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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

This is why you don't.....

write bits of a card in a langauge you barely know.

Due to a series of coincidences, I went to see The Motorcycle Diaries with a friend last night. The film was excellent, thought provoking. It was also in Spanish, which was a refreshing change.

Anyhow, since yesterday was Valentine's Day, I decided to get her something. There was a chocolate store in Town which she seemed to like a lot, so that was my first port of call. After looking around for a while - there were quite a few people there, doing last minute shopping - I stumbled upon a set of chocolates in a gorgeous tapered cube box. It resembled the shape of a square-based pyramid with a significant portion of the tip removed.

Once I found this, I knew I had to get a balloon. Most of the balloons I saw around felt tacky and gaudy. They were all enormous, shiny, and completely unsuitable for the idea I had in mind. The balloons I liked best? The plain vinyl balloons in red and white. I did a bit of shopping, and found the amazing the sort of expertise, customisability and level of service you can get at some of those small specialty stores. Since I had a very good idea of what I wanted, I was able to ask the storeperson about various options that were available. I settled in the end, for a matt red balloon with white decorations drawn on it. There were the customary hearts, "Happy Valentine's Day" messages, and the not so customary, debian-symbol resembling swirls. I also got her a small card.

The woman at the store informed me to be careful when going from cold places to hot places and vice versa, as balloons have been known to pop if the transition is made too rapidly. I've been thinking about this, and I think I've figured out why this is so. Basically, I think it boils down to the ideal gas equation and the properties of a balloon. It's an interesting problem.

So, now I had a helium filled balloon tied to the cute box of chocolates, which looked something akin to a hot air balloon. All that was left to do was to attach the card. Unfortunately, as soon as I did so, the balloon sunk. I had to hack the card, both figuratively and literally, in order to make it "compatible".

I wrote a little snippet on the card, in Japanese, which she studies at Uni. I realised belatedly this morning that I had used the wrong tense. While it was supposed to be an affectionate, cheeky, "I like you", I'm reasonably sure that I wrote "I liked you"; not good. Usage of the wrong tense completely killed the message. I'm calling her soon to apologise. And not having learnt my lesson, I'm going to try and do it in Japanese....

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