All Posts by ‘Olga Brajnović

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I miss the noise of the old newsroom

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I don’t think I’m old yet. And I believe I’m on top of the technology but I’m sure that many of my young colleagues would consider me antediluvian if I would tell them how I worked on my first years as a reporter.

There were no computers, no cell phones, no internet. Me and my coworkers had to search for information directly from our sources, using phone cabins on the streets, and our phone line in the office, direct interviews, and after that write your story typing on typewriters in the newsroom. There were enormous archives to look for background information stored in thousands of folders filled with papers and photos.

Our newsroom hadn’t even a typewriter par person, and there were competitions to catch one and be the first one to write the news.

Those years a very important element in the desks was a jar with a little brush and glue. This was because when while typing , when you made a mistake you had to literally “cut” the paper and “paste” the piece with the right words (using the glue) to a blank paper to continue writing the rest of the information.

The newsroom was filled with noise from the typewriters, the teletypes, the phones, the loud voices of the journalists… Somehow, in the middle of all that ruckus it was possible to concentrate to write in a hurry the assignment of the day before the deadline. And we had a great time.

When the computers arrived all the noise disappeared and somehow the great atmosphere of the newsroom suddenly was gone. Now there is also exciting and interesting but it’s different.

So, call me antediluvian: I miss the noise of the old newsrooms.

Ragtag Daily Prompt Antediluvian

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Target of jokes

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When I was little, I was the target of jokes of choice for my classmates, because I couldn’t speak properly Spanish. I had went to school not knowing a single word of the language, because we were immigrants and at home we spoke Croatian.

I was constantly making mistakes and messing words. I remember that even the teacher laughed on me once I made a mistake when I was trying to tell her that I wanted to leave because I was having a migraine and she provoke, with her answer, the laughter of the whole class. I was really desperate so I left and went home.

There was another little girl with problems with the Language. We didn’t know, but she had a neurological illness. She had trouble understanding the meaning of some words. Sometimes, the teacher asked us one by one about the correct use of some prepositions or adverbs and that girl always failed. The others laughed at her. Not me. I found it too cruel. I couldn’t but feel sorry for her.I wanted to help her but I didn’t know how .

Not too long after that, she died from her illness. That day all the jokes and laughs in the classroom became bewilderment and tears.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Target

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Atavism

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Over here we have many gastronomic societies. Some of them are simply that: a group of friends who get together to have a very good cooked meal in a nice environment.

But there are others that are organized to celebrate the wonders of a particular product: So we have The brotherhood of white asparagus, The brotherhood of olive oil, the brotherhood of the red pepper and many more. All of them, or almost all, with their medieval looking banner, its uniforms (hats with feathers and long cloaks) and its ancestral language to make public proclamations. They don’t have reunions or assemblies , they have “Chapters”. When they admit new members, usually among famous people they organize a ceremony imitating the order of ancient knights. And they finish with a nice banquet. Of course.

I’m sure they have a great time tasting their favourite meals doing those things. What I don’t understand is why a bunch of grown men have such a need to disguise themselves and play that way.

I have to say that most of their time, when they are not in Chapter or ordering new members, they spend it working to promote their product in the market, That is true.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Atavism

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Bastion

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My city keeps its ancient walls all around the old quarter, with its bastions, battlements, bulwarks, part of its moat, its beautiful citadel, even a gate with a wooden drawbridge which is still working.

Obviously, they no longer are used as a defence against the enemy, and around the city walls there are parks and green areas. When I was a kid I used to play knights and princesses over there with my brother and my sisters.

A stick as a sword and our imagination in such a scenery made wonders. We made up thousand of stories; each one more fantastic than the previous. We could play for hours and never get bored.

Now I don’t see so many children playing around the city walls the way we used to. Maybe knights and princesses and castles are not “cool” any more, or maybe is hard for kids to imagine adventures of the lost centuries outside a video game. Who knows!

