Monday, June 22, 2009

Take Some Questions with You

Whether you’re visiting someplace you’ve never been or returning to a favorite destination, take some questions with you. Ask yourself - What’s new? Different from home (or the last time I was here)? What looks like home? What surprises me? How are the people walk, dressed? Do they smile easily (like Southern California) or appear cool and reserved (Paris)?

The questions will help you move through the jet lag, the challenge of reading a map, finding a cab. Better to focus on the environment. Think about what’s going on around you. Don’t just pack clothes, computers, Ipod, blackberry, and assorted chargers. Add in the questions that help you be where you are, remember more than what you see in photos, understand something of the place and the people.

I wonder - What will Paris be like this 4th trip in 8 months? Will the Eiffel Tower appear welcoming and will there be a new restaurant, new the hotel or will another store that I love have disappeared? What will I discover as I ask some questions?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Food from Home

Hard Rock gift cards ease the homesickness of California students in Paris. Chinese businessmen are served Chinese food when attending a training program in Los Angeles. American tourists seek out Starbucks in Beijing, McDonalds in Moscow, Krispy Kreme in London. There’s Indian food everywhere in London, Sometimes it’s a novelty to find “your” food when you’re far from home but familiar dishes also helps overcome bouts of homesickness, offset the stress of coping with a new environment.

But today the definition of home food is shifting. Local (US brand) chains are expanding searching for new markets, some profits. It’s not just KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds that are popping up everywhere. Dunkin’ Donuts, Chilis’s, Romano’s Macraoni Grill all plan international expansions. ( When home food is everywhere what is the food that symbolizes home?