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Friday, 30 October 2009
In an age in which the R word is thrown around almost enthusiastically, it is often difficult to retain a positive outlook on the future. Those who find themselves in their mid-twenties are in fact a very special generation. Why? The post World War Two generation grew up with the fairly simplistic view that if you went to University you would "succeed". Alternatively if you worked hard, success would be had. It was a time of change, a new beginning following the atrocities that occurred during the Second World War. Our generation, however, faces a different reality. Despite going to the best of Universities, despite graduating with the best possible grades, the reality is that because of stiff competition, acquiring a job is far less straight forward than we were told growing up.
The world is connected via the Internet, employers can seek out candidates from all over the world, and so having an incredible level of experience, and an impressive CV is just not enough. The reality that we face in our mid-twenties can be discouraging, and lead us into a state of crisis. Our illusions of what was to happen when we "grew up" are shattered, and it can hit hard to realize that all the loans, time, and effort that has been placed into acquiring good grades, carrying out the right extra-curricular activities, seem to pale in comparison to what others have managed all over the Globe.
At times, it may be very isolating to find yourself in a situation in which your preconceptions of what you would be doing at this age, are not fulfilled. Many choose to handle their despair alone, ashamed to talk about it, under the false idea that others are managing just fine. After conversing with many in their mid-twenties, I find that there is a shared sense of disillusionment among us . That said, there is also a shared sense of dedication, direction, and clarity that comes with realizing that times are tough. New ideas are flourishing, and the opportunities are sprouting up like no other in our developing world.
I think, however, that it is important that the competitive job market is talked about. That the overly simplistic concept of "go to University and you will get a good job", should be questioned, and indeed criticised. This paradigm is outdated, and imposed by previous generations holding on to what has become an archaic notion. Yes, University can contribute to developing us as young individuals, exposing us to independent work, novel ways of thinking, and ease us into the "real" world. But, I cannot help but wonder how the safe environment provided at University truly does equip you with the knowledge and weapons needed to fight the battles we face on a daily basis? Sure you learn a lot about yourself, develop long lasting friendships, and even those who hate studying learn how to buckle down when they have to. When we pay so much money to attend an institution, I cannot help but query why they do not have a class, obligatory for all, in which you are exposed to the basics, how to write a CV, which jobs are out there, inspiring as opposed to frightening us about what is to come. I know that career centres are available, but to be honest, not many go, and when you do, you are given fifteen minutes to talk about what you want to do. What if you don't know? I remember going once to the one in Durham University, wearing my heart on my sleeve. I listed all the possible career paths I would love to do, and expressed my confusion. The answer I got? Go away, think more about it, and come back for another consultation in two weeks time. Okay, but the point was I was confused, and needed to talk about it, with someone who could provide advice, not tell me to go think about it more. That is what I had already been doing, and frankly had been going in circles in my head! I went back, still confused and was sent to several career fairs. As I studied Law, I approached several firms, all of which were big names, attractive as their salaries were enormous, but none of them inspired me. I went to talks at the Marriot, in which law firms would provide tons of free drinks, luring our young minds in by getting us tipsy, then selling themselves by showing us their incredible gym's on site, with swimming pools, great firm outings and trips. No details were given of the long hours required, from 7 to 11 many times. Nobody talked about how the big firms work you into the ground. We all knew. Some of the trainees would open up, and that was when the truth was spilled. It felt like a story out of a Roald Dahl book, the lawyers, rubbing their greasy hands together, staring at us through beady eyes would sell themselves to us, hoping we would hand over our souls and become their slaves. I am exaggerating of course, but in all honesty, that is how it felt. Admitting that I did not know if I wanted to be a lawyer was often met by a "but you study law. Why on earth would you want to be anything else but a lawyer? You will earn so much!" It made me embarrassed frankly, and feel slightly unappreciative, so I kept my mouth shut. How silly of me. Now I can think of plenty of questions I should have asked, and know and believe, "no question is ever a bad question".
We work so hard to create platforms for improved global communication, Improved International relations, a better world in short, but I think, and firmly believe that the resources available for young graduates are inadequate, and need updating.
For all those who feel alone in their struggle, know that you are not. This time is a tremendously exciting part of our lives. It is where we discover our interests, and dare to embark upon paths that we had never imagined were even there. Perhaps if we shed the pressures that society places on us, facing our life, our time on this earth without fear of being judged, we would be a far more happy and productive group of youngsters? My grandma used to say, "onwards and upwards, excelsior!"
Onwards! Without pressures of how much we should be earning, whether we should be settling down or not, whether we should know what we are going to do with the "rest of our lives". Life is brittle, and changes quickly. You cannot plan out your whole life. Take change by the hand and run. In short, enjoy the bloody process.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy Halloween! For all those in London, maybe I see you at the Clapham Grand on Saturday! Free entry before 11 if you wear a costume!
