global nomad

What's A Digital Nomad?

Would consultants or other professionals who are constantly traveling be considered digital nomads? This is my answer to the question on Quora.

I think the main definition of digital nomads is being people who make their nomadic lives work through digital means.

Those techniques are being picked up more and more by people who are not really nomadic, but merely in transit, or location independent in general.

Like me.

I live in a particular place, but I partake of a wider world of opportunity through digital means, and envisioning myself as independent of my surroundings.

We all have the potential to be digital nomadlike, or use digital nomad strategies to make our lives more seamless.

Making The Psychic Limbo Of Global Citizens A Productive State

The expat+HAREM COMMUNITY AIMS TO HELP YOU: 1) DISCOVER your psychic peers + global community 2) CREATE a hybrid identity from your many worlds

Why do you need our help? The short answer: Because liminal life is a bittersweet limbo -- coming, going, never quite arriving -- and here at expat+HAREM the community embraces this unmoored and central reality of our globetrotting, multicultural, hybrid times.

A PLACE WHERE DIGITAL NOMADS, EXPATS, IMMIGRANTS, FUTURISTS AND WORLD CULTURALISTS ARE UNIQUELY SUITED TO SUCCEED

The psychic limbo and identity adventure global citizens experience today is expat+HAREM's sweet spot. Our neoculture.

This neoculture is our situation in life and our world view. What we work to make sense of, and to capitalize on.

Here at expat+HAREM we've defined the problem, and provide the solution.

Glo· bal· niche, n.

a psychic solution to your global identity crisis

[More about Anastasia Ashman, the founder of this global niche.]

MAKING LIMBO A PRODUCTIVE STATE Limbo is usually considered a place in-between. A state of suspended animation. Paralysis, a spinning of the wheels. Nowheresville. But it can also be an unconstrained place where anything is possible. That's how expat+HAREM choses to see it. Multifaceted people like us have strength and flexibility and experience and access to multiple perspectives. These are all assets.

WE'RE IN THE VANGUARD AND NEED EACH OTHER Globalization has had an unfortunate disenfranchising effect. (Perhaps like many in our community you've been there personally!) However, despite the resistance and misunderstanding and worrying 'purity' movements we're witnessing in populations large and small, at expat+HAREM we believe fostering our particular dialogue of culture and identity is a way forward. A chance to find new and meaningful connection to the world while making sense of conflicting situations.

IT'S NOT ALL BIG PICTURE Sure, we like to talk about the big picture -- whole hemispheres and societies! -- but at our heart we're concerned with the smallest details of the individual. Navigating relationships with people in your life. Achieving psychic location independence. Negotiating our personal connection with the many worlds we love to belong to. That's how we'll find our global niche.

HERE'S WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE SAY "WE'LL HELP YOU FIND YOUR GLOBAL NICHE": a psychic solution to your global identity crisis.

COMMON INTEREST AND EXPERIENCE DEFINES US

Our most important bonds are no longer solely decided by geography, nationality or even blood. When we find where we uniquely belong in the world we've found our global niche.

expat+HAREM, the global niche embodies the Expat Harem concept* -- localized foreigner, outsider on the inside -- while speaking to intentional travelers, identity adventurers and global citizens of all kinds.

This 2-year archive of neoculture discussions delves into perspective on the crossroads and dichotomies of our hybrid lives:

  • modern existences in historic places
  • deep-rooted traditions translated in mobile times
  • limiting stereotypes revisited for wider meaning
  • the expat mindset as it evolves from nationalism to globalism

More.

THOUGHTS ON HYBRID LIFE WRITING Combining outsider-view-from-the-inside and journey of self-realization, we think expat/emigree/immigrant literature deserves a shelf of its own.

+++ OUR ROOTS +++ Based on the original Expat Harem concept by Anastasia M. Ashman and Jennifer Eaton Gokmen

expat+HAREM, the global niche is the archive of a group blog and community site launched in 2009 by Anastasia Ashman, coeditor with Jennifer Eaton Gökmen of Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey.

* The site is inspired by the cultural embrace and self-exploration of that best-selling and critically acclaimed 2005 expatriate literature collection.

+ DETAILS: media coverage, academic uses, and awards for the anthology created and edited with Jennifer Eaton Gökmen, compiling the work of 32 international Expat Harem writers.

