April 28, 2014

Home is where your friends are

Saturday night and I'm checking my Facebook before I hop into bed to discover - much to my surprise - a sister request. A smile covers my face and I have tears in my eyes.

I am not a person prone to proclaim being part of a clique nor do I declare being someone's sister on social media but this request goes way back. It made me wonder how come our bond is soo strong?

We met in our early teens. One boy wanted to go out with me and his best friend was dating my best friend. However, when the romance was all over two weeks later, the three of us somehow stuck together. Together we went through some pretty important stages in our lives and eventhough we are not part of each others every day routine anymore, I do believe what binds us, are our childhood memories. Litte did we know that they would be so strong as to accompany us into our 50s!

Two months ago, I received an SMS out of the blue from Swiss Boy, the Swissest of my two buddies stating: "Through all these years, you two are the only constants in my life. Thanks for being there." Needless to say I was reaching for a hankie.

Today, I receive a request from my Cool Tiger buddy asking me to be his sister! It might seem silly to some but I am touched... deeply so. I never realised quite how much our bond ment to these two boys, I figured it was my female instinct that cherished this friendship beyond borders.

It was I who travelled far and wide only to come back to my roots - rarely but religiously - and celebrate our friendship over a dinner à trois. I made a point of giving them hell when they didn't visit me, after I finally moved down the road (because Lugano is literally next door to Zürich compared to Buenos Aires), I send them Christmas updates every year, I have their photo in my living room...

...but today I know - more than ever - that home is where your friends are, not only a place where you grew up! And home is also where your heart is and mine is definately with them as theirs is with me! So, yes my dear friend, I am honoured to call you my brother! Both of you!

April 24, 2014

He's simply unbeatable...

It wasn't just a simple trip to the hairdressers, it was an outing to discover Luis' new beauty salon. Luis, the hair stylist (because THAT'S what he is), tall and charismatic but above all professional with the right touch of creativity.

My Colombian friend has come a very long way and by the look of his face this morning, all the hardship along the path was worth it.

The entire gang of what my husband calls the-sex-in-the-city-girls have been following Luis from the little family-run hair salon where he started his career in Spain over a decade ago. We all drove out of our way and religiously kept our appointments in the up-beat studio a few years later. He does wonders with my thin, bristly hair and produces miracles with my Latina girlfriends' hair.

So today, the master of beauty and style proudly showed me around his own studio. Bright, white, modern, funky and sleek with warm touches of infused light and colour here and there. 

But it didn't stop here. I did not only have one or two but FOUR people attending my every wish. I nearly slipped off into la la land while my head was being massaged at the same time as my hands as well as enjoying the built-in seat massage. What more could a girl ask for? Seriously! I hate to admit though, that the men were more professional than the ladies!

The cherry on the cake is that the entire princess treatment cost one third of what I would have paid in Paris! Therefrore I am seriously considering taking a day off next month to hop on an easyjet flight to Madrid JUST to have my hair cut. Wanna join me?

April 22, 2014

Expat friendship at its best

It was the year 2004, we had just moved to Madrid. A mum turned to me in the school playground and said: "I love the colour tone of your lipstick." These are the kind of little sentences that stick in your mind years after you have relocated to a new place. Comments by people who are practically strangers and with eight little (superficial if you will) words make you feel so much better and turn into friends for life. That's all it took.

Today - ten years down the lane - around a birthday table of what my daughter would define as BFFs, my friend turned to me and said the same thing, and nearly had me in tears. Looking around I found myself having lunch with ten ladies I had met ten years ago and each had a special place in my heart.

During the past decade, we had seen each other through good times and bad, some had moved only to come back, some had stayed put and some of us were visiting but here we were reunited as if we'd just seen each other yesterday at school drop-off and the volume of the lunch conversation could have topped a Ricky Martin concert!

So, when I came home to read an article about the Expat cycle by a fellow blogger, I only smiled and thought she is right about how your friends become your expat family. “It’s the one family you actually get to choose. That’s what makes it so good”.

It was as if we had never left each other. The only real change is that my shade of lipstick has evolved from bright pink to dark purple!

April 21, 2014

A claustrophobic experience

It was bound to happen sooner or later. All those museum visits over the past 30 months and every single one had something that struck me, tickeled my fancy, intrigued me, left me gobsmacked, enlightened me, made me smile. Each one was food for thought and - as Parisians do - material for discussion over dinner. Every exhibit was worth it's money, after all I live in Paris, la capital de la mode et de la culture until...

