Archive for May, 2010

the sound of music

May 29, 2010

some things we may take for granted

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

May 27, 2010

There was a movie based on the book?! I didn’t know that. I read the book previously. It was intense and very inspiring. This is an excerpt which my friends would relate to very well. Haha. It is a high ideal indeed and hard to believe that any Architect would dare destroy a Developer’s building! But do watch the whole clip.

‘ I agreed to design it for the purpose of seeing it built as I wish. That was the price I set for my work. I was not paid. My building was disfigured at the whim of others who took all the benefits of my work and gave me nothing in return. I came here to say I do not recognise anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy, not to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim….I do not care to work or live on any others. My terms are a man’s right to exist for his own sake.’

picnic at Samois

May 24, 2010

Woh, never knew there was such a nice area just outside Fontainebleau. Quaint houses, beautiful gardens and river with lots of ducks, swans and turtles! Flowers are in bloom and many French are out in the strong sun strolling, cycling, walking their dogs, having picnics or just boating in the river. So peaceful!

Above : The bridge linking the village to an island – our picnic destination! Below : Check out our food spread. The food ended up in our tummy in a jiffy! It was a really nice afternoon chatting away. After the food is cleared, our affable host G made us hot indian tea with spices or ‘chai’ back in his house. Oh, I really miss our ‘teh-c’ and ‘teh-tarik’ back home. Apparently it is their habit to down a cup of hot tea 30 minutes after food.

After the nice hot tea and more chats, we departed. W and I decided to explore the pretty village a little.

Secret passages and turns which lead to another path. So much to explore!

Bottom Right Corner Pic : W thinks it looks like salad!!!

Below Left : The red flowers look like roses to me. It added a beautiful and romantic touch to the house. These houses and stone walls remind me so much of the story ‘Secret Garden’.

There are in fact many more villages surrounding Fontainebleau. There is a forest as well with deers and more wildlife! I hope we get to explore the place before I leave for Singapore soon.

peonies

May 24, 2010

or ‘mu-dan-hua’ is one of my favourite flowers. They were in season 3 weeks back and can be bought in the market for 10 euros a bunch. Each time I pass the flower stall at the market, I would stop to admire the flowers there. So beautiful! I would love to buy the deep dark red peonies that I had used for my wedding bouquet but I just couldn’t bear to part with 10euros! However, I hosted a dinner last week and our wonderful friend, Yoshimi-san assembled a beautiful bouquet using peonies and flowers from her garden! I was elated!

I had no vase that was large enough to hold the bouquet so I had to disassemble it and rearrange them into 2 smaller vases. I would have loved to keep Yoshimi-san’s assembly! So sorry!

Peonies are so soft and delicate. I was pretty worried that the petal would all fall out by the time I am done! It’s wonderful seeing the flowers bloom into different stages each day. They never remain the same.

Yoshimi-san also got me a box of chocolates from Frederic Cassel, a famous chocolatier in Fontainebleau. It was so good!

procrastinating

May 24, 2010

Terrible habit of mine. Instead of dealing with important administrative matters, I’m (gonna be) hooked on this. Think it’s the graphics that’s tugging at me. House of Five Leaves –

and surfing the internet. Whoops!

am SO craving for this now

May 19, 2010

After a day of cooking and eating yesterday to host my dear friends, I am craving for the most simple but comforting meal.

From one of my all time favourite Stephen Chow movie ‘God of Cookery’ – a plate of good char siew rice and egg! Hehe. (see the end of movie)

Insead’s 50th Anniversary Summer Ball

May 17, 2010

I didn’t bring my camera because it was too big to fit into my clutch bag! I really should have bought another compact camera. Argh. Nevertheless, I was glad it wasn’t too cold and W need not remove his tuxedo jacket for me.

It was a beautiful and festive night with acrobatic performers (encased in huge plastic balls included) and instrumentalists in their elaborate costumes performing in the open. Students were decked out in fine hairdos, beautiful elaborate gowns and tuxedos too. Apparently, Insead had wanted to host the event in a Chateau but with a sellout of 2000 people. I guess the Chateau owners were worried. Hence, the event was hosted on the campus. Separate locations were set up and you visit each venue to sample their offerings. The campus was successfully transformed! Each space was elaborately decorated, offered different music and free flow canapes served in accordance to the theme. I couldn’t recognise the original cafe or canteen that was there! When it came to midnight, an almost 15 minutes long dazzling array of fireworks was set off. It was so pretty. After which it was back to more food, music and chit chat with fellow schoolmates or the very old alumnis.

The Ball starts at 10pm and ends with a breakfast at 4am. You could also have a survivor photo taken if you manage to stay up past 4.30am! Alas. vanity had gotten the better of me. My extra body weight exerted so much pressure on my feet (yes I wore heels) that I couldn’t walk by 1.30am. We wanted to take a nap in our apartment and appear for the 4am breakfast but as you can guess, we slept right through! Nevertheless, it was a memorable experience to remember for life.

One of the moments that I will remember. Students dancing to this.

Ah, poor bankers and consultants. Haha.

can this be taught?