+ BEST 5 BOOKS ON TURKEY: Turkey’s most-read author Elif Shafak picks Expat Harem among the best 5 books on Turkey (Five Books, November 2010)

+ THE ACCIDENTAL ANTHOLOGIST: expat+HAREM founder's personal story behind the book.

+ HAREM GIRLS FOR SALE: 2 years from workshop to bestseller list -- the story of two expat editors.

Editors interviewed on The Crossroads satellite TV, July 2009

+++++ Take the next step with us --> into GlobalNiche.net's creative self enterprise for the global soul.  Another good place to explore:  Anastasia Ashman's producer page at Facebook.

Psychic Solution To Your Global Identity Crisis

Glo· bal· niche, n. psychic solution to your global identity crisis

Don't coin too many terms, warn the smart search engine optimizers. "No one will know what you're talking about plus they won't be able to find you!" At expat+HAREM we like to talk about unconventional, unbounded and unmapped life as we experience it, and if we could find the lingo we need in common usage, we'd certainly use it.

(Tell us the terms you use.)

On Twitter someone asked, “is ‘hybrid life’ kinda like what a salamander leads?” Uh, sure...you could call us cultural amphibians. Water, air, land, we (try to) do it all.

If you've arrived in the expat+HAREM community, perhaps you do know what I'm talking about. Or maybe you want to see what's next in neoculture (another coined term to-be-explained).

Here’s the deal.

WE'RE ALL BORN GLOBAL CITIZENS even if that knowledge gets trained out of us. A global identity seems nebulous, and ungrounded. Better to bond with the more concrete: family, culture, nation.

Problem with concrete though: it cracks over time, in quickly changing conditions, and sometimes even under its own weight.

 

 

Globalization means we’re entering a permanent state of psychic limbo about who we are and where we belong in the world.

Mixed blood. Crossculture. Third Culture. International work, study, travel. Fusion faiths, dual nationalities. Many of us know the bittersweet liminality of living between multiple worlds, and the soul-sprung righteousness of refusing to settle on just one.

The more we move around the less home is one place --  not to mention the mirage home becomes as soon as we leave it -- so our associations spread and bifurcate and split again. Our capacity for inclusion grows, and our sense of self expands along with it.

Coming, going, never quite arriving. This is where we live today. We’re searching for our place in the world, our people, the hybrid lifestyle that will make it all cohese. We know this:

Our concrete center will not hold.

OUR PEOPLE ARE NOT WHO THEY USED TO BE We also recognize we’re unbounded by the communities in our physical midst and traditional markers like geography, nationality or even blood.

Now we find inspiring new kinship in interest and outlook.

Virtual technologies like social media and mobile devices help identity adventurers, global nomads and digital citizens integrate even faster across out-moded boundaries.

To become the global citizens we truly are, we need to find our place in the world.

This has always been the case. But the 21st century offers new ways to find where we uniquely belong, and a new urgency to actualize our global citizenship.

Here at expat+HAREM we believe you can create a psychic solution to your global identity crisis.

Call it psychic location independence.

She'sNext interview: Here I'm talking about how multifaceted, 21st century women can find their global niche.

TAPPING INTO OUR OWN GLOBAL BEING When we discover our psychic peers and foster a global community with them  -- fashioning a hybrid identity and a 'salamander' life that intersects and honors the many worlds we belong to -- we've found our global niche. It's good to be home.

The Accidental Anthologist: Creating A Literary Harem

All the editions of Expat Harem bookTurkey often makes the news for suppressing its authors. Ironically, as an American expatriate in Istanbul I found my voice -- by creating a literary harem of my expat peers. My third month in Istanbul I found my way to an American women's social club. Milling among the crowd at the consul general's residence, I introduced myself by describing my writing project.

"At 40? You're too young to write a memoir," snorted a white haired librarian as she arranged second-hand books on a card table.

"Istanbul's such chaos, I'd be surprised if you can concentrate," thought a freckled socialite in tasseled loafers.

My memoir was going to happen. It had to. It was the cornerstone of my survival plan.

