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Translation Postcards: Dr Édith Koumtoudji in Johannesburg, South Africa


“Beautiful” is not perhaps the first adjective most people would reach for when describing a road network, but even after ten years in Johannesburg – the economic capital of South Africa – Cameroon-born Dr Édith Koumtoudji still lists the infrastructure among the things she’s most impressed by. Next on the list are the abundant trees, the sprawling university campuses, the bristling skyscrapers, and the massive shopping malls, one of which has space for 65,000 cars, she’s at pains to point out.

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Translation Postcards: Natalya Danilova in St Petersburg, Russia



Walking down Nevsky Prospekt, the main street in St Petersburg, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Western Europe. That was precisely the intention of Peter the Great, when he founded the city in 1703. He set out to make his imperial capital a “window on Europe”, complete with Amsterdam-style canals and grand theatres, opera houses and museums. It remains the country’s cultural centre to this day.

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Translation Postcards: Alda Lima in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil



Life as a translator can be tough when you live in one of the world’s most iconic cities. Just imagine having to look at the fabled Sugar Loaf mountain or the immense statue of Christ the Redeemer every time you leave your home in Rio’s South Zone. Or having nowhere to jog but the famous wavy black and white sidewalk on Copacabana Beach. Nothing to see but the beautiful tanned people hanging out on Ipanema, listening to the ocean surf crashing onto the shore. And on top of that, all that music, all that sun, in a climate where winter lasts a massive 5 days on average.

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Translation Postcards: Dalih Sembiring in Sewon, Indonesia



The facts are enough to make your mind boggle. Indonesia is a vast archipelago in Southeast Asia, made up of no fewer than 17,000 islands. Some of the names will be familiar, such as: Sumatra, Bali, Papua, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Java. The country won independence in 1945 after centuries of colonial history, beginning with Portuguese and British traders, but mostly under Dutch rule, when the country was known as the Dutch East Indies – at least to Europeans. It’s the fourth most populous country in the world, (after China, India and the US) with 267 million citizens, and the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

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Translation Postcards: Joao Correia in Coimbra, Portugal



To the Romans it was known as Aeminium, while the Moors called it Qulumriyah, but today we know it as Coimbra, a city with a history that dates back over 2,300 years. Beyond its varied names, the city is home to some fascinating secrets. Officially, it’s still the Portuguese capital, although most Portuguese are unaware of this – and was the birthplace of the country’s first six kings. And slightly closer to home, the traditional garb worn by its university undergraduates inspired the dress of students at J. K. Rowling’s Hogwarts.

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Translation Postcards: Joseph Kuria in Nairobi, Kenya



Close your eyes and think of Kenya. Chances are the first things that come to mind are majestic wildlife and famed long-distance runners. But there’s a lot more to the country than these easy clichés, and where better than Nairobi to start finding out…

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Translation Postcards: Sara Arilla in Zaragoza, Spain

Let’s begin with a fun fact: “Zaragoza” is actually a Hispanicisation of “Caesaraugusta”, the city’s Roman name. The city, capital of Aragon in Spain’s north-eastern region, boasts a rich history that stretches back to pre-Roman times, and fascinating sights from the Roman, Moorish and Christian periods, from amphitheatre to the Aljafería Palace to an impressive cathedral and of course the “El Pilar” basilica (see cover picture), which dominates the central square.

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Translation Postcards: Ady Namaran Coulibaly in Accra, Ghana

Akwaaba! That’s how you say “Welcome” in Twi, the most widely spoken local language in Ghana. Although indigenous to the Ga Tribe, massive urban migration has led to the majority of people using Twi for day-to-day activities. Akwaaba is therefore likely to be the first word you hear on landing at Kotaka International Airport in Accra. Welcome, in fact to the country popularly known as the Gateway to Africa – a hospitable, culturally diverse nation with a fast-growing economy.

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Translation Postcards: Clair Pickworth in Rémalard-en-Perche, France



Ever thought of slowing things right down? You wouldn’t be the first. Slow food is all the rage in the world’s foodie community, but why restrict yourself to the dining table? There are places where life itself proceeds at a gentle pace, enabling you to smell the coffee, the roses, and sundry other countryside aromas besides!

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Translation Postcards: Lovenah Panray in Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius

Shall we begin with a little geography and history lesson? Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 km off the south-east coast of Africa (see map on following page). First identified by Arab sailors in 975, it was named “Dina Arobi”. The Dutch took possession of the territory for over a century in 1598, then abandoned it in 1710. The French took control in 1715 and named it Isle de France, but then officially ceded it to Great Britain in 1814, who held it until Independence in 1968.

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Translation Postcards: Lina Berova in Munich, Germany


For someone who loves a combination of city life and natural beauty, Munich is perhaps the perfect place. But that wasn’t the impression Lina Berova first had of the city. Having moved aged 14 with her family to the town of Doebeln in Saxony, she visited Munich in 1998 to see her grandparents, who were already living there. She found it dark, cold and unfriendly…

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Translation Postcards: Dhanashri Bhate in Pune, India

 

Milk delivery vans driving by in the early mornings. The thud of newspapers being flung across the fence. The roar of school buses thundering past. Elderly people chanting stotras (hymns of praise) on their morning walks, or with transistors pressed to their ears. Not to mention the speakers blaring out loud music during the many religious festivals. Silence and solitude are rare commodities in India – there’s always someone round the corner, and there’s always hundreds of sounds filling the air.

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Translation Postcards: Ilse Heyrman in Rome, Italy


Coffee, style, history, fare bella figura, fine dining and excellent wine, art on every corner, winding shady streets, palaces and fountains. Beauty everywhere you look, and above all, light. There’s a moment, just before sunset, when the light in Rome becomes golden. More than a mere sunset, the air itself takes on a different hue, and bathes everything it touches in shades ranging from pearl to amber.

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Translation Postcards: Joshua Parker in Ensenada, Mexico

The first thing that hits you is the colour. There’s just so much of it about. Just imagine: one day you wake up and suddenly realise your house or business would look better in lime green and shocking pink. Well, there’s nothing stopping you. Meanwhile in this kaleidoscopic town, the kerbs are painted yellow, red, green and blue to denote different parking zones. It’s quite a shock if you’ve just arrived from grey Brittany in the northwest of France, where your parents had an alpaca farm. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

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Translation Postcards: Nikola Ivanov in Sofia, Bulgaria


Sofia is full of unexpected surprises. Today’s city of 1.68 million people was but a small town of 11,000 when Bulgaria became independent in 1878, after 500 years of Ottoman rule, and the presence of a colossal quartet of Orthodox church, Catholic cathedral, mosque and synagogue in the centre bears silent witness to its colourful history as a crossroads of cultures, with a reputation for tolerance.

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