Gabriel García Márquez

“The only thing that hurts me about dying, is that it’s not dying of love.”  📖

This Tuesday March 6 marks 91 years since the birth of the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. The author of such emblematic works as “Love in the Time of Cholera” was born on March 6, 1927 in Aracataca, northern Colombia and died at the age of 87 in Mexico City.
Known as ‘Gabo’, he was a writer, journalist and screenwriter, as well as a cultural agitator by conviction and father of “magical realism” in literature.
Picture of Gabriel García Márquez with glasses andsticking their tongue out
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Among all his works, ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ (1967) stands out, one of the peaks of universal literature; translated into 35 languages ​​and with more than 30 million copies sold to date. But ‘Gabo’ was not just a great writer, he was a member of the Colombian Academy of Language, promoter of the Foundation of New Latin American Cinema, based in Havana (1985) and the New Ibero-American Journalism Foundation (1994), as well as a language revolutionary, who even asked for the suppression of grammar and spelling.

A book can touch your soul

📚 I  am so happy to celebrate the “World Book Day”!  📚
I have a special relationship with books and taking advantage of the date, I thought it would be a good occasion to share some facts that marked my affinity with them.

In elementary school, several years ago and when it was not yet a topic in focus, I suffered a form of psychological bullying. There was that stereotypical “popular girl” who all the other girls followed and carried out each of her whims. This girl had forbidden them to play with me, I discovered it the day I dared to ask a girl: “Why do not you want to play with me?” Then she responded: “I want to, I like you, but Karen would mad at me if I do it and she would be mean to me”

At that time, I was only 9 years old. That deep feeling of “non-acceptance” and loneliness, went away little by little by the hand of two events. The first event was when I began to frequent the school library during breaks. I remember that, with great kindness, Teresita, the librarian, always recommended me some interesting book, or she reserved for some time the book I was reading so that no one would take it. I ended up being the first to read each new book that arrived! Being 9 years old, that made me feel extremely happy and special!.

The first book I read, although I did not understand it at the time, was “Le Petit Prince”, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Shortly after, my mother received an award for her humanitarian work. The person who handed her that beautiful gold medal was a renowned journalist from the region where we lived. This, will come to issue in a moment.

When I turned 15, I received a book as a present: “La Resistencia” by Ernesto Sábato. That book caused something that I could not explain accurately using words, but it was deep and from that day I’ve been placing it quite often in any bag I carry.

Let’s move on to my first class in the career of Social Communication. To my surprise, my teacher would be the same journalist that had given my mother thatt prize some time ago. He made a brief introduction about the career and then showed us a book: “La Resistencia” by Ernesto Sábato.
He started talking about that book and about the career of the journalist with the same feeling that the book had stirred within me the first time.

While the professor was speaking, I retrieved my book from bag and placed it on the desk. The same edition, even. And he could not believe it.

He asked me to read my favourite part, a request that I accepted immediately, and to our mutual surprise, he had highlighted the exact same extract in his book.

I have more stories that I promise I will tell in a second post, but for now I wanted to share with you these two, which marked my heart.

Happy World Book Day to everyone!

Picture on a Waterstones book shop.  There is a  sign post that reads: "Time for books". Also, there are lots of books and the sections: Poetry, drama and literary criticism

Wear the heart of a soldier

This is a little story about my experience talking with a veteran some years ago and how that changed my mind about what it means to be a soldier. Dedicated to every soldier in the World. You have my respect. 🌺

My mother was, for many years, rector of the D-80 Nursing School of the Red Cross. That building in my hometown between the roads ”1ro de Mayo” and “San Juan”, of French architecture, with wooden floors, tiled hall, marble stairs and windows, doors and high ceilings with baroque mouldings has been almost a second home for me. Mom used to go to work there when I was still a newborn baby and she would always take me with her, where I stayed in a bassinet by her desk.

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Years passed, the school moved to a building in similar conditions and I often visited my mother.