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Every country, every culture, every family has their own way of celebrating this festive occasion. There are those who cannot handle the stress of spending two to three days with their family, eating so much that their trouser buttons burst. For those who enjoy Christmas, the buying of the tree, the decorating, the baking of cookies, the cooking of meals on top of meals, it is a bloody wonderful time of year. For me, the best part is buying people presents. As a little girl I used to save all the money I was given throughout the year in my little piggy bank. Towards mid-November my father would take my to the bank where they would bash the poor piggy open, and remove my millions of coins. I was, very good at saving. A clever little girl I was, because I would pocket any change I could. When I was sent to the supermarket, with money, I would keep the change. When I would take the shopping cart back, I would keep the ten kroner that you have to put in the slot in the carriage to use it ( this is how we use shopping carts in Oslo, you slot in ten kroner, then when you put the carriage back in it's proper place, you get your ten kroner back. We are very civilized you see). There are so many ways I would save money, sneakily saving, my mother would always say I'd make an incredible banker. So, when the piggy was opened, I would have a fair amount of money to buy presents with. Then I would have a shopping day with my mother to buy presents for my father and sisters in law, and shopping day with my father buying presents for my brothers. With each of my parents I would have lunch at my favourite place, devouring a delicious pizza (both times). I love packaging the presents beautifully, adding perhaps a chocolate on top of the present as an extra treat. A lot of thought goes into what to buy people for Christmas. I always try and think of something special, and something practical. I look forward to the day I can afford buying bigger and better gifts. I know I know, it is the thought that counts, but I admit, I wish I could give my father a car, or my mother a new kitchen and long holiday in Manhattan. Ha! Wouldn't that be swell! The more the merrier has always been my motto. Now that my brothers have children, the bottom of the Christmas tree gets so full it makes us all feel like we are in the best of a Disney film, and the children's eyes pop out of their head when they see all the packages, it is wonderful.
In fact when it comes to Christmas I insist that everything must be big. Starting with the tree. My parents and I go together to pick it out together every year. I always insist on the biggest, fullest, grandest tree. My father prefers a more modest tree, as does my mother, and I must always convince them that the tree I want is not too big, and that if it is, we can snip the top a little. No problem! I haven't picked a bad tree as of yet.
My father always makes a "nacimiento", a crib. He clears off his large wooden desk in the living room, and covers it in paper, taping each piece together ever so carefully. He then puts down fine stones, sort of light gravel. Then moss and different little cacti and plants which he buys when we get the tree. Amongst this he places some pine tree branches which give off the sweetest and freshest of scents. Then out come the figures. Now these figures have been passed down by his uncle. His uncle, my great uncle, was a poet. He would every year make the largest, most intricate crib in his garage. He would even make a sky with stars. All the neighbours and friends, and even strangers would come to see this beautiful nacimiento. It was quite famous actually. Very famous. I am proud to say that the tradition has been continued in no other place but Norway, where my parents now reside. The figures we have now are ancient, and some of the sheep have loose legs, some of the figures have trouble standing, but they look absolutely marvellous, and inspire many "oooohs!" and "ahhhhhs!" from family and friends, as they admire our nacimiento which includes a gorilla, always standing proudly amongst the cacti.
In Norway, there is the tradition of dancing around the Christmas tree singing Christmas songs. I thought this was what everyone did. It wasn't until I came to England that I realized that not everybody does this. It is a shame. Holding hands with loved ones, and singing together is a beautiful part of Christmas. Why is this tradition not more widely acknowledged? We also have "nisser". These are little elves, who help Julenissen (Santa Claus). The most common "nisse" is the "Fjøsnisse" who is short and bearded and lived in a barn. They have red hats, and are quite naughty playing tricks on people, in fact you better give them lots of porridge or else the tricks don't stop! The "Julenisse" (Santa Claus) tends to visit homes, so he is less shy than Santa Claus, and doesn't come down the chimney but tends to come before or after dinner bearing gifts. In my household we didn't see Santa. He would come down the chimney. Once, my parents put a mini-crib in the chimney. I was appalled. How on earth was Santa going to deal with this? I worried all night. We put his cookies by the veranda door, and I left him a note explaining that my parents had lost their mind, and please may he forgive us. In the morning, I jolted out of bed (as one does on Christmas day) and ran downstairs. Sure enough the crib was completely destroyed. Shoe prints everywhere! I looked at my parents with the best "I told you so" face I could muster. Ha! Santa had written me a long letter back, detailing my behaviour of the year. My father would write these letters, and of course I came to believe that Santa Claus was watching at all times. Once I remember feeling as though he could see me in class at school, and so I would smile angelically at random moments in case he was tuning in to see me. My parents were clever ones, and threatened that Santa was watching when I would have tantrums, "he is watching you Jenny!" my mother would warn. I will remember this tactic for my own children. I would get presents on the 24th, our Christmas, and then on the 25th in the morning I would run down the stairs in the morning to see what Santa had left me. It was heaven. I never wanted to stop believing in Santa. Why? i got so many presents! When my mother let slip and asked me to find the coloured pencils she had given me, to which I responded, "Santa brought them to me". I knew something was up, but for many years I insisted I still believed. In fact I still do, but he has stopped visiting me. Must be the recession.
