Tuesday, June 28, 2005

7:45 am

Driving to work, the morning radio show is on. This one is hosted by a married Compatrido couple: the drag in their speech (unlike the Outposters' vocal hopscotch when they speak Compatridese) and the smartarse sense of humour would give them away, anyway.

At 7:45 they comment on gay rights in the context of dark (butt)holes, stereotypically hystrionic queerboys (they actually used the word), dressing in drag (in tights, more specifically) and kids without a mum (hypothetically adopted by two gay men, that is).

Think about it: a foreign couple with a radio show on a major radio station (Energy) abusing gay people at 7:45 am.
"Beat that!", said Jod.

At 8:10, when I was parking, they were still on air. You should have figured that out. I did not ring the station to protest: they would reply that I take good natured humour too seriously, or (worse! god forbid!) that I am gay.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Three easy pieces

The great passions of this small land: kids, houses, food, chauvinism. Houses: Last Saturday, Yu's husband told us apologisingly four times how small their new house is (it is not), after having given us a tour of it.

Elective affinities: Last Friday, at a live music scene, where PhiPhil (in his mid twenties), who both pH and myself have worked with in the past, plays electric guitar. The following day, in a garden party, a bunch of 50-somethings, succoured by some 30-somethings, grab an acoustic guitar and start strumming and singing. The same morose, sometimes even morbid, Compatrido ballads and slow dance pieces in both cases. In all cases, maybe the appeal of almost grandiose lyrics and certainly the overflow of pathos and feeling.

The art of divination? During daytime, it is hot outside. There are many tell-tale signs, one of them is the kitchen cupboard crammed with the mugs stored in it. Usually the mug space in the cupboard is more comfortable, as at least two of them would be drying on the dish rack at any given time. But it's been a long time since we've had a hot drink.

At night, a welcome breeze, coming god knows from where.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Rules of disengagement

I've just had a meeting with eleS, who is unfortunate enough to be a Russian woman in the Outpost. In the morning, someone got her on the phone, wrong number. Alas, enticed by a young, female, Slavic voice at the other end of the line, the anonymous caller went on to text and ring her continually (thrice while she was in my office), asking her to meet him on a blind date, although she would repeatedly text him to leave her alone.

Exasperated, the wooer texted her:
OK sOrry fOr the disterb bye bye sweet hard

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Imprecation

Just came back from a trip to Big Resort, where we were invited to join some colleagues of Jod's to a fish restaurant. Because we woke up at noon (see below why), we rang them to say we would only make it for coffee. "That's all right, fine, cool, see you." On our way there, they texted us to find them at the fish restaurant, so we thought they would be waiting for us to move on to a cafe.

Once we arrived there, a series of facts (or 'realities', as they like to call them here) became evident: First of all, many more people than just the colleagues had just had lunch, coffee and dessert. We sat at the table but we were not introduced to anyone, this is common here: people do not introduce if it involves even the slightest bother -- everybody who is anybody is somebody's cousin, after all. Then, nobody addressed us, not even Jod's colleagues (with whom we had gone out before) and everyone continued doing what they were up to: texting, playing games on their mobile, ordering more water, coffee and ice cream, staring at the infinity through the glaringly bright balmy atmosphere. All this, against the relentless drone of a fat guy (who turned out to be the owner of the fish restaurant) going on for the total of 90 minutes we spent there, talking utter and complete rubbish to the half of the table that he found worth addressing. Actually, it was Antonia, a 4 year old, who asked Jod to go have a look at the pelicans with her (there were two pet pelicans next door). Then Antonia asked me to go see the pelicans with her, as well. Then I spent an hour or so staring blankly, waiting for someone of those who had invited us to talk to me or Jod (so that I can join into the discussion). No luck. For the first time in many years, I got so angry and frustrated in a social gathering, I was ready to cry in public. Why the hell did they invite us there anyway? Antonia saved me again, by summoning me to visit the pelicans for a second time. Eventually the fat guy finished talking on the minutiae of restaurant book-keeping, on how to keep frying oil going for a week, on the deplorable restaurant habits of Outposters and even more trite stuff, so we all left.

