A pink taxi

A pink taxi

December 31, 2010

Dear Editor

I have been taken aback by your birthday. The match, your husband, contacted the matchmaker, myself, twice. He didn't need to remind me that you were born on December 30! Yet when he said you logged on the night before, at midnight, to find no surprise on the blog, it was I who was disappointed!

It is true that I often mention birthdays on the blog. Sometimes I append a "happy birthday" to the end of a post that is related to the person and sometimes, I write a full posting about the dear relative. You, on the other hand, orchestrated a full symphony of wishes from all my close ones on my own birthday and hijacked the blog! I sobbed with emotion.

I have mentioned you many times on the PinkTaxiBlogger and the readers know by now that you are the hard working editor and technical person behind this endeavor.  I dedicated the 100th post to you and composed it in French. It was summer and I was engrossed in Swiss culture and French literature and my inspiration came in French. In fact, I challenged you to reconsider French literature as alive. Here I am, drenching myself in American literature six months later. You have always been my inspiration.

In the Middle East, and in Afghanistan in particular, little laudatory mention is made lest it attract the evil eye. I will therefore conform to tradition and nuance all my descriptions.

You are gifted. Gifted with the Scandinavian looks of ‎​Katherine Haigel from Gray's Anatomy (see pictures above). Gifted with the concentration and intensity of a Stanford and Georgetown Law graduate. Gifted with the creativity and sensitivity of a fiction writer. Gifted with the love and generosity of a giving mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. Gifted with the energy and stamina of a cardio motivated sports-woman.

Your husband, the young man I introduced you to (which wouldn't have been possible without the blogger's husband), had the audacity to urge me to write something, when I only write with inspiration. Granted, I was somewhere in jet lag slumber when he did. Had I been in my Starbucks routine, perhaps the extra shot would have jolted me to express my feelings on such an important occasion.

Always remember that when the sun sets in Dubai, my kids bid you and your handsome family good morning in New York.

You are always on my mind,
Happy Birthday Editor,
Pink Taxi Blogger

Posted by my hubby, who loves his sis-in-law equally.

December 29, 2010

Federer as Religious Experience

My personal discovery has been of a writer called David Foster Wallace, deceased before his time. He was a philosopher and every word he has written - he was prolific - carries its very heavy weight. Not a word misplaced. But he was a contemporary philosopher and his language was very casual. Yet, it all made sense.

David Foster Wallace suffered from depression but that didn't transpire in his writings. Ironically, his various passions, especially the most mundane, reflected his passion for life. For example, he was obsessed with Alanisse Morisette. He also admired Roger Federer very much and wrote an article in the New York Times about him that wasn't objective in the least. In that, he shares something with me: he is a fan of the Swiss player. The philosopher humbled himself in his admiration.

May I dare to suggest that this particular article is blog like? In a rather immodest (this is a rare facet of his character) he admits that watching Federer playing live in Wimbledon, which is a privileged seat, is a much more intense experience than viewing him on TV. I will therefore trespass into immodesty myself and boast that I have watched Roger Federer play against my revered Andre Agassi, albeit in Dubai...and have had the luck of dining with him once!


December 27, 2010

A Writer's Background

The good news for all of you readers is that I have finally picked up another writer: the late David Foster Wallace. I can now give the blog its much needed respite from my obsession with Franzen.

I actually discovered David Wallace through his friendship with Jonathan Franzen. Surfing the net, in constant search of more details on my previously elected author, I came across Franzen's laudatory remarks of Wallace and curiosity sent me to the Barnes and Nobles in Chelsea, NY, with my nephews, children and sister in tow.

I found a novel with an odd title "The Broom of the System" and a strange looking cover.  While I hesitated at the bookstore, I purchased it anyway. I showed it to a fellow reader, who encouraged me even though it didn't ring a bell to him,  but it seem interesting enough. "It's a penguin book, should be good." Still, I decided not to take it on my cross country flight. There is nothing worse than starting a book you are unsure of on a plane. I predictably and impulsively started and loved Franzen's "Corrections" instead.

Yet, after the ordeal of travel and jetlag, I began enjoying my vacation and decided it was  a better time than any other to try the book. Three pages through and I was sold! Finally, I found an alternative to Franzen, albeit not very different.

