Hola everybody, clap your hands! New year, new country, new language.
Well, not exactly new. In fact, it's been almost two years that I have been trying somewhat halfheartedly to learn Spanish. It's just not the same as Cantonese. But then again, what is?
But I have to learn it. I have to. Then there's the added concern that I live in Mallorca where the local language isn't Spanish (Castillano) at all, but Mallorquin! So the language I hear around me is different from the one I'm trying to learn. Yes, total "Ahhrgghhhhh". Anyway, the first step is to try to get more victims for Spanish World Hong Kong, through the medium of Cantonese- see the video above.
The second - what else? Make a Spanish course. It's called Learn Spanish without Really Trying. Isn't that what everybody wants? I'm 20 pages in and it's kind of fun! Not as fun as Cantonese. Nothing is. But, you know - tolerable.
Did you know that Norwegians eat more ice cream than any other people? That's right! Even in the darkest depths of January, there they are, gobbling down the cold stuff because it warms the heart.
One of the things I do is write content for Isbilen on Facebook and deal with all their customers. It's fun! When I made the video, I got to meet all the people who work at the depot in Hamar - jovial and affable one and all.
It was fun to see the people's faces light up as the Isbilen rolled into view. Apart from bringing life-giving ice cream, the drivers at Isbilen also play a big role in providing human contact for many, as you can see in the video. I had a great time BUT I still haven't tasted any of their products!
That will all be remedied when I go to Bergen next week, to the very heart of Isbilen, for an ice cream tasting the likes of which world has never seen!!!
Eat your hearts out, ice cream lovers - I'll be living your dream.
You know in a pub quiz, when the picture round is 'Famous people's eyes'? I have never come across these eyes in such a quiz. It's just too easy to guess. Oh, the intensity. If Picasso hadn't been a famous painter, perhaps the most famous painter of all time, it's not difficult to imagine these eyes staring out from a mug shot, an infamous mass murderer awaiting trial and execution. Yes, strangely enough, in this most self-assured, perhaps a bit megalomaniac, artist's eyes, I also see fear.
The Arts Society of Mallorca has done it again! Super-kudos to their programme secretary Eddie Erlank (above) - he is like a heat-seeking missile in finding the best, most riveting speakers. Yes, riveting! People were on the edge of their seats as Val Woodgate listed the possible 1% (7) of all the girls and women Pablo Picasso restlessly ploughed through during his long life, with more or less disastrous consequences. Even I knew that two of them had committed suicide, but I didn't know that both of them had done it on or close to his birthday. The ultimate self-harm as revenge, hoping that NOW he'd be sorry?
And yes, as the very funny Woodgate remarked: "Picasso was devastated. For four, five... almost a week!" Everybody chuckled of course, as we did when she said he was a serial monogamist ... with many overlappings. Yes, comedy is tragedy plus time. But I couldn't help thinking of these women. Forget about the dumping and overlapping; how could he have treated them while they were together? Was he so kind, interesting and attentive great in bed that they never forgot him and chose to kill themselves when they saw there was no chance of getting him back? But if yes, how does that explain his son drinking himself to death and his grandson also killing himself?
With the women it's easy to imagine him first fixing those laser-beams on them and staring them down, then treating them as if they were the only woman in the world, showering them with attention (maybe the first time anyone had done that) and making them feel like a goddess. For a week. And then dropping them so hard that they never recovered. It's harder to see how he could have such a devastating effect on children and grandchildren, but as his granddaughter Marina said in her book Picasso: My Grandfather: "''He drove everyone who got near him to despair and engulfed them. No one in my family ever managed to escape from the stranglehold of this genius. He needed blood to sign each of his paintings: my father's blood, my brother's, my mother's, my grandmother's and mine. He needed the blood of those who loved him -- people who thought they loved a human being, whereas they really loved Picasso.''
So - yeah! Cheers! It was such a good talk though, by a woman on top of her game. She made me interested in finding out more about Picasso, an artist I have hitherto ignored. I really only like his blue period where you can see what everything is and there aren't dicks sticking out of each nostril, but Woodgate fortunately showed us some of his early work. At the age of 13, he was already a very accomplished painter with the technical skills most artists three times his age can only salivate about. I KNEW it! To be able to break so many rules so virtuously, you just have to follow them first.
But geniuses are always excused, aren't they? I wonder if he would have got away with such behaviour had he been born in, say 1979. But then he wouldn't have been Picasso anyway, and had the upbringing and brain construction/underactive cortex that together create the type of genius that is driven (I'm guessing here) by fear of spending even a second not being the greatest, most potent man on earth.
If you live in Mallorca and want a deeply interesting, very different (and social) experience once a month, join The Arts Society! It's only 70 euros for a whole years' worth of being riveted! And the wine and tapas afterwards are very, very good.
P.S. The photos have nothing to do with Picasso or his relatives. They are just of fun people and wine I met.
I spent parts of December - gloriously sunny every single day except the 13th and 14th when my friend L was visiting from Hong Kong - shooting pleasant scenes around the island. Here is the result:
Cancer is a word I don't like to say - much in the same way as the number 4 is unlucky in Chinese culture because they think it sounds like the word 'death'. Well, it does. Four: Sei. Death: Sei. （ 4: 四 sei. Death: 死 sei）
So when I tell people where I'm working every Tuesday from 2 to 6, I don't normally say "The Cancer Shop" but "The Charity Shop." The founder and other workers at the Charity Shop have no such scruples, or should we say linguistic superstitions. Their website is called Cala Nova Cancer and their Facebook page, Cala Nova Cancer Care. All the proceeds from the shop go to cancer care here on Mallorca - they rake in so much $$$ and help so many people that it will take me a week to mention it all. So I think that's a good enough cause to spend my time on.
Yes, I started working there because, having recently become European, I can't afford to give a lot of money to charities anymore and therefore I give time. It's certainly more fun than just transferring funds by the electric internet-machine! And with much better music. Yesterday I grooved around the shop, dusting shelves to the accompaniment of Andrea Bocelli and then Elvis!
Talking of poverty, I really wish i had known about this shop when I first moved here, instead of faffing around with going to Bauhaus and Carrefour, and then struggling with deliveries. The Cancer Shop has EVERYTHING: Clothes, electronic stuff like TVs and CD/DVD players; lamps, cups, plates, all you can imagine in electric appliances, even bedclothes, shoes... and untold books and CDs. That's just off the top of my head. And candles shaped as apples! And paintings. And two chess boards made of glass!
AND if you have a horse, you can get a whole set of horse-grooming equipment for only 20 euros. Oh, and a pair of tanning lamps if you're in the mood for becoming orange.
If you'd like to spruce up your wardrobe (all items around 3 euros), need furniture and cups, or just want to support a very good cause - who doesn't know someone who's been struck down with cancer? - come to the Cala Nova Cancer Shop and take a look! It's newly dusted by me!
Talking of Chinese words, Chinese New Year is coming up and I'm doing a big dinner on February 8th, with traditional CNY dishes whose degree of luck is based on the way they sound. Like Fish （魚）yu, sounds like Surplus (餘) yu. Sign up!
Other homonyms: Kumquat: 柑桔 Gam gat, sounds like 金吉 gam gat, Gold and Luck
Book: 書 Syu, Lose: 輸 Syu. So it's unlucky to go into a bookshop and ask for a book. You have to ask for a "Win" 贏 (yeng) instead. Makes sense!
We accept donations of all sorts and we accept customers who buy up everything! And a helping hand.
Calanova Cancer Care, Joan Miró 358, San Agustin
Tel: 971 708 664