The Hunt for the Red Squirrel

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Frankfurt, 16:25. The flight to Edinburgh is boarding. I’ve been on the lookout for Ivana. Her journey started in Novi Sad, Serbia, mine in Mechelen, Belgium, but we’ll make the last part of the trip together. If everything goes well, we’ll be sitting next to each other on the Frankfurt-Edinburgh flight. There she is: just in time! Although this is our first meeting in the real world, we share a common TED Open Translation Project experience, so we're never short of stuff to talk about.

The welcome committee in Edinburgh airport consists of Hugo (France) and Aliaksandr (Russian living in Italy). We take the shuttle bus to Haymarket, in the centre of Edinburgh. From there it should be only 5 minutes to the Bell Tower apartment, the flat Hugo and I will share with Shadia (France / Ile Maurice) and Kristine (Armenia). Indeed, the distance is convenient. The flat is easy to find too: it’s an old church building. According to the landlady’s instructions, the key should be in the plant pot near the door. Hugo searches the pot, but no key to be seen. Luckily, I have Shadia’s number. She and Kristine are already in the flat.

We post a message on Facebook reaching out to the others. Krystian calls us to the Red Squirrel, a pub in the centre of Edinburgh. On the way, someone calls my name. Never seen her before, but I know this is Dora, our Greek colleagues. We “meet and greet” and continue our squirrel hunt. What a catch upon arrival! We find Krystian (Poland; due to the fact that 23 June is not Schrödinger Hair Day, his hairdo and his beard totally give him away), Lidia (Spain; oxytocin levels go up 3 notches after her hugs), Ivana and Anna (Italy), whom we had already seen earlier on the day on a Facebook picture with Elena in King’s Cross, London. Since there was not enough space to put us all at the same table, we are split in two groups. Suddenly I see a new face on the other table. A very young face. It must be Jan (Czech Republic). Aliaksandr pops in. And hey, there’s Jenny (US/China), still a bit jetlagged. And there’s Mihail (Bulgaria) – he looks different from his TED profile picture.

That makes about half the translator group. Not bad for a totally unorganized gathering. Today is our translation day. An hour from now, the Open Translation Project Workshop starts. Looking forward to meeting the other half of the group there. We’ll be in touch!