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Bastion

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I was in a pickle! (or the story of the Symphony Number 3)

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Many years ago, I worked as an intern in a radio station making interviews and reporting about culture. I had to fill a space of three minutes with news about the music events in the city. One day I had prepared an interview with the conductor of an orchestra who was going to perform that evening the Brahms Symphony Number 3. But he failed me at the last moment. I was in a pickle! I had three minutes empty to fill with whatever.

I decided to search in the archive of the radio station the record of the Symphony and talk a little about it and about the orchestra, but the archive was very messy. Plus I have a kind of dyslexia, so instead of looking for the box with the label Brahms Symphony number 3, I was looking desperately for the label Symphony number 1.

The clock was ticking And I heard from the archive my boss on air saying: “…and in a few seconds our contributor Olga will tell us the lasts news about culture in our city”.

So I prayed with all my strength: dear God let me find the record! …And suddenly I saw it! The box with the label I was looking for: the Symphony Number 1.

I took it and went running to the studio, gave it to the technician and sit down next to my boss, ready to talk at the microphone. When I checked to my notes, I realized in dismay my mistake. But just then, the technician put on the record and the music that sounded was the Symphony number 3 . The one I needed. The record was inside the wrong box! . I had would never found it if I hadn’t made that mistake with the numbers.

I really think my prayers were heard that day.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pickle

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RDP #7 – PURPLE

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For the ones feeling disappointed for the disappearance of the WordPress daily prompt there is a wonderful initiative out there, the RagTag Daily Prompt. Today, the promoters of the idea have launched a site to publish the prompts: https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com

Welcome to the Ragtag Community Blog.  This is the place where all our Ragtag Daily Prompts will be located, so it should be much easier for everyone to play along.  We are indebted to Leaping Toes from Oh Border! for establishing the Ragtag Community Blog for us and for you.

Without further ado, here is the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Thursday, 7 June 2018.  We invite you to post something related to purple

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Purple

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I hate being negative, but purple reminds me to the dead, because is the colour of the funerals in the church.

I have too recent my mom’s funeral, with all the priests dressed in purple chasuble, singing songs about the everlasting life, in wich I firmly believe.

It was a very sad day, because is always hard to say good-bye. Above all when there is so much love involved.

Now her home is no longer a home, but a strange empty place. It was also a day of hope, because she went to a better life, stopped suffering and finally rested. And I’m sure she’s now with dad in heaven, wich was her biggest wish.

But we, down here, would like to have her more time, to hear her stories, laugh with her, feel her love for us, her children.

I have spent my last five years taking care of her since she had a stroke. I still getting up in the morning thinking: I have to go to take care of mom… And then the harsh truth strikes my mind like a hammer. I have no longer where to go.

Well, I have found places to go and things to do, but without mom.

My life has changed completely.I miss her badly.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Purple

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Nightmare

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Speaking about nightmares is dangerous. I don’t know if there are out there reading this , dream interpreters who can deduce things about my inner self I don’t want to reveal.

I’ll write though about a recurring nightmare I have had for a long time.

To explain it I have to describe a little one of the main streets of my city. It has two big roundabouts with a big fountain in the middle. When I was a kid, I couldn’t distinguish one from the other and I thought that there was only one fountain, so I couldn’t understand why sometimes there were certain buildings around and sometimes there were other buildings completely different. When I went for the first time for a walk with my parents all the way down that street and we passed by the two fountains, I understood and got somehow oriented.

In my nightmare I’m out doing some errands and arrive to one of the roundabouts. Suddenly I lose balance and fall down. I get completely dizzy, and when I open my eyes, all the buildings and the streets around the fountain are different. I get up and try to go home but the streets keep changing its place, so I get completely lost. I feel like in a labyrinth. Finally, when I think I recognise something near my home I end up in a cul-de-sac where there is only a dirty, black charcoal warehouse, guarded by a threatening dog growling and barking loud.

Then I wake up.

In the picture, one of the fountains of my confusion 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Nightmare

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Sleepy interview

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A seasoned journalist from my newsroom had had a harsh polemic with a politician, the secretary of education of the regional government. She basically called him a liar in a column. He was furious and he threatened with stopping the source of info about his department. I was then one of the youngest reporters of the newspaper, but my boss sent me to try to fix the problem by offering him a broad interview about his goals and projects.

