Sunday, January 25, 2009

Liam was born, Barack Obama, the first black President of the United States, was sworn to office, a windy week in Spain and other things.

Barack Obama solemnly swore on Abraham Lincoln's bible to be the new President of the United states, the one the eyes of the world will be watching closely to see how he "rebuilds" America
Hi again,

We’ve now been back from India for nearly two weeks and a lot has happened since then.

Something very important happened in our family as the first great grand child was born. Liam, the son of Alvaro and Bea was born in León on 15th January just after our return from India. Alvaro is the son of Alejandro who is Eladio’s brother and the 4th offspring of 6 that their Mother, Ernestina, and Father, Antonio, raised in their beloved village, Montrondo. Antonio is no longer with us but Ernestina is now, thanks to Liam, a proud great grandmother. Liam does not only make Ernestina a great grandmother, he also makes Alvaro a father and Alejandro a grandfather. Furthermore he also makes Eladio a great uncle and believe it or not that means that I am now a great aunt!!! Wow Liam what have you done?

Alejandro, who is not the most expressive of the brothers, had just returned from his very first trip abroad which was to Havana to see their cousin Rosi and her family. You will remember that Rosi visited Spain and our family very recently. José Antonio picked him up from the airport and they came here to fetch his car and only then, and quite by accident, did we find out that Lian had been born during his absence in Cuba.

And yesterday, finally, we got to “see” Liam in the multimedia message Alejandro sent Eladio and I and which is posted here.
Liam, the first great grandchild in the Freijo family
And this week the world witnessed the swearing in of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States. The world was glued to the television and internet on Tuesday 20th January 2009 to follow the inauguration events. The ceremony was identical to that of his 43 predecessors but could well have been the coldest as it was -10ºc when he addressed the nation and the world.
Over a million people witnessed the inauguration ceremony at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Like most of the world I am a fan of Obama but wonder whether the machinery around him will let him make the changes he wants to. I ask myself, why both sides seem to love him, well perhaps not the Israelis, and come up with the reasons that attract me to him personally.

Basically it’s because he’s charismatic – what a marvellous orator he is. It’s also because he’s black – except that he’s only half black. And it’s definitely because he signifies the end of George Bush, that most unpopular of American Presidents. And finally, he means hope for the global crisis. I just wonder how much will really come of his “Yes we can” promise which has become the catch phrase of the moment.
George Bush, leaving the Presidency
I was disappointed to see that the cost of the inauguration festivities was the same or more as his predecessors. I was, perhaps naively, hoping the money would be spent on the needy in these times of crisis. But that was not to be. I’m also hoping those in charge will let him continue using his blackberry, so vital for him to keep in touch with the world beyond the bubble he will be living in from now on.
Security, part of the bubble Obama will be living in.
The first measure he has taken since becoming President on Tuesday is to close Guantanamo, that most frightening detention centre for supposed terrorists. This measure was accompanied by a ban on torture and a review on military trials, all making a very good start. What is not good is that it’s going to take a year to close Guantanamo. Why I ask myself?

This last week was the first full week home after our trip to India which is still very much in our minds. I took the time to post 2 albums on Facebook, one of our visit to the Taj Mahal and the other of our dressing up in local costumes in Udaipur in Rajasthan.

This week I had meetings with my press and events agencies. The former was to close 2008 and compare our results with 2007. From the evidence gathered it is obvious we have done a really good job.

I also met Phillip P from my Nokia Network days for a quick coffee at the Corté Inglés on Tuesday. He was here on business. We hadn’t seen each other for a while and enjoyed an hour catching up on how life has treated us since we left Nokia. Phillip is doing fine, living in Austria and GM of a local network company there. He got married and they have a lovely little boy called Jamie.

Later in the week I also met up with Elena, my neighbour and friend and ex colleague in the telecoms market. I think I spent the whole hour telling her about our trip to India and I hope I didn’t bore her.

At the weekend we went to the cinema and out to dinner which is what we like to do best. On Friday we went to see Australia, a film I was keen to see with Nicole Kidman in her home territory. The film is very long and the beginning rather silly. However it gets more entertaining as it goes on. I was most captivated by the young aborigine, Nullah, played by Brandon Walters. He was superb and brought out all my most motherly instincts as he did Nicole Kidman’s.
12 year old Nullah, captivating in Australia.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a lazy day spent at home with the family. I made lacón con grelos (cooked ham with “turnip grass”) a typical delicacy from the Galicia region. Judging by the favourable comments from the family, I will be repeating the recipe soon.
After lacón con grelos, we had a siesta, that most famous of Spanish “sports”, then a quick Jacuzzi (rather than a leisurely one as time back home, is now a problem – I often think there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to). This was followed by an outing with the girls to the cinema, again.

This time we went to see Revolutionary Road. I was attracted to seeing Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio together for the first time since Titanic. Funnily enough the Director was Sam Mendes, Kate Winslet’s husband! Eladio and the girls loved the film but I was somewhat disappointed. The plot just didn’t interest me. The idea is similar to American Beauty or even Desperate Housewives and it portrays the lie of the American dream, or the sham of the supposed perfect life and perfect marriage, something I cannot ever relate to, probably because I myself am very happily married. I was not really convinced by “Jack and Rose’s” histrionic shouting matches andjust didn’t believe what they were saying. For me, they will always be Jack and Rose and the epitome of true love, not a jaded American way of life couple.

After Revolutionary Road, the girls had plans and Eladio and I returned to our "scene of the crime", i.e. our all time favourite restaurant, La Alpargateria. It's like walking into your home when you go in and I even got the feeling the staff had possibly missed us. We didn't get our favourite table, number 7, though due to some mix up. It's just not the same having dinner at a different table but it was nice to be back.

This weekend has brought with it terrible winds. Our walks have been so windy they have been actually unpleasant. My father braved them and I wonder he didn’t get blown over. Big branches from a tree fell into the driveway. Other parts of Spain were much harder hit and there have been fatal consequences, the most notable of which was the death of 4 young children when the roof of a sports centre caved in on them in Sant Boi in Cataluña. In some parts of the country the winds reached over 160km/h!

Coinciding this week with Obama’s swearing in as the new President of the United States, I got news from there too, news which took us back in time at least 23 or 24 years. The news was from Rosa. Recently I had found Angel, her husband on LinkedIn and we had exchanged emails summarising our lives of the last 20 odd years. Well this week I got an email from Rosa.

Rosa, of Cuban origin but brought up in the US, was a colleague in my first job. In fact we both started at Defex together, that company I sometimes admit I worked for which exported “defence material” to the third world. Yes, I worked in the arms industry for 8 years in the early 80’s. And so did Rosa.

Rosa and Angel were part of our beginnings in Madrid when Eladio and I “lived in sin” in Saconia, that trendy part of Madrid for intellectuals or left wingers at the time. Angel taught maths at the Autónomo University and they had 2 children at around the same time as us. Very soon they decided to return to the US and set up life there. I was very upset to lose them and as time went by we lost touch. In those days there was no email or mobile phones and keeping in touch was much more difficult. Well now we have found them 20 odd years later and with the wonderful communications tools available today, we shall continue our relationship where it left off. Hopefully too we will see each other this summer in Alicante where Angel’s family is from.

And that’s it for this week.

Cheers as always, Masha.

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