Q: What’s the proper way to greet family you’ve never met before?
A: In Argentina: with kisses, warmth — and a heck of a lot of steak.
Earlier this year, with a visit to relatives in Argentina only days away, I received my first email in Spanish from my grandmother. This may not sound noteworthy, but the fact that she wrote it in her mother tongue transformed it for me from a simple letter into a welcome to a part of my family I hadn’t known before: the Argentine side.
Author’s note: Our visit to Argentina was months ago, so why am I writing about this now? With the holidays coming, I began to reflect on tradition, family and what it means to be “far away.” Continue Reading »
Last week my grandmother died. She lived a long, full life to the age of 92 and she died peacefully. The news was not surprising, but it arrived earlier than I had expected. When it finally began to sink in, I cried. Then I wrote a few things in order to unpack and process my feelings – about saying goodbye to loved ones, enjoying them while they are alive, and trying to prepare for something most people don’t like to discuss: death.
Note: This is a personal story. But at the end, there’s some practical advice regarding travel, medical directives and handling the subject of death. Continue Reading »
We often highlight the contribution of women and mothers in our writing and photography, but let’s not forget the important role that men and fathers can play.
On this day, we think back to the moments we have shared with fathers and their kids around the world.
Fathers and their children from Paraguay, Lithuania, Burma, Honduras, India, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Peru
Continue Reading »
The other day we broke down in Guatemala City — in front of a piñata factory no less.
I helped push the stalled PT Cruiser whose motor had knocked, pinged and spoken of better days. Back then forward, we rolled the car out of traffic and into a parking lot.
Guatemala City is notorious for guns, violence, drugs, blighted neighborhoods and danger lurking around every corner. And there we were in a sketchy little parking lot in the middle of the city at dusk. Continue Reading »
The new house, commanding magnificent views of open sea and bathing beaches, and mountains and forest gardens, and houses. North of the Iltis Huk church, at foot of the big hill, on south slope. Wish you could enjoy it soon with us. Big love, Daddy
- a note on the back of a photo of the house in Qingdao, China, written by my great-grandfather to one of his children on July 31, 1937.
Armed with the photo of the house and the description above, we hopped on a bus Continue Reading »
What we call “extended family” or “distant relatives” in America is simply called “family” in Kyrgyzstan. And they mean it, too. When we stayed with a Kyrgyz-American family in Bishkek, we noticed how grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and other family members would swing by the house almost every day, fluidly entering and exiting. The volume and pace of family movement seemed to cause little commotion or stress. Continue Reading »
We’re headed next to Qingdao to look for my grandfather’s birthplace and the house my great-grandparents built.
–explaining our travel plans in China to a group of expats at a Thanksgiving
dinner in Beijing.
The group appeared utterly confused. I don’t look like I’m of Chinese heritage in the least. So how is it that my grandfather was born in China? Continue Reading »
While putting the finishing touches on our website, we spent a considerable amount of time at internet cafés in Tbilisi, Georgia. At one café, we noticed a semi-private room set up with couches, comfortable chairs and computers outfitted with webcams for video Skype calls. The typical configuration: children and grandmother crowded around the computer and Mommy or Daddy on the video screen. So, what’s going on here? Continue Reading »