Quotes from Come, Tell Me How You Live

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“My sister says tearfully that she has a feeling that she will never see me again. I am not very much impressed, because she has felt this every time I go to the East. And what, she asks, is she to do if Rosalind gets appendicitis? There seems no reason why my fourteen-year-old daughter should get appendicitis, and all I can think of to reply is: ‘Don’t operate on her yourself!’ For my sister has a great reputation for hasty action with her scissors,”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live


“I pass to the Stationery Department. I buy several fountain and stylographic pens - it being my experience that, though a fountain pen in England behaves in an exemplary manner, the moment it is let loose in desert surroundings, it perceives that it is at liberty to go on strike and behaves accordingly, either spouting ink indiscriminately over me, my clothes, my notebook and anything else handy, or else coyly refusing to do anything but scratch invisibly across the surface of the paper. I also buy a modest two pencils. Pencils are, fortunately, not temperamental, and though given to a knack of quiet disappearance, I have always a resource at hand. After all, what is the use of an architect if not to borrow pencils from.”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live


“After this interlude we return to the question of the parcel. Yes, says the Postmaster, it has been here – actually here in the office! But it is here no longer. It has been removed to the custody of the Customs. Monsieur B. must realize that parcels are subject to Customs dues. B. says that it is personal wearing apparel. The Postmaster says: ‘No doubt, no doubt; but that is the affair of the Customs.’ ‘We must, then, go to the Customs office?’ ‘That will be the proper procedure,’ agrees the Postmaster. ‘Not that it will be any use going today. Today is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays the Customs are closed.’ ‘Tomorrow, then?’ ‘Yes, tomorrow the Customs will be open.’ ‘Sorry,’ says B. to Max. ‘I suppose it means I shall have to come in again tomorrow to get my parcel.’ The Postmaster says that certainly Monsieur B. will have to come in tomorrow, but that even tomorrow he will not be able to get his parcel. ‘Why not?’ demands B. ‘Because, after the formalities of the Customs have been settled, the parcel must then go through the Post Office.’ ‘You mean, I shall have to come on here?’ ‘Precisely. And that will not be possible tomorrow, for tomorrow the Post Office will be closed,’ says the Postmaster triumphantly. We go into the subject in detail, but officialdom triumphs at every turn. On no day of the week, apparently, are both the Customs and the Post Office open!”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live


“The next morning we reach the Cilician Gates, and look out over one of the most beautiful views I know. It is like standing on the rim of the world and looking down on the promised land, and one feels much as Moses must have felt. For here, too, there is no entering in. ... The soft, hazy dark blue loveliness is a land one will never reach; the actual towns and villages when one gets there will be only the ordinary everyday world—not this enchanted beauty that beckons you down.”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live


“Soundings must be made at all three mounds. We make a start with Tell Mozan. There is a village there, and with Hamoudi as ambassador we try and obtain workmen. The men are doubtful and suspicious.

"We do not need money," they say. "It has been a good harvest."

For this is a simple, and, I think, consequently a happy part of the world. Food is the only consideration. If the harvest is good, you are rich. For the rest of the year there is leisure and plenty, until the time comes to plough and sow once more.

"A little extra money," says Hamoudi, like the serpent of Eden, "is always welcome."

They answer simply: "But what can we buy with it? We have enough food until the harvest comes again."

And here, alas! the eternal Eve plays her part. Astute Hamoudi baits his hook. They can buy ornaments for their wives.

The wives nod their heads. This digging, they say, is a good thing!

Reluctantly the men consider the idea. ...”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live



“And when we return next season, what personal gift may I bring you from the city of London?’ ‘Nothing – nothing at all. I want nothing. A watch of gold is a pleasant thing to have.”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live


“Then the carpenters return to making more tables—tables on which to spread our pottery, a drawing-table for Mac, a table off which to dine, a table for my typewriter. ...

Mac draws out a towel-horse and the carpenters start upon it. The old man brings it proudly to my room on completion. It looks different from Mac's drawing, and when the carpenter sets it down I see why. It has colossal feet, great curved scrolls of feet. They stick out so that, wherever you put it, you invariable trip over them.

Ask him, I say to Max, why he has made these feet instead of sticking to the design he was given?

The old man looks at us with dignity.

"I made them this way," he says, "so that they should be beautiful. I wanted this that I have made to be a thing of beauty!"

To this cry of the artist there could be no response. I bow my head, and resign myself to tripping up over those hideous feet for the rest of the season!”
― quote from Come, Tell Me How You Live


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