers come, I can say to myself: Hm, I never thought about it that way....

New perspective, dear reader, new perspective.. to open your eyes and broaden your mind.

So, I was curious when I saw that Internations just published a new report called The world through expat eyes. They have asked 14000 expatriates from over 160 countries questions about their life living abroad. They have been asked to rank different aspects of their expat life, such as: general quality of life, working abroad, family life, settling in, leisure and making friends, international romance and relationships and personal finances.

The Top destinations (based on the indexes: general quality of life, ease of settling it, working abroad, family life and personal finances) are Equador, Luxembourgh and Mexico, meaning that those countries have a overall high score in many of the indexes. My countries ended up as no 18 (Norway), 55 (India) and 59 (Greece).

Because the indexes vary a lot, it is interesting to dig a bit deeper. For example: some countries score really high on personal finances but soooo low on making friends with locals. And vice versa.

India score high on financial situation for expats, while Norway score high on balance work life - life (expats in Norway work less hours than in most country and enjoy life outside work). Greece score high on making local friends. The Scandinavian countries score high on family life.

I especially enjoyed the country reports where you can read more detailed info about expat life in some particular countries. Here are the headlines for presenting some of them:

Can you guess which country they are talking about here?:
 
1. "Cold Weather- Warm people"
2. "Work, rather than pleasure"
3. "Warm climate, empty accounts"
4. "Hit the ground running"
5. "Big hearths and instability"
6. "Opportunities and cloudy skies"
7. "Leisure lovers at home down under"

So, which one seems most appealing to you?

To me, that was the funny thing about this report. It made me wonder: If I could choose freely, what factors would be the most important and how would I range them? For example would an easy settling - in be more important than good money (and living in an expat bubble)? And what about the weather? Family life? Friendly and welcoming locals? Education? Work hours? What would be most important to you?

Do you want to read more? You can find the report on: InternationsExpat Insider

As you may have seen, I have been looow on the blogging lately, and the inspiration has been rather non-existing. But I am planning some changes on the blog, so stay tuned dear reader. I will be back:-)

What? You want the answers to the headline - questions above? Ok. Ok. Here we go: 1.Canada. 2.China. 3.Italy. 4.USA. 5.Turkey. 6.UK. 7.Australia (where else?) But still - check out the reports, interesting read.

Enjoy your weekend. Take care.



Monday, 20 October 2014

What's cooking? - Top 3 recipes

- You don't cook anymore? My friend, the one with the never-ending-confronting-questions, looks at me, expecting an answer. - What do you mean, I say, of course I cook. Why? Hm. Offended or not, of course I cook, right. What on earth?

- Well, you don't post any exciting recipes on your blog anymore, she replies. - You don't put any recipes, actually. Why? I miss them.

Aaaaww. She is right, I realize. Not a lot of recipes lately.

And then, with my friend's words on my mind, I go to check out my present blog recipes. And I had to giggle as I discovered some surprising facts about my recipe collection:

My all time most read blog post is a recipe post: Expat Epidorpio with a shocking 4 times as many readers as the second most read post. This recipe is most popular with readers in Russia, France and US.

My second most read recipe post is the one on Tzatziki and Raita. That is also the fifth most read post of all times. And I discovered that this was most popular with readers from USA, India and Germany.


My third most read recipe post is the one on Pita, Spring Rolls and Samosa. Yet another global recipe, where you can mix and adjust - and make your own version. This post had most readers from India, USA and Singapore.


Conclusion
So, my little research showed me that all the Top 3 recipes are global flexible recipes - meaning that you, with the same basic ingredients, can make a version - after your own choice - whether you prefer an Indian version, an Asian version, a European version or your very own special version...

Isn't that great? I like to discover new dishes, and I enjoy to experiment with ingredients, and I ust love to taste and eat all kinds of food - wherever I am. And I try to adjust - wherever I live.

But. Ok ok. I will not rest on my glorious recipe past forever. Oh no. I will experiment more and I will let myself be inspired. Thinking of which, I will head off to some of my favorite food bloggers now- that's often where I end up in my search for new culinary ideas. Hm, I think I might make another post on my top favorite food bloggers, my source of inspiration.