The Norwegian Fjøsnisse, despite looking very similar to Santa (his high profile relative) with his white beard, doesn't toil away in a polar workshop, but works on his farm, ensuring that the animals have enough food and heat, in short acting as the barns caretaker. He is grumpy, and porridge cheers him up. The stories of the Fjøsnisse pre-date Christianity, yet knowledge of his exact ways is rather vague. It is advisable to be generous and kind to the Nisse, leaving him lots of porridge, they are known to dabble in magic, even a miracle or two.
You may find city Santa's, boat Santa's, blue Santa's, all of which are very happy to be left porridge. Pop it out in a big bowl on your doorstep, you'll make a Nisse very happy.
We make basket hearts, that look like this:
We make "pepperkake hus", ginger bread houses....Ginger bread hearts that we hang in the windows. We decorate oranges with cloves, and one of my favourite things is on the 24th, before or after church everyone puts a light on the graves of those that no longer can be with them. At night, for the post dinner and present walk, families return to the cemeteries to find a peaceful and beautiful sea of candles flickering in the darkness, conjuring back warm and intimate memories.
On that note, I am off to bed, buzzing with warm feelings, and excited about what is to come.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
I must confess that growing up tri-lingual, although it sounds very impressive, has meant that I strive to find the right, or better yet correct word, in English, Spanish, and Norwegian. I speak a combination of all three, and at times find it much easier to speak one of the three. Admittedly, at times I find it hard speaking any of the three and am totally lost for words, turning to mime or guttural sounds. I find that my moods decide what language I think in and speak in, (or shout in). For example, if I am angry, Spanish fits exquisitely. Norwegian is a tremendously useful secret language, and English, well, it goes without saying, it is quite useful.
My ability to speak many languages has opened up a whole new world for me. I can read literature, watch films, hear music in their original languages. So much is lost in translation, and I am a lucky gal in this aspect. French, Italian and Portuguese are easier for me to understand (especially the first two). I am fascinated by language. I am so intrigued by how one changes slightly when one speaks a different language. Perhaps one doesn't change as such, but when I speak Spanish I love the sound of it so much, that I adopt a different manner about myself. I feel as if parts of my personality flourish depending on what language I am speaking. I wonder if other people feel this. I imagine they do.
I really do firmly believe that it is incredibly important to learn several languages. It is proven to aid in the prevention of Alzheimer, and be good for the ole' brain. Apart from the obvious biological perks language gives you, it opens your eyes, and mind (quite literally) to new ideas, perspectives, theories, which are pivotal to enjoying and savouring this life we only,(as far as we know) get to enjoy once! I find it a damn shame that languages are slowly disappearing. With well over six thousand existing, many slowly wither away and eventually die as the world becomes more and more uniform.
Traditions, specific knowledge is passed down the generation because language permits us to communicate them to our wee ones. Language, well language is a wondrous vehicle linking communities together. The other day on the bus, my favourite place to be as you all know by now, I sat behind two Filipino ladies talking Filipino, on my right were a Pakistani couple, speaking Urdu, behind two Nigerian girlfriends....I sat back, closed my eyes, and enjoyed hearing these people laughing, talking, and wished I could understand and speak with them in their own languages. Yet, I couldn't help but relish how beautiful it was to be surrounded by the sounds of these languages, each having existed for I don't know how many years, used by goodness knows how many people, shared in moments of happiness, and sorrow. I then used my body language, and just smiled, in blissful happiness. I suppose I would tell Rex Harrison that what we speak is not just a result of the words that emanate from our lips, but the movements we make, the gestures we throw about, the eyes we smile, frown even cry with, the touch we make on another person's, well soul really.
And with the language left in my head, I bid you all farewell, till the next time I blog my friends.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Change sure did happen at the Garrick this Friday evening at 7:30 exactly. Managing to transform himself by changing outfit before you could even bat an eye lid, Arturo Brachetti, really did wow the audience with his 100 changes in 100 minutes! It seemed like a thousand. Have you ever seen a man hold up a sheet, transform into the Queen of England, then hold the sheet up again, and bam!- He’s a soldier, then a priest, then Chiquita banana? I doubt you have. I have. I can tell you it is pretty impressive. Arturo Brachetti, is an Italian quick-change artist, he has been in the Guinness Book of Records 2006 and 2007, and is described as the fastest quick change artist in the world. Pretty impressive hugh? Well, he is worth seeing.
I must warn you though that Mr. Brachetti’s show requires you to totally unwind, let go, allow yourself to be charmed by his tremendously zealous stage presence, unashamedly frank slapstick humour, and theatricality. I admit, I did wince a bit at first when he came on stage, beaming from ear to ear, saying “I am Arturo Brachetti! Yes! It rhymes with Spaghetti!” Oh boy, I thought, this could be painful. It was not. I let go, and was charmed, and amazed, like a little child at the circus.
