By Dan Blank
585.1 miles in 28 hours. We did not make it but not for a lack of effort. I was visiting Cusco, Peru with a friend. We took the train and intended to take the bus home to Lima. We met up with one of her friends who convinced her to try to fly stand by. At the airport, a local was helping us secure a flight. He found one seat for my friend and assured her that I would be able to catch a flight on one of the next eight flights leaving to Lima. She flew home and every ½ hour for the next four hours, this guy would come back to tell me that there were no seats on the next flight. He came to me one more time and said that there were no seats on the last flight that day but an interesting proposition just came up. And so the adventure begins….
Just so happens, two guys from England who came to South America with the express purpose of visiting the Galapagos Islands were stuck in Cusco and needed to get back to Lima so they could catch a flight out to Ecuador by 5:00 PM the next day. They had 28 hours to get there and were prepared to hire a taxi to make it happen. They were ready to pay $500 (they each offered to pay $200 leaving me with a $100 tab; they needed me….I took Spanish 3 in high school an offer I could not refuse). The man who was assisting me earlier got up on a chair and announced to the whole airport that we were willing to pay the equivalent of 4 months wages to anyone who could guarantee that we would arrive on time. Needless to say, the whole airport descended upon us and we chose the best dressed two guys we saw.
By 1:00 PM, we were on our way in a 1990 Toyota Tercel l hatchback. There was no room to sit so I offered to sleep in the back with the luggage. Within 20 minutes, we stopped and put new tires on the car and off we went. The drivers were keenly aware that they had to maintain a pretty good rate of speed to make sure we would arrive on time to our destination. This meant some pretty crazy driving over the Andes; the steepest mountain range in the world. Throughout my whole trip to Peru I had this reoccurring nightmare of driving off a cliff so I decided that if I was to die, I would do it in my sleep. I got comfortable and I knocked off. I awoke briefly….just long enough to notice that one of the Englishmen was missing a couple of fingers on one of his hands….spooked; I went right back to sleep. The next time I awoke was to thunderous pounding on the bottom of the car. The drivers decided to take a short cut by driving over a dry, rocky riverbed. Minutes later, the car stopped and we were told that we could not go any further….the constant pounding of rocks to the bottom of the car broke the axel.
It was pitch black out and we were miles away from anything. The drivers told us to wait patiently and assured us that a bus would come by…then they disappeared. Sure enough, some time later a bus drove up and we got on. The bus was packed with locals. All I remember was that there was a man in the back of the bus with full blown glaucoma in both eyes, a woman with a bunch of chickens and only two seats available. The two Englishmen jumped into the seats and I chose to stand. Everything was peachy until we arrived at the next stop. I was excited to see three passengers exit thinking I was going to get a chance to sit down. That excitement quickly disappeared as twenty more folks got on. There was no room to stand and we were forced to sit in the isle; like puzzle pieces, our bodies fit into one another. Each time the bus came to a stop the toilet would overflow and the spillage would trickle down the center isle of the bus (right where we were sitting). The only way I knew how to deal with the issue was to knock off again.
Life was good….it always is when you are sleeping. That did not last long though. I am not sure what woke me up…it was either the bus bouncing from side to side or the lady screaming, “los ninos, los ninos”. We all thought the bus was teetering on the edge of the cliff. Nope! Apparently, we had a flat tire and the drivers thought it would be smart to jack up the bus with all the passengers inside. Everything was fine until the jack broke, causing the bus to bound from one side to the other. Realizing they had no way to fix the tire, they asked everyone to exit the bus and wait on the side of the road for another bus. We were at the top of the Andes and it was quite cold and I asked the driver if he could assist me in getting a sweater from my bag. He opened the baggage area and a body rolls out. YES! A freaking body rolled out. The backup driver was sleeping in the luggage area.
We waited on the side of the road for some time until another bus came by to pick us up. It was early in the morning as I remember the sun was shining. This bus had it own share of passengers and then they had to add everyone from our bus as well (seats on these buses are paid for in advance) so needless to say, I had to stand again. I must have been a pretty awful sight because an elderly couple offered me one of their seats. And…after the night I had….I took it! My English friends were seething. Me…I went back to sleep.