So, what do you do, dear reader? What's cooking in your kitchen right now? And where do you find inspiration for new culinary adventures? Any favorite food bloggers? Please share.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Let there be light

- Remember Eli, over the dark clouds, the sky is always blue

That is what my grandfather used to say to me. In those moments when the worries seemed unbearable and there was absolutely no light in the horizon whatsoever. 

- There is always light in the end of that tunnel. No matter how long and dark it might seem to be. There is always light at the end of it. 

Was another one. He collected good quotes, my beloved late grandfather, and he never hesitated to shower us with them. Simple words of inspiration. Of encouragement. Of wisdom. Words that could lift you up on that grey day, in that dark moment and when u felt utterly totally in misery. My grandfather would be there and would not leave us alone until that feeling was there. The feeling that Everything Was Going To Be Alright. 

He passed away many years ago, my grandfather, but I still miss him. Missing his wise and comforting words. I feel grateful for the legacy he left behind though - maybe above all - the kindness and curiosity he met other people with. When he listened to you, he listened 100% , and he was there. With one of his quotes. One of his own or one of someone else's.  

- Always be the light in someone else's life, 
he would say, nodding and smiling like he let me in on the world's biggest mystery:
- Always be kind to people. Be generous with your smile. Share a kind word and a question. Show interest - and what do you know - you might be the light in that other person's life that day. 

And speaking of light, dear reader. Diwali, the festival of lights is just around the corner in India. The decorations are coming up, and everyone is getting ready: 


Diwali, the festival of lights. You know, I love the craziness of the Ganesha festival, the fun and women-power-spirit of Dusshera, but Diwali is to me like the Mother of all Indian festivals. The Queen. So vibrant, so powerful, so beautiful, so emotional... It's amazing. This is what I wrote last year: Happy Diwali



And after Diwali, we are heading towards Christmas. Another celebration where lighting candles and light bulbs play a big role. A candle for someone or something. A light for hope and gratitude.



So, dear reader, light a candle if you like. But maybe just as important: try to be the light in someone's life. All it takes is a smile, a kind word and some attention. It may mean more than you know.

Let there be light.

  

Thursday, 2 October 2014

1 day and 2 celebrations

First: thank you for all kind comments on my previous post about Geeta. It warmed my heart, and I feel so grateful for all the virtual hugs you sent me. And as I knew it would, the sadness and misery I felt, vanished in a flash of a moment, because who can stay sad when you are surrounded by a group of ladies in colorful clothes who are pushing wooden sticks into your hands and nodding enthusiastically: - dance, dance.... ? Not me...

Oh yes, dear reader, another festival is upon us, and has been here for almost 9 days now. The celebration of the divine mother Shakti in all her 9 forms. The 3 first days is for goddess Durga/Kali, remover of evil, suffering and imperfection, and then goddess of healing, wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi is worshiped, while the last 3 days is for Saraswati, goddess of creativity, wisdom and knowledge. Its a wonderful festival, that I have been so lucky to experience for the third year now. I love the decorations, light pulps in the streets, the flower garlands, the food, sweets, the colorful clothes and the bling bling - feeling about this festival. And the intense-ness of the dandiya dance... Magic days in Mumbai - what can I say...


So, 9 days, 9 nights... and 9 colors: one for each day. So on the blue day, for example, the ladies will dress like this:

Last year I also wrote about this lovely festival - and you can have a look at it here: Navrati festival 

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Today, 2 October, we also celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi in India.

His home Mani Bhavan is one of my top favorite places to visit here in Mumbai, and the guests we have had from abroad, have all enjoyed their visit there immensely. Like me, they have all heard about Gandhi and how he led India to independence, and then visiting his home brings history alive in a very emotional way at this house.


More than anything, I love the philosophy and the words of Gandhi. I am sure that they will live forever and they will keep being a unique source of inspiration to people all around the world, myself included. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes by Gandhi.

1.

 2.

3. 
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

4. 
Be the change you want to see in the world.

5. 
An ounce of practice is worth a thousand words.


- So, dear reader, which one is your favorite quote? 


And as we continue with our celebrations here in Mumbai, I wish you all Happy Navrati and Happy birthday Mahatma Gandhi.

I hope you have a good day wherever you are. Enjoy your moments.