Wallace is an American writer who had a liberal arts education. My husband and I argued about the difference it made for both writers to have experienced Amherst and Swarthmore College. I believe that their colleges paved their way and made them the writers they are today. My husband argued that they would have become the same writers had they gone to Georgia Tech or Yale.

Incidentaly, I have posted about my own experience at Smith College, where I had the privilege to cross register at Amherst College.  What makes these colleges superior to larger institutions is the small student to teacher ratio. Those intimate classes enable the teacher to become a quasi tutor to the students.

After having read the eulogies of David Wallace,  that were written by his professors and fellow students, my  hypothesis that his college education affected his writings was confirmed. He had written "Broom", the very novel I started yesterday, during his senior year. His professor was his project coordinator and the editor of an important American novel.

Go Amherst!

PS. The friend that I showed the book to, in search of some encouragement, is an Amherst graduate. He soon realized who I was talking about.

Winter Break Releases

We can all identify summer songs because they are light, pop and entertaining, often very catchy and designed for us to dance the summer nights away.

Then we listen to them some more in the fall, nostalgic as we are for the carefree times of summer holidays. Other songs blend in, but they all sound the same, in their average tunes.

We were talking music over dinner, with my cousins, uncle, spouses and my own husband. Here united, we were all Depeche Mode, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, the Cure and U2 fans. Only I didn't appreciate Billy Idol but who was I to disagree in such honorable company? Then my cousin inquired: "what music do you like today if not 80s?" I was ready to enumerate: the rappers and Cold Play. Then we were off on another tangent, sharing our notes about Cold Play.

The radio really rocks in San Francisco. The minute we hop into our rental, up and down the highways in the Bay Area, on our trip to Santa Cruz, to the City, we put the volume high and enjoy. 

Rihana's What's my Name will always remind us of crossing Bay Bridge, or the trip to the mall. My youngest and most musically inclined has selected it as his favorite: "oh na na!". Sometimes Enrique Iglesias comes on with his signature ahs and ohs and we turned the volume on. When Kanye West's latest, Runaway, plays, it is my turn: "louder!"

December 25, 2010

"Heavy Heavy Hangs Over Your Forehead"

Birthdays, thanksgiving, labor day bar-b-qs, wedding anniversaries, Nawruz, New Year's Eve: all reasons to celebrate, in the Mehra family. But the biggest party of all is always Christmas!

Behind the tradition is my dearest Teta Mommy, born herself on Christmas day. She said yes to the handsome Iranian doctor on a Christmas also, making it a triple celebration for everyone. In Iran, she continued in her American traditions. Coca Cola had just created Santa Claus and the Mehras took Christmas to another dimension.

Teta Mommy baked,cooked, prepared and decorated the house! She created Christmas paraphanelia and it would come out every year. She sent Christmas greeting cards, that she handcrafted herself and had her children personalize with drawings. Often she would have a picture of her growing family: eventually they were ten children. In each card, she included a letter, in cursive handwriting, that she prepared from the beginning of  the January prior, mentioning all the family milestones, in meticulous chronology.

Many a Christmas eve, my cousins and I would sit by the fireplace and the ten personalized stockings, waiting for Santa. If there wasn't a fireplace, we waited at the front door, with the plate of cookies and the glass of milk. We never spotted him,  and always fell asleep. On Christmas day, the tree which was mandatorily huge, was submerged in gifts, all wrapped in a disorderly fashion.

It would take us ALL day to open the gifts because there was a certain etiquette. The master of ceremony, usually a family member with good human resources skills, made sure the etiquette was followed. This consisted in calling the name of the person receiving the gift. That family member, senior or junior, baby or grandparent, had to succumb to the "heavy heavy hang over your forehead, what do you wish for the giver?". The lucky person would then wish a yatch, lots of money, a private plane, a shiny sportscar, a diamond ring to the giver and then the master of ceremony would hand the gift and reveal the secret giver, and the wrapping was torn off  in the midst of shrieks of gratitude and multitudes of kisses and hugs. This was done, one by one. We were sometimes in Pjs till much after lunch!

If anyone else knows the tradition of "heavy heavy hangs", please do let yourself be known, as I have never confirmed whether it was exclusively a Mehra tradition or if other large families partake in this gift giving ceremony also.

December 23, 2010

American Colleges

Smith College

There is no doubt whatsoever that my children will choose an American college, over any European or Asian experience. It was a very easy decision for my siblings and I to make, after 15 years in the French system.


