Welcome to the February 8th stop on the blog tour for Life in the Camel Lane by Doreen M. Cumberford, organized by iRead Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more spotlights with author guest posts & interviews, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
This is a guest post stop, so I’ll let Doreen take it away and then I’ll be back with everything else you need to know!
When your super-power is NOT fitting in, but Standing Out
When living overseas as an expat, it is quite common to stand out and not fit in.
There are so many ways from the obvious to the subtle where when living as an expat we feel like we stand out. From physical attributes, to inter-cultural, generational, ethnic and diversity aspects, each of us is unique and different. Each person is basically unrepeatable, therefore why do we assume we can fit anywhere.
Let’s just examine one angle of this Rubik’s cube of interculturalness, let’s choose the physical.
t’s impossible to fit in when your physical height, shape, color of skin and hair give you away, even before you open your mouth!
My family lived in Japan in the 1990’s and my husband who is six feet tall most certainly stood out in a crowd. In those days, his hair was dark with salt and pepper, so today with pure white hair he would be an even more obviously glowing beacon.
His super-power was bestowed upon him at birth. His skin tone, height genes etc. were never, ever going to fit into Japan. Even though he had lived there as a child for several years, he was never going to be assimilate and disappear into the population of hundreds of thousands of Japanese rushing through train stations.
Occasionally he had to take the subway into the heart of Toyko at rush-hour; thankfully his commute was usually in the opposite direction.
The stations and platforms are run with military precision. Trains arrive on time to the second, they stop exactly where and when they should. There are lines on the platform that align with the train openings, and the commuters line up behind those lines. Pushers wearing white gloves do not invite people graciously onto the train, they physically push people into the compartments to pack the cars as full as possible.
The normal handles and hanging straps are available to hold onto. One day my husband put up his hand to steady himself, then he put up the other hand and then, to his dismay, he found when he wanted to put one arm down, that a short Japanese person was tucked under both oxters (arm pits)!
In that moment one of his natural super-powers was revealed. Yes, he was the other, he was not one of them; he was physically different and everyone just went with it – as we naturally do.
We naturally fit into our space on the earth and manage to somehow navigate space, no matter which country we find ourselves in. Yet, other expat super-powers are not so simple to navigate.
Superheroes across genres and across cultures have been created to do everything from eating maggots to understanding all languages, mimicking others and developing super-empathy. Expats get a good opportunity to do all of the above and regularly get to try one one or more everyday we live overseas.
In Life in the Camel Lane: Embrace the Adventure, I had the joy of touching on many of these super-powers and discussing the natural ways in which we got to practice being the superhero in our own lives. Many of us have discovered that it’s much more fun to stand out rather than blend in; even the challenges transform into gifts that we carry with us.
My prescription is to give up blending in, to praise and celebrate your natural gifts and stand out while practicing grace!
About the Book
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
Life in the Camel Lane
Embrace the Adventure
by Doreen M. Cumberford
Published 10 April 2020
by White Heather Press
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Page Count: 288
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Life in the Camel Lane: Embrace the Adventure is what Doreen Cumberford, a Scottish author, calls her learnoire! It is a combination of her story and the stories of other expats learned while living in Saudi Arabia for 15 years as expat employees or spouses. The book takes the reader through the four stages of culture shock: arrival, honeymoon, frustration and adjustment stages to final acceptance followed by the return journey back to their home country – mostly the USA. From Saudi weddings, to falconry, to the inability of women to drive at that time, the book seeks to familiarize us with the Saudi culture, lifestyle, and deep traditions of hospitality, generosity and tolerance from an insider’s perspective. There are also chapters on the experiences of 9/11 in the terrorists’ home country and the “Terror Years” of internal terror tactics from inside Saudi Arabia designed to drive the expats out of the country and destroy the Saudi government. Full of examples, stories and compelling honesty the author describes their most challenging journey and many of the lessons learned in the process together. Designed to provide useful insights and inspiration to anyone considering living abroad, Life in the Camel Lane shines the light on the subject of building a new identity and home while abroad, and the difficulties of the journey home.
About the Author
Doreen Cumberford is a Scottish expat author who has been global traveler for more than four decades. In her 20s Doreen left her home in Scotland and drove down to London to become a member of Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Her first posting was as the youngest and most junior British Embassy staffer in Cameroon, West Africa. Later she moved back to London and took a position with an American oil-field construction company based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. After moving to America, living in Louisiana then California, two extremely different cultures in the USofA, Doreen and family moved overseas to Japan then spent the following 15 years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With 13 major moves under her belt, she understands the value of moving, building a new life and handling inter-cultural hurdles. One constant has been her ability to explore through the lens of adventure. Her stories are full of multi-cultural intelligence, messy multilingual communications and multi-global perspectives. Doreen is currently based on Denver, Colorado although spends most of the year living adventurously in the Housesitting Lane, which takes her around the globe. Currently she is doing her best to install Spanish in her brain which previously had French and smatterings of Japanese and Arabic. She is passionate about cultural intelligence, global heartedness and life on the road. Featured in the Anthology: Empowering Women, and a co-author in 2018 of Arriving Well: Stories About Identity, Belonging and Rediscovering Home After Living Abroad. 2020 sees the publication of Life in the Camel Lane: Embrace the Adventure. Honest, compassionate, full of wisdom and inspiration, Life in the Camel Lane comprises stories mostly from women and men who lived in Saudi Arabia from 1950s onward. This memoir contains expert advice sage wisdom and stories that all globally mobile families can use to navigate their international journey. The principles in this book will also encourage anyone who is embracing a more adventurous life, or considering taking the leap to move overseas.
Don’t forget to visit other stops on the tour!
Win 1 of 5 kindle copies of LIFE IN THE CAMEL LANE or $25 Amazon or Starbucks Gift Card (6 winners) (ends Feb 19)a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.