At the end of the ninety minute ordeal of silence, we had got addressed only by Antonia and one of Jod's colleagues wondering whether we wanted coffee or watermelon.

So, to all you Outposters who, in these three years, have invited us only to immediately forget about us:

Curse you, curse you antisocial and complex-ridden gits.
Curse you for not knowing how to treat a guest, for not caring how to make someone feel comfortable and welcome.
Curse you for making Asperger's patients feel warm, engaging and sociable in comparison.
Curse you for profusely advertising the warmth and hospitality of your people, inept sociopaths interested only in your own folks.
Curse you for inviting us all the way to Big Resort, to a bar, to your place for dinner only to abandon us in the midst of food, drinks or even leftovers, making us feel redundant and miserable. It was not the first and it was not the last time you do this to us and others, so curse you.

Funny that all this followed A+'s party last night, a grand and wonderful success, as A+'s parties always are.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Simple pleasures

Succesfully furnishing everyday life can be very difficult. One of the ways to do this is to seek the company of others, especially interesting others. Last night we went to the Climber and the Designer's place. The Climber is a mountain climber (Himalayas and all) and a gym owner and an insurance agent. The Designer designs jewellery and works in a bank, which is what cool people seem to do here.

They were very relaxed, in a relaxed home where their kids -- one of them a teenager, a friend they are putting up, his kid, the Nepalese domestic helper and a number of funny-looking shy cats all floated around in grace and harmony. The friend, Co. Meath, is the fabled Irishman who opened the first real café in the Outpost in the distant past, as early as 1999. Before that, and him, there were only touristy cafes here, also serving full English breakfasts and pasta (you can have a glimpse at a sample here), but no tiramisu, (good) espresso or brownies... His café is still among the best in the Capital, although overpopular with local characters of the more colourful sort (car keys on the table, designer sunglasses, excess of makeup, latest mobile on the table, ugly looks expensively pampered, no conversation, forced coolness, dodgy fashion choices), thus avoided. Co. Meath now runs a Knightsbridge café, so not bad at all.

Takeaway, a football match, chatting, jewellery samples, mosquito stories from New Zealand (they are very aggressive there) and here (they are not so aggressive here), Co. Meath remembering the celebrities who have patronised his Knightsbridge place (he once taught Bon Jovi a lesson in punctuality and served three cappuccinos to Michael Caine, Roger Moore and Sean Connery, who were having a break together): the evening passed quickly and pleasantly.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Foreign food

When I was a child, my family would spend some time at my maternal grandparents' place every summer and during Easter holidays. We would often be joined by uncles, aunts and cousins. One of the highlights of these visits was my grandmother's cooking: fried eggs tasting implausibly delicious, fresh baked bread, tomato spaghetti, slow-cooked roast chicken dishes, pies... and the blasted mantı, of which I couldn't even pronounce the name, due to its foreign and seemingly indeterminate-sounding final vowel, which would come out as either 'manti' or 'mantu'.

To my child's eyes and taste buds, mantı, fervently adored by everyone else in the family, looked and tasted like a really good idea gone to waste: First came the oven baked thick fyllo pastry dumplings filled with a mix of meat and other stuff. So far so good. Then, alas, came the sauce made of yoghurt, water and mashed garlic. The mere sight of it I found repulsive, as for the taste, unbearable to even think of: the sourness of yoghurt entwined with the burn of garlic. Even worse, every plate filled with the poor soggy dumplings swimming soup-like in this yoghurt concoction was topped with a mix of butter and red pepper. Mantı cooking days were days of mourning for me and I would eat the dumplings straight, set aside especially for me, with a fork, looking away from the others' plates and the ceremonious choreography of their spoons stained with yoghurt going up and down.

I have just finished eating two bowls of the thing, which I cooked earlier tonight. With Russian frozen pelmenyi dumplings, unfortunately. Granma having been dead for 22 years now, this is as good as it gets. But, once more, I tonight felt that some chances should be grabbed while there is time.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The need for beauty

I have been wanting to post images of beauty here for some time, for the benefit of us all. As I am not really a nature lover, I belong to those who feel beauty is primarily that of the human body. Nevertheless, I would not really post pictures of nudes, given that most of them are copyrighted (to others, obviously). Not to mention that a blog featuring nudes on top of fictionally named real places and people, funerals, lazy film reviews, anecdotes, rant, casual observations, online tests, music suggestions, daily musings and whatever else there is to be found in here, would only make this place even weirder. Can I afford this? Not really, after Big T (hello uncle!) called this blog "eccentric".