Reluctantly, he accepted and told me to go see him right after lunch.

My first interview with a  member of the government! I got ready with a battery of questions written in my notebook and my tape recorder.

Those days – it was my first year in the newsroom and I was the reporter for everything – I had been working non stop from early in the morning till very late at night and I was exhausted.

When I arrived to the office of the politician, I noticed, pretty surprised, that he was scared of me, a beginner. He awaited me ready with a stack of notes with all kind of data about all the questions I could possibly ask. I have never felt before like that the power of my profession.

It was summer, the day was very hot, the sun was shining and he had lowered the blinds to maintain the office fresh. I sat down in a very comfortable chair in front of him, turned on my tape recorder, asked my first question, began to take notes and the next thing I remember was an uneasy silence.

I opened my eyes and saw a descendant line in my notebook. I looked up and saw the man looking at me flummoxed. I just had fallen asleep! In the middle of the interview!
I looked at my list of questions, uttered the second one, and… yes. I did it again: another silence, another crazy line in my notebook…
– I’m sorry… I began to say
– Would you like a cup of coffee? he interrupted me
– Please
We managed to finish the interview and it was a good one.

(In the picture, me, as a reporter)

Flummoxed

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Insight

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I used to follow the concerts backstage, because I had to work: report about the event and interview the artists. Once there was a concert by a duo of Cello and Contrabass.

The virtuosi musicians were Italians. The cello player was a short and vivacious man, with long curly grey hair and the Contrabass player was a silent tall and thin guy, with short black hair and somehow disturbing yellow eyes as I’ve never seen in my life.

The cello player was trying to give me an insight on how hard was the life of the artists: Many hours of practice, constant travels, no time for the family… Untill he made a dramatic move and took the left hand of his companion and extended also his own hands to show me the cracks and calluses in their fingers caused by the strings of their instruments. Impressive. I hadn’t doubt he was telling the truth, but his last gesture convinced me.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Insight

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Redux

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Once a friend went to the Netherlands and brought a tulip bulb in a beautiful box. It was winter. She put the box on a shelf over a heater in her room because it was so decorative and forgot about it.

One day, I was talking with her – it was already Spring – and I noticed that the box was swollen. I asked her What was it and she suddenly remembered that it was time past to plant the tulip bulb.

We opened the box and saw that the tulip had grown screwed around the bulb, and the flower had opened but absolutely white, without any colour, because it hadn’t seen a ray of sun.

We planted the tulip in the garden and it survived, with a twisted stem and a flower pale orange instead of red.

The following year we did everything right and at the proper time, and the flower bloomed splendorous: tall and red, beautiful.

Ragtag Daily Prompt

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Homely tradition

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Since we don’t have the daily prompt I have turned back for inspiration in the Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Topic Generator at http://topicgenerator.wordpress.com It provides you a random noun combined with a random adjective as a headline for your blog post.
Today it gave me the combination “Homely Tradition”
The first thing it came to my mind was music.

When we were kids my dad used to wake us up in feast days and special occasions with music. He would turned on the record player and surprised us with some joyful classic.

We would jumped up from bed and would run to the living room knowing that something special was waiting for us. A little gift, a funny poem, and that was only the beginning of a wonderful day in wich wouldn’t fail a delicious cake baked by mom.

So, from our childhood we have the music associated to joy and nice family life, because we also sang together a lot. Nowadays in the era of the headphones the music experience has become more individualistic (apart from the concerts and the street musicians). I

miss the times when we listened to the music together. With the social networks one can easily establish relationships with distant and unknown people and have problems to interact with real people in the neighbourhood. That happens to me above all with youngsters. I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting old.

 

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No longer a priority

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I have been writing prompts in this platform for five years. It has been a great experience. I have found friends. I have read very interesting contributions from people I would never have known, about all kind of topics. I have learned about new cultures.

The daily prompt was one of the reasons I choose WordPress for my blog. I thought it was a wonderful idea. Now I’m sad and pretty disappointed with the Daily Post team for the way they have terminated the whole thing. So suddenly. Without any plausible explanation, giving us no time to react.

