Sunday, October 03, 2010

Battling with Dr. Dukan, a general strike in Spain, 4 years at Yoigo, Suzy joins the workforce, good news for my friends, remembering my Mother and other things.

My Mother and I in 1980 outside the porch at 6 Heaton Grove on the day of Amanda and Richard's wedding.  She is dearly missed.

Hi again

It’s now October and autumn has really begun although you wouldn’t notice that here as the sun is still shining, the temperatures are in their mid 20’s and I, at least, am still wearing summer clothes. To tell you the truth I have been trying on mid season and winter clothes to see which of them I can get into for when the weather gets cooler.  That’s something I always do when I’m on a diet. The objective of fitting into a certain jacket or skirt always motivates me to continue my diet.

And food has been on my mind all week. It’s nearly always on my mind around meal times, of course, but when I’m on a diet I tend to think about it most of the day which is a huge drag. The reason now is the new diet I am following, or rather battling with, the Dr. Dukan diet, that I told you about last week. It’s based on alternating pure protein with pure vegetable days with no oil, fat, sugar or carbohydrates on either.  This is easier said than done I can tell you. It’s sort of easier to follow during the week when you are busy but the weekends are the hardest. The most unmotivating thing is to see that the scales don’t move a day or two after huge efforts and that stagnation sets in. Well today the scales told me good news. I have lost 2.6kgs (that’s 5.7lbs) since I started just over a week ago and that gives me the fuel to continue. But the battle has only just begun.

Talking about battling and fuel, there was a big general strike in Spain this week on Wednesday 29th September which in the end only brought part of the country to the halt. The unions and workers were protesting about the recent labour reforms the Government has taken because of the huge recession Spain is in with 20% of people unemployed. In fact it was the European Union who imposed most of these reforms and there is thought that should have been even more stringent. Really then the strike was not going to have much influence and I don’t think it will.

The General Strike on 29th September in Spain is not going to change much here.

I did not go on strike and have never gone on strike and in fact celebrated 4 years with Yoigo a couple of days later on 1st October. How time flies, literally, and how much we have done to gain a place in the highly competitive mobile phone market in this country. I have enjoyed the journey a lot and like many other people at the time could hardly believe the success Yoigo would have as the 4th mobile phone operator in Spain, competing against its 3 giant competitors. But here we are 4 years later, with only 91 employees, nearly 2 million customers and about to become profitable. It’s a real success story. When I joined Motorola in 1989, no one had heard of the company. Just a while later it was number one in selling mobile phones in Spain. I left just as its decline began. I had a similar story in Nokia leaving in 2005 just before their decline began. It’s a big of a joke, but a previous boss of mine once said: just follow Masha. Funny isn’t it?

And who entered the job market this week was my older daughter Susana as I told you last week. She started one day before the strike and has now had 4 days of experience as a member of the workforce. I hope she gains lots of know-how at Adecal and that her time there helps her up the professional ladder.

Good news for my friends in the title of this week's blog post has to do with the job market too. The day after the strike I had a morning coffee appointment with my friend and neighbour Elena. We have been meeting once a month since she lost her job as Communications Director with Ericsson Spain over two years ago. After having had two similar experiences in my own life, I knew exactly what she would be feeling like and just how difficult it would be to find another job. So I decided to help her in the only way I could, by being with her and keeping up her morale. I was therefore delighted to hear from her on Thursday that she had landed a job as Thyssen Krupp’s Comms Director for Spain and Southern Europe. She is 52 and back in the job market and head over heels with joy and relief. It means a new lease of life and I am so happy for her.  It’s funny also that before I joined Yoigo I actually had some interviews for that very same position but they didn’t choose me as they thought my background was too consumer oriented. They were probably right as I didn’t really fancy the position. However Elena has just the right profile. I wish her lots of luck and enjoyment in her new job too.  Well done Elena! In the end you did it yourself.