I really did not know that much about the art of transformation. The day after I saw the show I felt as if I hadn’t totally understood and appreciated the show as much as I should have. After doing my research, I think I may go again, in order to truly appreciate the many references made to Fregoli, and Fellini (I know the latter, but Fregoli?) From what I can gather, Leopoldo Fregoli was the greatest quick-change artist of his day. (His day being late 19th century to early 20th century). To be honest, it was so overwhelming to see so many changes that I think it takes the brain a few hours to digest it all. It was, now that I remember not until the next morning that I woke up and truly said, WOW! What a show I saw last night!
I read that he was described as Versace on hyper speed. That my friends is at times an understatement. The show goes from Arturo talking to his younger self in his apartment, then joining his younger self in the television, entering a parallel universe, reminiscing about old times, jumping back and forth in time, he enchants with shadow puppets making barking dogs, cats, rabbits, elephants, swans, deer, crocodiles, it is incredible! He impersonates so many characters I couldn’t dream of remembering how many there were! At one point he becomes 27 different characters, just by using a hat, he goes from Prince Charles to a Vatican Saint, all with is lone pliable chapeau. Then he goes through the Hollywood movies, and there ladies and gentleman you have to brace yourself! Arturo transforms into James Bond, Julie Andrews, King Kong, Scarlett O'Hara, in two costumes (including the famous green velvet drapery gown), Darth Vader, Gene Kelly, Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, Jaws, Esther Williams swimming in mid-air, etc. There is a sincere homage to Fellini, as Arturo portrays Fellini’s actors from the great Director’s illustrious body of work. How many costumes does he have? 350. Imagine that?!
It is not easy to transport the audience into the surreal world that Arturo conjures up through his use of comedy, music, magic, video in a unique collage of acting, story-telling, caricature, stunts ….I take my hat off to Arturo Brachetti.
Want to go see the show? Here is a link telling you where it is and selling tickets!
Mexico. A country full of contrasts, so brutal, so gentle, exploding with colours and tantalizing tastes. Mexico City, makes me feel alive, makes me aware of my pulse, beating faster and faster like the beat of a drum as my eyes interpret the views of magnificent gardens, proud trees, heavenly flowers, mind blowing foods, children working streets selling chewing gum and cigarettes, clowns performing when your car stops at a red light, mothers carrying their babies on their back begging for food. The contrasts inject me with a sense of awareness, there is no escape. You cannot turn off the people around you as you switch off the television. You cannot turn the page on what you face, everyday in this incredible city.
Arriving into this glorious city is the best part of all. Your plane should arrive at night, for it is then that the city glistens. Mexico City lies below you like a black sheet, covered in diamonds, sparkling excitedly in the night. The plane glides gently over this magical place for over twenty minutes. That is how enormous this city is. As a little girl I would be in awe at the sheer enormity of what lay beneath me. I loved seeing the little cars in the streets, the lights covering the ground for as far as my little eyes could see. This is when I would start to get butterflies in my tummy. I still do.
When you step off the plane you feel the altitude immediately. Mexico City lies about 2,240 metres above sea level, and the altitude genuinely makes you feel a bit dizzy at first. You step off the plane, and the carpeting seems to pull you towards it. After a few deep breathes, you are perfectly fine. The deep breaths let you take in the new smells around you. I love how my sense slowly familiarize themselves to the smells, sights, feel of the City, and I very quickly feel at home in one of my favourite places in the world.
After arriving in Mexico City, I love that after you have collected your luggage, just before you go out and are welcomed by warm embraces from family, you have to press a button. Yes, a button. Above this mysterious button is a light, similar to a stop light. You press the button and if you get the green light, you can pass. If you, however, get the red light, you have to open your suitcases. It is a harmless check. They just gently plump your clothes and check for drugs. We always carry several smoked salmons. In fact once, the salmon was on top of all my mothers clothes. The woman checking the bag didn't even bat an eye lid, and totally ignored this delicious fish. Perhaps she didn't know what it was?
There is a cake shop right outside of the airport that we have passed for as long as I can remember. The cakes are enormous. Several tiers high. When I see it, I know I am in Mexico City. I don't know why it takes a cake shop to show me this, but it brings it all home to me.
I love tacos al pastor. A kind of slow roasted pork on a spit with pineapple juice slowly inching its way over the scrumptious crispy meat, coated in a mild chili marinade. Every bite is heavenly. When I was little I believe I ate about twenty tacos on my birthday. My Uncle never forgets that after the meal, when we got home, I announced that I would not be washing my hands. Ever. Why? Because I loved the smell of tacos on my fingers, and wanted to be able to savour the smell forever.
My godparents own a ranch, which is where I learnt to play Roulette and Poker. My first game was when I was about 5. To this day all the children of the family learn. Regardless of age, you can sit and play, but you have to listen to the older ones. Ironically we all pray to God, or as my God mother says, "Santa Rita, Santa Rita, escucha esta alma que te grita!" (Saint Rita, Saint Rita, listen to this soul that calls to you!)