Next stop…Nasca. It must have been around 1:00 pm by this time. We were inching closer to Lima but we still had a long way to go (457 km to be exact). The Englishmen wanted off the bus and they decided to hire a taxi. And, desperate for my limited Spanish skills, they begged me to continue on with them. We managed to find someone that would agree to take us to Lima for $200. This time, I chose to sit in front. We were twenty minutes into the drive when I noticed our driver starting to blink real hard and shake his head from side to side to keep himself awake. “Esta cansado”? I asked. “Si, Estoy cansado”. The driver was tired from working the whole night. I asked if he wanted me to drive the rest of the way and he was glad to oblige. So, I drove the remainder of the trip back to Lima. When we were getting close to the city, I switched seats with the driver. My stop (Miraflores) was on the way to the airport but the Englishmen wanted to get to their flight as soon as possible. I agreed but they still missed their flight.
I finally arrived home around 7:00 pm. My friend was relieved to see that I was ok and all I wanted to do was to sit and rest. As soon as my butt hit the sofa, she told me to get up as we needed to go to the police station. She was so worried about me that she called my parents, the police and the embassy and told them I was missing. We called the police and I assured them I was fine but they said they needed to see me in person. All in all, I did not get back until about 9:00 pm. And then….I knocked off.
Last week, Babylon got to be part of an innovative educational opportunity. 13 groups of MBA students from all over the world came to Babylon to offer strategic insight and advice as part of the Sofaer International Case Competition (SICC.)
A panel of judge, including Babylon CEO and Director Alon Carmeli and Babylon Chairman of the Board Noam Lanir, listened to the various recommendations from these the future business leaders of the world.
And after careful deliberation, the panel selected the team from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business to win the top prize:
And yes, Babylon is taking some of their suggestions and recommendations into consideration!
Bahrain is an Archipelago in the Persian Gulf, between Qatar & Saudi
Saudi Arabia’s main land is linked to Bahrain by a bridge
Bahrain’s official language is Arabic.
The name Bahrain means “two seas”.
Bahrain was the first Arabian country to strike oil.
Bahrain has a national flag standing 318 by 555 feet high, it was once the largest national flag, however that record was broken by the Israeli Flag.
Bahrain is the smallest Arab nation.
The “Tree of Life” is a 400 year old tree standing alone in the Bahrain desert. To this day, it’s water source is unknown.
Bu Charla Cooper
Charla Cooper is a 54 year old single mother and US citizen currently living in Montevideo, Uruguay, where she teaches yoga.
She graduated from Swarthmore College in the U.S.
While her Father and Grandfather were accomplished writers, this is her first published piece.
I like white walls. Whitewashed walls with nothing on them. Like in Greece and the pueblos blancos in Spain. White walls remind me of Nothing.
* * *
I moved to Montevideo, Uruguay with Christina, my beautiful one-and-one-half year old half-Fijian daughter, on Decemeber 1, 2008.
“Why Uruguay?” everyone asks.
I was living a life I loved in Sevilla, Spain, on Calle Betis. But after ChristIna arrived I found that I could no longer run my business —which requires calling the US during US business hours -(night time in Spain), and still take care of Christy.
I tried and tried, but either my work or Christina, or I suffered, and it usually wasn’t Christina. Or me.
We had to live in the same time zone as the United States for me to both have a livlihood and be present as I wanted for Christina.
I’d read about Montevideo and its low cost of living, good climate and beaches etc., but I’d never been there.
As we drove into the city on the Rambla I had one thousand dollars in cash and no other options for money. I looked left, at little Christy’s legs which stuck straight out about two inches past the edge of the taxi seat, and then the slivers of light dancing on the Rio Plata, and marveled at the instant of entering our new unknown life.
Montevideo intrigued me, disappointed me and inspired me. I missed the night life and flamenco beat of Sevilla. Montevideo was very soft, pleasant, and “tranquilo.”
During the next nine months Christina and I lived in seven different places in Montevideo. It was a time of sheer survival. All I could think about was where our next diapers, food or place to stay would come from. There is a certain freedom in this kind of poverty. When all you have to do is make sure you survive, you are stripped of the extraneous. No time for depression, resentments, or lists of things to buy. No choices. One foot in front of the other, grounded in the moment.
On several days I had to ask bakers for day old bread to feed Christina, still in her stroller. We were lent apartments, and ended up squatting in one. We got kicked out of a hotel once for not paying the bill on time.
The worst day was a sweltering, humid day we both had lice, but no money for the treatment, or for diapers. It was sticky and the lice were unbearable.
She would poop, and it would land on the floor, and I had to clean it up.
However despite all this, Christy was always her joyful, exuberant, and very outgoing self and I can honestly say that all of her needs, emotional and otherwise were always met.