 

MY BRILLIANT CAREER WAS PORTABLE. I moved to Istanbul in 2003 so my Turkish husband could take a job in mobile telecommunications. Even though I lacked a formal proposal for my high-concept travel memoir charting the peaks and valleys of what I was calling “an adventurous life,” I already had a literary agent waiting to champion it. I was thrilled my spouse would be developing the kind of advanced cell phone software that excites him and that emerging economies demand. Yet my international move required a defense strategy.

"I'm not going to waste a minute sitting in language classes, diminishing my facility with English," I informed him.

"Whatever makes you happy," he replied.

In my mind I'd be on an extended writer's retreat, free from the daily distractions of our “real life” in New York City, where we had met.

I'd be an asocial expatriate writer who would one day emerge at the border clutching my passport and a masterpiece.

This exotic vision had been percolating since I'd last been an expat—in Malaysia. I’d spent five years rotting away in the tropics like a less-prolific—and more sober—Somerset Maugham.

Foremost to decay in the equatorial heat was my personality—the core of my writing voice.

In steamy Southeast Asia, my first long-term stint overseas, language and cultural barriers prevented me from expressing even the simplest aspects of my identity. When I told people I was a writer they'd reply, "Horses?"

 

I WAS DECOMPOSING at time-lapse speed. Vintage handbags and L.A. sandals sprouted green fungus overnight, while silvery bugs infested my college texts and a decade of diaries. I was also mistaken for a very different kind of Western woman in Asia, like when a crew of Indonesian laborers working at my house wondered when I was going to drink a beer and take off my shirt.

Three years later, in cosmopolitan Istanbul, I was a resurrected ambitious American prepared for my future. I imagined a successful literary life abroad—supported by a defensive version of expatriatism. "This move won't turn my world upside down," I cockily assured worried friends and relatives, who recalled my anguished Kuala Lumpur days.

Now I was all about the work. My plan to avoid alienation in Turkey was foolproof.

Istanbul, a hilly metropolis of 12 million, made Kuala Lumpur look like the sleepy river town it is. I couldn't envision navigating a car on its traffic-logged streets or squeezing into public minibuses or straying too far alone without a translator. I couldn't wait to hole up at home with my computer, DSL connection and a view of the Bosphorus.

Upon my arrival I joined an expat social club for some English speaking company. There I met the scolding librarian and the socialite. I also ran into an upbeat Michigan writer named Jennifer Gökmen, a 10-year émigré also married to a Turk. She had no doubt I would write my memoir. We both needed some writing support so we created a workshop with a handful of other American women.

Within weeks, the memoir stalled as I struggled to map my entire existence... dear god, what's the arc of my life? Maybe that caustic librarian was right! My resistance to Turkey started to wear down.

Jennifer and I began playing with a proposal of our own: an anthology incorporating essays about our Turkish lives.

I was bursting with that kind of material. The cultural gauntlet I faced on my first trip to meet the family. My glitzy Istanbul wedding. Inspired by the original harem of the 15th century Ottoman sultans, where foreign-born women shared their cultural wisdoms, new arrivals comparing notes with old hands, we figured we formed a modern version: the Expat Harem.

And that’s when the harem walls closed in.

 

SILENCED BY WHOOPING COUGH: I contracted a mysterious and ancient ailment of the pharynx. Local doctors unfamiliar with the diagnosis prescribed medications for asthma and antibiotics to treat a lung infection, neither of which I had. I passed the cough to Jennifer. For the next six months we were both homebound, hacking to the point of incontinence, succumbing to every little flu. I avoided anything that might incite a new round of spasms, like conversation and laughter, the coal smoke emanating from rural shanties, chills from the ancient city's stone walls, gusts of autumn blowing down from the Black Sea. The only thing Jennifer and I were suited for was speechlessly working, and we only wanted to think about the anthology.

"Embedded here, we're destined to be alien."

I brainstormed in an email to Jennifer, pointing out the dilemma of life abroad—even for those who want to blend in to local culture, it’s near impossible. Our cultural instincts will forever lead us to different choices— from simple aesthetics like lipstick color to complicated interpersonal communications.

Topkapi Palace harem door by A.Ashman

"The Expat Harem is a place of female power," she shot back, linking us to an Eastern feminist continuum little known in the Western world.

Harem communities offered women the possibility of power—in the imperial harem, they offered the greatest power available to women in this region. These women had the sultan's ear, they were the mothers of sultans. Several harem women shadow-ran the Ottoman empire, while others co-ruled.

