Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Greetings from my idea of heaven - the Cote d'Azur!

I wanted to share how much I have been enjoying the past couple of weeks holidaying in this gorgeous part of France. There are too many good things to describe in a short post - it is heaven for anyone who loves great cuisine, great places to drive to, fantastic art, beautiful sea etc.
What I want to share is my first ever perfume creation and I am off to make the second.
Grasse is rather close to the villa we are staying in (near Tourettes sur loup which is a beautiful medieval perched village and it happens to be the City of Violets - one of my favourite flowers) and after having visited Grasse several times in the past decade - I pondered that it would be a shame not to try and create a perfume.

I must say that that my first attempt was rather shockingly and surprisingly good (I know but what is the point of being modest in this self promoting world!). Actually the reason why I thought it was good is because even my rather critical husband thought so. For the sake of utter simplicity I called it Moi-Même No. 1 and I have created only 13 mls of it - sad huh??! I pray now that I will be able to recreate this in larger quantities to share with some of my fragrance loving friends as I have been wearing this the past few days.....

Today I am off to create another and will report when I can. Creating perfumes at my level is truly as much fun as cooking with superb ingredients and feeling satisfied with the creation. I have to say that there are many budding perfumers out there and I have had the opportunity to meet some over the past years. A perfumer had once mentioned to me that creating perfumes is a rather lonely activity and I admire all the ones who have been recognized for their rather magnificent creations. Creating like I am as a hobby is really different from creating with the idea of making a perfume attractive to the public.

I know that some of you have created some perfumes - would you like to share your experiences?
I may not be able to respond till I return home to Paris.
Hope you are all well and enjoying a gorgeous summer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Some perfume and beauty news..

On Tuesday, I visited the Annick Goutal boutique on the Champs - well there was nothing new except their skincare range which they seem to be concentrating on. There was a group of tourists and the boutique can barely hold four people at a time.
I needed to get a shower gel and off I went to Sephora on the Champs.

The music in Sephora drove me away - it was awful, loud and so tacky! I cannot understand what they try to achieve with such loud annoying music. For god's sake - i want to shop in peace not fearing the next war is about to descend. The crowd there makes you fear that you maybe caught up in a stampede any minute anyways!

I headed for some peace into the Guerlain boutique on Champs Elysees and had a wild time spritzing Violette Madame and Plus que Jamais. I am warming up to the latter perfume I must say! Oh dear - oh dear! I adore Violette Madame which lasts 10 mins on me - if that! It is an EDT of the weaker variety - some EDTs last on me - this one disappears in no time.

I had a rather frustrating time sticking my head into the wall cabinets where they have displayed some ornaments to represent the classics they are slowly about to relaunch. I made another huge effort to smell Kadine, Ode, Sous le vent and Cachet Jeune. This was possibly by 7th time doing this ritual and I promise you I could only smell Ode and Kadine -that too very faintly!

The SAs were as charming as ever and indulged me by spending lots of time with me and describing their new home range which is lovely:

Gorgeous candles at 60 euros (designed by Andree Putman - like she did for the interior design of the new boutique) and room sprays - 125 ml at 50 euros:

Bois des Indes - absolutely delightful for a sandalwood and spice lover.
Contes Tahitiens - smells of white flowers - Tiare?
Boudoir Venetiens - cannot remember much - it was OK - will write more
Hiver en Russie - leathery - lovely - cosy.

There are also incense sticks at 20 euros per packet.

Guerlain have also launched several shades of new Kisskiss lippies and a rather nice foundation called Fleur de teint. Please check

Frederic Malle's Carnal Flowers will be out for press in September. I called yesterday and spoke to a woman who told me that they will not be for sale for a few months. Anyone else know anything different? She mentioned November or even December - oh lord why that late and why not September. I am hoping she did not know much. Also wondering why I am getting impatient. I thought I was bored with that lot!

Have a fab time the rest of the summer. Am off on holidays and see you in September!!

My Top 10 Summer Scents....

Summer days are glorious, beautiful and long. Nature awakens to flourish during these gorgeous days before cooler weather descends on us for the next several months.

These are days when I can experiment with a certain type of scents.
However, I tend to avoid leather based scents which happen to be my staples in autumn and winter months.

So here are my top 10 (cringe as there are quite a few i had to exclude from this list) summer scents this year....

The list of my top 10 are below and pictures above are in no order. It was not easy to come up with one. I like a mix of fragrances during summer months. As we were blessed with a nice summer here this year (so far, so good) - I must say that I got the opportunity to wear a variety. Over the years, my citrussy selection has been fast disappearing (I gave many away) as I do not reach out for them as much. However, I still hold on to some of my classic favourites which I do not wear as often - though they are mentioned here.

