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    #1

    On the run, part six

    Would you please take a look at the sixth part of my short story and correct my mistakes.

    It took me at least half an hour to find the hotel, which was a pleasant surprise. For 80 German marks per day, I was allocated a large room with a double bed, TV, shower and toilet. It was on the third floor, with the window with an uninspiring view of a large office building in glass and metal, but it was close to the centre. I was ravenously hungry, and as soon as I closed the door, I devoured all cheese and bread within seconds. Then I took a shower and let the warm water splash over my tired body. I felt relaxed. I was a mountaineer who climbed the highest top and now needed just to plant the flag to prove my conquest. My hair was still wet when I went to sleep and did not wake up until late in the morning.

    The hotel had buffet breakfast, and I used the opportunity to fill my stomach with boiled eggs, porridge, cheese, fruit, milk and juice. It was a sunny morning and I went outside for a walk. The city left me speechless. Compared to it, my little hometown was a dingy and shabby hole. The main pedestrian street was wide and almost endless. I could not much about architecture, but here different styles competed with each other: antique columns, Roman porticos, Baroque arches and angels, and sterile modern architecture. I gaped at the shop windows bulging and sparkling with exclusive clothes, gold, watches, cameras and other gadgets. I read the price tags and could not believe what I saw. Thousands of German marks for a little woman’s bag, a pair of shoes, a jacket, and hundreds of thousands for a gold watch. I laughed at my own ignorance and naivety. In my family, we were satisfied if all the bills were paid on time, and here lived the people who would be satisfied only if they had thrown money on things they actually did not need.

    My promenade ended in a park in front of a large baroque palace, where I sat on the bench and watched people strolling around. They seemed not to lack anything. They were well-dressed, well-shod, well-fed and talked freely without being afraid of secret police or informers. A few children were scampering and playing in front of their beaming parents, and I said to myself, In a few years you’ll be watching your own children playing around and kissing and hugging your wife.
    I felt such calm I could not remember I ever felt in my homeland. Just sitting on the bench, watching people walking around, talking, children playing, and couples of lovers holding hands or kissing filled me with elation and joy. Nothing felt impossible. The West was offering its delicious fruit to me, and I only needed to stretch out my hand and pick it. The mist that covered the surrounding hills started to dissipate, and I saw it as another sign that my worries were finally coming to the end.

    I could have stayed in the park for hours, but the late October chill was seeping beneath my jacket, and I had to walk to keep myself warm. After an hour or two of my wanderings, I had a terrible hunger. I wanted to eat, but did not know where. I had never before eaten alone in a restaurant and now dreaded the moment when I had to order my meal in a foreign language. I walked by numerous restaurants, but they seemed to be too expensive for my means or crowded. Finally, after searching through the nearby streets, I found a restaurant that seemed to satisfy my criteria. A stubby waiter in his fifties, with bags under his eyes and dark thinning hair combed back, bowed his head slightly, greeted me. and led me to a table. To my relief, there were just two other guests, engrossed in their meals. I looked at the menu and within seconds, panic surged inside me. There were dozens of strange names, some in German, some in French, some in Italian, and they caused my head to spin and my stomach to turn. And then, like a drowning man who suddenly sees a ship coming to his rescue, I saw Wiener schnitzel, and relief and excitement swept over me. I had eaten Wiener schnitzel few times when my father took me to restaurants, and now when I saw it on a menu I knew I could not be wrong. It tasted almost the same as the ones I ate in my hometown. When later the waiter asked me, “Schmeckt’s?” I replied, “Es schmeckt sehr gut.”

    On Monday morning, I met a caseworker who looked like a goddess of beauty. She had shoulder-length blond hair and large blue eyes, which made my heart flutter when our eyes met. The room smelled of her delicate perfume, which I breathed in as sacred incense. She was just one or two years older than I was, and I wondered if her boss has given her this important job by design--to use her beauty to extract more information from asylum seeker. There was just a table between us, and I had a desire to hold her hands for a moment and rub her elegant fingers.
    I answered all the questions with honesty. She asked me about my childhood, school, family and the reasons why I had fled my homeland. Her demeanour was calm and placid, like a lake in the morning. She told me I had to travel to Karlsruhe where there was a refugee camp. She gave me a piece of paper that entitled me to a free train ride, and did not bother to shake hands with me before I left.
    TO BE CONTINUED

  1. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: On the run, part six

    Hello Bassim,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Would you please take a look at the sixth part of my short story and correct my mistakes.

