Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Full story to follow...
Alex Horne – 5th September 2007
Not for the first time, living in Chesham made my contribution to this London-centric project a lot easier today. There’s a tube-strike on at the moment. It’s inconvenient for everyone (including the tube-workers themselves, I expect – I’m not taking sides here).
Maja, our volunteer from Montenegro (well, her partner read about the project and actually volunteered her) works in Watford and lives in Stanmore. To get to either from almost anywhere in London during a tube-strike would take an Everest-like treck, an Inca-trail-style hike, a bit of a pain at the very least. But from Chesham, even at rush hour, it was a simple – no, a pleasant – half an hour drive. So I felt pretty smug as I turned up, ON TIME, to the Flag, a cavernous pub cleverly located alongside Watford Junction Station, to catch a quick chat with Maja before she caught her bus home.
Montenegro (anyone know the capital? Answer at the bottom of this entry – no prizes for correct answers but you can feel pretty pleased with yourself*) was certainly amongst those countries that I didn’t really know was a country before commencing our quest. I don’t feel too bad about this as it’s easily the most recent of all the UN countries, becoming an independent state in July 2006, a matter of weeks before we set our sights on 192 countries. I found it odd to think of a country being just over a year old. But then I thought it must be even odder for someone who’s actually from that country. How odd it must be to be older than your country – or to suddenly be told you’re from this place, not that place. Maja’s story certainly reflects something of that confusion.
Before we started our ‘interview’ she asked what the project was all about. A good question. I tried to explain. She was keen to know what we were going to do after we’d found all these people. What was next? To be honest, Owen and I don’t really know yet. We’re still a tiny bit worried about finding ‘all these people’. But we know we want to do something – an enormous party, a great big group hug, just massive big kick around – something. I told Maja the truth – we didn’t really have a plan yet. She said that whatever we decided she was happy to help. I thought that was very nice of her.
Just by the way, we’re currently getting a load of emails from people trying to get jobs at at Liverpool’s Capital Of Culture events. They’ve also got the slogan ‘World In One City’ – we both thought of it independently, I promise – and they’ve got the .co.uk email address while we’ve got .com. We’re forwarding on the messages but if people would like to help our more nebulous cause that would be great! (I also wonder if they’re receiving a whole load of emails from people saying ‘I’m from Tuvalu’ or ‘I know a bloke from the Marshall Islands’ – unlikely, but it would be frustrating…)
She then launched into her own story, speaking rapidly in perfect English with what she acknowledges is something approaching an Italian accent…
(Sorry, that’s all for now, will finish soon I promise…)
Podgorica! I went for Montenegro City – always worth a guess but actually rarely right. The only genuine ‘Country Plus City Equals Capital’ examples are Guatemala City, Mexico City, Panama City (all Central America-ish) and Kuwait City.
Other useful tactics include:
‘Just Say The Country and Hope For The Best’ which works for Andorra (well, Andorra la Vella but close enough), Sao Tome and Principe (Sao Tome), Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Monaco (Monaco) and Singapore (Singapore).
‘Pick A Port’ – good for Benin (Porto-Novo), Mauritius (Port Louis), Haiti (Port-au-Prince), Trinidad and Tobago (Port-Of-Spain), Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby) and Vanuatu (Port Vila).
‘Select A Saint’ if it’s a small country or island around North America; Antigua and Barbuda (St John’s), Costa Rica (San Jose), Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo), El Salvador (San Salvador), Grenada (St George’s).
And then there are the following ‘Fun Ones’ which you shouldn’t have too much trouble remembering. Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou), North Korea (Pyongyang), United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi), Tuvalu (Funafuti) and Sri Lanka (Colombo – although that’s only the Commercial Capital – the Administrative Capital is the trickier Sri Jayawardenepura-Kotte).
Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, is just about impossible to learn.