Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Updates (Ken)

My sister, Kathy, had her mtDNA checked for the matralinial ethnicity. Our mother seems even whiter than our father. It´s like our great-great-great . . . (insert more greats here) great-great grandmother left Aftica 150,000 years ago, moved to Whiteyville, set up housekeeping, and stayed for 149,000 years until some Irishman kidnapped her in the dead of night.

All kidding aside, I was really hoping for a more eclectic genetic past. It´s not like we are European royalty and will get invited to good parties now. We are still peasants. If we are decended from peasants, at least they could have been diverse peasants. It is what it is. No use crying over spilled DNA.

I have to tell you, we get a lot of pressure from our Argentine friends, and our professors at Universidad de Buenos Aires. They love their city so much that they want us to see all of it--NOW! The same for our expat friends: Where have you been? What have you seen? Have you been to X? and Y? You must!

It does not seem to me that we have been slacking, yet there is this constant pressure to do and see. So today, we went to MALBA. Museo de Arte de Latinoamerica de Buenos Aires. For proof, here is Helen at the top of the escalator. We kept thinking that had Richard Schellenberg been with us, we´d STILL be there. I see so much of his work in the pieces we saw. There were also a few video projects.
I saw an actual Frieda Kahlo and other famous guys.

Here is my favorite piece. You are not suppossed to take photos, but I sneaked this one in before I was thoroughly admonished. You have to admit, though, if I were to take one unauthorized photo, this is a good one. Those Latino artists, what a sense of humor, huh?

Other stuff: food here is a challenge. Some is really good, like the meat and the red wine. But we have limited cooking utensiles and facilities. Frying a beautiful steak in an 8-inch pan does not do it justice. The vegetables are different, mostly squash and potatoes. No green beans to speak of, occasionally broccolli. I have yet to see a mushroom. The coffee is all roasted with sugar. It tastes really good in the café, but it is kind of bad at home in the old Mr. Coffee.

The people here are city people: no eye contact on the street, brush by you on the sidewalk, no pleasantries exchanged between strangers, but, once you engage them, they are patient, friendly, and helpful. I belong to a discussion board call BAnewcomers; it is a Yahoo group. Many of them complain that Argentinos are rude and unfriendly. When I post to say that is not my experience, they tell me I have been here too short a time. I am still a tourist. The honeymoon with BA is not over yet. They may be right. They have been here much longer than I--years many of them. But for now, I´ll keep the rose-colored glasses in place and think the best of Porteños.

Our class at UBA has shrunk considerably. Rebecca, from New Zealand, is only there half the time. She is a radio/TV/newspaper reporter who is doing remotes and writing for the Buenos Aires Herald while she is here. Jonah, from Finland, is here only about half the time. No idea what´s going on there. Julie, the lawyer from Munich, is late quite a bit, but I think she stays out late (if I were her age and looked like her, I would too) and she is interning at an Argentino law firm while here. She hopes to enter the German foreign service.

Owen, from Dublin, is there everyday. Nice guy. Chews on his pen all through class, and speaks Spanish with an Irish accent. Eva, from Shanghi, is as sweet as she can be. Just a lovely girl. Her father owns a laundry here. She orries about him. He works so hard for his age--52.

Yesterday, she, and I and a girl from Japan were talking on the street. The Japanese girl does not know any Chinese or English, so we all spoke in Spanish--it was a bit surreal. The other two women: Barbara, from Berlin; and Maria, from Stockholm, come everyday. They are first to come, last to leave, and always prepared. Then there is Helen and me--representin´ Los Estados Unidos. The homesick girl from Oklahoma and the retired LA lawyer didn´t last the first week. The final exam is a week from Friday.

My 50th birthday is Sunday. I am buying that guitar.


Lucia said...


emilyeffinconrad said...

this is what you should REALLY do for your birthday:

come home.

Kat Acosta said...

Happy Birthday, old friend. I can always remember your bday because mine is today! And you are always older. I love that. And I am sure you are whiter too. ;)


Ken and Helen said...

That´s right, rub it in. Criticize my whiteness. I may not be a minority, but I can hold up just as well under this relentless knee-jerk, reactionary thinking.

PS. Feliz Cumpliaños

miss tango in her eyes said...

There are green beans here. Just sometimes your store may not have them. I was just in my favorite veg stand in Boedo, and they had green beans. Or take a trip to Barrio Chino.

Mia said...

As one travels around the world it becomes pretty obvious that vegetables and fruits are more plentiful in the US than in most other countries. The concept of "seasonal produce" is a thing of the past in the US. We can find everything any time of year at the local (better) supermarket. Porteños, and Argentines in general, don't eat vast quantities of vegetables, but they do eat veggies and the supermarkets usually are well stocked. You'll not only find mushrooms and green beans, but very good seasonal produce. Argentines prefer to eat what's in season because it's fresher and cheaper.

Please read this article by Robert Wright. It explains why produce sold in supermarkets is not very good this year in Argentina. Hopefully, things will go back to normal soon.

The "verdulerías" and "fruterías" sell the freshest vegetables and fruits straight from the Mercado Central.