Books: FASTING, FEASTING by Anita Desai

Title: Fasting, Feasting
Author: Anita Desai
Genre: Fiction
Published: 1999

I enjoyed Fasting, Feasting enough to finish it but can’t really say it is was one of my favourite reads. Anita Desai weaves her story around an Indian family with three children – all three of whom represent the family’s ambitions in some way.
Uma, the eldest is unmarried, clumsy and not particularly bright. The author describes her hunger for knowledge, and her attempts at being scholarly – but it is apparent that her thirst for knowledge is probably that of a spiritual kind.

Tea break at Le Café Kousmichoff

Not quite high tea, but good enough. I met a friend, who is a very good designer and photographer, for tea this morning. It ended up being lunch at Kusmi Tea on the Champs-Elysées. I’ve walked passed the Kusmi Tea store  a few times but only recently learnt that this is their flagship store in Paris, and en plus, that there is a tea house with a terrace beyond the colourful tea canisters displayed in the store.

History lessons in Bayeux, Normandy

“A wealth of history can enrich us”

This trip was an entire history lesson wrapped up in a holiday. A visit to the Normandy D-day Beaches was long overdue, and as much as we did not see even a fraction of the numerous historial sites that commemorate the Second World War around this area – we saw enough to come out of it more knowledgable than we had been.

Finding Wanderlust at the Cité de la Mode et du Design

When Wanderlust – that is the venue – opened in Paris two years ago, a friend was quick to let me know that: “They’ve taken your blog name!” Not quite, but my photoblog Wanderlust in PARIS is very similar to Wanderlust’s site name: Wanderlust Paris, so a lot of traffic gets directed to that blog. Good for me I suppose, not so much if you’re searching for the hippest, coolest place to dance the night away in Paris and you land on a photoblog.

A promenade along Les Berges de Seine

A couple of weekends ago, looking for a bit of inspiration on what to get up to on a Sunday afternoon, I thought a walk and lunch along the banks of the Seine would do it. Les Berges are deemed the coolest place to hang out and a definite hot area for the young and old alike. Following on the advice of Hip Paris blog and others I plied my children out  of the house with promises of some really cool places along the Seine, and great places to have lunch. Let’s just say the marketing exercise by the city of Paris has been a wondrous success.

The economics of a foreign language

The Economist recently published an article on a study about the worth of a foreign language. To briefly summarize: the overwhelming negative listed against the better decision-making and cognitive development positives was an underwhelming 2% premium on earnings to Americans – with French, Spanish and English earning different premiums.This had me thinking about my experience with speaking a foreign language in a foreign country.

These days the words flow easier. I no longer phrase, re-phrase and edit my sentences, silently trying them out in my head before I blurt them out. I am not yet dreaming in French, but I am at least thinking in it – there is less mangling of my articles and verbs, and an easier switching from English to French. On some days I do not have the energy to conjugate the conditionnel and on others the  plus-que-parfait just stumps me.

On local politics and cabinet reshuffles

Out with the old, in with the new.         Photo:

After his Socialist Party’s crushing defeat at the polls this past weekend, The Hexagon’s President, François Holande was quick to make like other past Presidents of the Republic: fire the right hand man. So Jean-Marc Ayrault is out, and Manuel Valls is in as the new Prime Minister.

Zeng Fanzhi at the Museum of Modern Art, Paris

Zeng Fanzhi’s first French retrospective is currently on at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris until this Sunday, 16 February.
It covers the painter’s career in reverse-order presentation, from 2013 back to 1990 – arranged across themes in five rooms for Landscapes,  “The Form Chosen is of no Importance”,  Masks,  The Individual and the Masses, and Hospitals.
Within each theme, and depending on the period of time the painter was working in, there is a pervasive image that you see over and over again until you move to the next room.

Switzerland’s ‘stand-alone’ vote

Source: Picture-Alliance/DPA

The Swiss voted in a referendum on Sunday  to curb immigration from the EU. Granted it was a close vote, with 50.3% voting for this move, it is however an Anti-EU stance by this quaint country of chocolate and snow-capped picturesque mountains. For the average non-EU traveller – it means no real change  – perhaps a more arduous  visa application process. The impact of this vote though is a lot more hard-hitting for future employment trends and foreign investment