Many of us have begun our bloggers life in the daily prompt and knew we could find our contacts and friends in the Daily Post grid. It had would be kind from the part of the team, tell us in advance what was the plan so we could make our adjustments with time. Five days is not enough. But it seems, we are no longer a priority for them.

Retrospective

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The kill of the daily prompt

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Long time ago there was an archaic world without a common space for WordPress bloggers to communicate to each other. It was before the start of the daily prompt and the weekly photo challenge.

Many bloggers lived lost in the jungle of the blogosphere feeling pretty lonely and disoriented. Then arrived the great idea of the daily prompts and the weekly challenges and a community of bloggers was born.

They began to communicate and show their posts and photos to everybody. Many friendships were established online. Young people joined the club. Every day the participants made its contributions to the daily prompts, they would check how were doing their friends and other bloggers writing about the same topic, interchange comments and so on.

Then , one day, without giving them time to react, by decree, giving no reasons, the organizers of all this, decided to bring them back to the archaic time by canceling all the prompts and challenges. Now we all are back again at the jungle of the blogosphere without any help. So, farewell, WordPress “happy editors”! We will find our ways to survive without you.

I’m sorry to say, you disappointed me greatly.

Archaic

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A confusing call

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A very mild earthquake shake my city many years ago, and it was all over the news. I was making the news, because I was working in a local newspaper at the time. It was before the Internet was an available tool.

My boss told one of my coworkers, to call to the National Seismological Institute to have the precise data of the epicentre, intensity and everything else.

He placed the call and somebody answered at the other end of the line. He began to ask technical questions to check if we had the right info. The man who answered him, asked for a few moments and then he began to confirm exactly every one of the data we had published.

Asked about the place of the epicentre, He showed an acute knowledge of the area, giving data about small villages and their idiosyncrasy. The journalist was deeply impressed.

When he told the man at the other end of the line that it was very proud to know that all the technical data were exactly as we have already had published in our newspaper, he heard the words:

– This is because I’m reading them in your newspaper.

My colleague became angry

– What lack of professionalism! I’m calling asking for the official data and you are reading the newspaper!

– Then call the National Seismological Institute and not a private home!

We all laughed.

When the journalist placed the call, he had punched the local prefix instead the prefix of de city where the Institute is located. He had made the assumption that the man who answered the call was a worker there, but instead he had called a regular citizen from the neighbourhood, excited to cooperate with the local newspaper.

Assumption

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Disappear

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water 3

This is an ancient public laundry I found in a village I visited the last week. When there was no such thing as a running water in the houses, the women came here to wash the clothes under a roof. I was surprised to see how the villagers were keeping this site, pretty clean and by no means abandoned, despite is no longer in use. I had thought that these structures have had disappeared long time ago. Close to the Laundry there is a well and a trough. The place was nice and fresh. How many stories could tell these stones!

Disappear

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By the sea

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untitled-0214-10

I’m living inland and I ‘m permanently longing for the ocean with its open horizon, its salty smell, its breeze, The sound of its waves…

I belong to a family with several centuries of history of marine tradition. We have lots of ship’s captains among our ancestors. But my father pursued other goals, in the field of literature and journalism, and besides he had to exile from his country In eastern Europe many years ago, persecuted by the communists. So we ended settled in a city far away from the sea in a new country.

Nevertheless, the call for the open horizons is in my blood and I return to the coast whenever I can, to enjoy that unique atmosphere, watch the ships, sail, and swim, and breath the clean air at the shore while the waves wet my feet.

The picture has been taken in Bermeo, Bizkaia (Spain)
Place in the World

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Thank You, Danny Kaye

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When my dad was very sick and he couldn’t move, we knew how to make him laugh heartily and forget about his situation for a while. It was pretty easy because he was a good-humoured man.

But we had a specially very good time when we used to watch with him a Danny Kaye’s video. In it, Kaye plays a performer who imitates a russian baritone, who had been temporarily retired because of problems with allergies, and wants to return to the music hall singing the popular russian song: “Black eyes”. Everything seems normal untill a girl brings to the scene a big bouquet of flowers and he begins to sneeze while he’s singing. It’s hilarious.