    It took me at least half an hour to find the hotel, which, when I found it, was a pleasant surprise. For 80 German marks per day, I was allocated a large room with a double bed, TV, shower and toilet. It was on the third floor, with the window with an uninspiring view of a large office building in made of glass and metal, but it was close to the city centre. I was ravenously hungry, and as soon as I closed the door, I devoured all the cheese and bread within seconds. Then I took a shower and let the warm water splash over my tired body. I felt relaxed. I was a mountaineer who had climbed the highest top peak and now needed just to plant the flag to prove my conquest. My hair was still wet when I went to sleep and I did not wake up until late in the morning.

    The hotel had a buffet breakfast, and I used the opportunity to fill my stomach with boiled eggs, porridge, cheese, fruit, milk and [orange?] juice. It was a sunny morning and I went outside for a walk. The city left me speechless. Compared to it, my little hometown was a dingy and shabby hole. The main pedestrian street was wide and almost endless. I could not [did not know?] much about architecture, but here different styles competed with each other: antique columns, Roman porticos, Baroque arches and angels, and sterile modern architecture designs. I gaped at the shop windows bulging and sparkling with exclusive clothes, gold, watches, cameras and other gadgets. I read the price tags and could not believe what I saw. Thousands of German marks for a little woman’s bag, a pair of shoes, a jacket, and hundreds of thousands for a gold watch. I laughed at my own ignorance and naivety. In my family, we were satisfied if all the bills were paid on time, and here lived the people who would only be satisfied only if they had thrown money away on things that they actually did not need.

    My promenade short journey of exploration ended in a park in front of a large baroque palace, where I sat on the bench and watched people strolling around. They seemed not to lack anything to want for nothing. They were well-dressed, well-shod, well-fed and well-heeled in both senses of the term, and talked freely without being afraid of secret police or informers. A few children were scampering and playing in front of their beaming parents, and I said to myself, In a few years you’ll be watching your own children playing around and kissing and hugging your wife.
    I felt such a calm I could not never remember I ever having felt in my homeland. Just sitting on the a bench, watching people walking around, talking, children playing, and couples of lovers holding hands or kissing filled me with such elation and joy. Nothing felt impossible. The West was offering its delicious fruit to me, and I only needed to stretch reach out my hand and pick it. The mist that covered the surrounding hills started to dissipate, and I saw it as another sign that my worries were finally coming to the end.

    I could have stayed in the park for hours, but the late October chill was seeping in beneath my jacket, and I had to walk to keep myself warm. After an hour or two of my wanderings, I had developed a terrible hunger. I wanted to eat, but did not know where. I had never before eaten alone in a restaurant and now dreaded the moment when I had to order my meal in a foreign language. I walked by numerous restaurants, but they seemed to be too expensive for my means, or too crowded. Finally, after searching through the nearby streets, I found a restaurant that seemed to satisfy my criteria requirements. A stubby waiter in his fifties, with bags under his eyes and dark thinning hair combed back, bowed his head slightly, greeted me and led me to a table. To my relief, there were just two other guests diners, engrossed in their meals. I looked at the menu and within seconds, panic surged inside me. There were dozens of strange names, some in German, some in French, some in Italian, and they caused my head to spin and my stomach to turn(*see below). And then, like a drowning man who suddenly sees a ship coming to his rescue, I saw Wiener schnitzel, and relief and excitement swept over me. I had eaten Wiener schnitzel a few times when my father took me to restaurants, and now when I saw it on a the menu I knew I could not be wrong. It tasted almost the same as the ones I ate in my hometown. When later Later when the waiter asked me, “Schmeckt’s?” ("How does it taste?) I replied, “Es schmeckt sehr gut.” ("It tastes very good.").

    On Monday morning, I met a caseworker who looked like a goddess of beauty. She had shoulder-length blond hair and large blue eyes, which made my heart flutter when our eyes met. The room smelled of her delicate perfume, which I breathed in as if it were sacred incense. She was just one or two years older than I was, and I wondered if her boss has given her this important job by design -- to use her beauty to extract more information from this asylum seeker. There was just a table between us, and I had a desire to hold her hands for a moment and rub her elegant fingers.
    I answered all the her questions with honesty. She asked me about my childhood, school, family and the reasons why I had fled my homeland. Her demeanour was calm and placid, like a lake in the morning. She told me I had to travel to Karlsruhe where there was a refugee camp. She gave me a piece of paper that entitled me to a free train ride, and but did not bother to shake hands with me before I left.
    TO BE CONTINUED

    * Do you really mean "stomach to turn", because that implies that you felt like being sick (i.e. vomiting).

    Another good piece of writing Bassim. Many of my suggested amendments are not because your originals are wrong, it's just that I feel that these other words flow better.

