RDP Saturday: Strange

You see some strange objects when in town. Just this afternoon I was in town with my scooter. I had a purchase to make in a special store and as I had enough time I decided to take the route along the river.

And then I saw the shoes: no feet, no humans, just shoes and not even matching pairs. Some were for the right foot and some for the left and in various colours. They lead to a door which was closed.They were very nice shoes, leather and fashionable. If I was still a walker I might have removed a pair to wear, but that was the problem. There were no pairs. Perhaps it was someone with only one foot that left the shoes, although as sometimes the right shoe, and sometimes the left shoe was missing, only footless humans could be involved.

I decided to go home, keeping an eye open for someone searching for a missing shoe.

RDP Saturday: Strange

FOWC with Fandango: Strange

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I have had this car just over a year. Of course I can drive it, but I think it is only now that I am really beginning to understand it. The sales guy organised this screen when I bought it. Of course there are many screen choices, but the salesman decided this would be the most useful. I found it strange at the beginning, but after my first tyre change from Winter to Summer the guy that did it turned it off and I missed it.  Now and again I tried to turn it on again, but I had the wireless running in the background, and I did not want any wireless distraction. After not driving since I was retired. I left it all to Mr. Swiss. When he gave up his driving licence, I had no choice, bought my own car and there I was in the world of driving with a screen to accompany me.

Last week I visited the garage to check about when I should have my first service. There was a lady there, she came with me to the car and showed me how to look and she organised my screen again, but it had the radio in the background. She said that was no problem and with a switch turned it off, it was so simple. Now I have my screen again and further, I sometimes listen to the radio when I am driving. At the age of 73 I am getting back into the old routine. Apparently it is never too late to learn.

On this screen I even see the street where I am on the top left corner. I took the photo when my car was parked at the supermarket before switching it off. I can even see roughly how many kilometres I must drive before tanking. The numbers are not showing on the photo, because I was parked.

I did not grow up in a family with a car. Dad could not drive and for mum the drive in a car was always something special. I think this legacy of a non-driving family remained with me. I still have a strange feeling when I realise I am driving a car. but as soon as I am behind the wheel everything seems to take care of itself.

FOWC with Fandango: Strange

Daily Prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land

What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us NEW.

Marrocan Dancing Girl

Dancer in Moroccan night club

Strange or not, I remember Mr. Swiss quite enjoyed that evening, He felt at home straight away.

In my younger active days, when I was a working woman and still ready to go, the fact that I visited another place in another time was enough. Just to get away and see something different. Luckily Mr. Swiss and I agree to the same sort of thing, so we went everywhere and saw everything we wanted to.

All countries have their own flavours, smells and style. Paris memories are the smell of Gitan cigarettes in the subway, in the restaurants or even on the streets. Of course I am talking of the time when cigarettes were suave, they were part of daily life (if you smoked). It was allowed and yes, it was part of the local colour. I can hear some of you coughing while I write this. I also no longer smoke, since fifteen years, but Paris was Gitan. Of course it was also good food. I remember a restaurant on the left bank that Mr. Swiss and I discovered. That was French food pure. The kitchen was just next to the door when you entered, two young men were looking after the meat and veg. There was an older man, probably the owner fetching cooked potatoes from the cellar. Upstairs they had a musician strumming his guitar and looking like something from a tango film. Just around the corner there was a seafood restaurant where Hemingway was a regular visitor when living in Paris, according to Mr. Swiss (a Hemingway expert). They also have three interesting cemeteries in Paris.

Architecture is the first thing that hits you when arriving somewhere new. Everything in mainland Europe (do not forget I am a child of the after-war time of London) seemed to be built solid, to last. There is architecture in Europe that is preserved on the streets as well as in museums. Of course, I cannot imagine the Empire state building collapsing through old age, but the States is a young country. Unfortunately I never got around to visiting the cemeteries.

American food is ok, but keep to the basics. A hamburger does it just as well, and it is 100% an American invention. One of my impressions of the States was “do not drink the water”. I am talking of New York, and the quality of New York water is very good, so really I am not complaining. You have ice cubes in your drink, then hope that the restaurant froze bottled water. I found a distinctly strong chloride taste to all water in New York. All part of the New York state of mind life; although memories of my arrival in Portugal and Spain were similar. Mr. Swiss and I wondered why everyone was walking around with five liter mega plastic bottles of water. Was this some sort of magical cure the natives drank? No, the water was not drinkable, it had a distinct “you will suffer if you drink me” taste: the next morning you could see Mr. and Mrs. Swiss both walking to the holiday village struggling whilst carrying two five liter bottles of water each, just to clean your teeth over the next two weeks.

Morocco was really something different. They even gave you toilet paper before you entered the toilet, just 2-3 pieces at the airport. I then realised that things were different in Moroccco. Toilets are basically no problem if you are a man. We women usually like to relax and sit down, but you can get used to everything. The food in Morocco is ok, just do not ask or think about how it was cooked, just eat it.  The street atmosphere was great. Do not look a native in the eye, he has the impression you want to buy what he is selling. Mr. Swiss made a mistake and showed interest. The seller was eventually even knocking on the window of the coach when we were departing.

