Tsibola checks the tray of trin tea and larity-neutral snacks that the embassy kitchen just delivered. He's learned to tolerate trin, since he is not allowed brandy any more.
Tsibola is still ~~ sore ~~ from the long train ride back from New Washington.
Fridda taps gently on the door frame of the parlor in the ambassador's quarters.
Fridda: Hi, Uncle Ruthven.
Tsibola: Fridda! It's good to see you.
Fridda zlins her uncle carefully. He seems tired.
Tsibola: Come, sit with me, and have some tea.
Fridda: It's good to see you too, and tea sounds wonderful.
Tsibola gestures towards the couch, and takes a seat himself.
Fridda sits where indicated and pours trin into two delicate porcelain cups. She doesn't use her tentacles, partly to avoid emphasizing her larity to her uncle, and partly because she doesn't trust them with the fragile and valuable tea service.
Fridda: You always have the best trin.
Tsibola accepts one cup.
Fridda sips hers with pleasure.
Tsibola: Rank has its privileges. Or at least its entertainment budget.
Fridda: So how was your trip back home?
Tsibola: Your father sends his love, and a small token of his esteem...
Tsibola hands Fridda a small package.
Tsibola: Other than his company, it was about what I expected.
Fridda takes it, fingers only, and carefully unwraps it.
Tsibola: Lots of people taking the opportunity to dump problems in my lap without having to travel here.
Fridda: Different problems than the ones you had as senator, I suppose?
Tsibola: Yes and no. Most of the petitioners don't want the law changed, but they still want me to facilitate solving their problems.
Fridda: It's harder for them to keep pestering you at least.
Tsibola: I suppose so.
Tsibola gestures towards the package.
Tsibola: Go ahead and open it. Your father wants a report on the event.
Fridda opens the box. It's a copy of her parents' wedding photograph in a beautiful walnut frame.
Tsibola: He wanted to be sure that you didn't forget your past, while you're busy making your future.
Fridda feels tears come to her eyes, remembering how she used to silently talk to the original photo when she was a child, missing her mother, telling her about what was happening to her as she grew up.
Fridda: It's a wonderful gift. I'll write to him tonight and thank him.
Tsibola: Speaking of which, how is your college career coming along?
Fridda: Still very well, but I'll be out of First Year soon, and things will get harder.
Tsibola: I'd think they'd get easier, because you are used to living here now.
Fridda: Well, in a Sime's first year after changeover, it's really easy to learn -- you can just pick things up effortlessly. People tell me I speak Simelan almost like a native already, with hardly any accent. I've been working on it, because after First Year, you never lose your accent.
Tsibola: A foreign accent can be a problem.
Tsibola ~~ approves ~~ of the measure.
Fridda: It's not just that, it's everything. I've gotten used to learning things as fast as I can read them. I'm not looking forward to having to study four times as hard or as long.
Tsibola: You know how to study. You were always good at it.
Fridda didn't find even the elite school she went to in New Washington excessively challenging, but she did have to do some studying.
Fridda: Well, I'm afraid that it will be like getting stupid, forever, after one year of being brilliant.
Tsibola: Fridda, I don't think you're looking at the whole situation. There's more to being smart than how fast you learn. What's more important is how good you are at using what you've been learning. That's never changed over the past year.
Fridda: I know. But it's been so... exhilarating, being able to learn so much, so fast, so easily... I'll really miss it.
Tsibola: Of course you will. But you'll adjust.
Fridda: It's not like I have a choice. But I will miss it.
Tsibola: Seriously, they must be used to dealing with this problem, over here. What do the native Simes do about it?
Fridda: Well, in the camp, they kept telling us that all Simes remember how wonderful their First Year was, but the emphasis was to make us feel better about being Sime. I didn't think, at the time, that it was a wonderful year that could only be looked back on, once it was over forever.
Fridda: Of course, most Simes don't go to university in their First Year. They're mostly struggling to make enough money to pay their selyn taxes. And most of them were younger than I was at changeover.
Tsibola: And far less educated. And motivated. You've always stood out in a crowd, Fridda. I don't think that will change.
Fridda: I guess so.
Tsibola: Have you given further thought as to what you will do when you graduate?
Fridda: I think it will take me another year. In winter and spring some of the larger corporations interview potential recruits among people close to graduation. I'll sign up to talk to some of them.
Fridda: Some of us talk about starting our own company when we graduate, but I don't know how serious anybody is. It's fun and challenging planning it, though.
Tsibola: Oh, ho! And what would this company-to-be produce?
Fridda: That's a good question, now, isn't it! A small startup has to have something unique if it wants to grow. It's not like it can compete with GMM from the start!
Tsibola: No, it can't. What sort of expertise does your group of friends have?
Fridda: Several are my classmates in economics and business management, but there are a few engineering students, too. Maybe one of them will invent something and we can manufacture and market it, eh?
Fridda is clearly not very serious about this scenario.
Tsibola: Now, there's a thought. What sorts of problems are you uniquely aware of? Things that people who grew up out here don't think are problems, necessarily?
Fridda: They've already invented doorknockers so Simes don't have to zlin Gens bashing their knuckles on wood. Of course, if it were easy to think up the ideal unique sell-on-sight product, it would already have been thought of.
Tsibola: Well, then: simplify. What gadgets do you miss from the other side of the border?
Fridda: I haven't really run into anything I can't buy somewhere in Capital. But then I didn't really do things at home. There must be lots of specialized tools that are presently used on one side of the border that people don't have on the other, but I don't know what they are.
Tsibola: Well, then. Perhaps you should ask some of your friends from First Year Camp what gadgets they miss.
Fridda: That's a good idea, Uncle Ruthven.
Tsibola: It's a lot easier to import a gadget and then market it, than to design a new thing and manufacture it first.
Fridda: True. Or it could be manufactured locally under license, if that were more practical.
Tsibola: Yes. And you'd already have the design and uses worked out.
Tsibola: It's an interesting game, is it not?
Fridda: We enjoy it. Over trin, and sometimes beer.
Tsibola: Porstan? Or imported?
Fridda: They do make other beers and ales here. Porstan is mostly for when you really want it to take effect. It has a stronger effect on Simes than on Gens, more than just the alcohol.
Tsibola: I see. I haven't been allowed to sample the local offerings, alas.
Fridda: To tell you the truth, I prefer trin.
Fridda, like many serious students, doesn't enjoy obtunding her intellect, even on weekends.
Tsibola: See? I told you that your intelligence hasn't been affected by your learning speed.
Fridda: It's mostly the engineering students who are notable for drinking. We business types are more restrained.
Tsibola: Well, the engineers need to lubricate their imaginations.
Fridda: They think so.
Fridda doesn't add "especially the Gens", although the Gens do drink more. The Simes can't abide all the calories.
Tsibola: Especially when you're buying?
Fridda: Oh, they buy their own.
Tsibola: That's a good policy to maintain, in any company.
Fridda: I suppose so.
Tsibola: Now, before your aunt joins us and over-reacts, tell me whether you're seeing anybody special. Your father wants to know.