Categories
Books Holidays

Being an Outsider

Sometimes, being an outsider is all right.

On our many trips abroad over the years, we have always been outsiders. Not so much in the UK, where most people don’t usually realise we’re not one of them, but most definitely in places like India, Ethiopia, Egypt and Japan, even when we dressed like the indigenous population.

India – Odisha – Bison Horn Maria village.
Dancing in Egypt
Ethiopia 2017: Wakonos Village.
We are Japanese, if you please.

In my childhood, I was an unwilling outsider. Like all children, I wanted to fit in but I never did.

However, my outsiderness was never as severe as Martin’s. He suffered in silence, learning behaviours that made life bearable as a child, but didn’t prepare him for being adult.

That all changed for Martin when he was sent to Japan to represent his company, not necessarily in a good way, although ultimately…

No, I won’t tell you the ending of Cultivating a Fuji, the new edition of which is out in one week: 19th January. You can pre-order it now from Amazon.

Nowadays, I’m happy to be an outsider. As an author, it’s helpful to get an outsider’s perspective. And I like being unique, rather than fitting some pattern. What a shame that children can’t see those benefits, or accept differences.

Categories
Israel SIM Talks with Miriam

SIM Talk 8: Tourists Beware!

#SIMTalksWithMiriam

What visitors to Israel should be aware of before flying out, and landing in

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Israel?

Is it war, conflict and terrorism? As a tourist, you’re very unlikely to encounter any of that. We (not me, personally, but the authorities) work very hard and put all sorts of measures into place to keep you safe while you’re here. So, don’t worry about that.

What else comes to mind? Probably hot weather and a land of deserts. You might think you can leave coats and umbrellas at home. You might think: tropical.

Well, think again. It hardly ever rains… in the summer. But in winter, we have plenty of rain. Sometimes the heavens open and you can get drenched in minutes… seconds. You might be lucky – most winter days are dry and some are even warm and sunny. But come prepared for rain. Jerusalem, Safed and other parts of Israel can even get snow.

SnowPalmTree
Palm tree in snow

Why am I thinking of this now? Because a friend just came for a brief trip. During her three-day visit, rain poured down almost all the time. And she wasn’t prepared.

Another visitor once came for a ceremony, for which he had to stand outside in pouring rain, and the following day he was stuck indoors when snow fell.

When we lived in the beautiful area of Jerusalem called Yemin Moshe, we occasionally seemed to be standing in a river when we walked up and down its stairs.

Those deserts… they’re only in the south of the country.

 

You have been warned!

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Do you want to write (or talk) about one or more of the SIM topics – Social anxiety, Israel, Misunderstandings? The details are here.