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Scammers in the city

Oh they were bold alright. Very bold. Had I not witness it myself, I would have a harder time believing it.

Paris, for many, is an idyllic and nostalgic city. And romantic. And classic. And [fill in appropriate adjectives as you wish]. On a recent drizzly afternoon, Frédéric and I were out on a walking tour of Île de la Cité after which I decided we should extend our time out with a stroll towards the general direction of Place de la concorde. Despite the weather, he humoured me and went along my whimsical request.

From Pont Neuf, we took a scenic walk via Jardin de Tuileries and had just detoured onto Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor when we saw an old gypsy woman trying to persuade a couple that they have dropped a massive gold ring. As if watching an episode of a telenovela, we sat down at a bench nearby and I whispered to F that the couple had just been had when they accepted the ring. He was confused.

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Keeping up, you and I

I know I’ve been a pretty sporadic blogger for a few months now. A good deal of things happened, and there are so much that I really want to share with you, whether it be about Paris or elsewhere or something else altogether. So I’m working on catching up on the news right now, new and old. Yup, running parallel time lines. It is not easy to try to juggle it all, but slowly and surely I’ll get there.

It would be easy for me to just decide to forget about the last few months and get on from where I am right now, but I made the decision not to. Just bear with me for this couple of months while I get things sorted, and then we should be on smooth sailing. Yell at me then if I fail to stay disciplined ;)

In the mean time, I know it must not have been easy for you to keep track of my haphazard postings. One post I’m talking about the most current thing, and the next I’m back to something which happened in March (and back-dated as such too). Even I had to create a list so I can keep track myself of what I’ve managed to share and what else I need to write about!

A couple of ways you can follow this blog without missing any of the posts: (1) follow this blog on Google Reader, as it compiles the posts as they are published regardless of the date stated on the post; or (2) via the comment system of blog entries, tick “Notify me of new posts by email”. If you notice the lack of mention of RSS feed, that’s because it comes in the order of the dates of posts. I don’t think that’s going to be very helpful at all.

Thanks for sticking around – I really appreciate it!

A taste of Indonesia

Visiting friends always make the best excuse to eat in new restaurants (well, new to us anyway) and we took advantage of it recently to check out an Indonesian restaurant not far from our place. Restaurant Indonesia – I know, not the most imaginative of name but does the job perfectly – is just steps away from Luxembourg Garden, thus location-wise, it’s central and a walk in Luco after lunch would have been a good option. When it is not raining, that is.

The restaurant is long and narrow, and upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the sole server(!) waiting on all the tables in the dining room. On a Saturday afternoon in a restaurant full of diners, that was an impressive feat. She left us to peruse the menu at our leisure – a small basket of prawn crackers was also deposited in the centre of the table so we can snack in the mean time – and we decided to go for the rijstafel (i.e. rice table – a Dutch word in origin, bearing in mind Indonesia was formerly a Dutch colony) where we would have a selection of dishes to share between us instead of restricting ourselves to just a handful few main dishes.

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The (failed) art of giving directions

I was recently catching up on Episode 2 of The France Project (it’s all about stereotypes) and right near the start, an Indian guy interviewed by Katia talked about helpfulness of people in giving directions. Instead of feeling all nice and fuzzy that Paris came across so positively , I actually started to feel guilty.

No, no, I have not been rude and ignoring requests for help.

My guilt lies in that I felt I haven’t always given them the best advices.

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Can we stop now with the love locks?

It is no longer a mere curiosity.

Love-lock bridges have cropped up in various locations worldwide, and Paris is no exception. On a number of occasions, I have even had the honour of giving direction to the “Pont des Clés”, as one tourist put it. It has been talked about in plenty of columns and blog articles, some of the recent ones include:

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Sooo… I’m a Monsieur?

I have good reason to believe, in most countries of the world, my name gives a clear indication that I’m female, owner (or carrier?) of XX chromosomes. In the past, I’ve used the title “Miss” and “Ms” interchangeably and still there wasn’t an issue of mistaken gender even for someone who hasn’t yet met me in person to confirm that I look like one.