Here goes my list this year that I love and enjoy wearing:

1. Guerlain Jicky extrait - my first grown up perfume - I love it because it is a fresh, complex and an uplifting fragrance. Notes include lavender, rosemary, bergamot, fougere, opopanax, woody notes, vanilla and tonka bean.

2. Guerlain Apres L'Ondee -A gem from Guerlain! Notes include aniseed, cassia note, violet, carnation, iris and vanillic notes.
This is one of the best ever extraits that Guerlain have ever made and then sadly discontinued. :(

I love many other classic Guerlains because they are beautiful perfumes and I enjoy wearing them. Check

3. Annick Goutal Eau de Ciel - a long term summer staple because I love the soft notes of Brazilian rosewood, violet, Florentin iris and lime blossom. It is discreet and one you can wear to any professional meetings without worrying about your perfume.

4. Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien - another long term staple that is true summer in a bottle. I sometimes travel with this as it is one that my husband likes as well. Described by as:
"A zesty combination of lemon, grapefruit, and cypress that evokes the heat of a Mediterranean sun and the coolness of the shade of a lemon tree. Named for the Roman emperor, Eau D'Hadrien is an exhilarating evocation of summer's promise".

5. Jean Patou Joy parfum - classic beauty and a white flower fest. This heavenly scent contains essential oils of jasmine and rose and is one of the most expensive perfumes.
Joy was first launched in 1930 by Jean Pateau as a gift to some of his American clients who could no longer afford his clothes following the stock market crash of 1929.

6. Serge Lutens Un Lys is a beauty that I fell for much later. I have tried this several times in the past and then one day this spring i finally did fall for it.

7. Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle is a soft and beautiful love or hate fragrance. I am grateful my nose loves it.

8. Serge Lutens Cedre is the latest from SL and it is beautiful on me and my husband actually complimented me several times. I think this is a winner!

I love many other perfumes from Serge Lutens and wear them all year around.
For notes please check Bela's excellent notepad

9. Caron Farnesiana (a new love for summer months) - I liked it in the past and then I started using up some I had and I have fallen for this soft, powdery perfume. It is a gorgeous blend of mimosa, iris and lavender Patchouli, Oak Moss, Sandal, Vetiver.
The extrait is what I love and one spray lasts the whole day like most Carons. Most other Carons are my all year round favs which we will hopefully get to another time.

10. Gobin-Daude Jardins Ottomans - A gem, a treasure of a perfume. I fell for this in June when Fortnums decided to give away (at 75% off - it is giving away). It trasports me to exotic bazaars. Browns in London describes this jewel as follows:
"Early morning in the Orient, your spirit and imagination wandering through gardens - listening to the song of the birds, to the music of running water in the blue light, while gardeners wearing large straw hats water rich, red soil, beneath lemon and orange trees, full of fruits… Family: Floriental, amberyContains : lemon petitgrain, yuzu, genista, patchouli…"

Want to see more Top 10 Summer Fragrance lists?

Check out,
An Alabaster Brow, Blogdorf Goodman, Bois de Jasmin, Brain Trapped in Girl's Body, C'est Chic, Koneko's *Mostly* Beauty Diary, Life in Paris, Make a Mental Note, Now Smell This, Ombligo!, Seldom Nice Nowadays, Self-Styled Siren, She'll Be Feverish After So Much Thinking, and This Bananafish Smells Like Leaves.

(Please note: if you visit one of the sites above and the list isn't there yet, check back later in the day. Some of us are in different time zones, and some of us sleep later than others).

All photos are from various sites to mark some unoriginality!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Culinery Cinema or Foody Film

I love food as much as I love perfume. I follow food in each film as much as I like to follow perfumes in them. There are several films that are unique in their portrayal of food and I would like to share three that i enjoyed very much over the past several years. Some like Babette's Feast and Eat drink Man Woman are poignant and so beautifully made. The other that is certainly worth seeing is What's Cooking by Gurinder Chadha of Bride and Prejudice and Bend it like Bechkam fame. The other which you have all seen is Chocolat directed by Lasse Hallström in 2000.

There are a few others worth mentioning here.
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover by Peter Greenaway in 1989
The other is a Japanese film Tampopo written and directed by Juzo Itami in 1985.
Many thanks to J (bela) for reminding me about that wonderful Mexican film Like Water for Chocolate - original title is Como agua para chocolate directed by Alfonso Arau
in 1992. I need to see this again very soon!

Let us go to the first four mentioned above.

Yin shi nan nu (1994) aka Eat drink Man Woman directed by the brilliant Ang Lee, is about a chef and the lives of his three daughters. Ang Lee manages to involve you so deeply in their lives that you will come away touched by this film. At least you may! I loved it and have seen it several times.

