Sunday, April 22, 2012

Library Encounter
by Marjorie Hart
      I live five minutes from the University City Library. If I could, I'd live next door to find my next favorite book or who I might run into. It could be a neighbor or a long lost friend, but the day I met Irina Gulko from    Russia was a memorable highlight.  From the time I was a giddy teenager anything Russian, like the music  Shostakovich, books of Tolstoy and my crush on the cellist, Gregor Piatigorsky, could send me into a state of delirium. I was fascinated then by this e-mail from Irina Gulko which gave me the opportunity to meet her. 
 Dear Marjorie Hart,
    Last year I read your book Summer at Tiffany and was excited. It reminded me of my young years though it was in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and in the sixties. It's the same feeling, the same desire to live, to love, the same interests to all events and celebrities. I liked this book so much I decided to write about if and about you in the Russian newspaper. ---I understand you live in San Diego. I also live in San Diego and borrowed this book from UTC public library. ---I went to New York City and believe me or not--I took the book with me and went to the Tiffany store. I decided to look at this store and imagine how you worked there. I spoke to one of the girls. She read the book and said she had the same position that you had in 1945. She showed me all departments on the floors. Now I can write about all this. I would like to speak to you or at least to exchange e-mails. Thank you very much.
Irina Gulko
    I caught my breath. What an amazing letter and the coincidence that we would meet at the same UTC Library!  I could scarcely wait to find out more about her. At the library, she was standing by the librarian's desk with a lovely red rose bouquet. "For you," she said, "and I've reserved the community room for our meeting."
    We lost all sense of time with our questions and shared interest in Russian music. Irina translated the three columns from the newspaper, stopping from time to time to explain the differences in the language.   With so much to discuss we met again and again at the library. Graciously, she gave me a plan of the six floors of the Tiffany flagship store. Since the summer of '45, I've been back only once in 2004. How I would have loved a tour to see the changes! 
    "Could you please translate part of your column for my blog?" I asked.
    "You cannot translate Russian into perfect English," she explained,"many words do not translate, but I will send the last part of the article."
    This is the selection (in part ) Irina translated:
    "At the entrance of the store a young beautiful girl with blue eyes and black hair in a black suit meets people and gives everybody the plan of the store. I hold the book Summer at Tiffany and even didn't say any single word as the girl glanced at the cover of the book and happily exclaimed, "I read the book and I have the same position at the store as the author of the book." The sales girls from neighboring departments join in the conversation, all of them with a big interest listen to the story retold them by my girl.Then she showed me the very stylish yellow diamonds, I'm exited but its not exactly the point of my interest: I look around and try to imagine how Marjorie and Marty silently were standing here and waiting for the diamond sound of the ring. ----Then the girl takes me to the second floor where she showed me many kinds of beautiful wedding rings and pearls of South Seas. That reminded me of the episode from the book about the pearls----
    On all floors very animated trade is taking place, there are many young shoppers. It's not the same "big 400", its already guests from all over the world who can afford may things. But something elusive disappears completely (without a trace) along with the memoir of the author of the summer 1945. And I nostalgically feel it as though I was the heroine of the book."
    As I read, it brought it back--there's that Tiffany-class magic! Also it reflected Irina's unusual diverse background. In the sixties, she graduated from the Polytechnical University in Kiev as an electrical engineer and practiced her profession there and in New Haven, Connecticut. In 2006, Irina and her husband moved to San Diego where she teaches children the Russian language, studied journalism and Japanese brush-painting and has become a regular columnist for the Russian newspaper (trans. Echolnewsweek).
    One of the greatest perks along this journey of writing is meeting fascinating people like Irina, a treasured friend. My thanks to her for giving me permission to share her experience. 


adventures said...

This is a wonderful post Marjorie. Just goes to show how books can connect all of us, whether we live halfway around the world or in the same neighborhood. You have touched so many people with your beautiful story!

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