So imagine the great fun I’m having in France where Lilian, sans E à la fin, is famously masculine in nature. This country even proves it by putting forth a famous international export in the form of Lilian Thuram. Here, the pronounciation is not how you’d imagine it’ll be pronounced elsewhere. It’s a guttural-sounding “Lee-Leon” that’s correct given the orthographe.

Liliane is how they like to change things up here for me.

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Favourite pâtissiers of Paris

I have a few favourite pastry shops that I inevitably drop by far more often than I should. Or than my bank counsellor would advise. Given there are a good few other great pastry shops aorund town, I definitely must widen my horizon but the problem is, I normally try to not overindulge when it comes to sweets consumption. That leaves the times when I have visitors. Since they can’t eat their way around Paris by pastry only (or can they? hmmmm…) the options get whittle down too quickly and far too easily. It’s always back to the old favourites.

Pierre Hermé
Pierre Hermé should really gives me a carte de fidelité. I live far too conveniently between his only two shops (for now) that sell pastries in Paris, and this year’s continuous launch of macaron of the month had me popping in and out more times than I can count. Reality hits when I could tell the macarons apart nowadays without having to consult the little chart they give and I have an entire set of glasses courtesy of the émotions I’ve eaten… I know, I know, I should lay low on PH for a little while.

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Oh yes, do go to Abri

Barely a couple of weeks following its opening, Nico’s brother suggested that we met for lunch at “a sandwicherie near Poissonnière”. It was all rather mysterious and upon arrival, I was confused by the name City Café Sandwich but something clicked – I have just glanced through a café-bistrot recommendation a few days earlier and this was the place! Gourmet sandwicherie on Mondays and Saturdays, and restaurant serving fixed-menus from Tuesday to Friday, there is already quite a buzz surrounding this venture by Japanese chef Katsuaki “Katsy” Okiyama, formerly of Robuchon and l’Agapé.

Despite arriving at noon (it opens on Saturday at 12.30pm, although many articles I’ve seen stated Saturday opening hour at 10am or noon), a queue has started gathering outside Abri and when it came to our turn to be seated, there simply wasn’t a table available for 5 pax. There were only a couple of potential tables for 5-6, except they have been split to accommodate groups of 3-4. The rest which remained were tables for two.

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Views from la Tour Eiffel

It has been a good many years since I last ascended the Eiffel Tower. If I recall correctly, the last time I went up would be in 2004 with Beejay (his 21st birthday present; a trip to Europe from Andrew and I!) but Andrew assured me it would have been 2006 when he was visiting Paris with me and his then new wife. Either way, 6 years, 8 years, those were a lifetime away. Fast forward and what do you know – us three siblings visiting anew together, them with spouses and kid in tow!

Given the fame of the Iron Lady, to have each deck of the tower filled with visitors is nothing new. But the number of pushy “photographers” trying to jostle for a spot of their favourite views, that’s a whole new level of crazy. It mattered not to them that they were pushing aside a lady carrying a young child but luckily my niece is pretty much the zen-kind of little girl, so she just looked at them curiously then got back to surveying her surroundings.

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Playing tourist, family-style

It has been a well-charged fortnight with one visitor after another (it’s like we’re running a B&B, but free!) and this week, it’s time for a little family vacation. With my brothers and I living in different countries, a get-together for all of us has never been easy. We’d be so lucky if we manage to all be in the same place together once a year for a few days. Even more precious is when we could squeeze in a rare holiday within this period of time. They are in town to visit and I, for one, am very very happy!

While I’ve always maintain the philosophy of playing tourist on a regular basis – you know, visits to various (lesser-known) museums and walking tours to explore different neighbourhoods – this time, we’re talking the major sights. We’re even talking chez Mickey! Ultimately, our schedule will be dictated by a toddler, otherwise known as my adorable niece. Lucky girl gets to visit Paris at 8 months old!

For now, as time is precious, I’m just going to share this one photo which I adore. Beejay took a series of these by stealth when I offered to hold Elise while her parents worked on snapping some holiday shots. I normally shy away from the camera and prefer to stay behind the lenses, but this works out really well and I think this photo will be printed very soon for safekeeping.

I’ll be back in a few days with more posts (accck all the drafts sitting there which I really really should get out!) and till then, have a wonderful week. :D

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