Tag Archives: France

Seeing “The weight of One Self”

"The weight of One Self" - marble sculpture of height 2.7m by artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, in Lyon, France.
“The weight of One Self” – sculpture of height 2.7m by artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, in Lyon, France.
I look at my limp
body in my arms and I
wonder who saved whom.
I can only hold
the weight of my own conscience,
talk the truth I know.
Never a hero
was made by saving himself-
Completely untrue.


You can read more about this philosophically forceful sculpture here.

When I see my portrait

Laura Zimmermann is a talented Parisian artist whom I know because of good fortune: One of my husband’s best friend had the good sense to date her or we would have never known this outwardly shy but inwardly bold and resolute young woman. She also has the distinction of being the only vegetarian French person I know. She’s more than an acquaintance. She attended my wedding in India in 2013. But sadly, due to logistics and lifestyles we have been just Facebook friends in reality. But all that changed quite suddenly.

I realised that she had painted me from a photograph, which she took at the wedding in India. I happened by it as I was scrolling aimlessly though my Facebook feed and it took me by surprise. This event by itself has mitigated most of my general disdain for sharing in social media. I told my husband about the painting and we decided to contact Laura through her man and ask if we could purchase it.

We have had two weddings, Mr. Pink and I; one in India and one in Switzerland. The wedding in India was with a heavy purpose, and not at all legally binding (hence we had the Swiss wedding). It was a religious ceremony and I wanted it done so as to introduce him to my culture and people in the most hectic, time-consuming and fun way possible. What else is India if not hectic, time-consuming and fun? Though we have thousands of beautiful photographs from both the weddings we didn’t have even one picture of us blown up and framed. In fact I have printed out just one photo on a normal A4 hi-bond paper in postcard format to put in a frame that could accommodate a picture much larger. Contrary to Beyoncé and Jay-Z we are lazy in love.

Now that the opportunity to put up a memory worth adorning our naked walls presented itself – in acrylic on canvas, no less – we couldn’t just let it pass. I found it rather poignant that it also happened to be the first original painting we decided to invest in. Not to mention it made us feel extra good to show support for an independent budding artist.

They came by one Sunday afternoon for an Indian lunch and to give us our painting. From when Laura unveiled the canvas from its bubble wrap cocoon to now, this very instant, I haven’t been able to get away with just a momentary glance  at it. It draws me in and each time at first I look at it as though it wasn’t me in it. This wasn’t a moment from my life. There’s something calm and content about that woman. Something angelic and reassuring. That’s not how I remember feeling at the time. All I seem to remember is the stress and the need to satisfy everyone else’s needs; to make sure none of the Europeans fell sick from all the Indian food and that none of the Indians felt abandoned because of all the Europeans at the wedding. That’s what I remember…at first.

Memory is a tricky thing isn’t it? It’s interesting how I forget that actually during the three days that the wedding celebrations lasted, on the inside, I was content and happy. I was satisfied with my life decision; happy about the fact that I was allowed to marry my true love despite him being of another race/religion/nationality; reassured by the presence of hundreds of well-wishers; calmed by the knowledge that I didn’t have to hide my relationship status anymore from anyone and finally I did feel united with the universe. All the elements that we were exchanging with our immediate surroundings, all of which came from the inception of the universe – cycled through planets, asteroids, plants, animals, people, dead relatives – were with me that day as I vowed to be married to my man not because a legal authority demanded it but because I needed my people to know, acknowledge and respect him as my chosen one. Everything was with me and within me as I made that decision known and I was radiating with everything.

I look at the painting again.

Memory is a tricky thing indeed.

Yes, the woman she has painted – THAT woman – is me.

Thank you Laura for helping me remember.

