Category Archives: Foreignly Entertaining

From You Tube to books to movies and any other entertaining tidbits and stories I can come up with, this is where to look.

Taking Recommendations: Latin American Reading List

Rather than research and make my reading list for Latin America, I thought I would just ask for recommendations. What have you read set in Central or South America that you would read again? Post your recommendation and I’ll add it to the list.

I haven’t read many books set in Latin America, but here is what I’ve read or I’m currently reading:

  • Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa (currently reading while in Mexico)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriela Garcia Marquez
  • Love in the Time of Colera by Gabriela Garcia Marquez

I’m excited to read about:

House Hunters International

Fresh off of house hunting in Oklahoma, I thought it might be fun to do a little perusing of the international real estate market. We can all dream, right?!

Perugia, Italy

Bed: 6
Bath: 5
Asking Price: 700,000 Euros
Listing Agent: Zetta Group

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Bed: 2
Bath: 3
Asking Price: $289,000
Listing Agent: Coldwell Banker

Da Lat, Vietnam

Bed: 6
Bath: 6
Asking Price: $350,000
Listing Agent: Move & Buy Vietnam

List, Germany

Bed: 8
Bath: unknown
Asking Price: 2,500,000 Euros
Listing Agent: EREN

Dubai, UAE

Bed: 3
Bath: 2.5
Asking Price: AED 2,100,000
Listing Agent: Better Homes

Patagonia, Argentina

Bed: 6
Bath:8
Asking Price: $3,500,000
Listing Agent: Sotheby’s

Villa Marigot, St. Lucia

Bed: 6
Bath: 7
Asking Price: $1,975,000
Listing Agent: Altman Rela Estate

African Reads

After finishing my first book (The Tapestries…really good, by the way) from my Asian list last night, I thought I needed to continue on with my book list and add books of African settings to my list. Thinking back, I can only think of one book I’ve read that took place in Africa: Monique and the Mango Rains. It just happens to be one of the best books I’ve ever read – I laughed, cried, and learned so much about Mali. Written by Kris Holloway, she recounts her Peace Corps experience in Mali working with a local midwife named Monique. I actually met Kris at a conference in February, but unfortunately my copy is in a storage unit in South Carolina so I couldn’t have her sign it (Boo!), but Kris was great!

In addition to Monique and the Mango Rains, here’s what I’ve found that I’ve added to my list:

  • Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah (2011)   So this book doesn’t actually take place in Africa, but does depict the story of Elam, a boy from Ethiopia who becomes a refugee in London. Alone in a strange place, Elam has to deal with social services, the Refugee Council, and the transitions of a refugee completely by himself. With my hopes to volunteer with the refugee community in Oklahoma, I thought this would be a good one. (Available on Kindle for $3.32)
  • Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou and Helen Stevenson (2010)  Centered in a run-down bar in the Congo, a bar regular nicknamed Broken Glass is chosen to record the stories of all patrons. However, everyone wants to rewrite history and buff up their stories along the way. According to the review, Broken Glass speaks regularly of the great books of Africa, which may just be beneficial as I add to my reading list. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
  • The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah (2011)  Set on the island of Mauritius in 1944, the novel tells of an unknown aspect of World War II through the journey of two young boys. Since I had no idea that WWII refugees went to Africa, nor exactly where Mauritius is located, I thought this might be beneficial for my African education. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
  • The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (2008)  One of the most read Egyptian authors turns his writing to the stories of Ancient Egypt – love, war, and the pharaohs.  With my love of Egyptian artifacts, I think I’ll definitely enjoy these three. (Available on Kindle as a bundle for $14.99)

Any others I should add to my list?

Patted Down for Peanut Butter

I consider myself a seasoned traveler. Between traveling for a living right out of college, living 3,000 miles from family, and doing the regular long weekend out-of-town, Hubby and I fly a good bit; probably about 8 to 10 times a year at this point. In all my travels abroad and Stateside, I’ve never had anything confiscated or been patted down, that is until yesterday.

With our move to Oklahoma next month, we decided to use the holiday (plus a few extra days) to house hunt. So yesterday morning at 6am, we headed to the San Diego airport for our 8:15am flight. I had meticulously packed and tried to prepare for everything. Knowing we were having dinner with a couple tonight, I thought ahead and bought them a gift from San Diego – PB Peanut Butter. Now let me explain, this is not just any peanut butter. This peanut butter is toffee flavored, handmade in Pacific Beach, CA, and costs a whopping $9 for a small jar. It is amazing…and since this couple has three boys, I thought it would be a fun gift rather than a bottle of wine.

