Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Addiction and Amy Tan

“I’ll just go in to get the birthday cards,” I said to myself, but the moment I opened the large brass-handled swinging doors, my heart started pounding, my breath came faster and like a moth to the flame, I headed straight toward that huge pile of “Best Sellers” just inside the door.

Mentally slapping myself and forcing myself back on the planned path, I forced myself away from the new arrivals and towards the cards. But oh, the temptations along the path . . . new sudoku. . . .oh a new Gregory Maguire . . . oh! oh! oh!

With great discipline, I manage to buy the cards and only two new books, a new Stephen King book, hot off the press, (my son had mentioned it and that it was getting great reviews) and the new Amy Tan book. Rationalization – I am returning to Kuwait and it is a looooooooooooonnnnnngggggg trip, easily a two book trip. But when you have an addiction, any excuse will do.


Amy Tan is always a rollicking good read. For one thing, her books focus on that big favorite theme of mine, cross cultural communication – and miscommunication. She has a keen eye, rapier sharp wit, and filets her characters neatly, but humanely.

Saving Fish from Drowning is about a tour group en route to China and Burma, told from the point of view of the tour group organizer – an art and museum patron who dies before the trip begins! She is with the group, however, in spirit – able to see everything, know what people are thinking, but not to intervene. Without her guidance, the group goes desperately awry – and it is funny, but also very very scary. You know something BAD is going to happen, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

Tan writes some great prose. Here is an excerpt about the main character, as she looks back over her life:

“But I ask myself now – was there ever a true great love? Anyone who became the object of my obsession and not simply my affections? I honestly don’t think so. In part, this was my fault. It was my nature, I suppose. I could not let myself become that unmindful. Isn’t that what love is – losing your mind? You don’t care what people think. You don’t see your beloved’s faults, the slight stinginess, the bit of carelessness, the occasional streak of meanness. You don’t mind that he is beneath you socially, educationally, financially and morally – that’t the worst I think, deficient morals.

“I always minded. I was always cautious of what could go wrong, and what was already “not ideal.” I paid attention to the divorce rates. I ask you this: What’s the chance of finding a lasting marriage? Twenty percent? Ten? Did I know any woman who excaped from having her heart crushed like a recyclable can? Not a one. From what I have observed, when the anesthesia of love wears off, there is always the pain of consequences. You don’t have to be stupid to marry the wrong man.”

Whew! Amy! You said a mouthful!

October 26, 2006 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Cross Cultural, Fiction, Shopping | 7 Comments

A Visit to Williams Sonoma

I am visiting Williams Sonoma looking for the elusive white truffel butter required in The Equalizer’s recipe for Pumpkin Risotto. Can’t find the white truffel butter, but I did find some very lovely things – things we can get a lot cheaper, maybe even better, in the Middle East.

First is what they call a Greek pepper grinder, for a mere $79.

I bought the same, beautiful pepper grinder in the Diraa souk in Riyadh for $10 – and I believe it came from Turkey. It grinds peppercorns beautifully and stores the grindings airtight in the bottom until you need to use them.

Then these two pots. The first one is $200, and the second ranges from the low $200’s to $320, depending on the size . . .


they are beautiful, hammered copper from Italy . . .and we bought beautiful, heavier pots with beautiful handles in Damascus for a fraction of what these cost. If I had to choose, I would choose Damascus any day for shopping, over Dubai. 😉

Is there anyplace in Kuwait where you can get copper pots re-tinned? Or has that, too, gone by the wayside?

(And a BIG shout-out to Joan of Arc who patiently taught me how to link pretty)

October 26, 2006 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Middle East, Shopping, Uncategorized | 6 Comments