Monthly Archives: May 2013

In need of a taxi

This is what came out when I did an exercise from Steve Alcorn’s book „How to Fix Your Novel“ on p. 33

The task was:

“Show vs. Tell

Here’s a short paragraph telling us about a character’s behavior:

Jason Smith hated cab drivers who couldn’t speak English. He also hated being late. He was out of luck on both counts.

Turn that boring paragraph of telling into a scene showing us what is Jason is like. Try to avoid telling us anything about Jason, just show us.”

The result:

Jason Smith was standing outside of a hotel in London and was losing his temper. It was the third taxi that came and took someone else, who in fact ordered a taxi after him. He planned everything meticulously many days ago. He ordered the taxi to come half an hour earlier than they usually did at this hotel. They promised that the taxi will come within ten to fifteen minutes. Now, three quarters of an hour later, he was standing at the reception desk and trying to find what was wrong.

“Maybe it is because you wished a native speaker for a driver, Sir”, said the receptionist with a slight Indian touch to his English.

“I don’t want to appear rude”, said Jason with pressure in his voice and looking imperiously at the receptionist, “but my job has enough challenges in it without dealing with a taxi driver misinterpreting my instructions to get where I want to!” “Your English is very good,” Jason added hastily but with certain reluctance in his voice, and not wishing to appear discriminating, “so if you can arrange someone with your knowledge, I will readily take him”.

The receptionist almost said: “I can’t drive you because I’m too busy here”, but stopped in time knowing that irony would be lost on this man.

Half an hour later, Jason was relieved to see a white middle-aged man stepping out of the next taxi. But as soon as he heard his name being pronounced by this man, his heart sank: “Djaisón Smitt? You want go university?”

Jason knew that his last chance to come in time to his appointment by guiding the driver through short cuts, which he thought through as plan B, was gone now. And he spent hours for putting this plan B together by surfing various map-sites.

So, all he could do now was hope that this driver would bring him to his destination before all his audience left. No, this was not all. He could think of the appropriate strategy of his taxi ride the following day.

How my sister made my dream come true

Almost every girl in Moldova wears earrings. And when I hoped to get mine at the age of six at the end of seventies, many girls I knew had some already. My parents promised me the holes and earrings for in summer of 1979. It was the summer when my parents and I were getting ready for our three-year stay in Algeria. My parents were in the process of keeping their promise with the earrings. My mother bought me very cute gold-plated earrings in form of small wired flowers with purple glass crystals at the center. The only problem was is that my parents were up to their ears with multiple preparations for our stay in Algeria and the day of our departure was coming closer with great pace. So, the probability for me to remain without earrings in that summer was quite high. And it was not clear whether I could get my ears pierced in Algeria.

It was my sister who made this wish of mine to come true. She was only fifteen at that time and definitely had many other things on her mind besides my earrings. One of them was her very understandable worry to remain alone in Soviet Union without us at a boarding school. But as she often did and does today, she put the interest of her loved ones, in this case me, before hers.

One hot day during that summer, she told me to follow her to one of her friends’ home. On the way there she told me about her plan for me to get holes and earrings. Her friend’s mother was a nurse and agreed to pierce holes in my ears after her daughter asked her about that. This is one of the best memories of my childhood. Maybe because this whole action was kept secret from our parents, maybe because of the kindness of the woman who punched the holes, but definitely also because of the grated carrot with sugar she gave me to eat after each hole and each earring being in place. That was a great trick. The first hole done with a simple sewing needle after one of my ears was disinfected and pierced. The first piercing did hurt. But there were three reasons for me to agree the second hole to be done as well: I wanted to appear tough and grown-up in front of my teenage sister and her friends. Second, it was ridiculous and unthinkable to walk only with one earring in late seventies in Moldova. And the biggest reason that weights the most in my memories of that day is: I desperately wanted to finish that bowl with the grated carrot with sugar.

On the way back home my sister suggested not to tell our parents about my ears and let them discover the earrings in my ears. But I recall that I couldn’t wait too long for them to find out and revealed what happened. Usually I did it when I wanted to complain against my sister. But this time I was glowing and eager to tell our parents how great she is.

My sister’s friend’s mother liked that fact that I didn’t cry and praised me for that and she wanted to make the whole procedure faster for me. So, my second hole was made at a slight angle and I have to remember this when I put an earring into my left earlobe otherwise it pricks. But I really like this, because this makes the hole in my earlobe unique, and which always reminds me of this wonderful adventure, when my sister took care of one of my biggest childhood dreams to come true.

Where to go first

From outside, the big toy store in our city was less attractive to my two-and-a-half-years old son than a fashion store. The latter had big screens with bright colored lights and the former was cluttered with so many things that you could not look through. The fashion store was first on our way and my son hurried inside being sure that we could buy something for him there. On my argument, that the things there were too big for him, he said: “I am big! I reach up into the air!”

Safe in sister’s arms

My sister Svetlana, also known as Sveta, has saved my life many times. She saved it from boredom, from depression and distress, and at least a few times literally saved my life by making consciously or unconsciously sure, that nothing bad or dangerous happened to me.

I don’t know when it was the first time that Svetlana saved my life, but one of the first major ones was during the earthquake on the 4th of March in 1977. It was a very strong one, 7.2 points on Richter scale with an epicenter in Vrancea, and in Romania more than 1500 people were killed.

In Chisinau, where we lived at the time, it was also very strong and many buildings were destroyed. Chaos and panic broke out and my parents, being at a party with friends on that evening, could not get back home so quickly from another part of the city. My sister and I were alone at home. I was four years old and Svetlana was twelve.

I was already sleeping and didn’t wake up during the earthquake. As soon as the earth stopped shaking, my sister grabbed a blanket, wrapped me into it and ran downstairs and out of our block of flats.  Carrying me in her arms, she made it sooner outside than many of the adults from our house. Our block of flats did survive this and many subsequent earthquakes and still stands, but if something would have happened to it, I was safe in the arms of my sister.

Starting with youngest age, my sister was always and is a person of action and she puts those she loves into focus of her attention and she cares of them no matter how “annoying” they might me. I am talking of myself here, because when I was small I was almost constantly complaining about almost anything, especially about my sister. “But Sveta said this! And Sveta said that!” My parents had hard time calming me down and explaining to me that my sister is older and knew better what she was doing. I was protesting to these arguments by climbing onto a kitchen stool and exclaiming: “But I am higher!” Please note how I said it: not taller, higher! This is now a family joke about me being “higher”, which is true today also without a stool.

Of course, there was also a considerable gap in our ages that made a four year old sister for an almost teen naturally annoying. This gap melted over the years and we are best friends now, although I still do my best to annoy her time to time. 😉

Later in this blog, I will share more of wonderful adventures and moments I had and continue having with my sister. She has no choice. 😉