What a perfect opportunity, at the ripe age of 17-18, to live the American dream at its finest and most concentrated form. On US campuses, especialy those set in rural or semi-rural towns , the student becomes totally immersed into his life on campus.

Stanford University

My college was in Northampton, MA, an isolated town, 2 hours away from civilized Boston.  I willingly joined the campus, with the motivation of a nun joining a convent. The fact that Smith College was a woman's only college was its single drawback. The beautiful grounds, the very comfortable housing, the state of the art facilities, the rich art museum and the talented faculty with their impressive courses made it enticing. Those factors were at the core of my scholastic experiments and in annex came the liberal American culture that surrounded me.  I was encouraged to express myself, defend my opinions and grow. I arrived as a teenager and left as a mature young adult.

Villanova University

In contract to European universities, on American campuses the student is king and not the professor. The students certainly learn from professors, but they learn more from their peers. The Socratic method, which is the norm, even in the largest American amphitheaters, is a vehicle for student expression and sharing of ideas. Very few lectures are sermons like the ones in Europe!

Energy and casualness is what I discovered in those university years. The absence of formality created the ideal atmosphere for learning and achieving. Isolated as I was geographically from my family and distraction, I immersed myself in academia and Americana!

December 22, 2010

Bollywood Vignette

A few years ago, one of my cousins played a very funny practical joke on me. I had invited  him over for dinner, and was planning on ordering in from my favorite Indian restaurant Gazebo. As a nice hostess, I also asked him if there was something special he wanted to oder. 
- "Sure", he said, "how about some Aishwarya Rai?"

- "How do you spell it?" I asked and carefully jotted down each letter.
Later, when I placed the order with the restaurant, I asked:
- "Before I forget sir, do you have any Aishwarya Rai?"

The waiter, offended, said "No!!" and hung up the phone.

How my cousin laughed when I told him that his dish wasn't available!

For all of you who are not familiar with Bollywood movies, Aishwarya Rai happens to be a green-eyed beauty and movie star, who has acted in countless Indian movies.

Despite my ignorance of movie stars' names, I have always enjoyed Bollywood movies. I am predisposed to liking them because I am familiar and comfortable with Indian culture. I grew up in Dubai after all!

Till a few days ago, I hadn't found a volunteer to see "My Name is Khan" at the movies. My girlfriend complained that it would be too long.

However, here in San Francisco, my brother-in-law and nieces, who had seen it before, didn't object to watching it again on their 120 inch TV. In fact, it was the perfect movie for my mother -in -law as well. We were in for a five hour marathon.

All Indian movie buffs know Sharukh Khan well. I admired how he captured the life of a Muslim living in post 9/11 America, with a second handicap, a real one: autism. "My Name is Khan" turned out to be "Rain Man" meets "Forest Gump" with the length of "Gone With the Wind"!

I may have sharpened my Bollywood trivia by watching "My Name is Khan", however I doubt I will spared future embarassing moments like the one mentioned above. My cousins will always manage to find my weak spot!!

December 21, 2010

American Skies

As a teenager, I used to fly from Dubai to Utah frequently with my family. We would leave on one giant trip, with multiple layovers without leaving airports. By the time we got to the East coast, the last haul on a US aircraft was always the most difficult part of the trip.

When we landed in New York, or Washington DC, we were  always culture shocked. The ambient noises, smells,  sense of space are continent-exclusive. The USA sounds, moves and eats differently from Europe and even more from the Middle East. Exhausted, we would squeeze into the tight spaces of those American airlines and experience their typical air-crew service. We often traveled in the bumpiest winter weather, and if we were not collapsed in jet-lag slumber, we were air-sick and throwing up.

On this last trans-continental trip that has taken me and my younger children from Dubai to Geneva, Geneva to NYC and and New York to San Francisco, the last leg of the trip, the one in American skies was predictably the most exhausting one.

Beginning to adjust to East Coast Time, we arrived at JFK airport very early for our departure to SF. No sooner had my foot hit the airport pavement that the most nostalgic Pet Shop Boys lyrics came to mind:

"There's a plane at JFK

to fly you back from far away

all those dark and frantic

transatlantic miles"


My heart squeezes in an attempt not to miss my sister and her family. More technical matters bring me back to reality in an assault of directives: need to check my luggage in, make it through security lines with my two small kids, take their shoes off and on, find them a meal before we get on the plane because no food is offered on domestic flights.

