Late (For) Tea

Month: January, 2013

Thought of the Day #8

“My sister Emily first declined. The details of her illness are deep-branded in my memory, but to dwell on them, either in thought or narrative, is not in my power. Never in all her life had she lingered over any task that lay before her, and she did not linger now. She sank rapidly. She made haste to leave us. Yet, while physically she perished, mentally, she grew stronger than we had yet known her. Day by day, when I saw with what a front she met suffering, I looked on her with anguish of wonder and love. I have seen nothing like it; but, indeed, I have never seen her parallel in anything. Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her nature stood alone. The awful point was, that, while full of ruth for others, on herself she had no pity; the spirit inexorable to the flesh; from the trembling hand, the unnerved limbs, the faded eyes, the same service exacted as they had rendered in health. To stand by and witness this, and not dare to remonstrate, was pain no words can render.”

Charlotte Brontë on her sister Emily Brontë, Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell

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The Importance of Being a Hybrid

From the Jewish Women’s Archive

Ah, nationality is such a curious thing. And I mean it when I write thing. I’m at my parents’ home in Luxembourg for a week to become an official Luxembourgish citizen. Thus, once my naturalization process is complete, I will be Luxembourgish. And Spanish. And probably German too.

My mother was born in Spain and came to Luxembourg when she was about 20. My dad, on the other hand, was born in Luxembourg but to German parents, which makes him a German national. However, he never felt like going through the pain of becoming a Luxembourger so I am technically German by birth. When I was 14 my mother brought me to the Spanish embassy and asked if I had the right to become Spanish. According to Spanish law, you can acquire Spanish citizenship as long as one of your parents is Spanish. Consequently, I got Spanish citizenship and with it my first passport. If I’m honest with you, I don’t know if I was still German then but I guess as long as my dad is German I am kind of German too. In other words, if I get Luxembourgish citizenship, I will be allowed to carry 2, maybe 3, different passports. (Not sure about German laws about multiple citizenship). Of course, I wonder if I need to have all of the passports with me when I travel and if border control officers will start thinking I’m some sort of danger to their country. In a way it would make me feel like I was an international spy on an extremely important mission. For which country, you ask? I don’t really know.

The funny part is that all of this doesn’t really mean anything to me. Undoubtedly, it will be of an advantage to me. I appreciate that I grew up in a multicultural environment but I wouldn’t say I belonged to a certain country. I belong to the world. At times I belong to the United Kingdom, the next minute I belong to Spain. When I travel to the United States, I belong to the United States too. If I ever travelled to India, I’d belong to India. All the places I go to, all the people I meet, shape and influence me in plenty of ways. I can’t tell you if I’m more Spanish than German or more British than Luxembourgish. I love the British politeness and their weather-talk. I love the outgoing nature of many Spaniards. I can pick and choose who and what I want to be. I adapt to the environment I find myself in by observing those around me. If I was among monkeys somewhere in the jungle in a way I would probably start behaving like a monkey. All this reminds me of a lecturer I once had when I was at the University of Luxembourg. He said to us that all of this – language, nationality and what not – is politics. There’s a certain truth to this statement.
I’m everybody and nobody, you could say. I truly believe we all are everybody and nobody.

Luxembourg-Bound

Sometimes London makes you forget it’s actually winter… (Although the temperatures are finally starting to drop in our ‘tropical island’ too.)

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About Reading (and the Importance of Imagination)

I remember as a child I wanted to learn to write and to read so badly that, to my parents’ amusement, I pretended that I could already write and read long before I actually did. Consequently, I actually learned how to read in two different languages before I even went to primary school. I also remember worshipping my school’s library, I could never get enough of it. Learning how to read was an enchanting experience. I felt like a whole new world had opened itself up to me. My parents never had a hard time finding me gifts because they knew I would want a book. Any book, really. And once I ran out of books I would reread the ones I already had and enjoy them just as much. One of the books I must have read over 5 times when I was 7 or 8 was Der Tag, an dem ich Papa war (The Day I was Dad) by German author Hera Lind. I remember reading Anne Frank’s diary when I was 10 and, without really understanding what had happened to my dear friend Anne Frank, I wept so uncontrollably that my mother got a bit worried.  My love for books was complete, doubtless, unconditional. Reading was such great entertainment and it offered me escapism. I created my own little worlds that never let me down.

Once computers and video games came along, I stopped reading. Or, rather, I just read every once in a while. I preferred video games over reading and it wasn’t until many years later that I realised how much I missed books. I missed reading stories. I missed being caught up in a different universe.  I thought I had rediscovered my love for it, but like in any once broken-up relationship, it didn’t feel the same.

I cannot tell you what happened but every once in a while I ask myself, ‘What is reading good for? Why are people reading?’
Maybe I sold my soul to the devil or maybe my mind just grew more critical. Sometimes it goes as far as me googling my questions. Then I find brilliant articles like the one I linked to in this post and the world seems perfectly fine again – for a certain amount of time. What would we be without books? What would we be without our imagination? Birkerts gives a very satisfying answer.

Why Read?: Sven Birkerts on the essential link between literacy and the imagination.

Tsuru, Bankside

Last Thursday my boyfriend and I decided to get sushi somewhere in Central London. We browsed Time Out London for a nice but cheap(ish) Japanese restaurant and found Tsuru. There are three different Tsuru restaurants in London but we picked the Bankside one, which is located right behind the Tate Modern.

We took the train to Waterloo station and walked to Canvey Street. Even though a cold breeze was blowing from the Thames, the sight was magnificent (photo at the bottom) and the approx. 25-minute walk seemed quite short, pleasant and, most importantly, dry. We walked past the skate park, a second-hand book market that was closing up and the Globe Theatre. The closer we got to Tsuru the more deserted the streets became which was a bit creepy at first.

When we got to Tsuru there were but two or three other people sitting inside. The place is small and simple, not too pompous, not too boring. The staff is very friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable. We got a mixed platter consisting of 14 pieces and two uramaki platters (salmon & avocado and salmon skin) consisting of 6 pieces each. We had Asahi Super Dry as drinks and later a warmed up and very delicious sake recommended by the waiter himself. I liked that the background music was alternative and indie rock/pop. It’s a very down-to-earth place to have sushi at. On top of that, the sushi is well-prepared. The fish is fresh and tender.

If you don’t like dressing up too much and prefer a low-key atmosphere, I would recommend this place. It’s very good value for money too. I will definitely return the next time I’m in Central and crave some decent sushi.

Tsuru (Bankside)
4 Canvey Street, SE1 9AN
Telephone: 020 7928 2228

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Taken by Laetitia Lee Kaiser