Ta ta from Mumbai!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Geeta

I saw her again today. Little Geeta. The girl from the slum area where I volunteer. Geeta, who lost her mother and brother in a traffic accident. Just before I was about to leave Mumbai a couple of weeks back, we had the terrible news, and went to visit her at her home, where she lives with her grandmother and 5 other relatives in one small room. One of the most heartbreaking memories I will ever have. And then I boarded the plane for Europe.

Now I am back in Mumbai, and I met Geeta again. Quietly she sat there on the floor in class, listening, looking at the others, biting her pencil. After class, she gave me a drawing with a sun, blue sky and flowers in it. She pointed at a large yellow flower in her painting - Sunflower, she said. - I like them. My mother like them also. And then she sent me a shy smile, and waved goodbye as she left.

And like so many times before, going home in the car, my feelings overwhelms me. Thinking of Geeta, and all the thousands of Geetas who live in this city. The poverty. The harshness of their lives. And suddenly a moment of joy for a sunflower and a happy memory of a loving mother. I can not control my tears. I feel numb as I sit and stare out the car window. So many destinies. So many people who could do with a helping hand, only just a bit of extra support so they can make a better life for themselves.

We try to adjust - wherever we go, don't we? And I know I have been writing quite a lot about the road side in this city. Every trip brings something new, but right now I see only the sad part: the people living on the street, the small children knocking on the car window, begging for money...


But that is the strange thing here. Tomorrow, or even just in an hour, I might feel differently again. I might see something funny along the road and start to laugh and shake my head and think: - Oh, I love this crazy country India... Like seeing this guy, next to my car:


So, as a special treat for people outside India, who do not know what I look at when I drive around in Mumbai- here is an example:

video

Today, I must admit, I am trying to fight the feeling of hopelessness that has overwhelmed me. I am sitting there, sweaty and dirty, with running mascara on my cheeks and my hearth hurts. Because no matter how many people you can help, there are always so many more out there.

Well, I sigh. I dry my tears, close my eyes and I think of Geeta's sunflower. For hope for the future and a happy memory of the past. And in the end....


... right? And what can be better than reading again one of my favorite stories:


I hope you have a good week dear reader.

Count your blessings and enjoy your moments.

Ta ta from Mumbai. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

In Robin Hood land, enjoying some fresh Dosas

- Dosas? Would you like to try Indian Dosas? All fresh? I look around me, and my confusion is obvious. They look at each other and then back at me, and ask me again with an even bigger smile - Have you ever tried Dosas? They are very tasty.

Have I ever tried Indian Dosas? Well. Yes. Have I ever tried fresh Dosas at the Castle of Nottingham? Well. No. That is the first.

Yes, dear reader, I am in the UK, and we had decided to explore the historic soil of The Castle of Nottingham. Remember them right? Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham and the fair Maid Marian?

And then I hear music. Indian music. I see stalls with colorful shawls for sale. I smell familiar scents, and then the dosas. I have to smile. How funny is this? All around us there are people dressed in saris, and on the stage they are preparing for a dance show. Indian dances.

I start to speak with an elderly man who looks at me, and smiles with disbelief: - Really? Where do you live, you say? Bombay? Really? Bombay?



But in the end we leave the lovely Indian party and the dosas behind, and head off to what is supposedly the oldest inn in England: Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem (1189). This is said to be one of the places where the crusaders stopped on their way to the Holy Land, and the legend has it that even the king Richard the Lionheart visited.

The way the pub is made, carved in to the rock under Nottingham castle makes it a very atmospheric place. You can sit almost in the cave, or choose, as we did, a table outside in the sunshine (on a sunny day:-) )

We also liked our visit at Annies Burger Shack - established by American Annie who has combined the best of her two countries: US burgers and UK Real Ales. Book a table, because this place is busy.


Continuing our stroll in Notts, we suddenly start to giggle: What is that? A rickshaw? But not on the street. On the wall. Yes, on the wall. Hanging on the wall outside the Indian restaurant 4550 miles from Delhi. and further down we see the Memsaab, the Calcutta club and then Bombay Delights...


So here we are in Robin Hood land enjoying multicultural moments, global surroundings and seeing the old Sherwood forest tales come alive. And who could have guessed that some fresh dosas would be our first taste of enjoyable Nottingham?  


