Tag Archives: Madrid

Vlado and Guapa Mia

This is one of many letters from Vlado to “Guapa Mia” in Madrid (He writes to her in English, she writes back to him in French), dated 28/7/1953:

Guapa Mia,
This time it is not entirely my fault for not writing so long,- I had to wait for your new address in Madrid. June was a very bad month for me; lots of work, financial worries caused by the declining/ and sometimes plummeting/ stock market, a round of social functions and the heat added to my natural antipathy to writing, and by the time I decided that I simply MUST make myself to write, I realized that it was too late for the letter to reach you in Geneva.
I was glad to hear that you have taken so well to your new “part-time” job/ I would never admit that to work six hours a day could be considered full employment/- and I am sure that under the brilliant sun and society of Madrid you will shine even more than ever with radiant beauty. Also, I believe, the gallant and temperamental caballeros will be a more deserving background against which your charm can find the proper appreciation, than Geneva’s dullish “burghers”. Spain seems to be in a big vogue among the city’s smart set, everybody who is somebody seems to be on his or hers way there this year, I wonder whether they have already learned that you have moved there?- I get stinking mad every time I learn of some lucky bird who is on his way to fly over, and wish to be in his place. But no luck,- with the special session of the General Assembly due in August, I will have no vacation at all this summer.
I got bitten by a reading bug lately – all my free evenings this month I spent here in my office/ which is air-conditioned, cool and dry/ reading and average of one book per evening. I reread Ortega y Gassett‘s Revolt of the Masses yesterday, and found it/ apart from fascinating reading/ a wonderful apology for my way of life. It looks as if he had exactly known what my thoughts, ambitions and ways of life will be when he depicted the non-common man and I found great comfort in his philosophy. It’s a pity that more people do not agree with his ideas, I might be better off if they would. Otherwise I am in the throes of my periodically recurring struggle to find absolute moral standards of behavior by reason – a wearisome substitute for faith or the ability to conform to conventions. This time I am following the approach of analyzing the progress of life in the universe, mans position in it, the characteristics by which his development to the present position was achieved,- and trying to deduce from the past road the direction in which the road ahead should lie, and which landmarks to take as guides. It’s all much more complicated than simply being able to accept revelations, dogmas of a church or the party-line, but it also is much more satisfactory.
As far as my body is concerned, I am trying to make up the enforced lack of exercise/ I can’t go riding in this heat, and living in the city I do not have the possibility to go for a round of golf before coming to the office/ by a strict reducing diet. I have only half-a-dozen oranges, a steak, or some chops, and two or three eggs in the morning,- no pancakes, bacon or ham, and no bread, butter or marmalade,- nothing for lunch except, if I am working late, some yogurt or fruit in the afternoon and lots of coffee without sugar, and only meat or fish, raw vegetables, salad or fruit for dinner,- no potatoes, soup, cheese or dessert,- and I drink skimmed milk with my meat instead of wine or beer. I lost 27 lb in the last five weeks, and can count all my ribs now. The only thing that throws me back from time to time is if I am invited to dinner- but everybody has left town now for holidays, so it does not happen more often than once or twice a week.
Most of my weekends i spend lately within 200 miles of New York,- somehow I lost enthusiasm for moving around. Only once I went to Northern Maine, some 1000 km from here, where friends of mine have bought an island with the most beautiful forests of huge pine trees, and marvelous cliffs falling hundreds of meters into the open Atlantic Ocean. They keep there a horse-breeding farm and have excellent thoroughbreds, a small fleet of yachts and sailing boats, and a small private golf-course, so there is plenty of things to do there during the weekend. They have five daughters, which all had their boy-friends visiting them/ I am a friend of the parents and was rather peeved at the deferrent and respectful way with which they treated me, as if I was fifty and not thirty-two/; each of the girls has her own little house, the three eldest had theirs completed last year, and the other two are being built this year from prefabricated parts, all is done without the help of a single laborer or architect. I helped in putting up the roof of one house and installing bathroom plumbing in the other. So it was quite instructive, apart from being good fun and a bit of muscle stretching.
Well, that’s about all that is to be reported about the dull life of an old bachelor. I am now looking forward to hear more how you are getting on. By the way, my parents send me your most amusing letter in which you described how you were tested in the office, I received it the same day as your letter directly to me.
With best wishes of much happiness,- and be good.
Love and Kisses,