Monday, January 27, 2014

The Burns Supper experience!

My dear Ladies and Gents of the Journal,

What should I start with? Probably with wishing you a short week, to stay safe and warm somewhere inside because it looks like winter has finally come for a visit and from previous years I know this lady doesn’t know that short visits are the most welcomed haha Anyway, back in the office and it’s one of those mornings where the bed never looked cozier and the pillow never felt warmer. Plus Grasu, that fat ball of fur keeps cuddling and it surely doesn’t help with waking up, fresh and ready for a new day. Out in the cold!!!

But this is not about Mela’s ass dragging to get out of bed. It is about the Burns Supper. If you have been reading the Light into Europe blog, you should know by now what this celebration stands for. To put it all in a nut shell, it’s an event commemorating one of Scotland’s greatest poets, Robert Burns. Every year in end of January we gather to enjoy good poetry, fine music, good food and great funny speeches from the special guests of Light into Europe. And of course, the cherry on the cake, the Scottish dances at the end of the evening in the company of live music from a spectacular band!

So it’s Saturday and it started snowing. Heavily. And I am not keen to put on my boots once I look so friggin’ cute with my dress and fur coat haha. So I decide to slip in my dancing shoes against the hale outside and pray for a taxi company to actually answer my call and send me a car. Which happens rather quickly; or I should say miraculously! I tip toe through the snow to the car, followed by two of my neighbors coming out of the block at the same time, wondering what the heck's got into me, all dressed up with long skirts dragging through the snow. I smile and wave and jump into the taxi. My long bow stays behind and I warn the driver to take it slowly so I gather my layers of clothing still hanging outside the car. He laughs and watches me pull the entire amount of material in my lap as I struggle to close the door behind me. There are some taxies that after running the streets for a long while develop this “arm breaker syndrome” as I call it. Namely, the joints to their doors are so used up that closing them takes real force. Luckily, this was one of those cases. So I enjoyed working out a bit as I was trying to fit myself and the dress on the back seat. I was fortunate to at least get a good driver, in a talkative mood. So I spent my 30 minutes chatting our childhoods away, while it was snowing outside and the car kept growing a mind of its own when taking curves, spinning its butt left and right when it shouldn’t have. Eventually we arrive at the Hilton and he reminds me jokingly to pick up all my skirts on the way out. Haha. I do and then tip toe through the snow again and inside the lobby.

As always, the reception at the Hilton is packed if not with people, then with elegant flower arrangements. And then as you go around the beautiful white flowers lavishing in gigantic crystal vases, there is the red carpet and Stan is there to welcome me together with Anca and Misty, one of the guide dogs. I get a big fat kiss from both of them and compliments start pouring, but then it’s from the heart and we always treat each other with the same love and respect as we did since the day we first met.

Guests have already started to show up. I take a quick step and salute everyone I know, nod with a smile at those I don’t know then slip inside the closed doors to check on my tables. Everything is set to perfection, there is nothing for me to add or change. I go back out again to share hugs with everyone else, from Cristina to Anca, Silviu and Andreea, Doinita and Cami. Little by little more people arrive and I take pleasure in guiding them around the tables with the silent auction. The items are unbelievable and everyone from children to the ladies and gents can find something to enjoy. From paintings to photos of royalties, to incredibly beautiful handmade jewelry, bags, purses and pillows to special cards for different occasions. It’s like going to a high quality bazaar with the one big difference that all these items are made by people with no qualifications and a missing set of “ skills” such as hearing, yet the things coming out of their crafty hands under the guidance of Miss Lacramioara are magnificent and filled with their patience and dedication.

Making new friends
And how could I forget to mention all the dogs roaming around the place, wagging their tails, happy to get everyone’s attention. Stefan brought Klint whom I walked several times because he got bored sitting under the table and he basically introduced himself to all the Hilton guests in the lobby, including some of the employees who couldn’t stop the love petting. Haha So sweet! Then there was Misty who’s grown into this beautiful young lady with a thick black fur. And most importantly the two new puppies brought from Scotland to go into training and become new guide dogs. One of them, Hamish has been chosen by our bank as our “official puppy” and we will assist financially to his training, cover his veterinary bills and look after everything that needs to be taken care of in terms of him becoming a fully trained guide dog for the blind.

That's Klint
My main canine star in the documentary and a true friend!
And there is Hamish and Andreea! Love love love!
I had the chance to listen to Petra again and her wonderful angel voice. I’ve listened to her time and time again on different occasions and it is with an open heart when I tell you that she impresses me every time. There is something in this college freshman that touches me in a way few people can with just words. And there was silence in the room when she spoke of what a guide dog means to the blind and sight impaired people. And she was addressing a crowd who is most likely overwhelmed with their own problems, responsibilities and concerns as well and her gift as a speaker took them all over, winning their attention which is rather challenging at such a large event. I wish you all had the chance to listen to her. I promise you that without even knowing who’s speaking, you’d love her and her emotions, this incredible soft vibe she sends throughout the room. Well done Petra, really well done!

What more is there to say! As always, the Speech to the Lassies and the Ladies was a funny get away from the official part of the event and His Excellency the British Ambassador, Mr. Martin Harris along with his lovely wife, Mrs. Linda, did an excellent job at it. I must again remind myself and everyone how Mr. Ambassador astonished us last year at the same event with a mind blowing performance of the Miorita one of our oldest and most beautiful national poems. Rather long I’d say. And he recited it entirely in Romanian without fault. A ball room filled with ovations, standing up ad applauding an amazing man who has not only been an example during his stay here in Romania, but an immense support for the charity and our projects. So thank you Mr. Ambassador and your family!