The above need to post images of beauty this evening found a confluence with a trickling sense of guilt for always portraying the Outpost as a grotesque, ugly and nasty place. I felt I had to partly make up for this. So, I turned back to landscapes, Outpost landscapes, to present you the following pictures.


empty yard

monastery

no audience

pebbles

gothic

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Norway II

A newly found online friend insisted to know more about Norway and whether it met my 'high expectations'. I am not sure I had any expectations really. But let me see.

Norway seems like my kind of country: forested and cool; but then, maybe too cool, viz. unseasonally cold. I am not talking about the people, though: Norwegians were smiling and laid back; they look like they know how to have fun and show it. Throwing in an example for the sake of comparison, consider the Danish (hello Hyperborean Hunter! hello Ritta!): are they having fun? are they bored? do they look nonchalant to save face? are they mortally insulted? impossible to tell in the first 30 minutes (or more), just by reading their ironic-expectant facial expressions. Norwegians are not like this.

In a way, Norway made me both nostalgic of the British buzz (can be too subdued) and made me pity the British mess (things work, quite nicely too).

I am not sure I have more details to give. During most of the trip I was preoccupied with other matters and in Trondheim I mainly watched TV in my hotel room, trying to make sense of people talking on Swedish, Danish and Norwegian programmes (I still prefer the Danish intonation -- Swedes thought I was nuts, Norwegians were plainly enraged).

I guess the experience was also spoiled because I flew there and back via Amsterdam, where I had long layovers. I found Amsterdam even more rundown and even more pitifully in the hands of crappy tourists: mainly American kids after lotsa weed, you know, to get high, and Mediterranean kids after some sex, you know, for a change. Still, I once more realised I adore this country (well, the Randstad) and will continue to, the way it goes.

(Quote of the day: “But isn’t it offensive to call them Turks?”)

(Placename of the month: Hell, Norway and the nearby Helltunnel.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The 51st (?) State

Flying back to the Outpost the other day, I remembered a discussion between two flight attendants on a Flying Sheep Airways (the Principality's national carrier) plane, just before the take off of my first flight out of here, years ago. We were slightly delayed, so the young flight attendant says to an older senior one, who was standing beside me:

"The delay is due to a complication with a passenger holding a Puerto Rican passport: the authorities were not sure whether they should let him board the plane."
"I see."
"But, isn't Puerto Rico part of the US? What is the problem?"
"Oh no, Puerto Rico isn't an American state, that's why they have separate passports..."
"Aha..."
"... Venezuela, on the other hand, is an American state, but they do not count it because it is on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico", clarified the senior flight attendant.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Norway

The dark green land, due to the extensive and dense forests punctuated by snow, especially when viewed from an approaching plane, is Norway. The trip there was, again, on business; to Trondheim. I have some pictures for you, with brief commentary.

The main landmark of the beautiful city is its Cathedral, where St. Olaf (the patron saint of the country) is buried.

Trondheim Cathedral

The rest of the city centre looks like this:


Trondheim generique

and this:


Bakklandet

It is as beautiful as it looks, although all the nastiness (malls, industrial estates etc.) is actually tucked away behind the forested hills...

The view from my hotel room, at midnight was the one below. Don't be fooled by the workings of digital photography; the light was enough to read a newspaper.


Midnight hotel window

The city sky is full of seagulls; sadly, one of them did not make it:


dead seagull

Bicycles were everywhere, as well, on the pavements mostly. One bike shop sported this nazi-looking brand sign, of an, apparently Danish, bike company:


sinister sign

The city gallery, from a slightly 'Hammershøi' point of view:


Hammershøi revisited

The days I spent there were graduation days, for both schoolkids,

graduation day

and students.

graduation day II

Thursday, June 02, 2005

[...]

Currently in a dark green land.

Watch this space.

Farvel.