This month we catch up with Boston-raised, former corporate banker, organiser extraordinaire of INC wine and tapas events, US Embassy Community Liaison Officer, intrepid traveller and imminent grandmother, Linda Talluto
- What have you been doing in Madrid since you arrived a year ago?
To be honest, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what one does all day after working every day since I graduated from college….which was a long time ago!
- Where have you lived before?
Atlanta, Moscow, Chennai, Pretoria, Karachi, Lahore, Buenos Aires and now Madrid.
- Tell me about living in Moscow in the 1990´s just after the Cold War.
There were shortages of food items in the shops, our kids learned to be hoarders because we never knew when we might see peanut butter again, so we would buy 12 jars. Every day was a challenge, but we also witnessed a lot of progress and exciting changes along the way.
- Has returning to the US ever been challenging after time spent overseas?
After four years of living in Moscow with its extreme weather, scarce food and jammed Metro it was a real culture shock to go “home” and listen to sedate southern ladies discuss their latest beach vacations or what was on sale at the local enormous supermarket. I felt like I had zoomed in from Mars.
- Has anything surprised you about Madrid?
I love walking down the streets of the city at lunchtime and seeing how many older people enjoying wine or beer with their lunch. People seem more relaxed; I don’t think I have ever seen someone running to their next appointment while eating a sandwich on the go!
- What was it like as an expat woman living in Pakistan and India?
I dressed the part, wearing the Salwar Kameez and an occasional sari which the locals appreciated. I was reminded of the cultural differences and conservative nature of women’s dress when we returned from a trip to Thailand and I was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers. When we got to baggage claim, there were young boys literally pointing and laughing at me and people staring at my white legs everywhere. I was like the funny looking animal in the zoo!
7. You and your family are avid travellers, where has most impressed you?
We took an amazing trip to Japan last winter. The county is so orderly, clean, people so courteous and amazing food. It was a pleasure to use a public restroom! The scenery is fantastic and we enjoyed the challenge of getting around and ordering meals without any English spoken.
- What’s your secret to juggling a career in corporate banking with bringing up a son and daughter?
Team Talluto. My husband, Frank, has truly been an equal parent. We both had careers and needed to chip in with everything from meal preparation, cleaning, shopping, driving carpool, shuffling kids to their activities or taking turns staying home when a kid was sick and couldn’t go to school. The kids also knew that we all had jobs – ours were in an office, theirs was in school. Everyone needed to work together so everyone could be good at their jobs.
- What is your secret Madrid?
I love the Capricho park for just wandering around looking at the laurel labryinths and interesting statues and structures. I also discovered a store called Melquiza which sells all kinds of products made with saffron – lotions, soaps, honey, oils etc. It is very fun.
- Do you have any stories about adapting to life here in Madrid?
To be honest, it was a really lonely year for me. I was not used to living in an apartment, not working and not knowing anyone in the city. I looked for every opportunity to get out and meet people, but it takes time. Friendships don’t happen overnight. Madrid is a great city, but it’s harder to meet other people here than in some of the other places I’ve lived in as there are not the same hardships or challenges that encourage people to stick together. INC has provided me a great opportunity to get out and about to varying events and also to organise some evening activities for spouses/partners too.
Photo captions include India, Pakistan, Russia, Japan and on the sand dune of Namibia