Giddy with our anachronistic metaphor, I replied.

"Ethnocentric prison or refuge of peers—sometimes it's hard to tell which way the door is swinging!"

Like a secret password, news spread as we called for submissions from writers, travelers and Turkophiles. Fascinating women from fourteen nations poured their stories into our in-boxes. They shared how their lives had been transformed by this Mediterranean country in the past 50 years, moments that challenged their values and their destinies as nurses and scientists, Peace Corps volunteers and artists.

These women's tales were not universally known.

Many had never before been published and all were minority voices in a Muslim country with a reputation for censorship.

 

ALTERNATE REALITIES flooded over me: eerie Sufi pilgrimages to Konya, the intimacies of anthropological fieldwork on the Black Sea, glimpses of '70s civic unrest in Ankara, a wistful gardener's search for the perfect Ottoman rose in Afyon. Many represented a depth of involvement with the country I couldn't imagine: harvesting dusty hazelnuts on a brambly hillside, trying to follow the 9/8 rhythms of a clapping Gypsy, sharing space on a city bus with a dancing bear in the Technicolor 1950s.

I whispered to Jennifer, "Compared to these women, I'm a cultural wimp!"

Their struggles to assimilate nudged me to forgive my own resistance, and inspired me to discover the country, the culture and the Turkish people.

Now I could use the editing skills I had been suppressing since I was an infuriating child who returned people's letters corrected with red pen. From the comfort of my home office-with-a-foreign-zipcode, I was able to shape other writers’ stories. The anthology rewarded me for postponing the memoir, by laying the foundations for a more insightful next book. The joys of collaborating with writers from my home office clarified confusing aspects of my character—like how I am a prickly introvert who nevertheless craves connection with people.

One late winter day Jennifer and I stopped coughing and sold Tales from the Expat Harem to Doğan Kitap, a prominent Turkish publisher.

"That's more like it," snapped the librarian when I next saw her at a club meeting, my reputation somewhat rehabilitated in her eyes.

Four decades’ worth of expatriate self-discoveries earned its shelf space, more than my own 40-year life story would have.

"It's a love-letter to the country. I put it on my house guests' pillows!" shared the smiling socialite.

The anthology became a #1 English-language bestseller in Turkey and was recommended as a social and cultural guide by National Geographic Traveler and Lonely Planet.

My literary career and conflicted mindset about life abroad now had a promising new cultural context in the expat harem.

 

I FOUND MY THEORETICAL HOME. I arrived an insular writer afraid of losing my voice. In a temporary silence, Turkey suggested an empowering metaphor. It seems the country not only connected me to a worldwide band of my global nomad and expat writing peers, it provided a place to flourish out of restriction -- and raised my voice in the cultural conversation.

[This essay first appeared in JANERA: The Voice of Global Nomads, January 2008]

+++++

What surprise context has your location provided you?

+++++

[18 months, 2 expat writers, one feminist travel anthology with three editions. Our first book! A bestseller. How'd we do it? Read the story of making Tales from the Expat Harem]

Creative Entrepreneurship Through Social Media: The Case Studies of Anastasia Ashman and Tara Lutman Agacayak

From Andrea Martins' ExpatWomen.com Creative Entrepreneurship Through Social Media: The Case Studies of Anastasia Ashman and Tara Lutman Agacayak

Anastasia and Tara are expat women entrepreneurs who have used social media to successfully grow their businesses and online profiles. We asked these two progressive business women to write an article for us, sharing their experiences and tips. 

Interestingly, whilst they both herald from the same part of Northern California and both currently live in Turkey, their paths did not cross until they met on Twitter.  

Creative entrepreneurship means thinking innovatively to both create a business and to promote it.  Expatriate women make ideal creative entrepreneurs because they usually require flexible and fluid work to fit their lifestyle (which typically means that they need to be creative in their business concept) and they are increasingly internet and social media savvy (which means that they are typically more willing to use social media creatively, to promote them themselves and their business).

Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, together with easy-to-use blogging systems remove many of the personal disempowerments far-flung expat women have traditionally experienced.  They can also be powerful professional tools, especially for expat entrepreneurs.  The niche nature and 24/7 cycle of the web can diminish cultural, linguistic, geographic and time zone disadvantages to both career development and entrepreneurial endeavours abroad.