Mexico for me is too many things to write about. I would have to write a book about it. Mexico makes me think of:
markets, bartering with the marchantas, listening to my Grandmother play the piano, going to tientas, eating the delicious food at tientas, listening to people tell jokes, eating guzanos de maguey (worms) , drinking soda from plastic bags with a straw sticking out the top, eating popcorn drenched in chile at the cinema, sitting in traffic and watching people go by, mariachis on my birthday, visiting the Virgen de Guadalupe and being so moved by those who approach her on their knees, having come from all over the country, watching films by Pedro Infante (Escuela de Vagabundos) and Cantinflas, eating Mexican sweets, having papaya with lime and orange juice in the morning, eating freshly made tortillas with butter and salt at my Godparent's house, eating mango's de manila like a lollipop, eating aguacates with my Grandmother...........
.........................smelling the sweet breads at the supermarket, going to church and seeing faith at it's worst and at it's best, arriving in Salamanca and seeing shops called "The king of cuts" (a hairdressing salon in a teeny village in Mexico), going to a tiangis (a market selling everything from TV's to Gucci bags..(not real of course, but just as good), Frida Kahlo's house, the canals of Xochimilco, Diego Rivera's murals, the pyramids, the huge mall in Santa fe because it has marble floors, the zoo, the beautiful Ángel de la Independencia, visiting people's homes, talking to the maids, making sopes, the mercado de jamaica for all it's flowers and for the market community who made friends with my father, the mercado en la zona rosa because I love the silver there and love the marchantas there, the smell of the laundry, and the smell of the air very early in the morning.
There are many more things.
But that is enough for now.
Have a great day,
Friday, 23 October 2009
I shall not elucidate upon the intricacies of why this voyage is so important to me. Suffice to say it is.
Whilst scouring the Internet now for two full days, attempting to find the best ticket, best price, best times for my departure, I found myself day dreaming as I waited for the endless pages of flights and prices to upload. My daydreams were, as you can imagine, all about travelling.
Over the years I have been lucky enough to travel quite a lot. Having a Mexican father and an American mother has meant I have been taken to their home countries from six months old, almost every summer. These places, therefore, have become a part of me, of my identity, and hold very special places in my heart. I miss them tremendously.
There are certain memories I especially relish. Today I will list a few of my New York memories. Tomorrow Mexico....
Arriving in New York and seeing the sky line. I remember when the twin towers were still there, the skyline would take my breath away.
Getting in a NY cab. That for me is heaven. The smell of the leather on the seats, a sort of sweet smell of life buzzing around you. I love the air fresher trees that hang from the car mirror. I always wanted my parents to get one. I still do. I get the impression not many people are fans of them. Why not I ask?
There are certain hotels in NY I remember very fondly. The Kimberly, because, my parents got a suite, and I had the living room, with a TV (which i secretly watched after they had fallen asleep!) The Kimberly was around the corner from a McDonald's, and for me, McDonald's for some strange reason was so exotic in the States. I would beg my mother to have one every time we passed it. One day, my mother and I were going back to the hotel to have a nap (I was a young'un) and we passed McDonald's. I begged. Bless my mother. She conceded, and bought us both a meal. Oh the joy! I was thrilled! We got back to the hotel, sat in the kitchen of our room, and ate. When I was done, I realized that McDonald's in NY wasn't as good as the enormous deli burgers, pastrami sandwiches, steaks, french fries I was having at restaurants and deli's. I learnt my lesson. (Not to say McD's is bad, just when you have so much other choice! Why settle?!)
Then there was the Algonquin. The Algonquin is an old famous NY hotel. It is where the theatre and Broadway actors, directors and producers convene, for a martini. It is very charming, very classic, very NY. In the entrance, to the right, was a sort of old fashioned book shelf. The bottom shelf had a four poster bed, for a cat. The hotel cat. As a little girl, this was amazing. As a grown up, it still makes me smile. I walked by there this summer. I had come from a long walk, in trainers, and was not feeling very attractive. I stopped in front of the entrance and smiled as memories of the Algonquin gushed over me. The doorman came out, and commented on how happy I looked. I told him I had such warm memories of the place. He opened the door, and invited me in for a cold drink. I thanked him kindly, but said i would be back in better attire, and would love the drink another day. I have yet to go back. But when I do, I hope that door man is there, he made my day.
NY also means the Metropolitan Museum of Art to me. And of course the MET shop! I love touching all the books on art, and always want to buy everything. They are so delicate, full of knowledge I wish to acquire. I always have been bought a diary, pencil case, maybe a mirror or pen, pr bag from the MET. It is such a treat. This is followed my a hamburger at the Greek deli around the corner, and then a good humour ice cream. I don't have it. My mother does. there is nothing like watching her enjoy her ice cream. It is her child hood flavour, and every time she gets it she melts with happiness, retelling the tales of when she would count her pennies for when the good humour ice cream man would come selling ice creams.