At one and a half she was an extremely active child, running around constantly, touching everything and talking to everyone. Since her vocabulary consisted of “Mama,” and “Hola,” sometimes she would say “Hola,” to one person twenty or thirty times, poking them when they did not respond. However even when she bothered people, she always, without fail, made them smile.
Finally after nine months we were able to get our own place. It was “perfect”: A ground floor apartment directly facing the park in Villa Biarritz, just a few blocks from the Rambla and the beach.
The main room, the “living,” faced the park and had a large window’s view full of green foliage and children playing, and the “feria,” or farmer’s market on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
The apartment had two bedrooms and two bathrooms and, best of all, a huge tiled terrace in the back, which was as large as an apartment, and was really a backyard, with a “casita,” for our nanny Suzanna . Christina and her friends played in the backyard and in the park and everything we needed was within walking distance.
The apartment needed some cosmetic work. The fixtures were old and it needed painting. The walls were dingy and yellowed, with nails and faded rectangles where pictures had hung, and the paint was flaking in places.
We couldn’t afford to buy furniture or have our furniture from San Francisco shipped, so we lived in this virtually empty space with dingy walls and some white plastic lawn chairs and a fushia bean bag chair————Christina and me, and Suzanna and her 10-year -old-daughter, Camilla, their dog Lara, and usually Suzanna’s mother, “Abuela.”
My business began functioning again, Christina started her new school, Snoopy, and our lives began developing with the slow and comfortable pace of Montevideo.
But Christina was on fast forward. A photo of her each day, would show a different little person.
And there was nothing I could do to stop it.
There are times in our lives that we look back on and realize that they were charmed, because of love or unity. They become ‘the best times of our lives.’
This was the case with the three months I spent with my Grandmother and her primary care keeper, in her house on the water in Saint Augustine, at the end of her life. Nothing exceptional happened, but after she died, I realized that it was one of the best times of my life, and also for her.
But this time in our apartment in Montevideo was different because I realized as it was actually happening that it was special, recognizing it as a memory even as I was living it.
Christina developed an imaginary friend: “Senora Pluma.” Senora Pluma came at night and frequented Christina’s bedroom.
Sometimes she appeared during the day, but only Christina could see her, and Christina would hold long, extremely elaborate and emotional conversations with her.
Christina said her hair was violeta, but I imagined it long and glossy black.
When we asked Christina about something she was not supposed to do, like move the DVDs, or use Mommy’s make-up, she would say that she didn’t do it,
“Senora Pluma hizo.”
Senora Pluma became a household joke, with each of us adding our own associations. We would ask guests whether they knew Senora Pluma. One lady, touching her forefinger to her chin and thinking said ‘Oh yes. I recognize the name. ‘She is from Punta del Este, no?’
Sometimes Senora Pluma would leave behind wine bottles we found the next day, or messes in the kitchen. She wore several layers of sometimes diaphanous, long, flowing white, or off-white night things. Elegant Victorian things with eyelets and embroidery, although they were sometimes yellowed or tattered at the hems. She wrote at night with an old quill pen with a feather, which she dipped in ink and sometimes there were ink stains or purple wine stains on her gowns.
She travelled silently in the apartment because she could, standing, levitate about a foot and a half off the floor, and then with a movement of her right wrist backward, like a motorcycle driver giving gas, she would travel wherever she wanted through the apartment.
She had large triangular pointed teeth and nails, like “los monstros,” in “Where The Wild Things Are,” and her nails had chipped magenta polish on them.
I do not know about her toenails.
One day I decided to paint the “living” before my friend Debbie, who is Christina’s Godmother, came from the States. I bought the white paint, the brushes and the paint roller and started one Saturday. As I applied the bright white paint with the roller, covering the past, a swell of satisfaction rose inside me. It felt good and was exciting to create something new and clean and bright white.
* * *
We seek perfection with our painted white walls. The kind of perfection that maybe we can only attain in deep meditational states, nirvana, or in death.
* * *
Finishing the first wall I stood back, satisfied, but also realizing that this wall would never be perfect. There would always be an uneven edge, or a drop of paint splatter, or some unevenness in the paint.
I once told a spiritual advisor at Grace Cathedral that I liked things black and white, right and wrong, with crisp, sharp edges. She said “as you grow spiritually you will learn to love the rough and fuzzy edges, and embrace them.’”
After I finished the painting first section of the room, Suzanna did two walls very quickly.
On the following Sunday I was working on the last section of the room, watching the yellow wall slowly disappear, and I realized that in a sense I was creating a new room.
The old room, with the yellowed walls, would no longer exist.