Babettes gæstebud or Babette's Feast is another gem, directed by Gabriel Axel in 1987. The film is rather flawless, the acting is superb and well worth viewing a few times.

Babette's Feast is from the book written by Isak Dinesen. The story is about a French woman who flees in 1871 and seeks refuge in an austere village in Denmark. She earns her keep by cooking for the local nuns. The daily fare consists of bland and usual foods. After the French woman wins a lottery, she decides to spice up the lives of the locals by cooking them a culinary feast.

What's Cooking directed by Gurinder Chadha is all about a few families celebrating Thanksgiving in LA. It is a delight to see what goes on in each of the families while they prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving! Trials of family get togethers - we all know about!

Finally, there is Chocolat which created a stir and was worth the watch - Judi Dench and Binoche were fab! I watched it only to see that super dishy Depp!

There are others but I want to share these as I saw Babette's feast again last week and loved it - again!

Please make sure you eat well before you see any of these films.

What are your favourite Foody Films?

Happy 58th dear India!

"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance .... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again." - Jawaharlal Nehru (Speech on Indian Independence Day, 1947)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast." - Lord Arthur Saville's Crime by Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite playwrights and is considered to be one of the greatest playwrights ever. He was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde on 16 October, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland and he passed away here in Paris on 30 November 1900. He is buried in Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

His wit and understanding of human conditions have always attracted me (since I was in my teens to the present) - to read and see his plays, film adaptations of his plays and novels etc. Works i find particularly fascinating, humourous and memorable include, The importance of being Earnest written in 1895, An ideal husband in 1895, A woman of no importance in 1893, Lady Windermere's fan in 1892, The picture of Dorian Grey in 1891.

Wilde had a rather brilliant start in life with education from Trinity College Dublin to Magdalen in Oxford. He married Constance Lloyd in 1880 and then wrote several of his brilliant plays. He had children with her. In 1891, he met Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas who became his lover. Bosie's father Marquis of Queensberry was sued by Wilde for libel but Wilde withdrew the case. His personal life tormented him including serving in the prison for gross indecency and served for two years in hard labour. He wrote the Ballad of the Reading Gaol in 1898 which was a response to what he suffered while he was imprisoned. He spent the last three years of his life wandering in Europe and finally passed away due to recurring ear infection and meningitis.

His plays are simply brilliant and I have had the fortune to see a few of these. My all time favourite has to be The importance of being Earnest with Patricia Routledge at the Savoy Theatre a few years ago (of Keeping up appearances fame) as Lady Bracknell. Here is a site that has the play. If you have not read it - you will hopefully enjoy it.

The film version I love best is the one directed by Anthony Asquith in 1952. Michael Redgrave (father of Vanessa Redgrave) as Jack Worthing, Joan Greenwood with that amazing deep voice and superb acting as Gwendolen Fairfax, the wonderful Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell and the imposing actress Margaret Atwood as Letitia Prism.
This is one film that has set the standard for this witty play. The story is hilarious and is a great one if you enjoy reviewing films over and over again.

A dialogue that i love from this play is when Lady Bracknell says - " That does not seem to me to be a grave objection. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now. I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention than she is at present".

That is why ParisLondres will always remain 35! ;)

The other film I think is brilliant is The picture of Dorian Grey. It is a horror classic. This proves the range of Wilde's writing ability. Hurd Hatfield who played the part of Dorian was a New Yorker and he played a very convincing Englishman. You get to to see a very young Angela Lansbury who played Sibyl Vane.
This is another film you must try and see if you haven't.

Wilde was indeed a genius! His writing was avant-garde. His understanding of human nature astute and witty and he died at a young age of 46 having faced a fair amount of sadness and trial for his sexual orientation over a hundred years ago. The film Wilde is worth seeing if you have not - it is a rather sympathetic portrayal of Wilde's life. I thought Stephen Fry (I also happen to be a huge fan of A bit of Fry and Laurie - a UK TV series and I also adore them both in Jeeves and Wooster and the Blackadder series. Laurie is the one who you may remember as the dad from Stuart Little) and Jude Law acted rather superbly as Wilde and Bosie respectively.

I also adore several of his quotes from his books and plays and here is one:

"Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect - simply a confession of failures."-- “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

Bet there are many Wilde fans out there!!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Mad about Japanese food feature

Photos of seasonal Namagashi

December - camellia

March - cherry blossom

April - magnolia

* photos from Watashi to Tokyo

I have come to the conclusion that I was possibly a sumo wrestler in one of my last births, just because I could eat a lot of Japanese food every day and drink some good Oroku sake or maybe a beer but most times tea. Somehow I seem to love most things Japanese. Anytime I get to choose a restaurant, you can bet it will be a Japanese one. Yes, I have become that predictable. Also, I happen to love their teas and seasonal pastries (they do not make me feel fat like I do when I eat a French pastry). All that is left is for me to discover where I lived in my previous birth.

