Saturday, December 12, 2009

High points of the last week

This is the end of my first week in Guadalajara. Here are the high points:

1. Last night I went to the opening of Susana's uncle's new gay club, Velvet. It was fun, though not my scene (something about being straight). We also went to Circus, one of his other gay clubs. It was far more grungy, and a lot more my style.

2. Today, I was making some gnocci and prawns, which required rosemary and basil. Susana's mother is basically a disinfecting machine (apparently it's a common Mexican trait). She scrubbed and disinfected the rosemary and basil. There is no chance of me picking up any bugs here.

3. I went with Chewy, Susana's brother, to the wholesale markets. These markets put Melbourne's to shame. There are stores which sell nothing but onions, by the tonne. Others sell just piñatas. A fantastic experience.

4. We bought some wedding rings.

5. Books started this week:

Boswell: life of Samuel Johnson

Dambisa Moyo: Dead Aid

Gareth Evans: Responsibility to Protect

Freakonomics (Thanks, Dean!)

And I've finally hit the second half of David Kilcullen's The Accidental Guerilla. I will write a review of it next week.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lost in translation: 1

At Walmart yesterday, we were cruising the DVD aisles, when I came across the most splendidly translated film title: Grease, translated to `Vasolina´.

When I think of Grease, I think of machinery, slick hair, and sex. When I think of Vaseline, I think of chaffing on babies' bottoms.

Monday, December 7, 2009

First impressions of Guadalajara

I arrived in Guadalajara yesterday, after a stopover in LA. I've been to neither city before, so it's been a couple of days of exploring for me.

There is something funny about being away from your home city. I first encountered it when I moved to Melbourne. Even as an Australian, I found it amazing how many people would talk to me on trams and trains, and wrongly concluded that all Melbourners love talking on public transport.

Of course, the phenomenon really is that people (in general) enjoy showing off their cities---and I, apparently, seem to have a big sign hanging around my neck saying "foreigner". My day in LA was marked by arguing over steak about health care reform in the US, and being asked to attend (and attending) an art opening at the LACMA.

From the 50 or so people I spent the day talking to, I've figured that, essentially, LA-ers (I can't say "Californians", let along "Americans", because LA-ers think of themselves as being different) are a fairly friendly, well educated, and politically aware bunch. They also speak in exactly the same vernacular as in the movies. I wasn't sure people actually said "son-of-a-bitch retard", but that was the description of a driver I heard a policeman shout out.

I found LA more or less as I expected. I went to Downtown, Hollywood, Westwood, and Santa Monica. All but Santa Monica struck me as kind of revved-up versions of Paramatta, which is not being endearing. Santa Monica was just a big St Kilda (some may find that endearing, others won't). The people also smell of fairy floss.

Guadalajara is a great city. It's big, messy, smelly, industrial, and fun. The centre is full that wonderful colonial grace you would expect. The fun, though, comes from being with Susana's family. Her father is one of 14, and every Sunday, they cook and eat a lot of food. Since that's more or less how I like to roll, I think I'll fit in, as soon as mi Español improves.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

I've been slack

I've not posted anything lately. Between camping and marking, I haven't had the time to have an opinion, let along think or write about it.

That all changes today. Tonight, I leave to go to the States, Mexico, and Cuba, from which I will file a weekly KE column. I'll be there for almost three months.

Following that, I'm off to work in the Macroeconomic Group of the Treasury, on climate abatement modelling. Depending on the nature of the job there, I may have to give up writing all my nonsense. Half-yer-luck!