“What is wrong with him” I asked.

“I was looking at something he was selling” was the answer.

Different countries, different sales tactics, but all part of the atmosphere.

So, basically, on my journeys around other countries, I learnt that we are all different, our ways and habits are different and this is correct. If we were all the same life would be boring. We discover other countries, other places to learn and not to criticise. Do not judge, but enjoy is the main thing. Now I am older and do not wander so much. I just take a trip to London once a year to visit my father. I lived twenty years in London, grew up in London, but today I feel like a foreigner when I am there. You get used to your own way of life and after forty-six years living in Switzerland, I even now wonder why the English put vinegar on their fries, and in Europe you would not dream of eating fish with French fries (chips). You eat fish with boiled potato, or even rice.

My favourite part is just being there and seeing it all and if possible, visiting the cemeteries.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Who Sent It???

Donald Grant opened the door to see who was there. It was the postman with a shoebox sized parcel, it was even registered. He signed, closed the door and put the parcel on the table. It was then that the problems began for Donald.

“Who would send me a parcel?” was his first thought. He had a closer look at the box. It had been wrapped carefully in brown packing paper, probably to ensure that it arrived safely and was also bound with string. He scrutinized the handwriting on the box, but was even more left in doubt, he just could not recognise it.

Donald was not used to receiving parcels, especially when they looked so anonymous. Of course, he got the usual rubbish from advertising companies and there was the odd item that he might have ordered, but this parcel was no such thing. It had no sender on it and the address was written in a bright red ink. He shook the parcel and it seemed that something inside was moving. It sounded like a single object, something quite hard.

“Shall I open it? No, I will have some dinner first. No good opening parcels on an empty stomach” and so he prepared a meal. He lived on his own in a small apartment, but he was a very neat person. He hated people that were messy. Just could not envisage that anyone could live somewhere that was not tidy. No, in Donald’s world everything was in its place.

Donald had never married, but this also had its reasons. There was just no woman good enough for his tastes. He had met a few, gone out with them, but he soon noticed that they were not up to his organised standards. All they had to do was open their handbag and Donald could see how untidy the owner was. Generally when the lady had to search for something, perhaps a handkerchief, or her purse he felt sick just looking. No, he must have order in his life.

Another thing that really annoyed him were stains. You think you have found someone on your own level of intelligence and then taking a closer look you find that your date is wearing a blouse with a stain on the sleeve, or even worse on the collar. Such things should not be allowed.

After dinner Donald was just about to have a sleep when the parcel again caught his eye. Still on the table with an inviting shape as if saying “Please open me”, but Donald was tired.

It was soon evening and the parcel was still not opened.

“Donald don’t be silly” he said to himself. It is just a normal cardboard box, although the writing in red ink does look strange.

To take his mind off the unknown parcel, he decided to switch the television on. He just caught the news.

“Typical” he thought “what the human race is coming to” when they were bringing a report about a corpse that had again been discovered sitting on a park bench. It was the fifth found body found over the last six months. The strange thing was that the corpses were all so well organised. They were sitting nicely arranged and there were no clues, just a cut throat, but no blood. It seemed that the murderer had taken time to clean up the place of the crime.

Donald decided to change the television station and watch something more relaxing. He was annoyed but after changing through at least ten stations showing horror and murder, he eventually found something to his taste: a hospital series, showing his favourite nurses and doctors, all such nice clean antiseptic people.

He was getting ready for bed but then decided no, that parcel must be opened. If it was a time bomb it would have exploded some time ago. He removed the parcel to the kitchen and put his special rubber gloves on, after all you never know, perhaps someone was sending him some sort of powder infected with a virus disease. You just cannot trust anyone these days.

He took the scissors and cut the string and then removed the packing paper, folding it neatly, in case he might need it again. He also rolled the string into a ball and placed it in one of the drawers in the kitchen, where other such bundles of string were kept.  The parcel was ready to be opened. He lifted the lid.

Now Donald’s problem was that he was one of those so called split personality types. Today he was honest organised Donald, going through his daily routine and keeping everything in order. When he sent himself the parcel containing the Swiss officer’s army knife, covered in blood from his last victim, he was not Donald the nice, but his other half, Donald the ripper I suppose you could say. Donald the ripper would have recognised the handwriting on the parcel immediately, but, of course, Donald the nice did not know of the existence of his other half who also had a different style of writing. He was naturally horrified at what he found in the parcel.