NY also has meant Smith and Wollensky's to me. Again because my mother adores the meat there. Nobody enjoys a good piece of meat like my mother. I remember when I was little I ordered french fries at Smith and Wollensky's and they gave me three. the size of my hand. Enormous. Everything is big. Delicious. And again, just very very NY for me.
Queens. Ah Queens. My mother's birthplace. Jackson heights. Seeing my Grandmother's friends. Imagining my Grandmother, Grandfather, Mother living there so many years ago. Wishing with all my heart that I could have met my Grandparents. Which makes me sad, but at the same time, being there makes me feel they are right next to me. I believe they are.
Chinatown. Once we went to Chinatown with my mother's cousins who are a ball of laughs. I mean they make you laugh 'till you cry. We were the only group at the restaurant. It was a well known one, but we arrived so early, that nobody was eating dinner yet. There was an elevated large table on a stage. We were given this table. Big mistake. We put on a show. Well they did, i sat in awe and laughed. One of my mom's cousins girlfriends was paranoid that the meat was cat meat. It didn't bother me. Whatever it was, it was delish. We always go to Chinatown, we all love the scrumptious food, crab cakes especially, and oh yes, Chinese broccoli. After our meal we walk over to little Italy. To a famous Italian desert place, whose name escapes me right now, but anyways, it is famous to me because once my grandma was there, and Pavarotti entered. She stood up and said in her beaming voice, "Pavarotti! Maestro!" and a paso doble was playing, so they danced towards one another and embraced. This was my Grandma. She gave him his entrance. She didn't need one, she just was a star.
I love the smell of NY. The streets full of the smells escaping homes, restaurants, shops. The mix is mesmerizing, and takes your mind a wandering when you get a sudden gust of air from who knows where. I love the people. You cannot define New Yorkers. People have tried. There are no words for them. each person is different. Each person has their own tale, their own sorrows and joys, that's what makes NY so unique. It is truly a plethora of people that make up this glorious city.
These are the memories I think of when I first think of NY. There are many more. Many that are far too close to my heart to put down in words, they are feelings, that one just can't define. There are friends and family there that I miss, and long to be with every day. One day I may live there a while....for now? I start to adventure to Mexico. Next time I will write to you about Mexico. Mexico Lindo y Querido...
Have a lovely weekend compadres,
There is a Rum festival on Saturday and Sunday at Victoria. It is great fun! Go along and try some samples! You will be so very happy... Here is the link http://www.rumfest.co.uk/rumfest/html/home.html
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Everybody gets sick in their own way. By sick, I mean just the basic cold. Ah, but my friends, the cold can manifest itself in several ways in different people.
There are those that will not acknowledge the cold. They ignore Mrs. Cold. They say, "do do do, I am dot sick...atchoooooo!....I am fiiiide...reeely..." These are the martyrs. They say don't give me pity, but we all know what they really want.
Then there are man colds. You know when your father, boyfriend, guy friends, any male acquaintance gets sick, and they come sniffling towards you, and say "what do I do? How many of these should I take?" Why is it that some men don't understand that it is two, you take two paracetamols, two Tylenol, two Sudafed...TWO! It also says on the box! Maybe it is because women have periods, and we are used to at some point taking some pain killer for that, but many men exaggerate a cold to such an extent you would think there were suffering the bubonic plague. Women have to shed their uterine lining once a month, squeeze a baby out of their vagina..... yet we are at times accused of not tolerating pain as a man. Yet when a man (not all men) has a cold? the world ends. Why? they have a genetically different variable of a cold...it is called man flu. He he...
Then you have those who genuinely ignore the cold. They cover it up extremely well, and feel no self pity, nor want any pit whatsoever. A cold is a cold. Ja, dat iz de vey it iz. Shape up or ship out mentality. Good for those who manage that, I on the other hand prefer love, comfort and yes some pity.
I remember when I was at school there was no better feeling then being allowed to stay home because I was sick. I would wake up, tired, feeling congested, feverish, and would look at my father who would wake me up, smearing on the thickest 'sick' accent I could manage I'd whisper faintly, "papa, I am so sick. I just CANNOT go to school today". I hated when this was met by, "Ay Jenny, get up, have a shower. You will feel better. You will see". The thing was I didn't want to see! I didn't want to feel better! This was at a time when I was doing my International Baccalaureate, the most work I have ever done. I would stay up until about two every day, doing all sorts of essays, projects, homework, attempting to be a normal sixteen year old at the same time, (not easy...) and so at six when I was awoken by my alarm clock father, I was rarely in the mood to remove myself from bed. There was a time when I would attempt to feel better, and would in fact get up, shower and trudge sulkily off to school, however, this quickly fizzled and I started to know that when the sick feeling was there, I was staying home, that was that. (It didn't happen that often, so I don't feel bad about it).