Everything that had happened in that old room, was past and as such it did not exist.
That was the room In which Christina learned to count to ten, first in Spanish, and then in English. Where she learned the ABC’s in Spanish and in then English. Where they danced and played hide and seek.
Where we endured endless episodes of “Dora, Dora” and soundtracks of Christy and her friends from Snoopy singing….
This was the room in which Camilla celebrated her tenth birthday, with twenty one children stayed up till dawn with sleeping bags on the floor.
It was the room we shared dinners in, and Christy learned to use a fork.
Christy quit wearing diapers here, and renounced her blue pallela.
It was the room I taught yoga in weekly, cleansing our bodies and minds, and changing the very vibration and aura of the room.
It was the room where Suzanna’s sixteen year old half sister, who had seemingly unconsciously become pregnant, slept overnight on the couch, nursing her baby and leaving a slight sour milk smell in the room because of the the cloth she used to wipe the milk.
Abuela clipped her toenails here. Sitting on the sofa, crossing one bare foot on top of the other knee and letting the hard yellow pieces fall to the floor and then sweeping them up.
Abuela beat Lara with a rolled towel here, for sitting on the sofa. “No Lara,” slap;
“Lara No!” whack.
Christina’s white rabbit Hobbit left innumerous piles of CaCa pellets several times an hour in this room, until I realized that Abuela was literally living with the broom in her hand, sitting with it between her legs as she watched T.V. so she would be able to quickly sweep up Hobbit’s shit every few minutes. This wasn’t fair for Abuela, so Hobbit ‘found another home.’
This was the room that Paco the parrot stayed in his antique white wire cage with plaster roses, when my friend Iris needed to leave him with us.
As I was painting and approached the very last corner of the room, I hesitated.
I almost wanted to leave the last corner unfinished…
A part of me did not want to create a new room, and move on to a new time.
Would Senora Pluma still come to the new room I wondered?
Maybe she preferred the old yellowed walls.
If she did come, how much longer would she keep coming for?
…Senora Pluma with her long flowing gowns and frayed edges…
SAN FRANCISCO, May 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ —
Babylon Enterprise, the world’s leading provider of single-click enterprise information access, is now available on all leading mobile platforms.
“In today’s business world, it is essential to have quick access to organizational information, whenever and wherever you are. The extension of Babylon-Enterprise to any mobile platform enables our customers to attain key information and data required for making critical business decisions on the go,” explains Liat Sade-Sternberg, Babylon’s VP of Marketing & Sales.
Babylon-Enterprise offers increased individual productivity. With a single click on any screen text, all relevant information is instantly delivered to the user, without the need to switch tools or applications.
Babylon-Enterprise is the perfect solution for complex systems. The solution provides a simplified approach for our customers to bring together the business processes and data from systems such as SharePoint and SalesForce, aggregated in a single view. Enabling users to quickly scan results and rapidly respond to shifting business needs and environments.
“Knowledge management and access to knowledge are critical to securing the company’s future. Babylon-Enterprise is playing a significant role at Schaeffler in that respect,” comments Paul Seren, Head of Knowledge Management, Schaeffler Group.
Among our customers are Petrobras, Alstom, SAP, Elbit, Schaeffler and more.
Babylon-Enterprise’s new innovative client is a secure, cloud-ready solution supporting the latest operating systems on the market.
For more information about Babylon Enterprise, visit enterprise.babylon.com
Babylon.com is a publicly traded company founded in 1997. The Company is a leading provider of language solutions such as online dictionaryhttp://www.babylon.com/and translation software, translation services, language learning solutions, English writing enhancement and more. Babylon.com has set a Guinness World Record™ for Most Downloads of a Translation Software with over 150 million users in more than 231 markets, supporting 75 languages and listed among the 45 most popular websites worldwide.
For more, click here.
© 2012 PR Newswire
By Anna Johansson
I moved to the UK in 1995, and although a hillbilly from a small village in the middle of nowhere close to the Norwegian border in south west Sweden shouldn’t have adjusted so easily to the hustle and bustle of London, I did, with remarkable ease. Fast forward my first year as an au-pair and my first degree, I was in my first job as a recruitment consultant, which was something I fell into by accident as I had no idea what I wanted to be doing with my life and not having produced the epic piece of literature worthy of collecting a Nobel prize.
Now, years later and with an MA in Translation added to the bullshit on my CV, I am fairly comfortable with the English language and only very rarely do I stumble. However, although I was certainly what might be described as fluent in the language after four years on these shores, there were still things that I had yet to learn. Sayings and colloquialisms can indeed be tricky and it doesn’t matter whether you have an extensive vocabulary - these can only be learnt as they come by.