The raffle tickets always give the opprtunity to win a great prize
And the winners are...
Ah yes, and we’re down to the dances. One of the best dance session I’ve had, I must say so myself. Got wonderful dance partners as usual which makes the experience worthwhile and the band… oh my! Well the band was a killer! I told the piper at some point “my dear boy, I am convinced you are all trying to nail us for good!” At which he replied “well that’s why we’re here for!” Like they would look at us dying, spinning and screaming and laughing and they would nod and hit play again! It was like dancing a remixed version of each song, five minutes longer than the original version and with an encore every time. God, we were exhausted after the first round. Neil and I had a great run down of the Strip the willow after which we returned up the line to begging the actual dancing. But the demonstration alone had exhausted us, but alas! There’s no stopping us! So here we go again! You should all come at the rehearsals. They happen every end of October through end of November before the Caledonian Ball, on Sundays from 7 – 9PM at the Intercontinental. Too much fun!

Uh, look and Neil and I go. Round 2.

Captain Stan Plat OBI. Fun. Energy. Dedication. 

Dancing is fun. I thoroughly enjoy it!

Well, I’ll attach a few pictures here and as soon as the charity has all of them up, I’ll share the link. I am sure they will help you form an idea of what we’re up to at the Burns Supper. Meanwhile, enjoy the week and have a piece of dark chocolate with cranberries. Like I do now haha!

MUAH and my many hugs to keep you warm!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year hello!

Hello there my fine People of the Journal!

In case you were wondering, this is Mela beginning of 2014. A tomboy with super powers in her panties. 
Happy New Year! May you guys have a year if not better than 2013, than at least as good as you deserve it to be, because I know you’re all making efforts to always take a step forth and never a step back!

Well, there is not much to say. Really this is just to say Hi! in 2014 and send you all my best wishes.

To summarize the holidays, Christmas was beautiful but short lived. Then for New Year’s I had mom over. We spent a whole day shopping like only girls can, chatted over a Starbucks – we always like to try new flavors! – and of course, cooked for New Years as if there was an army about to step our threshold and needed to be fed. Yeah… moms and feeding. I’m telling you, if I ever allow mom to send me a package from home, I better empty my fridge beforehand. Like this past weekend she had to send me some cosmetics I ordered, which wouldn’t have taken more space than what you normally get in a handbag. Instead, I find myself at the bus stop with this humongous trolley filled to the rims. I’m like WTF?!? That can’t be cosmetics alone unless I ordered the whole goddamn catalogue and got a bonus on top of that! Instead I find my little plastic bag of cosmetics forgotten on the bottom of this huge pit filled with food. All the food I love and try to stay away from. I unpack and then once my hands were free I dial mom in to argue with her. She sounded like a mouse being taken to the torture chamber. "But you know momma thought of you, that her little baby should have some of her favorite this and that. Just a little!...” Mom, you put a whole damn pot in there! What kind of measurements are you using?!?! Of course the whole time I’m bitching at her I am actually eating the delicious stew she sent me with a mouth full so I couldn't even speak properly. “But I don’t want to eat all this stuff mom!” I continued shoveling through the plate. I’m such a loser! I love it that she’s taking such good care of me and spoils me on every occasion, but I gotta stick to a sedentary adult life and her cooking is not helping!
Mom and her books. A true love affair :)

She's trying on my high heels. Well, almost!

Always Starbucks!!!!

Right after sharing more gifts!
On new Year’s I was happy to have Laura and Mariano join us during the big night and the cherry on the cake was calling my baby sister Emily and literally do the count down with her and her parents on the phone. I recorded the incredible fireworks across Bucharest which from my balcony are an awesome sight. It probably must’ve conveyed like a war zone through the phone for her but we managed to go through two New Year’s, American and Romanian due to technology. You gotta love moments like these!
Laura, Grasu and I on New Year

Part of my wonderful gift from Em. One of the really good parts of January 2014

Two of my favorite ladies got together in January in Brussels! 
Now I’m back at work and the first two weeks have been so busy and demented that I feel I’m already down to mid June haha. But at least I’m planning vacations and stuff with friends and I’m slowly but surely building an excitement for that. I read my horoscope for this year and it extremely hilarious as to some aspects related to my life. Fortunately or unfortunately – we are soon to find out – they seem to be coming true, which is painfully funny in a way. But what’s life if not a series of events that are meant to surprise you just when you thought you knew better? I for one can’t take anything for granted anymore and will just try to hold on to my personal guide I’ve built for years and act upon my best intentions. And then, whatever happens, happens. Will deal with it when I cross that bridge.

So, do the same. If 2013 was a harsh year for you, find a way to shed that skin of exhaustion and bitter taste because this is a whole new year. Yes, same problems, same worries. But I don’t think anything ever stayed the same, so give 2014 a fighting chance for the better. For those who had a good year, keep up the good work and make an even bigger difference!

Therefore, again all the best to you, big hug and many kisses to last you for the whole year. I’ll send some more as we go in case you spend these away. And I’ll see you soon with the story about the last gifts for the children at the Special School for the Deaf, which should happen early next week.