Friday, 28 September 2007

How to feed friends and influence people

When you can't communicate with language, food is a good substitute.

So I cooked dinner for the students, and Chileans, Georgians, Germans, Hungarians, Latvians, Turks - even a Liechtensteiner! - were united in their appreciation of RK's chicken curry.

"Your cooking tastes very good!" they chorused. Even without turmeric or curry leaves - shopping for spices in Vaduz can be challenging - I had to admit: it didn't taste bad.

"Danke für die Blumen," I said, proud of both my cooking ability, and beginner German.

Then we all drank Russian vodka, and sang Karaoke. I thought it was the Japanese who were obsessed with Karaoke, but the Eastern Europeans could give them a run for their money. The vodka quelled my reservations, and I tunelessly sang along to the Beatles, before tumbling into bed...

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Metaphorical flowers

"Danke für die blumen," was one of the phrases I learnt in my first German class; not too different from the Afrikaans.

A pretty phrase, and pretty useless. I resigned myself to sitting around waiting for someone to give me flowers so I could add it to my active vocabulary

Until H explained to me that it also means "Thank you for the compliment". A pretty and useful idiom after all.

Make-up failure

One way of putting on a brave face is to apply a dash of bright-red lipstick. But when I coated my lips with Dior Rouge Dior #976 in Plum Plot this morning, I didn't feel better; I felt like a clown. So I wiped it off, and had to settle for Boots No.7 Stay Perfect in #15 Café as more appropriate for daytime wear.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

German highlights

In my German class, we have to use highlighters to mark the different nouns in our workbooks. Blue (blau) for masculine, pink (rosarot) for feminine, green (grün) for neutral and yellow (gelb) for plural. There is so much new to learn, but the familiarity of gender stereotyping is cold comfort.

And, although neons are making a fashionable comeback this season, I'm just not a highlighter kinda gal. Conceptually, I'm a fountain-pen princess. Realistically, I'm the chick scrawling last-minute notes with a chewed-down ball-point. Of course, "QWERTY" rules, although in this part of the world, make that "QWERTZ".

Random fact of the week

There are 35 168 residents of Liechtenstein, and 23 261 of these are Liechtensteiners. This is the December 31, 2006 figure, so you can make that 35 169 residents, now that I'm here too!
- Courtesy of Liechtensteiner Vaterland, Mittwoch 26. September 2007

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Spelling mistake of the week

"Fanasticated" for "fascinated" in my 5th-year (grade 10) class. Gorgeous!

Repetitive fashion syndrome

In my German class yesterday evening, I noticed that my teacher was wearing exactly the same outfit she wore on Monday - white pants and a floral top, not a particularly flattering get up, even on its first outing.

Made me think of Pim: during my childhood I used to worry that his students would laugh at him for invariably dressing in the same khaki pants and veldskoene, but he always reassured me with geological nonsenses: "The students don't notice what I wear. They are only interested in hearing about the tessellated conglomerates."

How wrong he was!

I clearly remember Miss H in Std 5, who had three cardigans sporting the same zig-zag pattern: one was black, red, and white; one was indigo, lilac, and white; one was forest green, melon green, and, (you've guessed it!) white. We used to place bets on which one she'd wear each day - much more exciting than doing our Maths homework.

And Mr S in first-year philsophy, who was overly attached to his thin maroon jersey... If he had varied his wardrobe even slightly, I might have been induced to attend more lectures.

I hope that my own clothes don't bore the students to death. I can't display quite my usual flair as I currently have only four scarves to work with (thanks to packing-Nazi friend, Moral Squeeze).

As soon as I have some Swiss Francs to my name, I shall have to go shopping. I know that M, a chubby 14-year-old pupil who has a crush on me, will appreciate an updated look. The catch is, I might have to fly MS over here to help me pack for my return flight!

Random fact of the week

Before the "so-called revolution of 1989", Romania had a German minority of 700 000 people. Now only 60 000 Germans remain there.
- Courtesy of Klaus B, Liechtenstein's resident expert on Romania.

Monday, 17 September 2007

At a loss for words...

Phrases they don't have in my German phrasebook:

1. "My suitcase is very heavy, and I am very short. Please would you help me lift it onto this impossibly high luggage rack?"

2. "I like your band, and you are quite cute. Can I buy you a drink?"

3. "Even though I don't speak German, I am actually very cool, and we should be friends."

You can get round the first situation with gesturing, and saying "danke".

As for the second, body language is universal, but I thought better of my proposition when said singer had a girl draped over him. Also, he was very much younger than I had at first supposed. Check out Rääs, Liechtenstein's answer to Tristan Waterkeyn.

And the third? A smile can't quite convey my inner über babe, so I'm starting German classes this evening... Auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The T-shirt

In class this afternoon, Niko was wearing a T-shirt that read:


"Are you allowed to wear this T-shirt to school?" I asked, in my best teacherly voice. "Yes," he said, "it is a great T-shirt!"

I had to stifle a laugh, while Ulrike reminded me most of the teachers wouldn't be able to understand it.

[Note: Even though I was wearing a moderately low-cut top, Niko didn't check out my tits while he was speaking to me; at least, not obviously.]

Saturday, 08 September 2007

At the Health Office

At the Town Hall, an official asked me some random questions. "What is your mother's maiden name?" (Keeley), and "Do you have a dog?" (Nein).

At the Health Office, the Doctor asked if my family were healthy.
"Meine familie sind gesunde," I said.

I thought about Pim's stomach and Mim's alopecia; Nim's spine and Kim's hypochondria. But my German wasn't up to describing these, which was probably a good thing.

Saturday, 01 September 2007


At the coop
I bought oranges
Aus Südafrika.
I thought they would taste like home;
They tasted like oranges.