Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sarkozy’s boots, Afghan women protest, Indian elections, Imagine never having been kissed at 48? Internet and me, my Danish princess and other stories

A star was born in England last week. Susan Boyle the new world media phenomenon.
Hi again

There has been lots of news this week that caught my attention. This was the week Sakorzy, the modern day Napoleon, put his foot in it and was caught off the air criticising both Barack Obama and the Spanish President Zapatero; the latter as weak and the former as dim. The only leader who came away unscathed was Berlusconi! More than his foot, it seems he is getting too big for his boots and it could take some time to live down this faux pas.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, a bit too big for his boots
This was also the week Afghan women demonstrated for possibly the first time ever. They may not be able to revoke the unacceptable new Shia family law which gives Shia husbands wide-ranging powers over their wives, who are not allowed to leave the house without their husband's permission or to refuse him sex without a medical excuse. But at least they got their voice heard, which is quite a miracle in this country where life for women is worse than in the dark ages.

Afghan Shia women protesting in Kabul, a very unusual scene.
In a country close to my heart, the sub continent of India, elections started this week and nearly 800 million people will be voting. Not surprisingly the whole process will take as long as a month. Will yet another Gandhi family member and descendent of Jawaharlal Nerhu win for the Congress party again? And if Indira Gandhi’s grandson Rahul gets elected, will he also be assassinated like his grand mother Indira and his Father Rajiv or like the Father of the nation itself, Mahatma Gandhi? Is the price of power worth paying for certain death one day at the hands of his own countrymen?

Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party candidate in the Indian elections.
But above all it was the week a star was born and a dream came true for an unknown frumpy looking and astoundingly charismatic 48 year old Scottish lady called Susan Boyle. She took part in ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent programme last week and literally rocked the audience off its feet despite initial jeering at this plump and unattractive looking middle aged lady who admitted on stage that she was unemployed, unmarried and that no one had ever kissed her. The song she sang, I dreamed a dream from Les Miserables, has now been viewed over 20 million times on You Tube and Susan Boyle has become a world star. I, for one, am truly amazed by this dream come true and hope it all works out for the lovely and very authentic Susan Boyle. Her voice is fantastic, that is true but I wonder whether there would have been so much noise about this participant if she had been young and beautiful. Certainly not. What we all seem to like, to quote one of the judges, is the underdog story she portrays. There is also an element of the Cinderalla fable without the beauty which goes to prove that appearances can be misleading. As my dear Aunty Gloria used to say: never trust a man by his umbrella, it may not be his. Good luck Susan, you more than deserve it.

Another bit of news I have to report this week, is a video news piece that Oli did for with another colleague. It is about young and successful professionals who have to return home because of the credit crunch. I am pleased for her that this turned out to be the most seen video of the week on their website. I am not, however, pleased for those young people. Times are difficult for them.

Talking of websites, that leads me to my next subject which has to be Internet or rather Internet and me. I have to acknowledge I am addicted to quite a degree. It fascinates me and I spend my time on email primarily of course and on news items and the weather for example. My blog is my passion and this week I surpassed 20.000 visitors. That’s a lot of people following someone neither famous nor extraordinary like me. What is news about the visitors is the variety of countries they come from. You just have to click on the cluster map on the right hand side of the blog to see the list. The top 5 countries are Spain, USA, Finland, Mexico and India but boy are there some obscure countries after them.

Of course I am on Facebook and have been for some time and more recently I am on Twitter. I couldn’t believe that I was ranked 458 in the Twitter holic ranking for Madrid – possibly that proves Twitter has not yet taken off in Spain properly. If you don’t know what Twitter is read here. Actually when you update your status in Twitter it updates automatically in Facebook so you don’t waste time.

In Facebook you belong to a circle of friends. In Twitter, however, you can find anyone (unless you block them or they block you) and there are many high profile people out there using it like Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Britney Spears or Demi Moore (she tweeted that Susan Boyle had moved her to tears)to name a few. I was happy to find a whole load of old cronies from my Motorola Cycling Team days such as Lance Armstrong himself, Paul Sherwen, Kevin Levingstone, Graham Watson, Jim Ochowich, Rupert Guinness or Johan Bruyneel. Following their tweets brings me right back to the Tour of the Basque Country drinking pacharán with some of them. It’s great to have found them.

To quote the NYT’s article on Twitter above, it unleashes the diarist in you. I have to admit I have been a diarist on and off since the age of 6 so the diarist in me was already unleashed. More than that, these internet tools have made diary writing a joy and easier to be consistent about.

Finally I have my own channel on You Tube where I have some domestic videos of our trip to India and mainly of Norah, our new Beagle puppy I am besotted with. And this week I joined Digg which seems to be the next best thing after sliced bread in the online news world. Try it, it’s great. By the way you can find my You Tube and Twitter profiles added to my blog now (right hand side and quite low down).

On the offline front, yes I mean, here at home, the week began with Anne leaving after a great Easter weekend. On Monday night we went out with Graciela and Eduardo to a nice little tapas place in Boadilla called Vinoteca. Congratulations go to them as they are expecting a baby boy. I wonder who will get their way: Eduardo with Eduardo or Graciela with Mateo? I expect the latter. The four of us are now all ex Nokians so had a great time gossiping about old times as well as new events. I must say the Nokia slogan “connecting people” and the internal one “reuniting colleagues” are both true. The best thing about my nearly 6 year stint as the PR Manager for Nokia Spain was the people I met.

Anne went back to Finland and as we are quite a globe trotting family, I suppose it is no surprise that Suzy went to Denmark on Thursday. She went with Rocío to visit Estefania who is there on an Erasmus University scholarship and they were joined on Friday by two other school friends, Erika and Carolina. Suzy is having a great time. They are riding bikes to go everywhere and are very pleased with the modern Scandinavian style residence they are staying at. Of course Suzy went with her friends to see the Little Mermaid, a fairy tale character she has always equated with ever since she saw the Disney film as a child. Suzy and Ariel and Ariel and Suzy have a strong relationship.
That unique and lovely statue of the Little Mermaid, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's tale rests by the sea in Copenhagen.
In Copenhagen there lives a real princess, at least for us. I refer here to Pernille, the lovely golden girl who came to live with us in 1991. She was 19 and as she reminded me last night on the phone, I was just 35. The girls were about 6 and 7 and she was to be their au pair. That was the beginning of a life time relationship and of a person who has a permanent place in our hearts. Pernille married her childhood sweetheart, Thomas and they have two little girls called Julia and Alberte. Suzy met them yesterday for the first time and also saw Pernille and Thomas for the first time since their wedding. We all went to that fairy tale wedding in 2000 as you can see here in the photo. Pernille, we miss you. Please come with your family and see us this Summer as you said you would last night.

The girls at Pernille and Thomas' wedding in Copenhagen in 2000.
Suzy will be back tonight and I’m dying to see photos of that encounter. Meanwhile here are some of her in Copenhagen.

Suzy and the Little Mermaid
Suzy on her bike in Copenhagen.
Next week she will be celebrating her 25th birthday and there will be a big party here on Saturday. Andy and Amanda will be her for that as they are coming to Spain to visit Salamanca to look for accommodation for a course in Spanish they will be doing in August. Also Marta and Paula will be here, passing through, on their way to Liverpool (tourism is big there these days. Who would have believed that a few years ago?). So next week we are going to have a full house. What fun. What Suzy doesn’t know about (and she won’t read this so I’m not worried) are the amount of surprises in store for her that day.

We’re going to have fun.

More, next week. Cheers till then,


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