The world of…

26 Jun

Inspired by The World of…series in The Telegraph Magazine , I have made a similar list.

Breakfast Routine: I get up when my daughter wakes up, which most of the times is very early. When she goes to playgroup I make sure she is ready by 8:30, then I have a cup of coffee and two slices of toast with butter. Sometimes I will have an egg, boiled or scrambled. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I like to eat it while I read the news online.

Best Present ever received: I think the best present I ever got was an upgrade to First Class for a flight to England that my father gave me.

Oldest Thing in my closet: A gray winter coat that my father bought for me in 1984, the first time we traveled to the United States. It still looks good, and it fits. I think he also bought me a hat, blue velvet, with a wide brim and a blue bow. I probably looked ridiculous in it.

Most played album: Canciones Urgentes, Silvio Rodriguez, from the Clasicos de Cuba collection, compiled by David Byrne from the Talking Heads.

Favorite Item of Clothing: Khaki pants. They are more comfortable than jeans and I can dress them up more easily. I like dresses for evening, and shawls for winter. My uncle who lived in New York told me once that in winter one could dress more elegantly than at any other time. I didn’t believe him until I lived in the U.S. and could wear coats and gloves in the winter months.

Right now I’m reading: My daughter is on holiday from playgroup, so my time is fully occupied. I read something every day, but I have not started anything major since I finished Bleak House some weeks ago. I’m looking forward to Harry Potter 7.

Favorite Books: Pride & Prejudice, The Secret Garden, North & South, Great Expectations, Vanity Fair, My Antonia, Charlotte’s Web, The Enchanted April, One hundred Years of Solitude, Five Little Pigs, Sense and Sensibility, Death Comes as the End.

Essential Gadget: A hair dryer. I have thick, straight hair and it has a will of its own if I don’t blow dry it.

Essential Kitchen Gadget: A good knife.

What do I Collect: I’ve collected writing paper since I was a child. Thick, creamy cotton paper is one of my favorite things. I also collect fine English china. My mother laughs because she says I’m always buying cups, but my coffee tastes better out of a bone china mug, and I would also love to have my daughter inherit her mother’s china. When we shipped our things to Pakistan I lost only two platters, serviceable ones that can be replaced.

I used to collect stickers when I was a little girl. I still have all my albums. They’ve come with me to Pakistan all the way from Honduras, via the United States. I never used them but would buy some especially to put on my letters and schoolbooks. My mother, who was a teacher, was always decorating artwork for her classroom, and she once asked me to give her a sticker out of my stash. I looked and looked through all the sheets, but they all seemed too good to give away, and so I gave her the ugliest, cheapest, curliest sticker I could find, a Scooby Do image. In my twelve-year-old mind I was being generous. Now whenever something is obviously the left-overs, the unwanted gift grudgingly given, my mother and I laugh and remember the Great Dane.

Last Purchase: Books.

Childhood Ambition: I don’t really remember. I can’t honestly say that I had a concrete desire to be anything in particular. I knew I would go to university, but my aspirations were probably not related to my actual interests. My first semester in college I declared my major as Geology, because I felt that I must declare something, and Business Administration was out of the question. The only problem was that I am no good at science. I like history, languages and literature, but in a developing country those things are just not practical, so I didn’t grow up wanting to be a historian or a writer. My brother told me a story about a man he met, who had an impressive European education, paid for by my country’s government, and he was sadly over-qualified and over-educated to work in the country. In the end the man had a top job working alongside people who had only a quarter of his education and experience and he was endlessly frustrated by his inability to put his knowledge into practice.

My father always wanted me to study languages. He would tell me a story about a flight attendant he saw on a flight to Europe, who spoke to one passenger in English, another in French and another in German. He would say I could work for the United Nations as a translator. I went to see the movie The Interpreter just because of that. 

I was around twelve when my mother hired a Frenchwoman who lived in our city to give me French lessons. It was not a success. I was bored and distracted, and basically ran circles around the old lady, trying to teach her to play Pac Man, and pretending to fall asleep at the writing table. She would try to wake me up by sticking a pencil up my nose. Poor Miss Lucy! I was probably the worst pupil she ever had, and I wasted her time, but years later, when French became my minor in college, the foundation she tried to lay, and that I childishly tried to break was there, and the melodious sounds of her singing Frere Jacques came back to me. To this day I can roll my r’s with distinction, and it’s probably because of her.

I used to think that I had chosen the wrong career when I decided to study Public Relations. Now I think it was probably for the best. Had I studied English or History I would have been ill-prepared for the jobs I have held, and it is very likely that a PhD in either subject would have been impossible to finance. Things do work out for the best sometimes, even if, with the maturity and experience I now have, my choices would probably be different.

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2 Responses to “The world of…”

  1. Helen July 6, 2007 at 2:52 pm #

    This is great! Can I join in with this one too?

    I’ll have to try One Hundred Years of Solitude, I’ve long been intrigued by the title of that book.

    My mum hired a French tutor for me too. She was a good teacher – she was probably the only reason I scraped through my exams – but now I can remember barely a word of French! It’s embarrassing. I have a feeling I was her worst pupil too although I’m glad she never tried to stick a pencil up my nose! I can speak Japanese (although my ability has really deteriorated) and whenever I try to think of a French word the Japanese one pops into my head instead.

  2. lvmg July 6, 2007 at 8:25 pm #

    Consider yourself tagged, Helen!

    I love OHYoS. I haven’t read it in English, but in Spanish it’s glorious. It’s a very long book, with lots of characters that have the same name (as it goes through several generations), but the imagery is fantastic. Love in the Times of Cholera is great too…I forgot to write that one.

    My French teacher was a great character. I think she deserves a post of her own!

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