I don’t think I’m actually capable of blushing (something to do with a tanned skintone I think), but if I could, I would have spent most of this week resembling a beetroot. In Spain you don’t really get much in terms of benefits at work – well, that’s a lie, meal tickets and share options are quite common, but other perks are quite rare. So when they offered us health insurance, I obviously jumped at the chance. Now in these medical forms they ask you some quite personal information: weight, dress size etc, which I diligently and honestly gave to them. I sent my forms to our human resources department and thought little else of it. That was, until I got an email from our po-faced human resources manager; ‘Nadya, whilst I’m delighted to know that you’re lucky enough to wear a size 38, what we were actually asking for is your height...’ You see, I didn’t realise the Spanish word talla had a double meaning – dress size and height (The more common expression for height is altura). Embarassing. I’m not sure she knows I’m foreign and she probably thought I was some ‘stupid skinny girl’ who didn’t command the language probably. In any case, I was pleased to find out I wasn’t the only one to commit the same mistake!
As some of you may know, I’m off to Bali in the summer and I’m booking myself a place in a Yoga retreat for when I’m out there. I’ve been in email correspondence with the friendly guy called Namaste who runs the courses. And all this while I’ve been like ‘Dear Namaste this, dear Namaste that’, not realising that what I’m in fact saying is ‘Dear greetings/I bow to you, can you please confirm that my room, blablabla...’. It was only when he eventually replied to my upteenth mail, signing off as ‘Namaste, Ari....’ that I put 2 and 2 together.
If you ever have the exciting pleasure of walking into a Spanish education publishing house you might notice that the dress code is pretty casual, people wear jeans (and not just on Fridays) and even directors tend to favour chinos and blazers over suits. I love being able to wear jeans to the office, but occasionally I get the urge to dress up a bit for work. Today was one of those days. I had an Ally McBeal moment and decided a short skirt suit and spiky heels was the way to go. The weather here has suddenly turned cold again, and I’m not a fan of tights for Spring so I fished out a new pair of black hold ups from my drawers. Anyway, I tottered out onto the street and began the 10 minute walk to the bus stop, all the while thinking I looked pretty good. But around 200 metres from my house I realised that either one of my thighs had got drastically thinner or the one of the hold ups had suddenly grown. Yes, one of my hold ups was falling down. And worse still, I live in a neighbourhood where they are doing a lot of building work, so at 8 a.m. the streets are lined with leering builders waiting to start their digging, or rather, waiting for a girl whose stockings are falling down to walk by and make their morning. Try as I did to subtly hoist it up it was impossible – and it seems that as soon as you feel self-conscious, everyone suddenly seems to notice you’re there and stop for a gander. In the end the only way out of it was to just stop, stand as still as possible with my laptop case modestly covering my legs and call a cab to take me back home and change into some sensible tights. When the moody Madrid taxi driver came along he didn’t appreciate a 500 metre fare, so I nervously blurted out ‘mi falda está rota!’ (my skirt’s broken, completely incorrect Spanish of course). Anyway, once I had emerged from my flat and was suitably attired I got him to drive me to my office in the Madrid suburbs (I couldn’t face the builders again). He got his fare and I got my decency, all was ok. Dropping me off, he wished me well, saying he hoped my back would get better soon ‘que te mejore la espalda’. My back?? Turns out he had mistaken my tale of a broken falda (skirt) for a broken espalda (back) – and the way I was hobbling along to try and keep my hosiery up, I can see why he had misunderstood :-)