Social media makes it easier to create these one-of-a-kind businesses by helping define and embody your brand, whether you are a writer, a coach, a consultant, a photographer or so on.  Applications and tools such as blogs, Twitter and YouTube enable you to extend your brand across the web and convey your multi-media message in text, video or graphics. You can monitor your brand, see how others connect with it, and evolve it as your expat journey transforms you. Well-curated Tweetdeck and Hootsuite columns and specialized LinkedIn groups provide access to state-of-the-industry practices, trending thought, and leading players in your field of business, as well as the opportunity to become known as the experts that you probably are.

 

How Do We Use Social Media?

The best way to explain how social media might be able to help you and/or your business, is to share with you our own real-life case studies…

Case Study One: Tara Lutman Agacayak

Anastasia: Tara, going online solved your information technology (IT) career disruption after accompanying your husband to a small town in Turkey. How?

Tara: I first started experimenting with online sales by offering trinkets on eBay. Shortly afterward I started Citara's, an online boutique selling handmade Turkish products with my husband. Setting up an independent retail site was entirely different than selling through a hosted site like eBay. Getting our products in front of the right people required a unique set of tactics on the web. In this new attention economy, social networking and content marketing became vital to our online business. Citara’s started as a static website, but the brand has extended to a Twitter handle and Facebook page. We have also partnered with a non-profit called Nest where we donate a portion of sales to their microloan program generating funds for women's craft-based businesses. The work we do is editorialized through our blog and disseminated through channels we have set up on Twitter, Facebook and Kirtsy.

After building an offline network of artisans in Turkey I partnered with my expat friend Figen Cakir to start Behind the Bazaar, a site promoting independent artists and designers in Istanbul. It relies solely on social networking for digital word of mouth marketing. Using our blog as a content hub we offer a unique perspective on the local creative community. Content is then re-broadcast and re-packaged through Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and our Facebook page. We also act as experts on Localyte providing – an alternative view of Istanbul through the eyes of its artists.

Last year, Figen and I also started Intarsia Concept (IC) as a place for people to congregate and share resources for building creative businesses. Many creative entrepreneurs are their own entities. They manage their own PR, define their brand, and handle their own marketing and customer service. We envisioned IC as a supportive and informative environment for those starting their own creative businesses. Using our blog to centralize content we extend conversations out to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and bookmarking sites like Kirtsy and Delicious. I monitor HARO (Help A Reporter Out) requests for press opportunities and respond to questions on LinkedIn and Twitter. I engage in forums and groups on Ladies Who Launch to look for opportunities to collaborate or barter services.

Social networking is not just about getting your message out, but about opening two-way channels of communication and listening as much as you speak. It is the opportunity to learn from the greater community and create win-win opportunities.

Case Study Two: Anastasia Ashman

Tara: Anastasia, your writing and cultural entertainment-producing career is built on the publishing world's "author platform".  What does this mean and how is it related to social media?

Anastasia: I have been location-independent for eleven years, arriving in Istanbul from New York City in 2003, after Southeast Asia in the ‘90s where internet access revolutionized my estranged life. I virtually compiled and edited the book Tales from the Expat Harem with Jennifer Gokmen,  through email with more than 40 people in four different time zones. My second book and cross-media projects like intellectual global nomad salons and screen development of Ottoman and Byzantine princess stories require a vast rebuild of web presence and activity.

The publishing concept for launching a career – the author platform –  is a good model for the globally mobile woman entrepreneur. In order to make sales, land assignments, get project funding, attract collaborators and partners, a professional needs to demonstrate her platform of influence and credibility. She needs to pinpoint her market, get substantial attention, deliver the goods, including: a targeted mailing list; an audience; and alliances with others with similar audiences; access to media outlets (generating her own newsletters, blogs, podcasts); making appearances; and other speaking engagements.

To this end, social media offers opportunities to build a more robust and far-reaching platform with fewer resources. I interact with readers, agents, marketers and publishers in live chats on Twitter, meet peers in networks like SheWrites, TravelBlogExchange and the small business community Biznik, while SocialMention and Google alert me to people discussing my subject matter so I can join the conversation. I share thought leadership with fellow writers, travelers, globalists and culturati by posting favorite web finds to Twitter and Facebook feeds, and bookmarking them at Delicious. I upload presentations to SlideShare, and contribute to LinkedIn groups for: filmmaking; my college alumnae; the expat life; Turkish business; blogging; and digital publishing.