Painting by Laura Zimmermann
Painting by Laura Zimmermann. Photo of the painting (c) Sam Rappaz
Also, Laura is a wonderful photographer. I have used some of her images in a post that has won a blog contest. Read it here. 
Please visit Laura's website to see more of her brilliant work inspired by the people in her life and those she has met in her travels around the world. Link: http://laura-zimmermann.com

My Favourite Things, Verse 2

Continuing with My Favourite Things, as part of Cee's Fun Foto Challenge on things mentioned in songs.
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles,
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

As before I am posting photographs that I consider come close enough to what the verse lists,

1. Seeing Camargue horses run

Festival of Virgins, Stes Marie de la Mer, Camargue

My husband and I visited Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, in the region of Camargue situated in the south of France, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in 2012. The town is famous as a pilgrimage destination for the Roma people. It is a lovely town with a unique history. You can read more about it here and here. We (unintentionally) happened to be there on the last sunday of July which is the day for the annual Festival of Virgins (Fête des Vierges). It was started in 1904 by Frederic Mistral, the great Occitan poet. It is a way to preserve the Occitan culture and lifestyle of the region and entails the running of the famous Camargue horses by the cavaliers (horsemen) from the region and young women parade around town dressed in traditional Provençal dresses. You may find them walking or looking majestic on the beautiful horses. You can catch a glimpse of these women in the picture above. The thunder of hundreds of horse hooves knocking on the asphalt of narrow streets in Saintes Marie that day filled the salty sea breeze with sweet and wondrous excitement.

2. Chocolate tart and Apfel Strudel at Café Diglas in Vienna

Cafe Sacher

Yes, I am remembering a Viennese café that is not Café Sacher. We went there as well but we fell in love with Café Diglas for its beautiful atmosphere. It had an ‘old Vienna’ feel. The interiors are marvellous and the café doesn’t attract as many tourists as Sacher. I am not a fan of the apple strudel as such but I have to say that the one at Café Diglas (the pie you see at the back on the photo) was delicious and went perfectly with the creamy Wiener Melange (oh how I love you!). The other tart (the one with the whipped cream on it) was most probably a chocolate cake. I don’t remember its name but I do remember it being divine! To be noted: Sacher torte is one of my favourite cakes of all times.

3. The church bells of Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral bells Seville cathedral bells

We walked up Giralda – the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral for the best views of the city of Seville. We weren’t disappointed! It took us 15 minutes and there were 34 ramps to scale. Phew! But you can always take a break in between at the little windows for some amazing views of the cathedral as you rise slowly above it. It’s well worth the effort. I fell in love with the bells at the top, that rang with the history of Medieval Europe.

4. I love swans

Swans Switzerland You can find swans in all lakes of Switzerland. They are territorial, hungry and always in love. I identify with them a 100%.

5. The Sound of Music is my favourite musical: The Tour continues…

gazebo, The Sound Of Music

Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg
Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

The famous ‘I am Sixteen, going on Seventeengazebo was made just for the movie and the scene was shot in Hollywood. It was later presented to the city of Salzburg and is now kept in the gardens of the Hellbrunn Palace which is a very fun visit on its own merit.

Mirabell gardens, Salzburg

The Mirabell Gardens as part of the Schloss (Palace) Mirabell, in the city of Salzburg, feature in the ‘Do Re Mi‘ Song heavily. The wall of bushes you see encloses a path on which the kids and Maria have ‘a long long way to run‘.

Does the fountain look familiar in the picture below? It should. Watch the video of the song again and you’ll notice it in the last few moments of the song. In the last verse of the song the children and Maria run up and down the steps of a garden in line with the notes. Those steps lead to the Mirabell Gardens and we see the hill with the Salzburg castle towering over the city in the background. Mirabell gardens, Salzburg In the last verse of the song the children and Maria run up and down the steps of a garden in line with the notes. Those steps lead to the Mirabell Gardens and we see the hill with the Salzburg castle towering over the city in the background.

For the post on verse 1 please click here.


I smiled with you in your box of genius
I grinned with you for your equitable meanness
I snickered with you for your veracity
I chuckled with you for your tenacity
I tittered with you on your mischief
I giggled with you on being a misfit
I cackled with you at everyone serious
I chortled with you poking fun at the nefarious
I laughed with you for you made sense
I guffawed with you at the world’s pretence

I shriek to see you killed for your right
I howl at this wretched sight
I roar at the futility of their act
I scream for more to detract
None of these verbs to be followed ‘with laughter’
None as capable to cajole the young into politics hereafter

I salute you: Dessinateurs – Proprietors of the Funnies
You will always be alive to me. It’s me who morts de rire.

