Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Which I Learn to Navigate in Three Languages, And None of Them Well

I've been in Geneva now for nearly a week. Still a little jet-lagged and trying to adapt to working in an office where air conditioning is not the norm. Plus, I don't speak French, so that's its own challenge. Still, I'm having a lovely time and am hoping this leads to a longer-term gig. All I know is, I don't want to blow this opportunity and I'm feeling a little gun shy from my last three jobs in D.C.--all of which did not end positively, but from which I learned a great deal.

Saturday, Dr. Lala and I (Dr. Lala's the friend I'm staying with in her home in the French countryside) went to the farmer's market in Geneva. I've seen some beautiful produce at markets when I lived in California, but this market put all those to shame. I found four varieties of radishes, five kinds of pineapple, three types of bananas, six kinds of strawberries, not to mention the countless varieties of mushrooms, artichokes, and aubergines to be had. Throw in a few cheese mongers and bread stands, as well as a couple of Basque butchers carving ham taken from pigs that are raised on nothing but black acorns, and you have a gastronome's heaven. And a photographer's, too!

Scattered throughout the fruit, vegetable, bread, cheese, and meat stands were flower vendors. Oh la la! The flowers, mon amis. The flowers. I spent a good fifteen minutes watching and photographing one couple who were working with the flower vendor to create a bouquet of roses and peonies and greenery that were stunning. But what struck me as much, if not more, than the flowers was the couple. I tried to photograph them in a way that captured the intimacy of their relationship without cluttering the picture with noise and busyness. I have to say, I think I'm kind of proud of the results.

I'm not going to write a lot here about where I work, except to say that what I'm doing is timely and collaborative and I'm enjoying it. The other day, I was in a meeting where only three of us were native English speakers. The rest of the participants were from Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and France. What was exciting was watching all of these people from various cultures and languages work beyond their cultural differences and come together to do good for the people of the world. Pretty dang cool, if you ask me!

I'd love to send postcards to folks, but the damn things cost a fortune over here--CHF 1 or about $1.20/card. No thanks! To see more of what I'm seeing as I'm over here, visit D.C. Confidential.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 05/09


Lucy said...

Do you need a secretary? I can type like the wind. :)

Rebecca said...

I'm such a sucker for berries - looking at those pictures I almost want to cry.

Cele said...

Wow, fresh currants, yum. I remember finding fresh currants growing in Yosemite once when I was little. Delisious until I got my butt beat for eating something that could kill me (really it was probably because I gave them to my sister and brother too.)

I rescind my request for a post card. Wow, that is expensive.

Oh great, my word verification is- wait for it


Maya said...

She doesn't look to happy to me judging by her stance. Are you sure he wasn't just being controlling?

The market shots are great. I'm envious of the amount of produce. I wish the market here would get going and bring in some decent fruit!

Adriana Velez said...

I love the photos of the couple. I think they're buying flowers for her sick mother.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow.

Janet Kincaid said...

Lucy: Man, I could have used your mad typing skills during a teleconference yesterday where I had to take verbatim notes. Oy. Abysmal.

Rebecca: I think those pictures have inspired similar emotional outbursts in others, too.

Cele: LOL! Sounds like a stunt I would have pulled as a kid. As for your word verification: Yikes!

Maya: It's a good question. Since I don't speak French, I don't know what was being said between them, but they looked like they were comfortable together. She actually leaned into him at one point, so my interpretation was, they were happy to be together. As for the market itself, it was amazing! I wish American markets were this stocked. I think Pike Place comes sort of close...

Adriana: Oh, I like that story line! Very sweet.

Phoebe: Wow! is one word for it!

foundinidaho said...

Tewkes, lovely photos! I've not been to this part of Europe (only other parts, briefly, for work) and it looks wonderful. Looking forward to seeing more photos and blog posts.

The only French I've tried to speak was when the rude Parisian cab driver I tried to hire hated me, or maybe it was all Americans. I tried to say something rude and failed miserably. I'd love to learn real French (to say nice things).

mary ann said...

Haven't yet tried it, but we heard about Hazel mail just before we headed over here. You upload your photo, type in your message and the address, and Hazel sends it for you. It is $1.50, which turns out to be cheaper than the postcard + postage. Plus you get to use your own fabulous pictures!