    In addition to the stomach turning question above, I couldn't understand what you meant by "I could not much about architecture.....". As usual, if you explain what you mean by that, then together we can develop a phrase that works.
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 19-Sep-2015 at 22:07.

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    #3

    Re: On the run, part six

    Eckaslike,
    Thank you again for your time, amendments and advice. They are precious to me, like a present, because I can see where I make mistakes and what I should improve. I see that with your amendments my text really flows.
    Regarding my sentence: "I could not much about architecture". You have guessed correctly. It should be instead. "I did not know much about architecture."
    Regarding the other sentence"...and they caused my head to spin and my stomach to turn," I am wondering if I could use instead "my stomach to churn." I wanted to describe my nervous strain despite being hungry. But I am not sure which verb should be appropriate together with "stomach, or maybe I should not use that phrase at all?
    Regarding the sentence, "... and I wondered if her boss has given her this important job by design--to use her beauty to extract more information from asylum seeker." I see that I made mistake, it should be, "from asylum seekers." But I am wondering if need the article the, "from the asylum seekers."?

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    #4

    Re: On the run, part six

    Hello again Bassim,

    You're welcome. Thank you for your compliment.

    Care has to be used when using phrases referring to the stomach:

    Stomach turning = stomach churning = feeling sick, or wanting to vomit. For example: "Did you see that stomach turning/churning horror film last night?".
    However, you could of course say that you found a menu "stomach churning", if you found the food absolutely disgusting for any number of reasons.

    You have mentioned you are looking for a term to describe nerves or anxiousness. The words "butterflies" and "knots" are used in certain phrases for this.
    e.g. "I have butterflies in my stomach, because my exam starts in half an hour".

    or "My stomach was in knots because of the decision I had to make".

    To me "knots" works better in the context of your story. I find that the word has a stronger, more significant meaning or feeling. "Butterflies" can be used in sentences concerning nerves, however, it can also be used where people are being over-dramatic, or even silly, in the extent of their worry. In my experience "knots" is always used in a more serious manner. I would use it in your sentence in the following way:

    "I looked at the menu and within seconds, panic surged inside me. There were dozens of strange names, some in German, some in French, some in Italian, and they caused my head to spin which made my head spin and I felt the knot within my stomach tighten further." (i.e. you were becoming more and more tense).

    >>Regarding the sentence, "... and I wondered if her boss has given her this important job by design--to use her beauty to extract more information from asylum seeker." I see that I made mistake, it should be, "from asylum seekers." But I am wondering if need the article the, "from the asylum seekers."?<<

    No the definite article should not be used. She is being used by her boss to obtain information from any (non-specific) asylum seekers, rather than a specific one, or specific group, of them. So it should be: "......to use her beauty to extract more information from asylum seekers." as you correctly identified initially.
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 20-Sep-2015 at 09:24. Reason: To add a space between words.

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    #5

    Re: On the run, part six

    Eckaslike,
    Thank you again for your advice. I have already known the phrase "have butterflies in the stomach," but at the moment of writing I could not remember it. It happen often that first when someone reminds me of the word, I remember that I have already heard it and could have used it, but it was somewhere hidden in my mind. You who speak English from the very first day have almost an inbuilt knowledge about the subtleties of the language, but we who learn it, have also to learn the proper meaning of every word.

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    #6

    Re: On the run, part six

    Quote Originally Posted by Eckaslike View Post
    "... and I wondered if her boss has given her this important job by design--to use her beauty to extract more information from asylum seeker." I see that I made mistake, it should be, "from asylum seekers." But I am wondering if need the article the, "from the asylum seekers."?<<
    I have just noticed one final tweak. "...and I wondered if her boss had given her this important job by design.....".

    Quote Originally Posted by Eckaslike View Post
    You who speak English from the very first day have almost an inbuilt knowledge about the subtleties of the language, but we who learn it, have also to learn the proper meaning of every word.
    It is hard to remember every word or phrase you know, even we first language speakers sometimes struggle to find or remember a word we want, so why wouldn't a learner? Learners can sometimes point out things that we often just take for granted.

    Also, when you think that almost all I know of Serbo-Croatian is "Dobro jutro" ("Good morning" for other learner's information), then that shows you how good your English is and how lazy, or terrible in general, we English speakers are at learning other languages!
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 20-Sep-2015 at 09:58.