Well, TSA did not agree with my gift giving. Me, the well-seasoned traveler, put the peanut butter in my carry-on since I did not even think it would be considered a cream. I mean, it was chunky peanut butter. So first came the baggage check where they ripped the peanut butter from my beautiful wrapping job, rumpled through all my clothes, and let the entire airport see my bras and undies. When I told the TSA agent that he was ruining my packing job, he told me that it didn’t look like I had much of one to begin with.  Frustration. Next came the pat downs. Yes, plural. They patted me down twice because the first time I set off the alarm.

Feeling thoroughly groped and $9 of peanut butter lighter, I was able to re-pack my bag and head on to the plane where Hubby accidentally spilt coffee all over us. This goes to say that no matter how seasoned we are, disaster cannot always be avoided in travel. Fortunately the experiences we have when we travel make it worth all the while.

This is what started all the trouble

What travel disasters have you experienced? Make me feel better!

Paris by Film

Marion and Jack try to rekindle their relationship with a visit to Paris, home of Marion’s parents — and several of her ex-boyfriends.

This past weekend I was in need of a good movie to entertain me while ironing so a friend recommended that I watch 2 Days in Paris. I took her advise and was thoroughly entertained. Marion (played by Julie Delpy) is a French woman living in New York who has been with her American boyfriend, Jack (played by Adam Goldberg) for two years. For a romantic getaway they go together to Venice followed by a two-day trip to  Paris where they experience a string of awkward moments and hilarious “worst date” scenarios.

I was especially amused by two aspects of Marion’s character:

1. She was completely nonchalant about sharing her personal sex life with her family. (Very not American)

2. She regularly got in pretty serious fights with just about anyone but  just as quickly brushed them off as nothing. 

I’m not sure if these are just qualities of this particular character or if these qualities are particularly French, but either way, I found them interesting. If you’re looking for a movie laden with culture, humor, and relationship chaos, this is definitely a film you should check out.

While I was at it, I thought I’d make a list of the other Paris based films I’ve liked. Let me know if you have any other recommendations!

Amelie, an innocent and naive girl in Paris, with her own sense of justice, decides to help those around her and along the way, discovers love.

 

 

 

 

 

A family travel to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple who are forced to confront their differing views of a perfect life.

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion photographer Dick Avery, in search for an intellectual backdrop for an air-headed model, expropriates a Greenwich Village bookstore.

 

 

 

 

 

Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

 

 

 

 

 

Three friends struggle to find work in Paris. However, things become more complicated when two of them fall in love with the same woman.

 

 

 

 

 

Descriptions and pictures taken from IMDb

Exercising Around the World

After eating my way through Vegas this weekend, I am feeling a little round. It doesn’t help that my motivation for exercise has been lacking…I’d rather blog, read, cook, blog, etc. So this evening I decided to search the web for inspiration. I thought I’d look for exercises or tips from around the world, but what I came across was even better. In my search I found Nerd Fitness and the video Exercising Around the World in which Steve, the founder of Nerd Fitness, does just that. He travels over 120,000 miles and videos himself exercising in every country along the way. Watching him actually made me get up and do some jumping jacks (I did 50).

After being motivated by Steve’s international exercise, I thought I should keep reading and see if he had anything else good to say. It just so happens that he did have some great advice and now I have new rules for my exercise goal setting. As I get back into my routine, I’m determined to start small and do something I love: hike the cliffs. I’m actually excited.

 

The Middle East Through Novels

I have a fascination with the Middle East.  I’ve never been to an Arab country, but regardless, I find the culture incredibly intriguing and attempt to satisfy my interest through my book choices.  In addition to Prisoner of Tehran, books with Middle Eastern influence that I have indulged in so far are some of the more popular:

  

Here’s what I’ve put on my Middle Eastern reading list:

  • In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Soueif (2000) , the story of a young, Egyptian woman’s pursuit of her PhD in English literature and the relationship with her husband (Since I’m interested in getting my PhD, I thought I could relate.)
  • My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (2001), a crime novel set in the courts of the sultan in 16th century Istanbul (Nothing like a good mystery!)
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (1997), recounts and embellishes the Biblical story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah (I’ve seen this book at Barnes and Nobel for years but just never bought it.)
  • Does my Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah (2007), a 16-year old girl embraces her faith by deciding to wear the hijab  (Love the title and the modern-day perspective)
  • One Thousand and One Nights by Anonymous, a collection of Middle Eastern folktales (A classic that I’ve wanted to read for a long time…and it’s free on Kindle!)

Looking for more internationally themed books?  Check out my Asian Inspired Reading List.  (I’m reading The Tapestries now and it is excellent!)