Only mentioning the title of the song (“Otchi Chornya”) was enough for a belly laugh. We all knew what was coming after.

So, Thank you, Danny Kaye, wherever you are. (I’m sure there is a very special place in Heaven for the people who make us laugh or convey us beauty, for the people who make us happy.)

Laughter

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Little pleasures

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saldise 19

Last Sunday I went for a walk to the country. The landscape was magnificent: Green meadows, powerful mountains, leafy forests… But I was caught like a child by the candid beauty of the little wild daisies I found along my path.

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A vulture in my garden

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vulture 2

Last summer I was peacefully reading at home when somebody came hurriedly saying: “Quick! Your camera! there is an enormous bird in the garden pretty aggressive” .

I went out and certainly I saw a big vulture on the grass. He had been fallen from a tree top where he had been perched and once in the confined garden he had no room to take a run to take off and fly. So we had to call to the wild animal rescue service to help us get the vulture out of there.

But Oh wonder! it was a feast day, and the people at the public service didn’t consider our problem an emergency, even as our uninvited guest had blocked the garden door and our parking lot. They told us to wait till next day and if he continued there they would send some people to catch him.

vulture 1

For sure, the next morning the vulture was still in our garden. They sent a woman i a Land Rover with a cage and a blanket. The idea was throw the blanket over the animal to neutralize him and then put him in the cage. But the vulture wouldn’t let her approach and the cage was too small. So the gardener had to help catch the bird and I had to help with the cage. She prohibited me to take pictures of the process.

When the vulture was secure in the cage we went to the mountain to look for a hill with enough space for the vulture to take off and fly and we set him free.

Unlikely

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Singing together

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My father loved music and every time we were all together, he encouraged us to sing. My sister Elica used to play the piano or the guitar and we could spend hours after dinner merrily singing all kind of songs.

Dad had a nice tenor voice and a some repertoire of love songs he always sang to my mom. And she used to smile and blush. They had been married for decades, but they seemed like a boyfriend and his girlfriend. Some were ancient Croatian songs, Other were Italian songs he learned when he spent some years exiled in Italy after the war, when he was alone estranged from his family.

I have a particular memory of one of these Italian songs: “Non ti Scordar di me” (Don’t you forget about me).

When Dad was were sick in the hospital, one morning they were broadcasting on the tv one of the concerts of the three tenors, and Pavarotti began to sing that song. My dad almost couldn’t move and speak at the time,  but when he heard the melody he said: I know this song. And began to sing with his cracked voice to me, “Don’t you forget about me, My life is united to you, …

It was the las song he sang. and almost the last words he said to me. He passed away only a few days after that.

Back to our early years, when we were all young and happy, we’ve enjoyed a lot singing polyphonic songs. Our familiar choir grown when Elica got married and Jim with his beautiful baritone voice joined us with his new repertoire of American songs. There was a Spanish folk song, a simple melody with a silly lyrics but very suitable to sing with multiple voices we enjoyed a lot. “My grandma’s pot” was usually the end of those wonderful Family get together, plenty of music an laughters.
Song

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Bad luck

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garzaSomething that always makes me smile is look at the new-born animals. So I took my camera today hoping to take pictures of some ducklings in the park for the weekly photo challenge.

It was the first mild day in this cold spring. The park was full of young parents with their kids and other people watching the animals, down in the ancient castle’s moats. There are swans, ducks, turkeys, peacocks, geese, cocks, pheasants and many more species. And there are also deer and hinds but there are not fawns yet.

When I was trying to take some pictures of the new ducklings, suddenly a big Grey Heron, came of nowhere and went down like an arrow, trapped a duckling with its beak and went up to a tree with its prey to have its meal. The little kids began to cry and ask to their parents that was going to happen to the duckling. Some began to tell fantastic stories about how the big bird only wanted to play with the little. Others, more realistic began to explain them in simple words how the nature works. So, no smile at the sight of the ducklings so vulnerable with the grey heron perched up, looking down, threatening…
ducklin

Smile

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Purposely messy

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My dad was a journalist, and a writer, and a University teacher.