When he woke up the next morning he took another look at the knife and cleaned it completely, he even sterilised it, he had to be careful with any evidence that could be found. “That will come in handy this evening” was his last thought. The box was still lying in the kitchen on the table; he just threw it onto the floor, not bothering about the mess

The Artist

It was a wonderful March day in 1964 and the last week of June’s stay in New York. She had enjoyed her stay very much as an exchange teacher at an art school. It was a time of concern in America; they were fighting a war in the Far East with Vietnam, it seemed to be a never ending conflict. Protests could be heard in the American nation from their youth, mainly through singers such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. However, she found the Americans to be friendly and helpful and had made many friends. After her six months she had found her way around in the big city, but as she was now going to return to England and resume her life teaching the English youth and she wanted to take a souvenir back with her. It was on one of her walks through Central Park that she had an idea. Approaching the Central Park zoo there was an area populated by artists. She decided she would like to take a portrait of herself back to England as a memory of her stay in New York, but which artist should she choose? It was late in the afternoon and she was not sure that there was time enough.

She then saw a young lady, an artist, who had no customers. She was fascinated by the girl who definitely did not resemble the average American, but then she had to ask herself what is the average American. Over the years the original American Indians had been partly put in their reservations and during the beginning of the twentieth century America had accepted immigrants from all over the world. The artist looked at June and beckoned with her hand.

“You would like to have your portrait drawn?” she asked June

“Yes, I would” answered June “but it is late in the afternoon and I am not sure whether there will be enough time.”

“Time is no problem” said the girl “if it gets too dark to continue today and you have the time, you may return tomorrow morning and I will finish the portrait then.”

June agreed to this proposition and as she had no school for the rest of her stay she had the time.

“My name is Ana, please take a seat and we will begin.”

“Ana does not sound so American. Do you mind if I ask where you are from” said June.

“No problem” was the answer. “I was born in America, but my mother and father were originally from Peru.”

This was particularly interesting for June as she had also studied history, although it would have been more interesting if Ana had told her that she was a direct descendant of the Inca nation. However, Ana did not even know this herself and neither did her parents. They immigrated to America as they had no work in Peru. Their uncle had gone to America before them and helped them to find their footing in this strange land. Ana was studying at the art school in New York and was glad to be able to earn some extra money by drawing portraits of the tourists and New Yorkers. New York was an expensive town and she could barely afford her two rooms in the Bronx area. June studied the young painter and could now see the strains of her Peruvian ancestry; her long dark hair, the brown tan on the skin and above all her wonderful large brown eyes.

Ana started on the drawing and June sat patient and still. She noticed how the young lady would move her crayon over the paper, glance upwards at June’s face and then continue. As it was March, the light soon darkened and the artist told June she could no longer draw as it would soon be night. As arranged June could return the next morning, perhaps at ten in the morning if it would not be too early, and there would be enough time to finish the work.

June agreed and returned to her rooms for the evening. The next morning was again a bright sunny morning and June made sure she was in the Central Park at ten in the morning to have her portrait finished. The chair was in the same place as the day before, together with the easel and her unfinished portrait. She was just going to take a glance at the portrait when she felt a presence behind her. “Please do not look until I am finished” and it was Ana. “Please take your seat and we will continue.”

June was surprised that Ana was already there as she had not seen her coming. She also noticed that Ana was already sitting and ready to draw, but she had not even noticed that she had seated herself to continue.

“Please sit as still and silent as you did yesterday and we will soon be finished. I do not like leaving my work before it has been completed.”

June obeyed.

“I am finished, please take your portrait.” June stood up and walked over to where Ana had sat, but Ana was not there; just the easel with her portrait. June was thrilled, the young artist had captured her looks perfectly, but there was no Ana there to thank. When she looked closer at the drawing she noticed it had been signed with the name Ana. She took the drawing not knowing what to do, as she wanted to pay for the work, but Ana just was not there. She then heard Ana and turned again. She was standing on the grass in the park and looking at June.

“Please take this drawing, it costs nothing, it was an honour to finish this work. Keep it well, it will accompany you all your life and will reflect your face through the years.”

June looked at Ana, but she seemed almost transparent. She looked again at the drawing and when she wanted to thank Ana, Ana was gone and June never saw her again.

Forty years later

June’s husband had died ten years earlier and now June was living alone. Her sister, May, lived nearby and often paid a visit. May had often asked her about the portrait she had framed in the living room, a portrait painted by a young artist June had once met on a day in New York. The portrait was admired by all. It showed an elderly lady, with grey hair and kind eyes, a portrait of June how she now looked. For many years June had kept this portrait away from the eyes of the world. She just did not know how to explain it. As June got older, the portrait changed and got older with her. When June’s hair started to turn grey, the shades on the hair on the portrait got lighter. When June had a few more changes in her face, the portrait also had them, wrinkles appearing in the right places. Now that June was over seventy she knew she would not change more and put the portrait in her living room where all could see it. June’s sister May found it a wonderful piece of work and June told her she should take the portrait for her daughter when she was no longer with them.

Her sister did not want to discuss this with June, but one day June was found sleeping peacefully in her home, never to wake again. June’s sister took the portrait and gave it to her daughter who found that June resembled her in her younger years. The portrait showed a young lady, June in 1964.

What June never knew was that her young artist Ana went home on that day in March 1964 looking forward to finishing her portrait of the young English lady on the next morning. Unfortunately there was a gas explosion in the building in New York where Ana lived on that evening, and Ana was amongst the casualties. She never woke up to finish the portrait – or did she?