For more recommendations for Middle Eastern reads, check out these sites:

Asian Inspired Reading List

I found a great new website this weekend through Stumble Upon called Which Book.  You put in the type of book you want to read and the site spits out recommendations. It inspired me to start my future reading list and I’ve made up my mind to do it by region of the world. I’m starting with Asia; the books have to be set in Asia and preferably written by a person of Asian heritage. I hope to mix it up a bit with fiction and non-fiction. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Sawako Ariyoshi, The Doctor’s Wife, (1978) the story of the wife of the first doctor to use anesthesia in Japan and her relationship with her mother-in-law (as a doctor’s wife, I thought I could relate to this one)
  • Pearl S. Buck, The Three Daughters of Liang (1969), the story of a woman in early Communist China and how she copes after her husband takes a concubine (I read Good Earth a few years ago and really enjoyed it so I thought I’d give Pearl Buck another try)
  • Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness (2009), the spiritual leader of Buddhism gives shares his wisdom on happiness (I just saw the Dalia Lama speak at SDSU a few weeks ago…amazing!)
  • Kien Nguyen, The Tapestries (2003), about a boy with royal Vietnamese blood sold into slavery at the turn of the twentieth century (this just looked good)
  • Mishima, Yukio, The Sounds of Waves (1994), a young fisherman is entranced at the sight of the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village (I needed a good love story in the mix)
  • Fan Wu, February Flowers  (2007), a girl goes off to college and becomes a woman in 1990s China (as a Study Abroad Advisor, I thought this sounded pretty interesting)
In addition to these, I have a few books of Asian influence that I’ve already read and would definitely recommend:
 

   

Bébés on the Brain

This past November, I turned 30.  I believe 30 is this magical number in the U.S. that everyone starts having children or everyone starts asking if you’re going to have children.  Some people ask point blank, some are a little more covert, and then there is my mother. 

Last night she called to update me on some family news and somehow or another the conversation turned to her future grandchildren.  My mom knows me well; she knows that we do want to have kids someday and she is awesome about not pressuring us.  So instead of asking about our family plans, she just states what she’s going to do when our little one finally comes around.  She LOVES her grandkids and enjoys daydreaming about having more. And since my niece and nephew are the cutest kids ever, I really can’t blame her.

But our conversation last night ended up turning to children sleeping through the night and whether you pick them up or let them cry. I found the dialog especially interesting because currently I am reading Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.  I’m not very far along yet, but even in the first chapter Druckerman makes some good contrasts between the American family chaos to the more serene French family.  Druckerman noticed the difference first while at a restaurant in France where she observed the local children eating adult food, sitting in their chairs, and playing quietly.  How many times have you been to an American restaurant only to see parents chasing their children around because they refuse to stay at the table? A lot, right?  If most French children sleep through the night at 3 months, eat broccoli without being threatened, and rarely (if ever) throw a tantrum, then perhaps Druckerman is right and there is something to be learned from our Francophone friends.

Related Sites:

My Swap Meet Find: Prisoner of Tehran

A few weeks ago I went to Kobey’s Swap Meet here in San Diego. (For my Southern readers, swap meet = flea market.) Kobey’s is a cultural experience in itself. Walking up and down the table-laden aisles, I heard Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin spoken by both the buyers and the sellers. That’s just proof that all nationalities like a good deal!  For the most part, I go to Kobey’s to browse through junk and buy books at a $1 a piece. On my last visit, I got 6 for $5 and was thrilled.  While not all of my book purchases were worthy of the $1 price tag, Prisoner of Tehran, A Memoir by Marina Nemat was worth $5 on its own.

Although born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Marina Nemat was not the typical Iranian child. Her father a dance instructor, her family of Russian decent, and herself a devout Christian, Marina’s way of life contradicted everything that was associated with the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But it was when she demands to be taught calculus, rather than Islamic political propaganda that she was marked as an enemy of the Iranian government and imprisoned at the age of 16 in Evin, an infamous political prison outside of Tehran. In Prisoner of Tehran, Nemat details her life in prison as well as her childhood leading up to that ominous day.

My interest in the experiences of Middle Eastern women has significantly increased over the past month. Between reading My Embassy Letters and watching Salaam Dunk and Beauty Academy of Kabul, I have learned pieces of the current situation in the Middle East but have lacked awareness of the historical background.  Prisoner of Tehran provides significant insight into the timeline of women’s rights in Iran and helped my fill in some of my historical holes. Not only did Prison of Tehran inform me, but it was also well-written, honest, and redemptive. Nemat has excellent flow and I was able to finish the whole book in 4 days.

If you are looking for a good read that will challenge and enlighten you, I would highly recommend Prisoner of Tehran.