My friend Elena when she was telling me the good news about her new job as Comms Director for Thyssen Krupp.  Congratulations couldn't be more in order for her.

The other friend who has also landed a new job is my ex colleague  Juana whose blog you can find in the section “my friends’ blogs”. She’s done extremely well after one year back from their time in Mexico to find a job as Account Manager with Microsoft who is based in nearby Pozuelo, very near where she lives. Now that’s a good company to work for. Congratulations Juana too. 

If 1st October was the day to remember joining Yoigo, it was also the day to remember my dear Mother’s passing away and that will always be so.  My Father remarked that he had been a widow now for 11 years. Yes 11 years ago my amazing, unique, extrovert, multi lingual, somewhat academic and Bohemian mother of Russian aristocratic background died of that most feared disease, cancer. She is often in my thoughts but mostly so on her birthday, 7th June, and on the anniversary of her sad death on the 1st of October. In life you are prepared for many things, but the death of your parents is something you are never prepared for and can never really get over. God bless you Mummy, I miss you. We all miss you.

Life goes on of course and that’s what this blog is all about. I may have told you last week that I have now been writing it for just over five years since September 2005.  So what else is there to tell you about this week?

We still remember our holiday in Jordan and Israel of course and life after that has been a bit flat to tell you the truth. We had bought back from Amman three cushion covers in the pattern of the cushions we saw everywhere in the Bedouin tents and in other places. I took them to have zips put in as well as the filling and yesterday I went to pick them up. They are now gracing this room, the “IT room”, to quote my Father and from where I am writing to you now. This is how they look and they are there to remind us of our lovely trip.

A bit of Jordan in our home.  I had  zips and filling put in the cushion covers we bought in Amman and they are now gracing the red sofa in our "IT room".

You probably know I am a great reader, mostly of biographies, World War II survivor stories and “mislit” and recently I didn’t have anything to lay my hands upon that was of great interest. It’s important to have a good book to read always, but especially when you are on a diet. It takes your mind off food! So I went to my book shop, and the first thing I saw recommended was Tony Blair’s “The Journey”, the autobiography of his time as Prime Minister. I also ordered "Nella Last’s War", the extraordinary diary of Nella Last, a middle aged housewife during the Second World War in England. Lastly I couldn’t resist getting another Auschwitz survivor story, probably spurred on by our visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, written by a non Jewish Rumanian woman called Olga Lengyel.  It is called "Five Chimneys" and is both an amazing and horrowing story.

A Journey, Tony Blair's autobiography which I got from this week.

I also like films so last Sunday, just after  Fernando Alonso had won the Singapore GP, I watched the horrific film Precious about an obese and very unlucky black girl who lived in Harlem. It made me realise just how lucky I am and for a moment also how much thinner I am too!

Precious, a horrific story about an obese black girl from Harlem. You couldn't have a worse life than her's

Just as it was finishing our friends Roberto and Mari Carmen came to join us for our daily walk. Our walk has become an essential part of everyday life and  hardly a day goes by without it. Norah, of course, thoroughly enjoys it. Even she has got a bit thinner since we came back from Israel and Jordan as whilst we were away the poor dog didn’t leave the house once. She likes to meet other dogs on the way, like these two delightful terriers.

Norah's friends, two lovely terriers we often meet on our walk.

After the walk we went out to dinner. It had to be a place where I could get fat free protein and oil free vegetables. So where did we go? Certainly not to the pasta place La Alpargateriá, but to La Txitxarrería in Pozuelo. The meat there is out of this world, highly recommendable.

I had another protein and vegetable lunch out  this week with a colleague from work, Juan. It turns out that he is also following the Dukan diet and has already lost 11kgs. Thus we spent the better part of our lunch at Aspen talking about diets.

Therefore I end my blog on the same note as it begun, the story about my diet. My life is all about diets and I just wish I had been born with a thinner constitution and could now be writing about something else instead of diets.

C’est la vie!

Cheers till next week my friends.

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