Gastronomy: “Le Frank” at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

I finally got to see the recently opened Frank Gehry-designed glass monument that is the Fondation Louis Vuitton. It truly is a marvel to behold. There is an entire story behind how the lobbying for its construction went as high as the highest echelons of the National Assembly.

We finally went today. I took the initiative of ordering the tickets online, hoping to avoid any long queues, but we still queued for about thirty minutes – by which time my children were no longer keen on the idea of museum first, then lunch after. So we joined the queue for Le Frank – the Fondation’s restaurant which has been named after the architect.

Urban artists pay hommage to Dalí

Being a sunny, if chilly day, we bundled up and headed out to Montmartre. My daughter, with her keen interest in street art or urban art was keen to see the Dalí Fait Le Mur exhibition at Espace Dalí. If you have ever been to this museum or rather space dedicated to Dalí’s work, you will know that it is a very small space, and I wondered how they would fit a collaborative exhibition with the already extensive permanent collection of Dali’s reproductions which are housed there.
They managed. If only just.

On learning a new language

I had lofty ambitions of regaling you with weekly tales of my Sorbonne stories. But between daily grammar classes,  7:30am classes on writing and oral reinforcement,  lunch periods spent in the phonetics lab, mornings spent reviewing previous days’ notes,  nights spent studying for weekly tests – all those ambitious plans fell by the wayside very early into my semester. It is now over, and yesterday as I sat through the ‘graduation’ ceremony (all pomp and ceremony for a semester course, absolutely loved it!) with past luminaries of L’Académie française looking down on us from their hallowed vantage points in the cornices, it felt good to have risen to the challenge.

Reading the classics and tales about magic

Harper Lee.

I have written about my aversion towards mandated reading that forces one to read a certain genre merely because at the time it is deemed important enough to add to one’s literary repertoire. I must confess that when it comes to the classics, I do still have a lot of to-be-read (TBR) books  on both my kindle and on my bookshelf, for which I will ignore my own rules. I am ‘shadow’ reading with my children. My son is finally getting into the Harry Potter books – so I have decided that maybe it’s about time I found out what J.K. Rowling did to spawn an entire generation and more of magic enthusiasts. As he reads The  Philosopher’s Stone in paperback, I am following  on my kindle.

Books: WHITE TEETH by Zadie Smith

Title: White Teeth
Author: Zadie Smith
Published: 2000
Genre: Fiction

Zadie Smith’s White Teeth took me close to two months to finish. That for me is a very long time, but it was read between a whole lot of other commitments. I read it during my daily commute,  when I had a few moments waiting for my son’s violin class to finish, and in between studying and writing and procrastinating. I finally finished it two weeks ago and it has taken me this long to write down my thoughts of it.  I took it off my ‘To Be Read’ (TBR) shelf expecting to be wowed, after all, the reviews that accompanied the book when it was published in 2000 were more than hyperbolic in their praise of Smith’s raw talent:  how it was reminiscent of Rushdie’s brilliance, how her turn of phrase was incomparable to none other, so steady and controlled for a debut writer.

On the fractures left by the Charlie Hebdo attacks

It has been more than two weeks since the heinous attacks at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, but their aftermath still dominates our lives. Now local and international papers are running editorials on the renewed threat of  ‘international jihadism’ – further emphasising the insecurity the world faces.

On January 7, and in the days that followed, I watched in horror as all the local and international television channels covered the Paris attacks. Then the world took on the Spartacus call of #Je suis Charlie; quickly followed by the debates on the need for responsible journalism. My fourteen year old daughter came home after a debate in her Global Issues class on The right to freedom of speech versus The right for respect of  individual beliefs  – a debate which left her uncertain of where she stood. There was the insecurity felt by an eight year old when all he saw was the gratuitous violence of the attacks which left him fearful of a larger scale attack on France, and in the  days that followed all he wanted to know was whether we would be moving to a different country.

Books: CRY BABY by Lauren Liebenberg

Title: Cry Baby

b2013-lauren-liebenberg-cry-baby-hrAuthor: Lauren Liebenberg

Published: 2013

Genre: Fiction

I read Lauren Liebenberg’s deliciously-named, The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam many years ago. I enjoyed it immensely and had been looking forward to reading her third book, Cry Baby. It is a story of an upper middle class couple, living in the Northern Suburbs of  Johannesburg  raising their two young boys – one of whom has terrifying nightmares that have an otherworldly significance to them. The author’s point of view changes from that of the two adults to that of the little boy throughout the book.