Sandy's Reviews > Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
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Dec 28, 12

bookshelves: fiction
Read on July 01, 2010 — I own a copy

I really enjoy this series of books. I like the descriptions, the slow pace, the thoughtfulness, etc. And the stories are always interesting. There were lots of quotes I found interesting as well...

In thinking about her childhood, Mma Ramotswe pondered "arithmetic, with its puzzling multiplication tables that needed to be learned by heart--when there was so much else that the heart had to learn." (pg. 4)

As Mma Ramotswe looked up at her acacia tree and thought about how there could be a snake in the tree, she decided that the best way to deal with them was "not to deal with them...If we left snakes alone, then they kept away from us. It was only when we intruded on their world that they bit us, and who could blame them for that? It was the same with life in general, thought Mma Ramotswe. If we worried away at troublesome issues, we often only ended up making things worse. It was far better to let things sort themselves out." (pg. 18) This reminds me of advice from Dale Carnegie's book "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living". To paraphrase, he stated that if we could do something about a problem that was bothering us, then we should do something! If there was nothing we could do then we should figure out what would be the worst possible thing that might happen, reconcile ourselves to it and then quit worrying. Chances were that whatever happened wouldn't be as bad as it could have been.

When Fanwell talks to Mma Ramotswe about her van which is on its last legs, he asks her if she has spoken to her husband about it. He says there is nothing her husband can not fix. She sighs and thinks to herself that "he was right to say that there was nothing that Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni could not fix, but that was not the same thing as saying that there was nothing that he would not fix." (pg. 59) I had to laugh at that. My mother was very impressed with my husband, Bart, and used to say that there was nothing that Bart couldn't do if he set his mind to it. (I often repeat this, but add emphasis to the "set his mind to it" part which to me is the crux of the matter.)

Another thought, not unlike the earlier one I mentioned about the snakes, was when Mma Ramotswe was walking and thought "the blister had stopped troubling her; it had burst, she thought, and walking was comfortable again. If only all our troubles were like that; and perhaps they were. Perhaps the trick was to do what was necessary to deal with them, to put a plaster on them and then forget that they were there." (pg. 61)

And on a similar note--"When there is nothing you can do to stop the march of adverse events, then the best thing, she felt, was to get on with life and not to worry." (pg. 99)

And some quotes on a variety of topics--

"'Everyone needs a hobby,'said Mma Ramotswe. 'Particularly men. They need hobbies because they do not have enough to do. We women always have too much to do and do not have to spend our time watching football or playing with...collecting model aeroplanes." (pg. 76)

"She knew it was not always easy for women in such places, where the easy companionship of the village had been replaced by the comparative anonymity of the town. Such a woman might spend much of the day without any contact with other women--an unnatural state of affairs. We are born to talk to other people, she thought; we are born to be sociable and to sit together with others in the shade of an acacia tree and talk about things that happened the day before. We were not born to sit in kitchens by ourselves, with no body to chat to." (pg. 127)

"A middle-aged couple, visitors wearing large floppy hats, sat at a table poring over a tourist guide. Mma Makutsi smiled; so many people read these guides when they might have been looking around them and seeing the place they were reading about. It was the same with cameras;: visitors spent so much time peering through the viewfinders of their cameras that they never looked at the country they were photographing." (pg. 165) Reminds me of when Michael and I went to Sea World and he video taped the killer whale show, but to one extent missed seeing it except through the tiny black and white viewfinder.

And a funny one... Mma Makutsi is worried about losing her fiancee to another woman and asks "What if she succeeds in making him fonder of her? What then? He is a good man, but even a good man can fall for a glamorous woman. That is well known.
Mma Ramotswe responds "That is very well known...Look at Adam. Look how he fell for Eve.
"'Just because she had no clothes on, he fell for her,'said Mma Makutsi.
"'That sometimes helps,' said Mma Ramotswe. They both laughed..."
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message 1: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan The quote about learning arithmetic tables struck a chord with me, also.


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