French women… Oh la la!


I was a pretentious git in my twenties. Often visiting library@esplanade to loan out artsy stuff.

Most of the art house movies never did make a lasting impression on me. One did – well, one scene did: Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris, where a butt-naked Brigitte Bardot asked her husband Paul if he liked her body part A, body part B…

Tu les trouves jolies mes fesses? (Do you find my ass pretty?)

Oui, tres (Yes. Very.)

Et mon visage? (And my face?)

Aussi. (Yes.)

Tout? Ma bouche, mes yeux, mon nez, mes oreilles? (All of me? My mouth, my eyes, my nose, my ears?)

Oui, tout. (Yes, all of you.)

Donc tu m’aimes totalement? (So you love me totally?)

Oui, je t’aime totalement, tendrement, tragiquement. (Yes, totally, tenderly, tragically.)


Oddly enoughly, the francophile in me never developed fierce cravings for snails…


I was in my French phase then – a phase that never did go away completely, for I still spurt out random grammatically incorrect French sentences.

But let me just state for the record, Brigitte Bardot had a beautiful ass.

There was also made an attempt to stir up interest in ballet when I chanced upon Marguerite and Armand, the synopsis had said “The stellar world premiere featuring Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, as the star-crossed lovers that would become their signature roles.”

Ballet never did stick.

I started my music education with heavyweights like Verdi and Puccini. Aida and Turandot bored me – certainly not because of plots that were wanting, but from a mind that was wanting. Only the catchy – and I suspect it was precisely because of that – La Donna è Mobile from Rigoletto did take root. I didn’t understand the Italian lyrics, of course, but only remembered it was sung by the character of the duke and spoke of women who are fickle like the wind.

Years later, on a whim for something upbeat but with no desire for The Sound of Music, I listened to La Donna è Mobile on YouTube, and had from its “suggestions” list found Sylvie Guillem, the 2nd French lady in this story; this is also where this story comes full circle: The French dancer announced her retirement in early November, and I’m placing watching her live in action as the top spot in my bucket list (sharing equal lust factor with watching Madonna live).

And it wasn’t even her fame – for I didn’t know Guillem from Eve then – that drew me to the clip, it was the title “Maurice Béjart – Boléro (2002)”. I had thought it was a classical piece by a French composer (see above, my French phase).

Béjart was indeed French, but he was a dancer-choreographer with his own very successfully dance company, the Béjart Ballet Lausanne (thank you Mr Wikipedia!) – though the late dancer-choreographer-entrepreneur did share the same first name as the composer of Boléro, Maurice Ravel.

Even though I never got ballet, I understood Guillem’s body language. The choreography compelling as it was, the clincher for me was her flawless executions on the platform. Seemingly fluid limbs move in tune with every beat, her intense energy and concentration that in turn energised and compelled the audience to follow every fall of her arm, every turn of her torso, her every step, her every breath. And till this day, whenever I listen to Ravel’s Boléro, in my mind’s eye, Guillem’s beautiful form always accompanies.

Sylvie Guillem will take her final curtain bow next December in Tokyo, plenty of time to catch the prima ballerina in action, plenty of time for me to save up as well.

See you in Tokyo!


Summer Favourites


I have never experienced winter. Though it would be nice to build a snowman and sip hot cocoa in front of a fireplace, I have no doubts I’ll be complaining about the bitter chill, just like I’m bitching about this Indian summer.


So to thank my lucky starts, I’m sharing a list of my favourite summery beauty products, starting with this gorgeously scented body oil from Sothys made with lotus and cherry blossom. I could wax lyrical about the scent, but it’s its staying power that I truly adore.

Tip: Although the oil absorbs fairly fast into the skin, I spray onto my palms to warm it up for a speedier absorption and to minimise wastage.

Domestic goddess tip: Apply in the bathroom to prevent getting the oil on your stuff and prevent it from mixing with dust – a real nightmare to get rid of, taking time away from your other goddess duties.

(Note: Intrigued by the Egyptian goddess icon, I googled the Sothys Institute, and discovered a whole universe of yet more intrigue.

You have heard of the value and the elaborate picking process of the May rose – the main ingredient in Chanel No. 5. Well, the Sothys institute is just as dedicated to the ingredients that go into its products. Like Chanel who has its own May rose farm, the institute has a garden where plants are studied. Visitors are most welcome and a restaurant within the compounds serve seasonal food.

This is a story that deserves more research, and will form part of my French education 🙂

In the meantime, go to Les Jardins Sothys’ website to find out more.)

Vive la France!

On this particularly blah afternoon while listening to Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune, my favourite classical piece – that I’m almost a little ashamed to say Twilight the movie introduced me to – on YouTube, I got to wondering about the composer, and thus turned to the other Internet giant, Wikipedia, for answers.

Claude Debussy grew up in a privileged house, and started his musical education at the age of 7. His talent won him the coveted Prix de Rome, a scholarship initiated by Louis XIV, the flamboyant Sun King, that allowed winners to go to Rome and study – and thus emulate – the great works from antiquity and the Renaissance (thank you once again, Wikipedia).

Prix de Rome winners would stay at the Palazzo Mancini before 1803; when they would then stay at the Villa Medici.

Prix de Rome winners would stay at the Palazzo Mancini before 1803; when they would then stay at the Villa Medici.

It was from the Prix de Rome Wikipedia page that I learnt of the prize’s rejection of several vastly talented individuals such as Edgar Degas who painted lots and lots of dancers – that made up, in fact, more than half his oeuvre – and Édouard Manet whose most famous works include Luncheon on the Grass featuring naked women but clothed men, and Olympia featuring a nude woman starring right out of the canvas, and directly at the gazer – that art experts speculate to be the portrait of a prostitute. Le scandale!

And because I identify myself as an underdog and a Francophile, I have decided to immerse myself in the French arts and culture.

This will culminate in an extended stay in France – sort of an Eat, Pray, Love, but all within the French borders.

Try sipping chardonnay from these critters!

Try sipping chardonnay from these critters!

And just so I don’t make a fool of myself by mistaking vair for verre“Un vair de vin, s’il vous plait.” – the former refers to squirrel fur and the latter glass, I shall begin a series of posts about the French culture and arts.

Stay tuned!