Swiss cartoonist: Chappatte
‘Died Laughing’ by Swiss cartoonist Chappatte (shared on Facebook)

Day at the museum: Ways to be and not to be

Do's & Don'ts  at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (France, 2014)
Do’s & Don’ts at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (France, 2014)

In the exhibition rooms of the museum, everyone can: look, telephone, discuss, observe, eat, exchange, discover, laugh, run, marvel, smoke, hate, breathe, shout, rest, dream, reflect, touch, question, relish, photograph (with flash), imagine, [be] indignant, drink, wander, take their time, [be] moved, etc.

I love this poster we found at the Museum of Fine Arts, Lyon, France. It brought a smile to my face.

There’s always so much more you can do than what you should not.

I appreciate the small ways in which people try to reduce negativity, especially with notices that you wouldn’t particularly care to take note of.

Posted as an entry to this week's Cee's Which Way Challenge

A Frant

This is a rant about my recent trip to France. So, a ‘Frant’, if you will. Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and calmly put the baguettes back down on the table. This will take a bit longer than usual. Go, grab a chocolat chaud.

I love France (odd way to start a rant?). I love its culture – history, architecture, art, food, wine, la langue (bien sûr!) and the land itself. The diversity in its climate, vegetation and geography is unparalleled. My husband, Mr. Pink, and I dream of retiring in a quiet village in Provence – he, playing pétanque and drinking pastis while I, hmmm, play pétanque and drink pastis alongside him.

For our first Indian wedding anniversary last weekend we decided to make a quick getaway to Lyon, the second largest French metropolitan and easily driven to from where we live in Switzerland. Lyon is generally regarded as the capital of French gastronomy and Mr. Pink, who is a full-time epicure and a part-time everything else, just could not miss this chance to eat some ‘proper meat’. So off we went, without a care in the world.

St. John Baptist Cathedral

Mr. Pink had booked a serviced apartment a bit away from the city centre. All was fine. We didn’t have a great view but we didn’t mind. We are not picky people. The first afternoon was spent sightseeing.

A wonderfully rich and sumptuous anniversary dinner at the highly recommended Brasserie des Brotteaux – a French brasserie of more than 100 years of experience cooking ‘proper meat’ (or is it meat ‘proper’? I can’t tell; being Indian ‘n’ all.)

The next day we had a slow start. We are not the kinds who cram in a million things to do and have stressful vacations. No. It was time to smell the coffee and croissants at 11am, not 8.

First, the service lady at the hotel was rude; bakery lady even more so. Okay. Ignored.

It was still a nice day. We decided to explore Lyon further and so went to the tram stop to buy a couple of day tickets, which costed a bit more than 10 euros. We then noticed that the machine doesn’t take bills! Only coins and cards. Joy.

We managed to scrounge up some coins but then the machine refused to take our coins after about 8 euros! It spat out a ticket that asked us to get a refund from a ticketing office at the metro station. Super.

We got on the next tram to get to the station and we heard an announcement stating that there was a protest happening in the city centre. All public transport was suspended in the area and roads were blockaded. Great.

The tram stopped before it reached our stop and declared that it will not go any farther. Fantastic.

So we walked to the station, got to the ticketing office, waited, waited, got our money back and decided to walk to the city centre. Why not? We are young and able. Saw some nice buildings, interspersed with some intimidating riot police folk and lots of people picketing. Vive la révolution indeed but not very romantic.

Tired, we sauntered back in the evening only to have construction work with cranes and drills start at midnight right next to our room, on the railway lines. Oh! Did I not mention we had cargo railway lines next to our suite? Excellent.

A few hours later it subsided and we managed to get some sleep and be ready in time for the noon checkout. We went to reception to hand back the keys and were told that some cars had been broken into in the closed private parking of the hotel and our car was one of them! Supfantagelishiogrrrrrr.

 Yes, THAT happened.


The beautiful, black Lexus (with French registration) that was parked next to us was untouched. They knew which car was alarmed. The Lexus guy was sympathetic, even though he was not able to hide the relief and happiness in his voice or face. He said that a bunch of cars were broken into in a neighbouring garage as well. Before getting into his car he turned to us, shrugged his shoulders, tilted his head and just said, “Welcome to France!

We were then directed to the closest police station, which was situated on Route de la Charité. How appropriate. God must be French.

We have decided to try our luck in Marseille next.

What could possibly go wrong?