... last week, after dropping Expat girl off at her drama rehearsal I took myself off to yet another late night expedition, this time to Bill Viola's exhibit at the Grand Palais.

I happily strolled through the entrance to find myself surrounded by a pitch black chamber. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. The space was devided into smaller box-shaped compartments all more or less dark. Strange grunting noises came from one room on videos unfolding at a meditative pace while a breathless man was grasping for air on a screen in another. Dog fangs were springing towards me in one cube while in another video a man and a woman were slapping each other. I just skipped the last partition entirely, choosing not to watch people holding their breath underwater.

Bill Viola might be the most celebrated exponent of video art tempting to express his emotional and spiritual journey through great metaphysical themes - life, death and transfiguration - but as far as I am concerned it was the most haunting, disturbing and claustrophobic experience I have ever had in a museum.

Not even worth discussing over dinner...

April 15, 2014

Art Nouveau in the 16th Arrondisement

I've been hopping on and off the metro for nearly three years now. I have admired the green iron metro signs, railings and light posts but never bothered to go beyond.

This week, I was given the opportunity to explore my hood, i.e. the chic residential Parisian neighbourhood and understand how architecture has evolved from the influence of pioneering works such as the Fondation Le Corbusier (little did I know it was in my back yard, so to speak...) and the Art Nouveau movement in France.

In fact, it was in Paris in 1895 that this burgeoning style found a home at the Maison de l’Art Nouveau – and it was here the movement found its name. Thanks to a grand exhibition at Paris’ 1900 Exposition Universelle, Art Nouveau’s popularity soon went global.

Apparently, the 16th district developed in the 19th century as a leafy residential suburb for Paris, and was annexed in 1860. It is famous for its variety of attractive and imaginatively designed houses, several of which were by Hector Guimard, designer of the famous Paris metro exits in 1900, which look like undulating plant forms. Well, I am now that bit wiser!

With its swirling forms, intertwining patterns and fluid motifs, Art Nouveau is a style synonymous with Paris, and one that perfectly sums up the city’s timeless elegance and artistic verve. In the late 19th century artists rebelled against the linear, restrictive forms of classical art, architecture and design, turning instead to nature for organic inspiration.

During our tour, we studied the functional poetry of the facades of the Hotel Mezzara and the Castel Beranger, both designed by M.Guimard, and some excellent examples of avant-garde villas by Robert Mallet-Stevens, a contemporary of Le Corbusier, in the modern style of the early 20th century.

They tell me Chez Maxim's is a veritable museum of Art Nouveau design. I have yet to check out what was once the haunt of Paris’ courtesans and remains a Paris institution.

April 7, 2014

Jogging through the park one morning...

One sunny morning in April, running through the Bois de Boulogne, minding my own business, absorbed in my chick-lit audiobook, looking out for my friends - les Saveurs Pompiers - avoiding the endless dog poop, stearing clear from the Parisiennes with their handsome personal trainers, running by the tired-looking courtesans, admiring the bright yellow tulips along my track, enjoying the sunshine reflecting from the water, breathing the crisp morning air, thinking of my next bar of chocolate I will devour later in the day... what do I bump into ... but a ski lift cabin... parked litterally across my path!!! Goes to show: in Paris anything goes!

April 6, 2014

Around the world for lunch

It's the time of year again when the children's school makes a point of honouring the world's cultures in a day long festivity. With spring, along comes the rush of organising International Day. Over 60 nations are represented in the student body. If you're thinking this sounds like the United Nations, I assure you that pick-up at Primary School certainly feels like it.

Parents, children, and teachers from all four corners of the globe prepare for days, sometime weeks for this special day where the smells of International cuisine permeate the halls and the sounds of music drift out of classrooms. The campus bustles with activity, laughter and friendship. Every nation displays national customs, food, and items of interest with pride. Some are more popular than others for obvious reasons. We all love the US s'mores, the Italian pizza and the Japanese sushi but Brazil beats them all. They actually serve Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime, a big hit with the adults. Spain are not far behind with their red wine and Jamon Iberico. No, the Russians were not serving caviar - unfortunately - but exquisite bubliks. I tasted the Malay dish nasi lemak, was tempted by the Filipino adobo and munched out with Australian frog in the pond.

You're wondering which nation I was representing? Italy, of course, by special request of my children. Also, it would be hard to make Raclette for 600 people all by myself.

I am still waiting for the Swiss Family Robinson to arrive and give me a hand...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...