When you have decided to stay home, from school, work, anything you were meant to do, but you just don't feel up to, there is nothing better than laying your head back down on the pillow. The bed almost hugs you saying "it's okay. No guilty feelings, you deserve to rest...." Ah, it is heavenly. I used to love sleeping in when I knew all my friends were at school. I indulged in this sensation, and when I finally did get up, I would savour a delicious breakfast and watch one of my favourite films, imagining what people were doing as I sat there squealing with happiness on my sofa. Ha ha ha! Those were the days ey?
My mother used to come home with treats for me, a "boller", which are Norwegian sweet breads with raisins, and cardamom (scrumptious), or "kanelboller" which are buns with cinnamon, and my father would rent me a film. Oh it was bliss! I suppose I love attention (who doesn't?) and the love and consolation you get when you are ill is just sublime.
One summer, my parents and I on our usual visit to my God parents ranch in Mexico, I woke up smelling the gorgeous wave of bacon, freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly made tortillas, and scrambled eggs. There is no better place in the world to wake up in. I got up, and meandered in my bare feet and pyjamas to the living room. I joined my Godparents, and parents, and stared out at the table, sipping on my scrumptious orange juice. "What oh what shall I begin with", my greedy little eyes and belly thought to themselves. It was at this moment, however, that I realized I had no feeling in my left arm. "Strange..." I thought, but the food looked so good, so I was almost distracted enough, when, "ah! I have lost all feeling in my arm". Not even food could distract me from this eerie fact. I panicked slightly. "Mama, I can't feel my arm" I muttered with now watery eyes. "Jenny, go have a shower, and you'll feel better, come on now". Reluctantly, I got up, and begrudgingly I locked myself in the bathroom, turned on the shower, and started to undress. But my left arm was just not working. It felt as thought it had fallen into a deep sleep, without the pins and needles. It was just a heavy limb hanging from my side! At this point fear hit me. I dived back into my clothes and ran into the living room, at this point quite hysterical. "Mama, Papa, really! I cannot feel my arm....and now....my throat..it feels tight...it is...closing up!!"
Now my parents realized this was serious. In what can only be described as a mess of a situation, they all attempted to decide what to do with me. My God mother suggested taking me to the vet. The closest doctor for humans was a thirty minute car ride away, and in the words of my God mother "she may not make it there...." With the thought of me dying, and having to go see a vet to save my life, you can imagine I was not feeling tremendously happy. At this point, I believe I was crying. Perhaps even sobbing. My right arm had by this point lost feeling, so I remember standing in front of everybody manically attempting to make a plan to save their little jenny, whilst i stood before them, head hung, slobbering and sobbing, without use of my arms. It was ridiculous. Finally, my parents guided me to the car, and off we went to the doctor for humans. We decided we would make it.
Half way there, my throat was closing tightly. I remember trying to breathe calmly, but when your throat is constricting, staying calm is quite difficult. When we finally arrived at the doctors, who was waiting for us with family friends who happened to have three sons, all standing there looking at the poor maiden (me)...I fell into the doctors arms, and I believe said something along the lines of "thank God you are here....thank God". You must understand the relief was enormous. I thought my days were up!
I was given intravenous...everything. Antidotes, drugs galore. I was so dizzy, I felt as if everyone was talking in slow motion. Sound was reverberating in my head. The doctor and my father started talking about bullfighting, the three boys stood over me, making sure I didn't die. At one point they attempted to feed me yogurt. I almost threw up, so they removed it from my face. My mother sat by my side, worrying, and finally made the doctor clarify what he was giving me. "How many drugs are you giving my daughter!" When he tried to tell her it was alright in a pedantic tone, I think she just pointed at me and said "this (as in my gaga face) is not alright....I want you to list what you have given her and why". He stopped pumping me with drugs, and I lifted my arm to say yay to my mother. Blood flowed down my intravenous tube, and I remember that it made me queasy. I had to go to the bathroom, and my mother had to walk me there. It was as if I was extremely drunk. I had no control over my legs, and as I kept on lifting my arm, I kept getting disgusted by seeing blood in my tubes....it was a mess. I just remember laughing drunkenly with my mother, and thinking how bizarre the whole situation was.
Finally I was disconnected from tubes, and sort of carried home. I lay down two hours, and when I got up I felt fit as a fiddle. Si fit I was out playing football with the guys that evening. I suppose that is why people say I overreacted. I say, "no!", I am just incredibly brave, and a quick at recuperating. Ha. It is true.
The baby scorpion was found. In my room. the doctor thought I had been bitten in my sleep, or my a young scorpion, as I didn't feel the bite, and that numbness is a common result of a young insect who doesn't know how to inject the poison yet. But these are boring details, the fact is, I was bitten, it was dramatic, and a scorpion was involved. I was brave. Not a hypochondriac. In the slightest. End of story.
