Sunday, September 25, 2011

Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage days): Victor Hugo

Every year France organizes Les Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage days). The public is given the opportunity to which a variety of monument which are usually off bounds. Right from le Palais de l'Elysée (residence of the president), the sénat, l'Assemblé Nationale, in fact every single monument undertaken by the government is opened to the general public during an entire weekend in September. Of course an idea that has a lot of success for over 30 year now. Other countries like India should take up such kind of interesting ventures in order to encourage the random public to understand, value and protect their very own heritage. So Monsieur S., the brother and me decided to visit Victor Hugo's house which is located at Place des Vosges in Paris. Originally I wanted to see the house of the president but no one was keen on waiting in queue for 8 hours with me, so we had to drop that idea and think of another monument that excited people a little less. Victor Hugo is undoubtedly one of the world's most influential writers, poet and politician, made famous by his works like Les Miserables, Notre Dame de Paris, etc.
Every visit in Paris is filled with the discovery of beautiful things. Tobacco free cafés and tobacco filled térrasses, a pistacchio green autobianchi which drove to France all the way from Italy (thanks to Monsieur S. for details on said car), very green trees at the start of autumn and two cute dogs huddled together on a cold gray sidewalk.. ah Paris! je t'aime :)

Arriving at Victor Hugo's house, you are immediately bowled over by the amazing buildings surrounding his, you wait anxiously for your turn to enter into the uber chic apartment of one of your favourite people in the world.
You enter. You see. You love. You want to read everything he wrote all over again. 
Like every other uptown Parisian appart, Victor Hugos' doesn't fail to impress. There's so many details, so many porcelain beauties, chandeliers, etc.
But your favourite item is the quill pen you find in the inner most room of the apartment, where magic was created by candlelight, sweat and stress. You leave the house happy and inspired, ready to spread the word to your students, your blog, your family that Victor Hugo still lives through words. Powerful words.
Later you walk along the Seine which is always eventful. You decide that sometime soon you will try visiting Paris by boat/ par les bateaux-mouches.
You arrive at Notre Dame de Paris. Coincidence! Did Victor Hugo want you to open your eyes wide and really take in his muse? I wish to think yes. 
On looking at the cathedral, unlike for the tourists present, all that unfolds before you is the entire scene from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. You can sense the fury, the betrayal, the treachery, the sorrow and ofcourse the eternal love, witnessed only by two other people in the world: Victor Hugo and his eternal Notre Dame de Paris.

Paris bloqué

Ô ville, tu feras agenouiller l'histoire.
Saigner est ta beauté, mourir est ta victoire.
Mais non, tu ne meurs pas. Ton sang coule, mais ceux
Qui voyaient César rire en tes bras paresseux,
S'étonnent : tu franchis la flamme expiatoire,
Dans l'admiration des peuples, dans la gloire,
Tu retrouves, Paris, bien plus que tu ne perds.
Ceux qui t'assiègent, ville en deuil, tu les conquiers.
La prospérité basse et fausse est la mort lente ;
Tu tombais folle et gaie, et tu grandis sanglante.
Tu sors, toi qu'endormit l'empire empoisonneur,
Du rapetissement de ce hideux bonheur.
Tu t'éveilles déesse et chasses le satyre.
Tu redeviens guerrière en devenant martyre ;
Et dans l'honneur, le beau, le vrai, les grandes moeurs,
Tu renais d'un côté quand de l'autre tu meurs.
                                                 - Victor Hugo

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lazy Girl foods: Fusilli pasta, fresh cream and bacon

Most evenings I find myself in the kitchen racking my brains for a decent meal. I am très paresseuse so I look for less elaborate but delicious answers. Pasta if cooked with the right ingredients can go from drab to fab in seconds. Here's one of my quick go to meals for le dîner.
  • Take your pasta, preferably Fusilli (it's the corkscrew shaped pasta which is easily found in your local super marts), bring it to boil in a casserole and add salt according to your needs. Add a bouillon cube/ maggie cube in the casserole for that "extra" flavour.
  • Meanwhile in a wok or large frying pan, add les lardons (bacon cubes) or any meat of your choice. If meat isn't your thing, then tuna or salmon is the way to go. Use olive oil for fish and no oil if you're going with the bacon. 
  • The most important ingredient to have is your trusty herbes de provence (mixture of herbs which are readily available in local stores), some thyme, pepper, aneth (dill in English) and other herbs of your choice! 
  • Add mushrooms to the herb infusion, following by an egg. Stir the mixture so that the egg coats all the ingredients in the pan. 
  • Test if your fusilli are done, drain and add to the large pan. Add some butter and a few spoons of la crème fraîche (fresh cream). Mix the pasta well with the ingredients in the pan. Add more herbs and salt if you wish. 
  • Close the pan and let your pasta simmer for a few minutes. 
  • Serve with wine of choice :)

Return of the prodigal blogger

I know I've been ignoring my blog for the past five months now. I have no excuses except that I have been so lazy. So let's recap all the amazing and not so amazing things that happened.

1. My contract came to an end with the lovely Collège in Saint Valéry. It broke my heart to leave my amazing students and the staff members who were really kind to me. I had the most amazing experience in this tiny little French town and my last day was spent smiling and teary eyed! My kiddos threw me a little surprise party, I myself had prepared tons of muffins for the staff and my favourite students, my mentors gifted me a beautiful book on Normandy and my students wrote me tiny little thank you notes. 
I miss Saint Valéry en Caux, that charming little village along the breathtaking alabaster coastline. sigh.
2. I moved into a cute little appartment not far from la ville magnifique de Paris! Though it can never replace my actual soul home in Goa, it will have to suffice for now. 
3. Monsieur S. came to visit my family and me in Goa and my family really loved him and he loved them and Goa too! pictures coming soon..
4. I went through another year of visa ordeals, work contracts, rent deposits payments, etc and things are only now falling into place.
5. My first real job starts on Monday the 26th. You know that place where you have to wear a well ironed shirt and no jeans? yup, I will work there. 
6. Among the not so amazing things to happen was me dropping my macbook at the airport. Tip: never travel by Royal Jordanian airlines because they are neurotic about their rules with extra baggage. I was too stubborn to throw away my precious English paperbacks and decided to stuff them into my sling laptop bag. And while walking through the Queen Alia International Airport, just as my luck would want, the strap gave way! 
7. I completely forgot to renew the Apple protection plan and hence have to pay for all the repair work myself. I haven't yet had the courage to take it to the apple store since I know the repairs will cost me a kidney. So when I have my first salary, I have decided to treat my self to Apple post-sales services.
8. Other things, I have been doing are 
  • ignoring my blog
  • collecting paper bags
  • eating lots of French food, 
  • learning how to make world cuisine
  • missing Indian and home food
  • buying tons of rings (my new fetish) 
  • missing my family, my cat, and the dogs
  • planning my classes  
  • wondering if I should start learning Italian 
  • falling in love over and over again with the same man
  • and the usual trying to get my bohemian self to start facing reality.
  • and deciding that if that doesn't happen, I'm still happy amongst my amusing musings :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011