And, dear reader, as we say here in Notts: Terrah then!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Ganesha drums and Autumn symphony

I had to smile, when my blogger friend, Arti, My Yatra Diary, asked me to write a guestpost on her blog on the Ganesha festival. That was going to be fun:-) And it was! Thank you for hosting me, dear Arti. 
________________________________________
Ganesh Visarjan: Close up with Ganesha
" It had been 4 years since I had been religiously covering it. 
But not this year. This year, I wanted to pass the baton to someone else. 
I wanted to hear the story but from the other side. 
And... it didn't take me long to circle who that someone else would be. 

How about my dear blogger friend, Eli @ Expat LivAn expat journalist
and writer from Norway living in Mumbai since the past two years?  
I thought. It would be nice to hear what she feels about the Ganesh 
Chaturthi festival. Being a regular reader of her blog, I already knew 
her love for India and that she connected with the festivals and cultures of 
the country at the same emotional level that I do. Thinking thus, I immediately 
set off to shoot her an e-mail requesting if she would like to be a 
guest on My Yatra Diary... and pen down something on Ganesh Visarjan 
and the festival from an Expat's point of view?

And voila, there she was, in the midst of flying in from Goa and 
flying out to Europe, all excited to make some time and honor 
this little corner of mine. I simply couldn't stop feeling grateful and 
thanking her for this kind gesture of hers.

So on that note, there we go -- sit back, relax and read all that the 
festival of Ganesh Chaturthi means to an expat, from an expat's point 
of view -- rest assured, Eli is the kind of writer who shall leave you 
wanting for more! 
******
When I was invited by dear friend Arti to write about Indian festivals in 
general and Ganesha in particular, I could feel a huge smile spreading 
on my face. Because even long before we moved to India over 2 years ago, 
I had a vision of the Indian festivals. Colorful, noisy, wild, crazy, fun 
and with crowds of happy people drumming and dancing all over, 
all the time. I was not disappointed. The festivals here are all that 
- and so much more. 

I go with the flow, from festival to festival."


You can read the rest of my guest post here: on Arti's amazing blog My Yatra Diary.

____________________________

So, one day I am right there. In the middle of a wild crowd in Mumbai. Surrounded by people who are drumming, dancing, laughing and together we are moving like a human winding train towards the water. I can feel the heavy drum beat. As I stretch back, I feel raindrops on my face. I start to laugh because it all suddenly feels so crazy, loud and intense. And here I am -  right in the middle of it. This enormous crowd of people, all here to follow their Ganesha to His last journey. The immersion. And the drums do not stop. At all.


And then the next day I am somewhere else. I am walking on a path in a green forest. No drums. No people. No cars. No sounds. Just quiet. I can hear my own heartbeat. Lots of trees. The colors are changing. From green to yellow, orange, red-ish and brown. An Autumn symphony. And yet, the drums are with me. Somehow. They do not stop. Not even here.







A short week back in Bergen, but already today I am moving on... To where? Stay tuned...:-)

Ta ta! 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Irumbai and Greening of Auroville - a guestpost

Do you remember our vivid travel around the world in 26 days, dear reader? Since my P was Pondicherry and my urge to travel there has not diminished notably since last April, I figured it was time to feed my urge. So, what could be better than to have one of my favorite bloggers Beloo Mehra take us to her Pondicherry?

I came across Beloo's blog in the same challenge - and followed her 26 posts on Education In India with enthusiasm, curiosity and awe. Since then I have been stuck on her blog LetBeautyBeYourConstantIdeal. I am honored and excited to showcase Beloo here, and hope you will enjoy her writings as much as I do. Thanks for accepting my invitation, dear Beloo: the floor is yours:-)

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Irumbai and Greening of Auroville
Beloo Mehra

 Once upon a time, maybe 500 years ago or more, there lived a highly evolved Siddha, a Yogi (Self-realized person) known as Kaduveli Siddha. He lived in a small village presently known as Irumbai, about 10 kms from Pondicherry, and near Aurovillethe international township with a deeper aim to realize the inner unity of humankind.

Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity.
To read more about Auroville, visit: Auroville.org
To read Auroville Charter, click here.

Back to the story...

