Another week, another Penpal of the Week interview!
This time with a very interesting girl from India…
Please tell us about you!
Hello, my name is Viviana Sandoval Cohen, but most people call me Vi. I am 22 years old and I am currently located at 10°14′N 77°29′E which is the town I live in South India called Kodaikanal.
A picture of me.
Kodaikanal is a small town located in the Palani Hills of the Western Ghats (which is on the Western side of South India), we are located at approximately 2,133 meters (or 6,998 feet) above sea level. Kodaikanal has a monsoon-influenced sub-tropical highland climate and temperatures are cool throughout the year due to the high elevation (ranging from 8°C – 24°C, eternal spring huh?).
Currently I work as a nurse in a medical outreach programme that provides health and medical care to villages in the hinterlands. However, this is just voluntary work, I am actually a hotel management graduate. I am taking a break soul searching and seriously debating whether I’d like to do a degree in Medicine / Public Health. I live with my parents at the moment and they live on a 7 acre organic farm, I am actively involved in all the planting, growing, jamming, canning, juicing and preserving of fruits and vegetables. We also have cows and I am proud to say I am a second generation artisan style cheesemaker.
A picture of the house my parents and I live in.
I love writing letters and I am exploring the artist in me. My mother is a former children’s librarian and now a full time “crafter” – we are working on a quilt together and she is helping me develop technique in my watercolour and pencil sketches. I love singing and I have been part of a Church Choir since I was six (even though I am not “officially” part of the congregation because my Mum is Jewish and I am a non-practicing Jewess at the moment).
Describe your personality in 10 words!
Geeky, Cheeky, Vivacious, Tenacious, Enthusiastic, Loving, Artistic, Shameless, Passionate, Eclectic.
This is my dog, Cookie, she’s a Collie / German mix, we’ve had her for
thirteen years, she’s pretty old and doesn’t do much but sleep and eat.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I first began writing pen letters at the age of 13 to a 24 year old lady in Seattle, Washington. I lost contact with her in early 2006. Which absolutely devastated me.
I have lived in Portugal, France, Switzerland, Thailand, India and Dubai so I have many friends to correspond with via post. I actually started writing letters because it helped a lot with my dyslexia.
This is the other dog, Hero, we adopted him at a young age,
unfortunately he had an accident and we had to amputate one of his legs.
He’s older than Cookie by about a year. He’s a mixed Labrador / Golden Retriever.
He’s quite old, has selective hearing and likes to “talk” a lot.
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I have many friends I correspond with but no proper penpals. I write often to my brother, my mémé (grandmother) and my fiancé. I particularly love writing to my fiancé’s mother, Jacqueline. She is fantastic and she writes amazing, beautiful letters that are long and juicy (you can almost take a bite out of them).
I have a friend from college who I exchange letters and postcards with often, she lives in the Philippines. My best friend is from a small town in Portugal and she lives in Budapest at the moment and she writes really short and precise postcards on her night shifts at the medical college hospital she’s doing her residency in.
My Fiance, Ryan, and I. We’ve been engaged for a while but
still have no idea when or where we’ll be getting married.
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
Everything. Life, Love, Music, Art, Poetry, Baking, Hiking, Interesting Medical Conditions I’ve witnessed, Food, My Blog, Sex, Gossip, Stories, Adventures / Misadventures. I just don’t talk about politics, religion and sports, as I was taught that these things are rude to talk about and are topics that could offend. I usually start off with the weather and end with lots of questions. Sometimes I talk about how I feel about certain situations or I simply rant, it depends a lot on my mood.
What are you looking for in a penpal?
Somebody interesting, with opinions. Someone who is different from me but shares some of my likes / dislikes. It’s so thrilling to find an actually, handwritten letter in ones postbox (usually it’s just bills and promotional offers from the local grocer…). Someone special and trustworthy who doesn’t mind a bit of quirky and left of the middle.
This is a view that I jog past everyday.
What do you like the most about penpalling?
The companionship, the feeling of someone taking the time enough to write to you. It feels so special to open up a letter and start reading (and also thinking of the way you’ll be responding.) I remember receiving letters in boarding school / college and friends gathering around so I could read out loud my mémé’s (Granny’s) letters (their Grannies were graduating to e-mail). I love the fact that I could well be reviving a lost/dying art. Letter writing is endangered you know…
In what language(s) do you correspond?
Usually in English, I am equally comfortable in French and Spanish. I sometimes write endearments to my grand-mère in Hebrew and my Mother-in-Law to be, Jacqueline, is teaching me Swedish so I sometimes practice with her in our letters.
One of the first letters I wrote to my Fiance.
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I like to write letters in bed, usually in pencil, sometimes in fountain pen. I like to write my letters after tea-time, so after 5 o’clock pm. I usually write about 2 pages no spaces.
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
I did receive a care package from Jacqueline, my fiancé’s mother. It contained a lot of useful things (stain remover, gloves, antibacterial hand gel) and a very surprising pair of fluffy, pink handcuffs and a gag. That was a bit awkward…
Have you met any of your penpals?
As I haven’t really had a proper penpal this is a bit difficult to answer. All the people I write letters to, I have met and been introduced to in real life. So I can’t say that I have.
A handwriting sample of mine with a quick pencil sketch.
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
I am currently looking for penpals and I would love to write to any of you fantastic people out there. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail: email@example.com.
Thank you Vi! Wishing you some wonderful new penpals!