Two links for you today, which I hope you’ll investigate:
First: Last week Bani Amor interviewed me for her blog, Everywhere All the Time. That interview is now online. It’s part of her amazing Dispatch series of conversations with travelers of color. I have never been an avid reader of travel writing, and reading these interviews has helped me see the connection between that and my distaste for the entitled tourists I saw around the world (not to mention my feelings about power/visibility imbalances here at home). I wish I’d been able to read these dispatches before I started traveling, especially this one with Fly Brother, and this one with MsMovingBlack.
If you’ve been following my travels on this blog, I hope you’ll visit Bani’s site and read my interview there. You’ll see a different perspective on my travels than what I wrote about here.
Second, and this is for writers (or your friends, if you know writers!): I’m doing a new series of writing prompts, starting this Sunday. In contrast to my previous series, which were more open-ended, this one asks writers to write daily for 21 days on a particular topic that they find challenging. As always, the prompts are free and I don’t reuse emails for other purposes. Read more or sign up here.
Thanks for sharing this interesting interview. I emphathise with several things you touched on. For instance, having touts call out to me in various East Asian languages – the most ‘creative’ one used ‘Playstation!!’; the comfort of being able to blend in when travelling as well as how sometimes sticking out can be beneficial as people can be more helpful. I usually am comfortable with not blending in, though I would prefer to be less noticeable whenever I’m taking photos of people/of my surroundings!
Thank you for reading, Angelina! “Playstation,” really?!?!?! I don’t even know how to respond to that! How ludicrous.
I’d be so interested to hear how the blending in/sticking out affects you in Brussels, but I suspect that’s rather personal and also a very large topic.
I know! I took a double, and maybe triple, take after the guy said that. At least it was memorable. hah.
That’s a good question and I have not given it much thought even though I’ve been living here for more than 2.5 years. For sure, I stick out more in Brussels than in Paris where there are more East Asians (Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese) and more cosmopolitan. Brussels has a significantly large and transient expatriate population, partly due to it being the home to the HQ of the EU and other major international organisations. Hmmm, I need to ponder about this and put my thoughts together.
Yes, I do remember a comfortable feeling of blending in, in Paris, especially after Istanbul where I felt I stuck out hugely. Even so, in speaking to Parisians I sometimes felt they saw me as a bit of a curiosity. I wasn’t there long enough for that to become irksome, but I think if I were properly living there, it would bother me.
If you ever write anything about this, I’d love to read it. 🙂 Even if it’s just in private email. But no pressure, of course.
Paris after Istanbul – I can imagine! Absolutely, will keep you posted if I ever get down to putting these thoughts and observations down in words 🙂