On my main sites I develop my own material, community and skills. I revolve ideas about female identity, history and culture at my individual blog, and foster relationships with my global niche of Turkophiles, intentional travelers and hybrid lifestylers as founder of the expat+HAREM group blog. Technology helps me amplify with syndication to Networked Blogs at Facebook, to Kindle, my LinkedIn profile, and Amazon Author Central. My ultimate goal is to create viral events – a worldwide rave for my most shareable ideas and properties – where my network voluntarily distributes my digital content to their connections, deriving their own meaning and use, telling my story their way. As I locate, interact with and help interested parties across the web, I create my ideal word-of-mouth market worldwide.

 

Anastasia & Tara’s Social Media Tips

 

Do:

  • Present yourself thoughtfully, accurately and honestly;
  • Mind-cast, not life-cast: aim for a high signal versus noise ratio;
  • Provide value: offer your expertise and knowledge, solve problems, be generous, connect people, be authentic; and
  • Monitor who is following you (be aware of who you are congregating with).

Don’t:

  • Allow incriminating words and images to be attached to your name;
  • Believe get-rich-quick and get-followers-fast schemes;
  • Use your birth year or publish information people can use to find your physical location; and
  • Use copyrighted material without permission.

Think Long-Term

 

        • Social media is a way to carve out your niche and congregate with like-minded people. Whilst this can happen quickly, it usually does take time – so think long-term.
        • The good news is that if you are patient, dedicated, committed, giving and authentic, you

will 

          find allies in your field. Your networks

will 

          support and promote you. They

will 

        offer solutions and encouragement and challenge you to be better. And the best part is… just like your own ‘career in a suitcase’, your social media contacts are portable and they will go with you wherever you go.  So good luck and happy connecting!

 

 

Anastasia Ashman aims to further the worldwide cultural conversation, raising the feminine voice on issues of culture and history, self improvement and the struggle for identity – from one family to entire hemispheres.

Tara Lutman Agacayak works with creative entrepreneurs around the world in multiple facets to craft viable and lucrative businesses.

 

January 2010

 

Additional Resources:

 

 

Shophouse talk: architecture as a reflection of a place, its history and people

At a global nomad dinner party -- guest list drawn up virtually by a mutual friend who met the diners all over the world -- I had the pleasure of chatting with an artist and his architect wife. Seattle-area residents, they spend a third of their time abroad in places like Kerala, India and the Neapolitan island of Procida, creating public art and advising governments on historic preservation and ways to make it a sustainable choice.

A year before I moved to Penang, the couple was based in that Malaysian state. Patricia worked with local officials on a conservation plan for the Georgetown city center, a collection of vernacular architecture unmatched by other Southeast Asian nations making it a candidate for UNESCO's World Heritage status. In modernizing, hot-to-trot Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore leveled most of their shophouses. (The New York Times highlights one Singapore restoration this week.) She inventoried a thousand shophouses. These two- or three-story rowhouses mostly built between the 1890s-1930s with a shared five foot-wide covered arcade were both places of work and home, ensuring 24/7 vibrancy in the tropical port city.

To me, shophouses embodied the equatorial island's melange of cultures and its exotic mercantile history.

I marveled at the crumbling lime facades and the multilingual signs that reflected the city's waves of traders, immigrants and British administration. A native majority saw $$ in tearing them down, so openly loving these decrepit structures under threat was my foreigner quirk.

Here's Patricia on the merging of Chinese, Malay, Indian and European styles in Penang's shophouses:

From the Chinese came the courtyard plan, the rounded gable ends and the fan-shaped air vents; from the Malay came the carved timber panels and the timber fretwork; from the Indians, urban construction techniques, including a hard-wearing plaster; from the Europeans, French windows and decorative plasterwork.

How does architecture influence your understanding of a place, its people and history?

Rolling Stone: How Are You Shaped By The Places You've Been?