He had at home a little den full of shelves with all kind of books and with a messy desk.

Well, apparently was messy, because there were two typewriters and stacks of papers here and there, a radio with which he listened foreign stations to get international news, and many more things.

why two typewriters? He had one to write poetry and another one to write everything else: mainly his column for the newspaper and his notes for the lectures at the University.

He had his own organisation in the middle of the apparent mess. He knew exactly where he had every piece of paper he needed. Every note he had prepared.

Once he had to go away for a few days on a trip with his students of Journalism, my mom decided to take advantage of the occasion to paint and carpet the room.

She mobilized the five of us – just kids by then – and we cleaned the desk after making a sketch and numbering the stacks of papers to be able to put them back exactly as we found them. And we did it!

When the painter finished his work, we reinstalled the desk following our sketch and our system of numbers. And after several hours of hard work, and a lot of fun with mom, the room looked as messy as ever, but renewed and freshly painted.

Dad noticed something, but he couldn’t say exactly what until we told him. And he was grateful, and above all happy to find everything in its place.

Messy

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My trip to Trier

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Many years ago, in the early nineties, my boss sent me to Eastern Germany for a week to visit an engine factory which was producing pieces for a car manufacturer of my community.

The reunification of Germany was very recent. And the big western firms had just landed there occupying the old factories they had lost when the country was divided after the WWII. The firm I was going to visit had just installed the new state-of-the-art chain of production inside the old building and had trained the workers to start the production immediately. Finally, little by little they were repairing the building.

It was really interesting to see How they were doing the transition from the communist way of working to the Western way. Very efficient. The main problem, they explain us, was that the big communist factories that had given jobs for thousands and thousands of workers with obsolete systems, now could improve the production with only the 30% of the workers, so the unemployment was high those years.

Our hosts booked for us rooms at a hotel near Trier, the home town of Karl Marx. It’s an area were there are almost no catholics. But we were going to be there in Sunday and I wanted to go to Mass. A young man who was our driver, promised me he would do everything possible to find me a church.

On Sunday, very early in the morning he came to pick me up, and drove me for half an hour to a place were there was a regular one-story house, very old in appearance, all outside covered by dark grey concrete, that seemed a family house instead of a church.

I had no inkling on what was going to find inside. The door was open, so I went in and the first thing I saw was an enormous organ with a man playing Bach beautifully and a space with the walls covered with child’s drawings, and like ten or twelve pews full of people in front of an altar.

I know no German, but I was deeply moved by the celebration because of the faith and the sense of community I could feel in those people. When we finished I had to wait for my driver . And I could see that the mass goers were looking at me quizzically. A woman left the group and approached me. She could speak a little English, and she asked me if I was going to stay with them, because the community wanted to welcome me. I explained to her that I was a Journalist and I was going to left next day and she seemed disappointed.

She explained me that they were a little community but very active, with a little Sunday school. That they were there for me in whatever I could need. I certainly felt welcomed and part of a community in which I only partook one Sunday, thanks to my kind driver.

Inkling

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Shock

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dreamstime_xl_27194297When I was a student of Journalism in the University I also was working as a music teacher in an elementary school to pay my studies. It was exhausting, but also very funny. I love kids. And their occurrences made me laugh every day. I had a great time with them.

But, because I had to go every afternoon to give my music classes, I had very little time to study for my exams of journalism. So I took advantage of every moment I had free.

Once, I was waiting for the school bus in the afternoon leaning against a wall, absorbed in my notes of Contemporary History, and I did not realize that a man with bad looks crossed the road, he came Directly to where I was and put his hands on the wall, blocking my way with the intention of assaulting me. For a moment I was in a state of shock, not knowing what to do, smelling the breath laden with alcohol from my attacker.

Then I heard the bus approaching. I reacted by hitting him on the head with my books and escaped to the bus. He tried to follow me but I got into the vehicle before it reached me. I was very lucky that day.

Shock