May 17, 2010

‘Konosuke Matsushita’s most basic and potentially most powerful ideas are about the roots of lifelong learning. A privileged background and degrees from the University of Tokyo (or Harvard or Oxford) are nice, he would say, but they are not essential. The same is true of unusually high intelligence, good looks, and a dramatic personality. More important than any of these factors are certain habits and a set of ideals that help support those habits. With a humble heart and an open mind, he told people again and again, one can learn from any experience and at any age. With ideals that are big and humanistic, one can conquer success and failure, learn from both and continue to grow.’

Dedicated to our little Nadia, excerpt taken from book ‘Matsushita Leadership’ by John P. Kotter

sunshine stay!

May 15, 2010

This should be late spring I believe.

According to our French Hosts at the B&Bs that we had stayed in on our Provence Roadtrip last week (pics coming!), 14 May is the Official Day when all snow would end and sunshine would descend upon France. ALAS. France was enjoying 2 weeks of warm weather before everything changes. Until today, it has been 3 weeks of wintry cold, wind and rain with temperatures dipping to 4 degrees in the mornings and nights. I had happily stashed away the fleece and brought out summer clothes only to take my winter clothes out again! Argh!

But today. Sunshine! Seems like our hosts were right after all! I just hope it stays long enough to warm up Fontainebleau. Because tonight is Insead’s 50th Anniversary Summer Ball which would be a grand celebration (ie black tie event = tuxedos) and I cannot imagine stepping out of the apartment in a thin dress at 10pm.

Roadtrip Mont Saint Michel & Saint Malo

May 13, 2010

Many apologies to my dear friends who had asked to see the photos of our last road trip 3 weeks back! The exams had kept both W and me real busy and after the exams, we did a road trip to the South of France, Provence. In fact, we just got back on Monday. The new school term just started and I finally had some breather to edit the photos that are piling up.

It was an impromptu trip. Our group of 15 (approx) set off on Saturday for a 4 hour drive towards Normandy. Fortunately for us, the weather was great. However, as our car left later, we made our way to Mont Saint Michel on our own and decided to check into the hotel first (the hotel was called St Michel) only to realise upon arrival that the hotel was an hour away from the sight! We drove quickly and was pretty lucky to catch the city before the sun sets (except for the abbey at the peak).

Mont Saint Michel is beautiful with cobbled streets and multitudes of layers. It’s like a stepped labyrinth! In the evening the place turns ethereal as the tide rises over the mud flats and the entire place seems to float on water.

Quaint passages and little bridges over voids. Every turn reveals different street spaces or secret gardens. An amazing urban experience. An architecture student’s dream space I believe *wink*.

Dinner time! Since we are in Normandy, seafood was a safe bet. W’s mussels, oysters and the fish soup was good. But the rest were mainly tourist fare. Costs a bomb too. Argh.

The hotel was nice, cosy and really cheap (115 euros for 4 pax excluding breakfast) although the toilet was a little cold in the night!

Our 7 euro breakfast. Expensive but comforting. One of those rare hotels that provided ham and cheese, homemade fluffy croissants, pain au chocolate and really nice hot chocolate drink! But I guess I ate more than my money’s worth. I wolfed down 3 big croissants, 1 big pain au chocolate (croissant with chocolate), a small slice of baguette, a glass of orange juice and a jug of hot chocolate. Yup, this is what happens when you are feeding for 2!

CAP FREHEL

After the big breakfast, we checked out at 11am and set off for our next destination – Saint Malo! We decided to drive along the coast and chanced upon Cap Frehel. A beautiful place with many tourists stopping by to enjoy the scenery. Although it was bright and sunny, the view was hazy. We wondered if it was due to the volcanic ash.

SAINT MALO

Finally, the walled city of Saint Malo. Walled cities seemed popular in France. Well, I guess unless you are sited on a cliff (like those in Provence), it made sense to build walls against your enemies and the raging sea.

The wall separating the city and the sea. That’s us in the little shadows sticking out. Heh.

That’s a prison below. Nice place for a prison though I believe it gets really cold in winter.

Saint Malo was swamped with families armed with sand buckets and picnic baskets.

Quite a nice contrast to have a beach next to your city. The sand was soft and awash with seaweeds and shells. We were looking for mussels since Brittany is famous for its seafood. Of course the seagulls got to them before we did.

Below : The view of the walled city from the Prison.

I love the contrasts between the rocks, the seaweeds, the sand and the water. It was really tempting to dive right into the sea but since no one was doing it. It seems best and safe to follow!

Lunch Time! The navigators hard at work, punching on their iphones to look for recommended restaurants in the area. Apart from its seafood. Brittany is famous for crepes of course! We chanced upon this creperie which had our friends dreaming about days after. It was so good, they ordered double portions of the ‘super complete’ akin to an English Big Breakfast of mushrooms, gooey gruyere cheese, ham, tomatoes and sunny side up wrapped in the crispy crepe. I had a crepe with Breton sausage and butter. Simple but delicious! Normandy apples are a feature in their desserts too and were awesome.

After the satisfying lunch, we took a little walk around the city (below right pic is the entrance to the old town). After which, it was a 4 hours drive back to Fontainebleau again. Tiring but fun. Great job hubby! You always get us home safe and sound!