I'd been on the move for a decade when I reviewed Pico Iyer’s Tropical Classical for the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asia’s pioneering newsweekly magazine closed by its owner Dow Jones in 2009. …first I’d escaped the radical provincialism of my hometown by shipping off to a ruggedly urbane college; traded suburban Philly rhythms for the pulse of Manhattan; sought relief from the big-city crush by moving to big-sky LA, and finally enticed to boomtown Asia. As one person put it, "taking the geographical cure."

Iyer's a travel writer, Third Culture Kid and global nomad, an ethnic Indian raised in California, settled in Japan. He reasoned in his 1997 collection of essays about society, culture and the human spirit that if nowhere in the world is home, all the world is home.

The happy syllogism -- or is it rootless predicament? -- resonated with me as I jockeyed for a foothold in Asia. I wondered if my acclimation was helped or hindered by a progressive Western upbringing laced by traditional Eastern influences: Kodokan judo instructors, Asian-American summer camps, ‘Asian-cluster’ classrooms. I knew far too much about the East to ignore it for my Western convenience but that didn't make me Asian.

A decade later PEN American Center’s World Voices festival of international literature asked panelists (Iyer among the writers-in-exile) “How do we define the places we live and how do they define us?”

Where I’ve lived has made the world more accessible but leaves me craving opposing aspects of other places and other mes. New York, California. East, West. Country, cosmopolis. Even though 2009 marks the longest I’ve stayed in one spot for 20 years Istanbul won’t remain my base forever.

How have the places you've lived defined you, and shaped your idea of home? Do you feel at home now?

Decomposing Self: Misplacing Your Most Valuable Expatriate Possession

Happily at home in Istanbul in 2007, I flipped through Unsuitable for Ladies. Edited by Jane Robinson, this anthology of female travel writing crisscrosses the globe and stretches back into ancient history. Complete candy for me. Around the same time I was ruminating in an essay for a global nomad magazine why I've come to employ a defensive strategy for my expatriatism.

Sense of self is my most valuable expatriate possession.

During my first long-term stint overseas in the '90s my boundaries were over-run by circumstance and culture. Language and cultural barriers prevented me from expressing my identity. I'd tell Malaysians I was a writer. They'd reply, "Horses?"

I was mistaken for a different Western woman in Asia. A crew of Indonesian laborers working at my house wondered when I was going to drink a beer and take off my shirt.

Like leather shoes and handbags molding overnight, expat life on the equator made me feel my sense of self was decomposing at time-lapse speed.

A thunderbolt from Robinson: "Southeast Asia has more than its share of reluctant women travelers."

She compiled Wayward Women, a survey of 350 female travel writers through 16 centuries so her conclusion about Southeast Asian travelers is drawn from a massive canon. In that moment, my hardest-won lessons of expatriatism felt vindicated.

What happens to your unique travel or expat experience if you consider yourself part of a continuum?

Check out some of expat+HAREM's favorite hybrid life reads here.

Co-Hosting Istanbul's First Global Nomad Salon

Invitation to Istanbul's First Global Nomad SalonI'll be coproducing a Global Nomad Salon this June at Istanbul's Four Seasons Sultanahmet along with the Salon founder Dutch-Curacaoan banker Janera Soerel. Introduced by various international friends in 2007, Janera and I quickly found common ground: our shallow roots in many different communities and the urge to find the larger meaning in local issues. Working together long-distance, we are co-producing this cultural entertainment. It's a guided dinner for 20-30 educated, intellectual, opinionated people to discuss concerns of global culture and economics.

The Economist magazine calls the scene at this worldwide series of intellectual dinner parties "jetsetters with a conscience." Pluralism, individualism, universalism are Global Nomad values.

 

Experts who guide the conversation at their ends of the table will include Serif Kaynar (country managing director of Korn/Ferry) and Nese Gundogan (secretary general of the Turkish Olympic Committee).

Along with an online magazine and members-only social network (Janera.com), founder Janera Soerel, a Dutch Curacaoan banker who lives in Manhattan, launched the Global Nomad Salon series October 2007 in Washington DC, then Rome, the Caribbean and New York City. With local co-hosts, Janera’s events are now spreading across the globe. This summer and fall they will take place in Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Dubai, Tuscany and London. The goal is to rouse the Global Nomad community worldwide and strengthen the network of its members, eventually with a GNSalon occurring twice yearly in various countries, events populated by Global Nomads both local and from afar.