From biking bum to English Establishmentarian (or so Matthew put it). Yes, I
have finally joined the "real world" of work, though whether anyone else in my
beloved country would call the Foreign Office the real world is often up for
I have drawn a line under the EU which, still prefering Swedes,
Austrians and Finns to hard-working avidly pro-europeans Brits, has constantly
refused me employment. Thus it was perfectly understandable that my first
posting at the Foreign Office would be on the European Union (Internal)
desk..... Every time you hear a cow mooooooo, gibber, dribble and then fall
down think of me.
So to London to join the massed ranks. Biking through Toscana, Umbria, Veneto
and the Cotswolds is now but a wistful memory. Although one story bears
retelling, amply illustrating Winston Churchill's aphorism that the British
and the Americans were a common people only divided by language. The scene:
lunchtime at a gentle Cotswolds village pub basking in high English summer.
The people: seven middle-aged, spreading Americans clad in glorious shades of
lycra, one English guide and assorted rural sorts from the region.
As we sat outside, munching such delicious national fare as
chicken-in-a-basket and fish'n'chips, there was a general calm amongst the
English customers, a direct consequence (no doubt) of the loud biking clothes
and their equally noisy owners. Well, for one young-forty-something (ex-cheer
leader) from South Carolina this was not good enough - everyone should have
been enjoying this wonderful God-given day as much as she. And in a voice
that resonated around the limestone walls declared - "Oh, Gad, Jonathaaaaan, I
jus' wish I could teach these kids to shag."
The immediate reply came from one ruddy-faced farmer (are there ever any other
sort?), who in his best west-country burr, shouted back "Over 'ere luv, I gart
tyme for a quickie..." It was only when, in my role as translator, I pointed
out to her that a shag in England was more of a horizontal dance, that she
understood what our farmer was after. Going as red as her biking shorts, she
enjoyed the rest of her lunch quietly. But at least her comment had had the
desired effect - the local clientele's mood had brightened considerably.
And I can chalk the episode down to useful experience for the Foreign Office.
The WTO has enabled me a soft landing here in Geneva. They correctly
figured that landing on banknotes would sweeten a 7 1/2 hour workday
considerably. (Starting in the Winter season, that is October-June,
it will be 8 hours) Even though they knew since mid-June that I would
arrive in September, I only got a computer and an office after two
weeks. In the meantime, they urged me to use my days to find an
apartment, get settled and work myself through the Swiss bureaucracy.
The latter takes up some time indeed, even the bicycles have to have a
licence-plate, and you have to insure yourself against yourself if you
want to rent a flat. Anyway, nobody seems to mind when I dropped in
at 9.30 just to block the fax machine for 30 minutes to send faxes to
all regional car dealers in my search to secure the best
"diplomat-discount" fo me. I finally settled for a (small) Alfa Romeo.
I work, well, will work in the Market Access Division. We deal with
topics as interesting as Rules of Origin, Pre-shipment Inspection,
Import-licensing, and tariff harmonization. Except a Korean fellow
(Mr. Kim, needless to say) who seems very nice if I only understood
any of his English, all other 9 persons in the division are female, most
of them are beyond 55, though, and they already started to express
motherly feelings for me. They provide me with ample amounts of tea
and cookies, and one of them keeps fixing my hair when I arrive in the
office without having myself combed in the morning. I can foresee
the day when she will lick her finger and remove a piece of Croissant
from my upper lip...
Geneva's nightlife is a joke apart from a few Irish Pubs. But who can
spend his evenings in Irish Pubs all the time? The lake area and the
nearby mountains are stunningly pretty. Italy is one hour and if the
weather is good, I can see the Montblanc from my office-window.
Serra is still in Istanbul and will join me in early October.
My e-mail address is Markus.Jelitto@WTO.org. My work-phone is
41-22-739-5885. I don't have a private phone yet.
- Rosa Emilia Moreno / New York / Sep 13:
As Stefan said, the Summer is officially over in the United
States and so are my days with Goldman Sachs & Co. Today, Friday
the 13th is my official last day, although I resigned on
Wednesday. It's been an interesting year and one half in
Economic research but I have decided to move to the banking side
of the business with another multinational financial institution
to begin October 15th. [So don't use her gs.com email address anymore: she's gone from there--Stefan]
Before then however, I will be travelling
for some time, mostly to see our beloved friends in London and
Paris. If anyone has any packages or letters or goodies for
anyone on the other side, they haven't sent because of lack of
money or will, please drop them off and I will, for a small fee,
risk life and limb on British Airways to carry them to their
Just a brief note:
1) I have changed my mind and will not be going over to the State Dept.,
rather I will be staying with the Senator and will continue to look for a
new job from here. After long and deep thought I decided that I was not
ready to consign myself to stamping passports in Kinshasa for the next
2) Manami, Gioia, Sebastian Reyn, and Carrie Cullen Hitt will all be
gracing the Nation's capital with their presence this coming week.
I am going to Milan October 1-6 for business. Are there any Milanese
Saisers still in residence? As our consulting business is only breaking
even this year, and there is little money for bonuses, my boss decided
the only way to keep me happy was to send me back to the home country via
business class. I have to say, I swallowed hook line and sinker. So at
any rate, I will be in Italy for a couple of days. Although of course I
have to do some work, I would love to hang out with any Bologna '94
people in the area.
On another note, I finally cut the umbilical cord and moved into the
city (Boston, that is). I'm living at Inman Square in Cambridge near all
the good restaurants. If anyone is in the area and wants to sample the
local (Portuguese, Brazilian, Chinese, Indian, fusion) fare, please feel
free to drop in.
Summer is apparently officially over in the United States, so in the spirit of new beginnings voila the new revamped website for the SAIS class of 95. It's time everybody contributes once again, as summer must have offered plenty of opportunities for new experiences I'm sure we all want to hear about. (In my case, my experience was work.) New York is proving a trove of distractions, and it doesn't help to be living on the street that is the social nerve center of the East Village. Friendly drug dealers sit at my doorstep and wave me by as I'm way too paranoid to partake in actions that would have me deported in a wink (or so I imagine). Speaking of which, I'm probably an illegal alien already as my visa application is proceeding at the pace of a visa application.
My apartment is just big enough to squeeze 40 odd people in very tightly. I know this because I tried it last Friday when I had my "It's-been-a-while-since-the-last" party. No lewdness to report, but not for want of trying on the part of several SAISers. Two of my work colleagues were much impressed with Hylke Faber; she thought Hylke was cute--and he thought Hylke was definitely gay. I was the good host, so I didn't disabuse either of them of their impressions.
Other SAISer news: Tom Atkins is in Germany playing at a German Newspaper for another month because of a grant he netted thanks to big government. Uta Hanischfeger is there too right now, but will stay longer as AP/Dow Jones has sent her there to better exploit her languages. Liz Jacobs has moved to her very own apartment, a move delayed only by the serious and lengthy debate she held with herself (and all her friends) as to what size bed she should buy. I think she settled for Queen, but it was a close call.