We flew United. They put us at the tail end of the flight, in a single aisle airplane that looked and felt like a Greyhound bus. The stewardesses were in their late 60s! There was no entertainment on board, except for
a screen overhead playing "Eat, Pray,Love" en boucle. That movie should have gone straight to the airline industry, as it was designed for it! I can randomly catch airplane conversations. It is a cultural thing: Americans have plane conversations with the ease and superficiality of dinner conversations.

This year however , my culture shock is tempered. That is because I have been basking in Americana: the world according to Franzen.

December 20, 2010

Franzen Mania

"I think all our modern freedom of choice and questioning of tradition create an expectation that we have to actively pursue our own evolution. We are not wired as Americans to accept the life circumstances we are born into. This can create a lot of angst!"

A friend and great reader

How old is Franzen? I have seen his bespectacled face across the internet when I was searching for illustrations for the multiple entries I've already written about him. He has an ambiguous expression on a baby face. His style is casually intellectual. It seems he once starred on the Simpsons. You would recognize him by his full head of hair and his eyeglasses.

His youth took place in the Seventies, so I almost thought he would be of my generation. I soon found out that he is my uncles' age and I can tell because his references are all like theirs. He has a chapter-essay dedicated to the Peanuts. He has dissected Charles Schultz' comic strips, which I have not read in their entirety, and he extracts the whole philosophy for us. I only caught the tail-end of Snoopy mania, so was too young to understand its essence but I can certainly appreciate the references he makes today.

In the New York Times Review, the fact that he lingered on the topic of Peanuts in "The Discomfort Zone" was its major drawback. Why was Kakutani, the book reviewer, so harsh on him? Jonathan Franzen is self depricating so when Kakutani terms his memoirs as the "portrait of an artist as a jack ass" I would nuance it as "portrait of an artist as a nerd".

The details he gives may be, at times, too intricate. His teenage days, especially those spent at camp, are treated like Agassi's Boletierri days: while Franzen doesn't mention athletics, he does bring up the other issues. Peer pressure, social interactions, summer flings, pranks, alpha-male behavior and camp counselors are similar themes found in Agassi's  own memoirs. Franzen's uncanny sense of humor had me roaring with laughter in the airplane where I read "Discomfort Zone". I would shut the book at times, and allow myself a respite. My way of relishing the writing.

December 18, 2010

Combatting Jet Lag with Kids

I have flown with my baby, and later my two and three children, alone. Unaccompanied. I have chosen this fate because I refuse to limit my vacations to the shorter amounts of time my husband can only afford to take. I enjoy multiple layovers and  usually extend my trip beyond my better half's by many days at the beginning and the tail end of our holidays.

The two main  reasons I choose the fate of unaccompanied parent are the following: I refuse to do long hauls with kids, especially toddlers, and the other is that I like layovers to help ease into difficult jet lags with my children.

I always fly economy with the kids, so that I may save in order to be able to indulge in shopping and dining at my destination. I always choose Swiss because I am certain that it has the best economy seats and services. It is also a very predictable airline, with rare delays and nice rituals such as chocolate and constant water bottle indulgences. Most importantly, Swiss' hub, Zurich International Airport, is my favorite airport ever:  it has the best coffee, a clean and fun kids play area, and the actual architecture of the terminals is state of the art.

My kids are not of the rare species that behave on flights. They are prone to kicking the chair in front of them, arguing about what to eat, constantly requesting my attention and they get restless. I deal with it. We have made it a family custom to  perpetuate the 70s tradition of clapping for the pilot upon landing. The rest of the passengers seem to ignore us, not making eye contact with us as we clap away, and sigh in relief to have arrived safely at our destination.

Despite how exhausted we get on red eye flights, I prefer them to the eternal day flights. I keep them awake till departure at 2am and then they crash  right as the hum of the plane lulls them to sleep. This is also another way to begin living on the destination's time and combatting jet lag. 2am in Dubai  is 11pm  in Geneva, 5pm in NYC and 2pm  in San Francisco. It's a beginning if anything!

Now that we pay for 4 seats, we take a whole row and we literally sleep on top of each other. Just this time, I took my 6 year old and laid her on top of me, like a very heavy blanket, so we could both share 3 seats to sleep on rather than 1seat and a half each. Sleeping on your own chair is impossible. Contortions of all kind just don't work. I often open the folding table and lay my head on it, before my stiff neck wakes me up.