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    #7

    Re: On the run, part six

    I have always liked foreign languages, but I have never thought of writing in English. But some years ago, my inner voice told me I had to write in English. It has become my main goal, which could also be an illusion, but I have to follow that inner call. The problem we Slavic language speakers have with English is that all we do not have articles, but have cases instead. And the proper use of articles often causes problems for the Slavic speakers. But there are some good writers from the Slavic countries who write in English, and with great success. One of them is Aleksandar Hemon who came to the US as a student just before the war in Bosnia, and then became an established writer.
    Last edited by Bassim; 20-Sep-2015 at 10:28.

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    #8

    Re: On the run, part six

    I think it is good to have a goal, and why not do it in one of the main world languages. Most writers start off doing it as a hobby, or an interest, until they get a break of some sort. I have just finished reading "The Jerusalem Puzzle", which is the sequel to "The Istanbul Puzzle", by Laurence O'Brien, who started writing in exactly that way in his free time.

    You obviously have a good grasp of the use of the articles within English, indicated by the very few corrections to them which were needed in part six of your story above. Where the corrections were made they were usually in more complicated constructions or where usage is more obvious only to first language speakers. The most apparent of these, I think, is where I have noticed that I have missed another small error in this passage highlighted in blue:

    "My promenade short journey of exploration ended in a park in front of a large baroque palace, where I sat on the<---[this should be "a"] bench and watched people strolling around. They seemed not to lack anything to want for nothing. They were well-dressed, well-shod, well-fed and well-heeled in both senses of the term, and talked freely without being afraid of secret police or informers. A few children were scampering and playing in front of their beaming parents, and I said to myself, In a few years you’ll be watching your own children playing around and kissing and hugging your wife.
    I felt such a calm I could not never remember I ever having felt in my homeland. Just sitting on the a<---[this should be "the"] bench, watching people walking around, talking, children playing, and couples of lovers holding hands or kissing filled me with such elation and joy."

    Let me explain what I mean. This is a more subtle use of the articles. When you first introduce something in general you use "a/an", for example "I sat on a bench". However, if you mention that same item not that much later on, then you would start calling it "the bench", because you have already drawn the readers attention to the fact you are sitting on it. You probably know this already, and I do understand that it is very difficult to try to balance everything at once.

    Here's an example:
    "I caught the bus into town to do some shopping. After walking round the shops for an hour busily buying nothing, I decided to buy a cake from the bakery in the square which the lady carefully placed into a paper bag, and sat on a bench in the morning sunshine to eat it. A pigeon fluttered down from the tall and shady trees nearby onto the paving at my feet. After I'd finished the cake, I noticed that there were a few crumbs left in the paper bag. I threw the crumbs onto ground which the pigeon pecked at as if it were driven by a clockwork motor.

    Gradually clouds began to float in from the west and covered the sun with their greyness. Slowly at first, the rain began to fall with increasing intensity, and so I got up from the bench, screwed up the paper bag and threw it into a bin on the edge of the square, as I hurried past on the way back to the bus station for shelter."

    As I said, you may already know that, but tightening up on it, if you can, will make your writing even better.
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 20-Sep-2015 at 11:50. Reason: Fixing a typo.

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    #9

    Re: On the run, part six

    What causes me also a problem is the use of article "the" with the nouns in plural. For example like this: It was a windy day and the trees were swaying. I went into a park and could hear birds singing. (These are the sentences when I am not sure if I should use "the" or not). As for writing, I like to put feelings in my texts so that a reader can experience feelings which would stay with him long after he has finished his reading. I have read most of the novels written by Ian McEwan. There is not doubt that he can write well and has a perfect command of English, but all his novels leave me unmoved. There is something cold inside them, and they appear to be an artificial product without any feelings. I read out his novel, and the next moment I feel completely empty. I have certainly learnt some more words and phrases, but emotionally I am disappointed and ask myself why did he write that novel at all.

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    #10

    Re: On the run, part six

    Whether or not to use "the" with plural nouns like that depends upon your meaning. If you don't use "the" it is the same as using "a/an", you are simply talking about things in general. If you use "the" you are speaking about a specific set of those things. So to use your example:

    "It was a windy day and the trees were swaying. I went into a park and could hear birds singing."

    You are talking about "the trees", so these are specific trees that you want to mention. If you were talking in general and it didn't matter to you which trees were involved, you would just say "It was a windy day and trees were swaying".

    However, you then mention "birds singing". Not using the article "the", implies that either you do not know which birds were signing, or you do not care which birds they were (i.e. it doesn't matter to you whether they were sparrows or thrushes, you just noticed that birds were singing).

    I think first language users say and write these forms without often thinking about why they are using "the" or not.

    I totally agree. If a book has no soul, or you feel no empathy with any of the characters, then what is the point of it. Which books have you read that you really do like, and also do you prefer any particular genres?

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