"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A trip to "the necessary", anyone?

This is a bit of a departure from my usual themes, but I've began working on a new translation, and came across a word I'd never seen used as a noun before. The necessary.

You'll find a whole lot of interesting information about it, here. But I really liked the little study I found here. I never knew that the word "loo" used by my British friends (God forbid anyone should say "toilet") actually came from the French. And the reason why is hilarious. Of course, after visiting a few medieval castles over the summer, and hearing about the habits of the time, I can't say I'm surprised that the servants would throw the content of the bedpans out of the windows with a simple warning : "regardez l'eau." And of course, all the stories about our kings' habits have entertained French children for the longest time (maybe also children in other countries, but I have no experience, there.)

I also found it interesting that the Esperanto language uses a word so similar to the American word I'm trying to translate as accurately as possible. Necesejo.

But I'm paid to translate into French, not into Esperanto, and so I may have to settle for Le Petit Coin - if it was good enough for Molière, it's good enough for me, too - even though I'm not entirely satisfied. "Petit coin" (little corner) has something cute about it that doesn't match the more down to earth, austere feeling of the word "necessary."

So, was that an interesting entry, or what?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"First Draft Blues!"

Being back home with the kids back at school doesn't only mean that I have more time for myself, but also that I get to sit in my office, instead of the dining table in the middle of the living room, and also that I can catch up on blog reading - a bit. Just stumbled upon this post, today, and found it so relevant to what I'm going through, now, and so often, that I just have to share. Go visit Heather Vogel Frederick's blog, Set sail for adventure. There are some gems, there.

I particularly like Jo Knowles' contribution. He must be one of those writers who don't outline: "Writing a first draft is like trying to assemble a giant jigsaw puzzle without getting to look at the picture first."

Another favorite, from Rukhsana Khan: "Writing a first draft is like stepping off a cliff and hoping the story will catch you."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

So much to share...

Yes, almost two months, and not one single post : disgraceful ! But hey, mothers all over the world know as well as I do that summer break doesn't necessarily mean that you have more free time. The children are on holidays, too, you see.

Anyway, I'm back in India, kids have began a new school year, in a new school, and I have cleared my desk and files, and moved some furniture around, too. I'm ready for a new year myself.

The holidays were great. Apart from one week in Madrid visiting my newly expatriate brother, I was in France for almost two months.

We frolicked with friends and family, ate tons of fabulous cheese and bread (and so much more), put some weight on (the adults), and of course explored lots of beautiful villages. We have the pictures to prove it...

But we can't eat and play only, right? And since I'm a real dragon when it comes to school and education (an obsessed dragon, my daughter would tell you), vacation or not, I had planned a number of visits related to the school curriculum.

We had a taste of Ancient Rome in Vaison la Romaine, town known for its Roman vestiges : the museum there had wonderful animations with actors dressed as Romans who showed us the way they used to build a fire, bake bread (we even tasted some, and it was good), or live.

In the lovely town of Lourmarin, we heard a story teller from the Côte d'Ivoire, and what a treat that was! He was so much fun, so quick in the way he improvised and used current issues or anecdotes to involve his audience. We loved it, and it reminded me of the beauty of the African oral tradition.

After that, we heard a little concert on the place du village, and the children were only too happy to try the balafon or the djembe.

On the 14th of July, the French National day, the band invited to entertain the crowds after the traditional fireworks was... Latin American ! Last year, same place, same celebration, I mentioned (here) how I came across a Colombian band playing at a nearby café, and how they seemed to draw the crowds much better than the Rock band playing at the place of honor. Well, the town's authorities heard the message, I guess. This year's musicians came from pretty much all over the Caribbean and South America - including a Senegalese man from the public who jumped on stage, sang in Spanish, and played percussion like a pro. As for Salsa dancing, it seems to have taken France over by a storm, because the people dancing in the audience were just awesome.

Finally, the region of Provence hosting so many festivals in the summer, (not to mention how totally starved I am for that type of performance art) we had to see an opera, and I was delighted by the production of Il Barbiere di Sevilla, in Lacoste. The production mingled Rossini's opera in Italian with the original play of Beaumarchais in French, and three hip hop dancers. And it worked!

Later, while in Auvergne, we visited the Château de Murol, and traveled back to the Middle Ages (also part of the curriculum - she's right, I guess, I am an obsessed dragon) where we learned, among other things, how people washed (rarely) their body and their hair (shampoo was a concoction made with ash, eggs and vinegar) and rinsed their mouth with wine, because: who on earth drinks water? We also learned that long after the Arabs realized that the earth was round, our Middle Age people continued to think that it was flat.

So, all in all, an instructive, entertaining summer. And now, it's back to work.