Upon arrival, I am completely drained, whether a day or night flight. I usually take a nap. On my layovers I extend my bedtime and my kids to the maximum, when they drop asleep completely extenuated. The next day, I push their bedtime an hour further. My kids end up sleeping past midnight in Geneva so they can practice for the  next step: the USA!

I have completed 1/3 of the trip now and will take each challenge at a time: luggage, packing for various seasons, unpacking. Making sure the pajamas are on top  so that we can sleep as soon as we can, when we arrive at our destination.

My relatives, my own family and my in-laws, are demanding once we arrive: they want us galavanting with them, they visit us the day we arrive....and all I wonder about is my game plan to combat jet lag. My husband, who has taken a door-to-door flight, has no problem crashing in the middle of a dinner made in his honor. I have not had the courage yet to do the same.

Still Passionate about Franzen: The Discomfort Zone

I am not reading  "The Discomfort Zone" for its narrative, rather I am perusing it, so that I may digest Franzen's sentences, vocabulary, wry humor, atmosphere. This book resembles a pamphlet in comparison to the voluminous "Freedom", and so I try to take small bites at it, rather than devour it.

These memoirs begin like "The Stranger" by Camus. Franzen's mother has passed away. Like Camus' "Stranger", the author appears indifferent. Death and melodrama are not at issue here, but the logistics are. However I sense that the book will not be existentialist in the least. It is just a clin d'oeuil to Camus. I predict that Franzen will soon go on a tangeant.

This book is supposed to be about himself but when he uses the first person I still can't seem to imagine him, the writer, living the story. How bizarre considering the fact that I thought Franzen was really Patty Berglund of Freedom, a female character. Perhaps this is explained by my perception that Franzen is a fiction writer. This book, which title is appended by "a personal story" could probably be called auto-fiction, despite its essay form. It is about him and his family but the narrative reads like fiction.

When Franzen chooses a title for his books, it is deliberate and a test for the reader to discover and analyze why he chose that particular title. As a reader, I was caught off guard every time he mentioned the title- word (Freedom, or Discomfort Zone as the case may be)

The first time I noticed the titles respectively was in their opening pages. He described his mother's house as her "zone of comfort". Later in the essays,  I had  the word discomfort constantly in mind, as I was reading along. Just the concept of a "discomfort zone" was a first experience for me. I had heard the expression before but had never questioned its real meaning.

The first essay is entitled "House for Sale", which brings to mind street signs and advertisements. In that chapter, he reveals that "the house had been [his] mother's novel", an imagery that put a smile to my face. As a novelist, he make the house come to life. I also thought of Marcel Pagnol's "Chateau de Ma Mere" (Castle of My Mother), two distincly different voices in literature.

My favorite parts of the "Discomfort Zone" are those relating to his writing, because I have always been curious about a novelist at work. Thus when he says "a writer pondering commas" I sympathize with this momentary modesty: admitting that commas are tricky!

A preview like this one doesn't make room for the reactions I had while reading. Many sighs at the imagery he creates. Franzen's lyricism is a wonderful melody.

Kakutani of the New York Times was ferocious in her criticism of  "Discomfort Zone". She blames him for being conceited and pretentious. Who gives her the right for character judgment? Franzen is no different in Freedom which she gives flying colors. He rejected her applause publicly and I don't blame him.

Why do critics negate self-centered writings in memoirs? Why does Kakutani decry the fact that there is no place for Franzen's family in "Discomfort Zone"? The same has been said by others for Edward Said's "Out of Place". Isn't it obvious that both titles are about them, being "out of place" and "in a discomfort zone?"
Indeed, geniuses like Said and Franzen, exist on the fringe of our lives, they are non conformists who cannot relate to our world of mere mortals. They live in a different zone and will always be out of place and uncomfortable in society. It is the price they pay for the gift of superior intelligence.

December 15, 2010

Hand Me Down Books

My favorite books have not always been my own. My first memory of books are by Richard Scarry, which my parents used to read to me. When I was old enough to read myself, my grandmother bought me English fairy tales.

