Posts

LONDON— When Russian Alla Jilobokov and her Costa Rican/American husband Javier Casasnovas moved back to Costa Rica from the United States in 2004, they initially enrolled their two daughters in a top international school in San José. Though tuition was expensive—about $2,000 a month— it was the expected thing to do in their family and social circles. Read more

VIENTIANE, LAOS— Lao Textiles is a must-stop for visitors to Vientiane, the lovely, if somewhat sleepy capital of Laos. It offers everything from gorgeous silk weaved scarves to tablecloths and silk tapestries to frame or hang on the wall, and it employs more than 40 local Lao women, who create the exquisite pieces on weaving looms in a workshop at the back of the shop. Read more

expat

LONDON–Over the years I have found it problematic to call myself an expat. And I really got to thinking about it after a recent article in the Guardian newspaper brought up the question of who is an expat and who is an immigrant. But the story didn’t answer for me the question I’m constantly struggling with: “Does the word expat define me?” I don’t think so. Read more

Kajmak on wooden plate

LONDON–DURING A RECENT stint living in central Serbia, I became obsessed with kajmak, which, if you can imagine, is like a lovechild between cream cheese and salty French butter. Made from the skimmed fat of cows’ milk and then mixed with salt, its consistency can vary from rather runny and milky (new) to more like clotted cream (old).

My mother-in-law and her sisters run some sort of kajmak mafia in their hometown of Kraljevo: There are frenzied meetings to discuss which of the sisters—or their one friend they also allow in on their operation—will make the kajmak pick-up, how much they will pay and how they will transport it (each sister seems to have a specific kajmak plastic container they use).

By the way, there is a huge debate in Serbia about whether the kajmak from Kraljevo or Čačak is the best.

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Two girls kissing on cheek

BELGRADE–FOR ME, IT’S one of the biggest expat conundrums: to kiss or not to kiss. I grew up in the Midwest of America, where we were all about giving big bear hugs to friends, family and colleagues. But then I moved to London and I was thrown into the deep end of European kissing culture, which still remains awkward for me as it feels rather false and I have never worked out the unspoken understanding there seems to be between two people of whether the greeting should be a kiss or a handshake.

I once had a very cringeworthy exchange with a British army colonel at an exhibition opening. We had met a few times for interviews and also exchanged friendly emails, but in my mind our relationship was still on the handshake level. So when we saw each other, I went for the handshake and he went in for a kiss. It ended up being a very cloddish and uncomfortable greeting. Read more