For example, whereas the English smell a rat, the Swedes reckon there’s a dog buried here if something’s a little dodgy. And so on.
So there I was, on the phone to a Very Important Client, and my voice kept cracking. What I obviously didn’t know at the time was that when this happens - when you have to cough to clear your throat - the English have a frog in their throat. Us Swedes don’t have frogs in our throats. We have ROOSTERS. Only that’s not the word I used, caught off-guard and doing a quick literal translation in my head.
“Sorry, I had a cock in my throat,” I said down the phone, thinking nothing of it.
My boss, who of course was within earshot - clearly God spotted an opportunity - fell in a heap on the floor and laughed his pretentious bollocks off. And by the way, in Sweden we don’t laugh our bollocks (or tits or arses, for that matter) off, we laugh ourselves to death (figures, being sun-deprived for half of the year and therefore depressive and probably prone to adverse reactions to happiness of any kind).
The line went very quiet and I realised what I’d said. You’d think I couldn’t possibly make this any worse, right? OH YES WE CAN!
I went on to explain I’m from Sweden.
By Benji Lovitt
Since making aliyah in 2006, Benji Lovitt has spent roughly every waking moment doing one of the following: trying to make people laugh, eating chumus, or writing about chumus to make people laugh. In addition to working with Jewish organizations to promote Israel, Benji has performed stand-up comedy for groups including Hillels, Masa Israel Journey, Birthright Israel, the Jewish Federations of North America, and more. His perspectives on aliyah and life in Israel have been featured on Israeli television, radio, and in print media. For a stand-up comedy show, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more great material, check out his website.
Last week, our company headed down to Arad for a two-day summer sikkum (wrap-up). With each department responsible for presenting themselves, guess which member of the North American desk got to make a fool of himself in front of everyone on video? Yeaaaaaah. I don’t know how I let my co-workers talk me into doing a monkey impression. (Trust me, it was in the context of a skit. And no, you won’t be seeing it ever.)
Anyway, we were all sitting around the lunch table a few days later and I was trying to convince my camera-shy co-worker Shira that she didn’t embarrass herself (not nearly as much as me anyway.) How did I do this? By saying with feeling, “Shira!Hayeet kocha-VEET! (You were a star!)”
Well, I thought that’s what I was saying. Instead of calling her ko-CHEV-vet however, I told her she was the little star on a phone (you know, the one just under the “7″). Laughter ensued.
The moral of the story as always?
Nope, still not Israeli.
Who wouldn’t want to be a kochevet?
Almost as flattering as being the sulameet (#).
Our environment is struggling. For too long we have taken from the Earth without giving back. It’s time to do something about it: Let’s look at some very small and simple things you can do at work to help the environment.
Small things add up. If 100 people do 100 small things it starts to make a big difference. Please read these tips and then forward them to your friends and co-workers.
Let’s see if we can make a difference. These tips are easy to implement.
Turn off your lights, computer screens etc. when leaving…
Lights are the biggest killer of energy in the corporate world. Massive buildings like the Empire State Building have millions of lights and they leave them all on, all night. What a waste.
Switch to compact fluorescent lamps
These bulbs are the spiral ones as opposed to the traditional round light bulb. Using one of these lasts as long as SIX traditional globes and saves up to 75% of the energy. They cost a bit more off the shelf but save heaps in long term costs. Easy.
Turn things off at the power point
At the end of the day we usually just turn things off at their console switch instead of reaching around and turning them off at the power point. Most people do not realize that a lot of power is wasted when you leave the power point on.
Catch the bus to work
There really is no advantage in driving to work unless you have to leave and come back during the day. The bus is cheaper and it is much better for the environment. Each car that you take off the road saves thousands of pounds of greenhouse gases every year. By catching the bus you will be saving money and helping the Earth.
Make sure the work kitchen fridge is not leaking
Fridges that leak air outside because of poor seals waste a lot of energy. Be the one to glue it back on or if the job requires more attention submit an anonymous complaints saying that the fridge is a safety concern and needs to be fixed. This should also get management off their butts!
We’d love to know what you are doing to help the environment.
At Babylon, we believe in healing the world, and instead of buying a dictionary made from trees, you can go Green with our translation software. And in an effort to make this world a better place, in honor of Earth Day, we will happily offer you a 50% discount on Babylon until May 13th, 2012.