Now for all of you who are sick, as it is cold season, try some chamomile tea (te de manzanilla), with a teeny bit of honey, and lemon. Or just boiled water with honey and lemon (I prefer lime). Also if you have to drink, have some brandy it warms you up. Whiskey is said to be very good. I prefer tequila. Sleep lots, and change your tooth brush. Most importantly have some Jewish Penicillin (Chicken soup.....)
Monday, 19 October 2009
The texture, taste, and feel of what we experience on a daily basis is one that we, who have all of our senses in tact, at times fail to appreciate fully.
The people participating in the project described how for them, a picture was capturing an image that felt beautiful. Their other senses, heightened by the lack of their ability to see, such as hearing, touch and smell, allowed them to imagine, feel, what shot would interpret how they saw, in their minds eye, the world in that moment, and capture it.
This project was successful in challenging how those who see, as well as those who don't, assume that blind people are unable to visually appreciate their surroundings. Importantly this project also served as a form of rehabilitation, encouraging the blind to be more secure of themselves, less afraid to walk in the streets, and manage to get around on their own. It also opened up dialogue between blind and seeing friends, shedding light on how ironically, it is often those that can see that are blinded by an incorrect preconception that visual perception relies solely on our eyes.
Watch the short. Perhaps we should all try and appreciate what is around us more fully, more honestly, and be more aware of our surroundings, appreciating the gestures by kind friends or even strangers, the love from those close to us, and really see beyond the tip of your nose...beyond what is in front of us...
Here is the link to the short. Enjoy!
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Salted marcona's (almond's), pistachios, peanuts, and lastly cacahuates Japoneses. The last ones are to be found in Mexico - direct translation is "Japanese peanuts". I know they are not Japanese, I don't know why they are described as Japanese, in Spanish "Japoneses". They are, however, truly delicious, crunchy, lemony, divine. If you don't believe me, here is the bag so you can see they are really called Japanese (in case you go to Mexico and must satisfy your craving, these are the best)....
Secondly I love olives. Mmmmmm, Glorious Olives. I didn't honestly like them until my older brother introduced me to them at the age of about four. I liked them because he liked them. At first I was shocked at this salty grape, and spat it out. Seeing all the adults enjoying them so I strived to love them. Lo' and behold, now I do. I love them both, green and black, any kind, from any place...(well I love the black kalamata most). Just look at them! Yum!
What about some meat? I am no meat eater really, but give me some jamón serrano or jabugo and I eat it all, licking my fingers as I go! Jamón serrano is a dry cured Spanish ham. There are many types, and the quality depends on the type of pig, what it was fed, what part of it was used to make this scrumptious ham, and the manner in which the ham was cured.
The best is Jamón ibérico, Iberico ham, also called pata negra, is made from the black Iberian Pig.....
This pig lives mostly in the south and south western parts of Spain, and southeast of Portugal. There are three categories of Jamón ibérico;
- The finest, juiciest, and incidentally most expensive jamón ibérico is called jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn). Roaming oak forests (called la dehesa) along the border between Spain and Portugal, these pigs have a strict diet of ONLY acorns. during this last period. The roaming and acorns combined have a wonderful impact on the flavour of the meat, and after it is cured for 36 months (!) it is worthy of being a person's last meal...
- Second best (but still, pardon my French, fucking divine!!!!) is jamón ibérico de recebo. These piggies get acorns AND grain (how the other pigs must envy them!)
- Lastly (and again, absolutely to die for..) is the jamón ibérico de pienso, or simply, jamón ibérico. This little piggy is only fed grain....then cured for 24 months.
Sometimes you hear Spanish people say "Jabugo" as an umbrella term for jamón ibérico. This is because the little village of Jabugo, in the north of the province of Huelva, is almost entirely devoted to making jamón ibérico. Their piggy's are happy 700 metres above sea level, and enjoy the weather .... Meaning that their ham is scrumptious, and well known, so if you hear Jabugo, now you know why and what it is (jamón ibérico).
Now add to the mix some cheese, something simple, manchego cheese (a sheep's milk cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain).
Almost done now.
Try some boquerones fritos (fried anchovy's. Did you know, I always thought there were sardines. I hate anchovy's! Apparently I don't! ha! One learns something new everyday no?)
These glorious little fried fish fit right in your mouth. Add some lemon, and indulge. Crispy, tasty, with a zing, you just cannot go wrong with these little fellas.
If you are in London try the Tapas place in Borough Market called Tapas Brindisa.
If you want a good list of tapas places in London try this website: http://www.tapasbrindisa.com/
Also, it seems that tapas are being expanded to not only Spanish food but Italian. Polpo, on Beak Street, has a cosy feel to it. Enjoy a glass of rose, in an actual glass not wine glass, some olives, and several Italian small plates. Tasty, delightful. Having opened only 13 days ago Polpo has done exceedingly well. They are also very friendly. Go have a look, it is worth it. http://www.polpo.co.uk/
Okay, well I leave you for the weekend. I hope it is a greatly magnificent one, eat well, drink well, laugh lots, enjoy friends and family...if you need more inspiration go to Timeout London :