Among the staff, there was a lifeguard (volunteer in catastrophes). I was 12 years old when my mother introduced me to this man. She told me: “Paola, he’s Daniel, he’s a veteran soldier from the Malvinas/Falklands war, would you like to talk to him?” I, without really knowing my calling as a journalist at the time, very enthusiastically accepted without hesitation.

That turned out to be my first interview, in mom’s office talking to a war veteran. From the popular culture that was perceived in the environment of my country, from the politics of those years, even from what was experienced in schools, with marches, hymns, patriotism and nationalism, I, like so many others, thought at the time that only the soldiers of my country were considered heroes and that I was not allowed to see heroism in other soldiers, since they were, or still are, our enemies.

I asked tough questions in a very naïve way, and that kind hero answered each of them in the best way he could do to a 12-year-old girl.

I remember very clearly my last question, “How does it feel to be in the middle of battle, to know that you have to act harshly?” That moment changed everything for me. He could not answer immediately, but in his eyes I read a thousand answers and I saw how he was looking for a way to respond to me in some way which was not so raw. In those eyes, which I can still picture right now, 18 years later, I not only saw words but feelings and painful memories.

My opinion regarding soldiers, nationalism, and patriotism changed completely after that brief talk of no more than 15 minutes.

I thought that a soldier is or should be a person with a brave heart, with sensitivity and strength. A human being who can feel fear and weaknesses, but with enough courage and desire to do the right thing to defend a dream, to defend a treasure. What can be considered a dream or a treasure? I asked myself; maybe fighting for the injustices that other human beings generate, fighting to preserve the peace of a place and giving children the possibility of something as simple as a normal life, going to school, returning home and having time to be “children”, defending civilians from the madness of tyrants and their followers to devastate everything in their sick obsession with power. I don’t know, something like that.

That talk instilled in me a strange and deep desire to become a soldier, or to at least be able to assist as a journalist. Maybe discover in my own flesh and blood the answer which that soldier could not express to me with words, perhaps to discover that not always the soldiers must fight against tyrants and, sometimes, by decision of a few leaders, they must face each other. A human being in front of another human being, each one with their own history, with a dream to keep safe, with fear and courage, with weaknesses and strengths. And behind them, families that suffer from far away the absence and the uncertainty, who fight with their heart and soul through any distance.

Since then, these thoughts have earned me a lot of criticism, incomprehension and even insults. Because after that day I could not think again that patriotism and nationalism are the same thing, that only the Argentine soldier is the real hero. Homeland to me is the love of the community, of a country for its land and its inhabitants. Nationalism is unfounded fanaticism.

Each soldier projects him/herself and flourishes in his/her vocation, with effort and commitment to that dream which motivated him to become a soldier.

For 18 years, in my eyes a good soldier has had no nationality but only patriotism, love for his community and his land. I can only see men and women with a brave, warm heart, capable of feeling love, empathy, insecurity and fear, valour and courage to overcome their fears and tackle the world head on in their vocation and commitment. A soldier, a veteran, should ALWAYS be honoured, loved and respected, because being a soldier is not any profession, it is the commitment of those who have a heart of gold and the blood of the brave….

#RethinkRemembrance

China Zorrilla

Grande Dame 🎬🎭

China Zorrilla, born Conception Matilde Zorrilla of San Martín Muñoz on the 14 March 1922 in Montevideo, was an emblematic Uruguayan theater, film, and television actress, also director, producer, pianist and writer. An immensely popular star in the Rioplatense area, she is often regarded as a Grande Dame of the South American theater stage.

Born in Montevideo into an aristocratic Uruguayan family, “China” was the second of the five daughters of the Argentinian Guma Muñoz del Campo and the Uruguayan sculptor José Luis Zorrilla de San Martin, disciple of Antoine Bourdelle, responsible for monuments like The Obelisk of Montevideo, officially listed as the Obelisk to the Constituents of 1830.

