Once upon a time, there were nothing but rice fields here. The city of Taoyuan (桃園, meaning “peach garden”), a post-war creation, is now a thriving urban hub, just 20 minutes by high-speed train from the Taiwanese capital Taipei. Many of its residents work there, and the station platforms every morning are full, but not only of Taiwanese. Crowds of migrant workers from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines give the place a south-east Asian feel. It’s also here that Taiwan’s airport is situated.
Old houses and barns with red tiles set in a patchwork of green meadows and fields. Farms and ranches scattered among hills and rivers. The echoing cry of long-necked cranes, fading into crepuscular silence. Buzzards circling high overhead. Air that smells different in every season, from springtime dew to summer fertiliser, the smoky tang of fireplaces and rotten leaves in the autumn, the brittle crunch of frost and snow in the frozen winter.
On a foggy day, there’s a deep, resonant sound that rolls in from the water: the horns of freight tankers inching their way towards the commercial ports of New York Harbour, through the Narrows. We’re in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a lower-middle-class district with rich Italian and Irish roots, so you can count on getting phenomenal pizza at Campania, world-class pignoli and cannoli at Paneantico, and a perfect cocktail of whiskey and banter at Kitty Kiernans. But look carefully and you can also make out Greek, Russian and Spanish threads in the local fabric.Read More
It’s winter in Finnsnes, Northern Norway. Some days it gets so cold, (minus 33 degrees anyone?), your glasses freeze over the moment you step outside – the clean, fresh Arctic Circle air searing into your lungs. There are fifty shades of snow: capping the distant mountains, stacking up in drifts at the side of the road, crunching as cars pass, or crisp underfoot. Kids can be seen skiing to school, women kick-sledding to work, and the odd granny has even been spotted whizzing to the doctor’s on a snow scooter.Read More
It all begins with a classic story, back in 1996: guy meets girl (she’s a foreign exchange student in high school), takes a gap year, travels from his native Utah to be with her in Argentina, breaks up with her. But along the way he gets to know the language and the culture, and ends up staying. Every year, he tells himself “Next year I’ll go back”, but next year never comes, and it’s now been well over 20 years. Jared Tabor’s Spanish is of course now fluent, with more than a hint of Argentinian accent.
Throw open the window and the air is spiced with the aroma of freshly fried Ta’amya (the Egyptian Falafel) and Ful (fava beans stewed in tomato sauce), overlaid with less attractive but equally persistent topnotes of household rubbish, in both the poorest and the richest districts of Cairo.
The streets are clogged with honking traffic, inching its way through the noisy, boisterous city. At times it feels the only way to escape and gulp in mouthfuls of fresh air is to head down to the majestic Nile.
It's against this background, in the upmarket middle-class district of Nasr City, that 29 year-old Norhan Mahmoud plies her trade as a translator and interpreter between Arabic and English.
Originally Lu Leszinsky wanted to help people through becoming a doctor and working for Doctors without Borders. But life took a different turn, via a move to live on her own, aged just 17, followed by a degree in translation in La Plata, near Buenos Aires, where ProZ.com has an office. Medicine’s loss is our gain!
I’m sure there are less dramatic ways of taking a fresh look at your life than having a heart attack, (as happened to me last week), but unfortunately we aren’t always offered a choice.
It casts just about everything in a new light, but for obvious reasons, the main effect is to make you consider your lifestyle in terms of health.
Because we’re freelancers, without the safety net of most long-term employees, we’re particularly vulnerable, making it all the more important to focus – if just for a little while – on some key issues.
Among the many benefits of ProZ.com Plus membership is the chance to take part in the Translation Mastermind group on Facebook. It’s an established community of professionals who enjoy sharing ideas and tips about translation, in a completely troll-free atmosphere. It’s into its fourth year now, an independent entity, but sponsored by ProZ.com from Day 1.Read More