During a time when the village and nearby areas were not getting any rains and the drought condition was making life difficult for people and other creatures, Kaduvella was busy performing his austerities and spiritual practices (tapasya) sitting under a peepal tree. He was so fully concentrated in his tapasya and the intensity of his physical and spiritual heat (tapas) got so strong that soon an anthill started to rise up around him. People thought that the drought was getting worse because the tapas generated by the Siddha's intense tapasya and austerities. But they didn't know how to break the yogi's concentration, especially when they saw the anthill grow bigger and bigger with every passing day.

Suffering because of the drought and resulting deprivation, the villagers approached the king who agreed that the Kaduvella's ongoing tapasya must be 'broken' in order to bring down the intensity of the 'heat'. But he too didn't know how. A temple dancer, named Valli, a woman of enticing beauty and a devotee of Lord Shiva, decided to do her best to get the attention of the yogi, and to rescue the King and people from the adverse effects of his tapasya (penance).


Valli observed that occasionally Kaduveli would, with his eyes shut, put out his hands to catch and consume the falling, withered leaves from the peepal tree where he was sitting. So she prepared a bunch of thinly fired apalam (a flat salty wafer made out of green gram daal), and started placing them in the yogi's outstretched hands as he tried to catch the falling leaves. He would eat the apalams and slowly got his taste back. In a few days he grew fatter until finally the anthill broke and he was once more exposed to the daylight.
One day finally Kaduveli ended his tapasya and opened his eyes. Valli was extremely happy and convinced him to go to her house where she kept him happy with her dedicated service and dancing talents. Meanwhile, the rain gods were relieved from the torture of the heat of the yogi's tapasya. The village received plenty of rains and the people were once again happy and on way to become prosperous due to abundant crops.


This called for special celebrations and the King arranged a special Puja to be held at Irumbai temple, (also known as Mahakaleshwara Temple). As part of the celebrations, Valli performed the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, the Nataraja. It so happened that while she was dancing one of her anklets fell off, and she lost her balance and rhythm. Kaduveli, who saw the Lord Shiva in Valli, picked up the anklet and put it back on her feet. The King and other members of the royal court were shocked to see an enlightened Yogi touch the feet of a mere dancing girl. They mocked and ridiculed him and made sneer remarks. Kaduveli got furious and invoked the Lord Shiva to come out of his temple and prove his innocence by causing a rain of stone. Immediately the shivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple exploded, and wherever its fragments fell became desert. The Siddha cursed that no greenery will grow in that area.


The King was naturally frightened and begged the pardon of the Siddha, bowing down to him with all his entourage and pleading with him to take back his curse. Kaduveli was by now calm enough to realize the devastating impact of his curse. He told the king that the curse couldn't be taken back, but sometime in the future people from far-off lands would come and make the desert land green and fertile again.

Today, there are villagers in Irumbai and many other villages near Auroville who feel that the Aurovilians, many of whom hail from many different countries, are the people from far-off lands mentioned by the Kaduveli Siddha and that the curse is now beginning to leave them. Spending a little time in Auroville and seeing all the "green" around one gets a sense that the legend may indeed be true.

To learn more about the ongoing afforestation and other 'greening' work going on at Auroville, click here and here.

Love of Nature is usually the sign of a pure and healthy being uncorrupted by modern civilisation. It is in the silence of a peaceful mind that one can best commune with Nature.  (The Mother, Collected Works, Vol 16, p. 401)

All pictures are from Irumbai temple, credits: Suhas Mehra

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Aaaahhh, dear reader. I hope you enjoyed the story? I sure did, nature lover as I am... And my urge to visit Pondicherry area, Irumbai temple and Auroville? Oh yes, still there, maybe even more...:-) Thank you dear Beloo for sharing this wonderful story:-)

About Beloo:
Beloo donned the hats of school teacher, university professor and researcher for many years, and is now happy to be doing what she does best – learn. Living in Pondicherry for the last 7 years and working part-time as an online educator for a private university in the US, she devotes most of her time to studying the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, blogging, reading, gardening and just being. She blogs at http://letbeautybeyourconstantideal.blogspot.in/ and can be reached at beloome@gmail.com

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Have a continuous good week!
Ta ta from Mumbai!