But I was most fascinated with French books since a very young age. They weren't easy to find in Dubai, and so we had very few at home. I devoured the classic Martine collection at one of my cousin's house. I still remember the joys of visiting her! Another cousin had an important collection of MiniRose, Bibliotheque Rose and Bibliotheque Verte. I would borrow them when I was on vacation in Lebanon, growing up with each level, volume after volume. Most of my Lebanese vacations were about catching up with my reading.

In Dubai, when we commuted with our dear friends, the Wongs, I used to wish that my ride from their home to mine would be delayed, so I could run to their Tintin collection and read from where I had left off last. My school luckily had a small collection of books in their makeshift library and I read every recommended book by my teacher: essentially the French classics and Pearl Buck in translation.

Eventually, we spent more time in  France and Switzerland and I was then able to build my own collection of French books. My children are more fortunate than I ever was. At an early age, they have the Martine collection, a few Caroline, an extensive collection of Franklin and many from  the Ecole des Loisirs and especially Le Pere Castor, the classics from the 1950s.

How can we read these books, re-read them, one sibling after the other, without sharing them with our New York cousins who are also growing up as francophone? They don't have as much access  to as many French books as their cousins do. Besides, the hand me down books that we gift them are offered with love because they are shared. Sometimes when my kids realize that their books are missing they rejoice at the fact that their cousins are reading them. My kids themselves have received Dr. Seuss books from my own cousins and have loved them, despite the wear and tear.

Hand me down books are precious gifts. In a similar way, when I lend a book to a friend, I do not ask them to return it to me, as I hope it will continue living in the hands of many, rather than sitting lifeless and dusty on a shelf, untouched.

December 14, 2010

Our Henry Moore

We do not own a Henry Moore but we have adopted the large sculpture that you can find on the lawn facing the Museum,  in the Old City of Geneva, as our own. When I was a teenager, I used to sit and admire the statue, read my paper and have lunch there. It was the beginning of my love affair with art. Naturally, as soon as they were old enough, I took my children to the statue. They grew up visiting it and interacting with it, but I never had a real conversation with them about its artistic attributes. Recently however, the moment did come up when my eldest son was sent home with an assignment to write an essay on either Arp or on Henry Moore.

Sometimes  blog stories resurface in my daily reality: you may remember the time I wrote of the typical French teacher, sitting on a wall in a parking lot, refusing to budge for my 4 year old, all the while crunching a green apple. In a strange turn of events, it turns out this same woman is my son's art teacher this year!

As parents, we struggle with the amount of help we should give our children with their homework.  How much help can a parent offer his/her child with a school assignment? My answer is clear: all the help he needs. Although some parents prefer to le their children live and learn, I am of a different school of thought. So, although I am neither artistic nor handy with my hands, I am happy to sit and assist him on his projects. After all it becomes a learning experience for both of us. With his science projects or history presentations, we research, put together, explain, share, study, trouble shoot etc. In my mind, these are the beginning of study groups. Last year, this same son was given an assignment on Mohammad Ali.We studied him with enthusiasm, looking for the milestone fights and their significance, understanding the essence of his personality. The journey turned out to be a bonding moment for him and me, filled with discovery, but the end result was an average grade. The teacher evaluated him (us) as scattered. Does anyone ask a child if he got parental assistance when he fails?

It is the journey that matters, not the destination. With the Henry Moore assignment, the teacher presented all the issues that would need to be addressed in the essay, and required an analysis of the sculpture of his choice by either artist. My son, enthusiastically,  selected the Geneva statue he was familiar with.

We both examined the Henry Moore and we answered each question diligently. We discussed the appropriate vocabulary, we detailed the shape, the occupied space,  its symbolism. For this exercise I took my son to the owl by Adam Hennein in our entrance and I asked him the same questions. The advantage of copper sculptures is that they are not fragile. They are safely touched and stroked by inquisitive hands.

Finally, we got to the personal question: "what do you think of this sculpture?"

My son smiled with delight: "Every time I see it, I feel sad...because the woman is cut into two." I was surprised by his answer but of course that is what he put down in his essay. He received a stellar 18/20 and the apple crunching teacher commented: "very good analysis, if it is your personal work".

She gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The grade was an accolade for me. I am a good art history tutor. I also think my son will integrate all the new concepts we learnt from that project. He will never straddle that Henry Moore in the same way.  And I too have come away from this project a changed woman: I will always consider it with a certain sadness. After all the woman is cut in two!