If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?
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A street scene in Marrakesh, Morocco, something completely different, but not the place I would go. I enjoyed my week’s holiday there, but just as something completely different. Daily bargaining on the market for my food would not be my thing, and I did try for a year to learn Arabic, discovering that not everything is Arabic. The Algerians do not really understand the Moroccans, the Gulf States speak a sort of high Arabic and Iran speaks Farsi. The Iraqi’s have their own dialect. I think Egypt is about the most normal average Arabic. Even the writing can become complicated when they start leaving out the vowels. So an Arabic country does not come into the question.
The world is a big place and I am a little too much on the golden oldie side to do a Jack Kerouac and jump in a car with some grey haired colleagues and just take a ride across the country. Apart from not being able to find any golden oldies mad enough to go with me, Switzerland is a small place compared to other countries and you would cross it in a few hours, so no adventure. The only pills and drugs I would take would be those that I need to sustain me on my daily way in life, like diabetes pills, vitamin pills and anti-cholesterol pills. No joints at my age and I do not smoke in any case.
To remain on a serious level, which I do not find so easy on these daily prompts, there is a little wish I have. I spent approximately twelve years learning Russian. I visited Russia for a couple of days on a school trip in 1964. It was a Baltic Sea cruise and it was the time when Leningrad was Leningrad and not St. Petersburg and Nikita Chruschov was the man in charge. It was 200% communism, but an experience never to be forgotten. Seeing women doing road work with pneumatic drills was certainly something impressive for an 18 year old and people queuing for a drink (I think it was beer) served from a tank wagon parked on the roadside was also a memory I took home with me.
These days have now gone. I remember the fantastic impression I had of the fountains at the Summer Palace of the Tsar, about half an hour ride from Leningrad, the entrance steps with gold and black fountains. In the grounds of the palace you were surprised with water spouting out of the earth. I heard that after communism was finished, one of the negative sides were that the metal parts of the fountains declined, rust took over, although I believe steps have now been taken again to repair them.
There were a hard core of about eight of us in our Russian lessons, mixed ages. One girl took the chance and jumped to an offer of three months in Moscow to learn the language living with a Russian family. She returned after her three months, still alive, but she told us she burst into tears when she arrived home through relief.
I would still take the chance, if I could, to do it myself. You can really only learn a language if you are surrounded by it and have to use it. That was how I learnt German Swiss German. I have now been living in Switzerland for 47 years; the first 20 years of my life were spent in London. The only chance I have today to speak Russian is with one of the ladies that work on the cash register at my local supermarket. She has been in Switzerland for a few years, was married to a Swiss and speaks German quite well. Naturally she is my victim for trying out the sparse Russian I still know, but she understands me and also helps me with pronunciation and vocabulary.
So, who knows, one day I might go shopping with my life saving equipment of tablets, take the train to Zürich Airport instead of shopping and fly away, next stop Moscow, or perhaps St. Petersburg, or even Yalta would do me. Yalta is a very nice place, the holiday area for the Russians. Winston Churchill and Roosevelt knew why they met Stalin in such a place for a conference; the Russian Riviera. The Russian lady at the supermarket spent her holiday in the Krim this year somewhere in a Black Sea resort and returned to her work looking quite sunburnt. Yes, that would be the place for my language holiday. Learn Russian, enjoy life and take it easy – I might even take Mr. Swiss with me if it cannot be avoided.
Daily Prompt: On the Road
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