Revered as Uruguay’s national poet, her paternal grandfather was Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, author of Tabaré. An artistic family, her older sister, Guma Zorrilla (1919-2001), was a well respected theater costume designer for the Uruguayan stage.

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She founded the theater of the city of Montevideo in 1961.

Concepcion Matilde Zorrilla, produced, translated, adapted and directed plays and operas by Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi.

Her childhood was spent in Paris and she always loved acting unconditionally from an early age.

She started in the independent theater in 1943 and she arrived in London with a grant from the British Council to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
In his passage through London he met important figures of cultural and political history as Winston Churchill.

On her return she debuted in the Uruguayan national comedy where she performed in more than 80 plays as a first actress

Among other activities she performed as a correspondent for the Madrid newspaper “El País”, she was a pianist and composer, a French teacher in New York and even a volunteer nurse in Argentina.

“Darse cuenta”, “Elsa y Fred”, “Besos en la frente”, “Tocar el cielo” and the classic “Esperando la Carroza” are among dozens of works in which she acted. And among so many characters who came to life through it is also the name of another great figure of culture, the writer Victoria Ocampo, whom China Zorrilla not only met but also performed in theater in “Eva and Victoria” next to Luisina Brando.

Today, September 17, 3 years have passed since we’ve stopped hearing that peculiar voice or any of her stories, but her work, will continue to shine.

The Reader 📖

The Reader (Der Vorleser) is a novel by German law professor and judge, Bernhard Schlink, first published in Germany in 1995 and in the United States in 1997.

Outfit of the week

I do not remember exactly when I first read this book, but it’s been a few years. I like to rediscover great works after a certain time, they find me in a different moment of my life in which, sometimes, I find different flavours, and other times, I find some which haven’t changed at all. Among those first, you will find this particular page; Lines that did not mean too much for me at that time and yet I empathise with now:

I did go to the presiding judge after all. I couldn’t make myself visit Hanna. But neither could I endure doing nothing. Why didn’t I manage to speak to Hanna? She had left me, deceived me, was not the person I had taken her for or imagined her to be. And who had I been for her? The little reader she used, the little bedmate with whom she’d had her fun? Would she have sent me to the gas chamber if she hadn’t been able to leave me, but wanted to get rid of me? Why did I find it unendurable to do nothing? I told myself I had to prevent a miscarriage of justice. I had to make sure justice was done, despite Hanna’s lifelong lie, justice both for and against Hanna, so to speak. But I wasn’t really concerned with justice. I couldn’t leave Hanna the way she was, or wanted to be. I had to meddle with her, have some kind of influence and effect on her, if not directly then indirectly.

I invite you to test this too, find a book that you’ve read a long time ago and give it a second read. Who knows, maybe you could be surprised too!

Brave Souls

Amy Johnson

(1 July 1903 – 5 January 1941)

She was a pioneering British aviator who was the first female pilot to fly alone from Britain to Australia. She set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s. She flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary and died during a ferry flight.

Dear Journalists

 

I’m late, but I did not want to stop writing about a date as important as the 7th of June.

I am having a very pleasant experience but different from the one I had visualised in the past. I mean, to be writing in this space in a language that is not my mother tongue.

I remember that I had my first contact with journalism when I was 14 and was part of a large group of “Jóvenes Comunicadores” -Young Communicators- who did countless of radio hours, interviews of cultural and social interest, newspaper writing and even internet content when it was still in its infancy.

In Argentina, my first home, Journalist’s Day is celebrated every 7th of June.

This day was established in 1938 by the First National Congress of Journalists held in Córdoba, in memory of the first press with patriotic ideas. Mariano Moreno, who was an Argentine lawyer, journalist, and politician, founded the “Gazeta de Buenos Ayres”, the first newspaper of the Argentine independence period on the 7th of June 1810.

A warm greeting to all the journalists around the world!

Paola Xx