Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West
With a relative warm up of 40 F this morning, I got up early in the dark so I could plug away at the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga before church.
This is my 10th writing day in a row in the NaNoWriMo 50K word challenge.
I am using my mom’s timeline from 1959 to present to navigate through the important milestones in the epic tale covering three continents and two generations.
These include: years in Khartoum, Sudan from Nov. 1964 to March 1970, in Saskatoon, CA from April 1970 to Oct. 1970 and in Hawkins, TX from Nov. 1970 to June 1973.
In the book, this timeline transfers into three draft chapters titled: Years in Africa, On the run and Into North America.
I am still working on Save the Cat Beat Sheet (NaNo-style) for the first half of the memoir.
On NaNoWriMo Day 9, Saturday Nov. 9, I pulled together Save the Cat Beat Sheet (NaNo-style) for the second half of the memoir.
Excerpt from chapter “Years in Africa.”
The politics in former Czechoslovakia loosened up and dad pursued a job opportunity in Khartoum, Sudan because he feared the religious prohibition in the socialist country guided by the Marxist philosophy.
In 1961, Sudan gained independence from the British and was opening up to the world. Vice-chancellor Daffala of th University of Khartoum was recruiting experts from Europe to teach at the university.
“He invited me for an interview, and I was hired,” dad said.
Dad was hired in 1964 to teach applied mathematics which equals theoretical physics at the university. The university was affiliated with the University of London.
“The university was the Harvard of Africa, “dad said. “It was the best university on the continent.”
Dad was allowed to leave Czechoslovakia through the Department of Education, while other experts obtained governmental clearance through the Polytechnic Institute, known as Polytechna.
Mom, my brother Vaclav and I joined dad in 1965 for what my parents called, “the best time in their lives.” It was a joyful ride that lasted a few years. Among the things that shocked me first, was the fact that we had to be vaccinated against malaria. All I knew were shots against kids’ diseases, and malaria wasn’t one of them in Czechoslovakia.
A total of 30 families made up the Czech expert community in Khartoum, located amidst the sands of the Sahara Desert. We lived in an apartment complex, Pink Palace that had a palace-like building in the center for the management.
“There were no food lines like in Czechoslovakia,” said dad. “We had everything: meat, oranges, bananas, olives.”
The Czech community in Khartoum was like the exotic textiles sold at the souqs or at the exquisite shops on high streets in downtown. It was tightly woven together by the forthcoming freedom of the Prague Spring reformist movement.
“Unlike back home we felt at ease with other people,” mom said.
The Czech and Slovak community consisted of ambassadors, members of the Department of Commerce, and the teachers from the Department of Education; a diverse and adventurous bunch.
“We all lived at the same location, so we got together quite often,” said mom.
The embassy was a cultural center; it was a formal social outlet nestled in a society that also struggled to find its own identity. On the other hand, the Pink Palace apartment complex served as an informal platform for Czechs and Slovaks to reminisce about home, as well as to weave dreams about the future in a free country.
“I gained experience, new outlook and knowledge, and I met different people,” dad said.
To be continued………
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