You’re not in prison when you’re on stage

“The mission of the theatre, after all, is to change, to raise the consciousness of people to their human possibilities.” Arthur Miller Last Saturday, I had the rare privilege of watching a theatre play inside a prison, Hindelbank, close to Bern. During an hour, a packed audience saw seven incarcerated women on stage offer fireworks…

The ‘Art’ of Conferences

For Greta, the noblest one Warning: Politically incorrect, satirical text. Often, when invited to speak at a conference or join a panel, I’ve had the impression that the organizers wanted to add something feminine, preferably nice-looking, in the same way, that you’d add a flower arrangement on a set table, a final touch. A recent incident…

Cuando tu apellido es Escobar

Me volvió a suceder ayer. Me habían invitado a dar una conferencia sobre gestión de impactos en una escuela de negocios de Ginebra (Suiza), donde vivo. Tras la sesión, uno de los estudiantes se acercó a mí y, con una sonrisa pícara, me preguntó si era pariente de Pablo Escobar. “Vuelve y juega”, pensé. En…

When your name is Escobar

It happened again yesterday. I had been invited to give a lecture on Impact Management at a business school in Geneva, Switzerland, where I live. After the session, one of the students approached me and, with a roguish smile, asked me if I was related to Pablo Escobar. “Here we go again,” I thought. In…

The Accidental Advocate

Note: This essay was first published in Keeping It Under Wraps, an Anthology edited by Louise Bryant, Tracy Hope and Alnaaze Nathoo (2021) For Camille Another massage session with Li Hua is over. I feel relaxed, oxygenated, content. I’ve been coming here for years now. Pear blossom is the meaning of her name. This fine, middle-aged woman…

Un círculo

No se conocen. Están sentadas alrededor de una mesa sobre la cual hay quesos, pan, aceitunas y atún para untar. Nadie toca la comida. La luz es cálida, no hay música; sería una distracción. Once mujeres de diferentes edades, colores, tamaños, orígenes, ocupaciones, caracteres. Tienen una cosa en común. Todas han sido víctimas de acoso…

Dear Sylvia,

Yesterday, while browsing in a bookstore in Bern, I stumbled upon the letter you wrote to your psychiatrist on February 4, 1963. I heard the voice of a clinically depressed, sensitive artist, and mother, making a colossal effort to keep her head above water. “I write from London where I have found a flat &…

Spanish books or Books in Spanish?

An update to this story, Stauffacher changed the title following my suggestion! Credit where it is due. The picture to the left is from April 2021, the one on the right is from August 2021, go check it out. The shelf labelled “Libros Españoles” holding books in Spanish irritates me. I now challenge the salesperson every…

Losing the EU one “e” at a Time:

“Madame, you will not be able to board the flight, your COVID test is in German,” the Swiss airline employee told my daughter at the gate in Zurich airport, as she prepared to fly home to London. “Excuse me? It says “Negativ,” just add the “e” and you’ll turn it into English.” “No, Madame, we’re…

Name it

Six men and one woman sit around a large mahogany table at the Colombian Embassy in Brussels. At the head of the table, the Ambassador, a man in his early thirties, smoking and smiling with the other men. The woman looks down at her large belly, she will soon deliver a child. The men’s laughter…

The clay pot

Letter to my father, Rodrigo Escobar Navia Today, the 6th of November in 2020, you would have turned 86. It is not by chance that I find myself here, in this library, reading Borges. How you loved Borges! So much so that I  scattered your ashes on the grave of the celebrated argentine, in Geneva’s…

Una vasija de barro

Hoy, 6 de noviembre de 2020, cumplirías 86 años. No es fortuito que me encuentre aquí en esta biblioteca leyendo a Borges. Cómo te gustaba Borges! Tanto que esparcí tus cenizas sobre la tumba del célebre argentino en el cimetière des rois en Ginebra.

Les mains baladeuses de mon médecin

Une femme sage ne veut être l’ennemie de personne ; une femme sage refuse d’être la victime de quiconque. -Maya Angelou Je remercie Julie Moulin, auteure (Jupe et Pantalon, Alma Editeur, 2016 et Domovoï, Alma Editeur, 2019) pour sa précieuse aide avec la révision de la traduction de ce texte, originalement écrit en anglais. Un témoignage C’est…