My favourite dish is Unagi Kabayaki. Vegetarians please do not bother to click below.

I also love variations offered each day at my regular haunts with sashimi, grilled fish, pickled veggies and rice.

In the afternoon, if I feel I deserve a treat I now choose a seasonal wagashi. Yes I am bored with macaroons.

Favourite teas from the great country that I enjoy are Gyokuro and Hojicha.

Gyokuro is considered to be one of the best best Japanese green teas. It is a lovely green tea with a slightly seeweed like taste which is absolutely refreshing and delicious. You may love it or hate it.

Hojicha tea is a clear, light reddish-brown tint and a robust, roasted fragrance and flavor. Hojicha tea is made by roasting regular sencha and bancha leaves until they turn brown. The roasting gives the tea a delicate smoky fragrance and flavor.

Wagashi are traditional sweets that developed into delicate art forms in the ancient kingdom of Kyoto. Wagashi indulge all the five senses and are worth enjoying with some time - the names sound poetic, they smell delicate, texture is soft, taste (mainly from beans and grains) is natural and they look beautiful as they are often inspired by Japanese literature, textiles and art. They truly are a feast to the eyes...

There are various types of Wagashi like Monaka (filling made of azuki bean filling sandwiched between two rice wafers), Namagashi (seasonal cakes), Yokan (evolved during the Edo period - a thick jellied sweet) and many others.
Seasonal themes include:
Spring: plum, cherry blossom etc.
Summer: water, etc.
Fall: Chinese bellflower, autumn leaves
Winter: camellia, daffodil, snow

*(Photos above and the above list of seasonal namagashi from Watashi to Tokyo)

My other love for most things Japanese include exquisite art from some Japanese masters including Hishikawa Moronobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro, Tôshûsai Sharaku, Katsushika Hokusaï and Utagawa Hiroshige. The latter two artists possibly have a wider appeal. There was a fantastic exhibition with all the above artists in the Musee Guimet. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I now need to learn the language, learn to wrestle and head to Japan. This is a possible dream.....

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Alex - another favourite cartoon of mine...

Please click on the images to enlarge!

Alex is one of my (esp my DH's) favourites for several years - very English and very funny!

Have a super day....

Fragrance feature this week..


I did get to Caron and Montale on Monday. Not an entirely successful shopping spree in Caron where I had planned on splurging - as it was packed with a few young and may I add spoilt sheikhs and their bodyguards. I waited for a few minuted browsing and heard the names of all the 100 bottles or so they were asking the SA to fill out from the urns - five of this and ten of that!! How I wish I could flirt in reality and get an entire range but maybe I am post-harem age as they recruit them young! Just kidding and I know this is a non-pc joke but I am not always pc as I find that I would cease to function out of fear!

They were buying up - ahem - too many to mention and I could have fainted but life has taught me not to show too much surprise when such amazing things happen. I look bemused and indifferent. That day's sale possibly made the SAs annual target and she was so flustered. The SA rushed to me and I know her fairly well - she gave me two pecks on my cheeks and whispered apologising profusely asking if I did not mind coming back later - pretty please. I said of course I would. I thought she looked pale and she was going to faint. The men looked in a great hurry and I was happy to head out to the door where the doorman was equally apologetic but I wanted freedom! As soon as I walked a little further along Faubourg St. Honore - I saw not one, not two but FIVE bentleys waiting for those spoilt brats. One of the sheikhs had left a couple of seconds before I did was there getting into the Bentley numero uno! Five for five guess that is life! They must love space. I was on my way to meet a friend - I was so tempted to turn and take a photo but did not - walked straight on! Yes dignified and laughing away......

Then I walked via Place Vendome to Montale. I wanted to pick up some samples for a dear friend. Well well - guess what? They have two new perfumes.....

1. Aoud Hoggar Mota - no clue about the real ingredients yet but I got some gorgeous Aoud, incense (maybe agarwood?) Rose,....The drydown is lovely and not harsh or heavy at all.
Sadly they did not have samples so I need to head back and test again!
Hoggar is a mountain range in Algeria.

2. Velvet Flowers - it is a rather different creation compared to most other Montales. This is a fruity floral perfume - I got some jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, lilac and melon....
I tried this avant premiere - available from next week I believe.

Tuesday - a 10 minute stop at Chanel on rue Cambon before heading for my blissful shiatsu massage - ran in very briefly to check if they have a bag a spoilt aunt wants. Yes - the quilted variety and I thought she had a dozen - why any more - think one of those would be enough! Secretly hoping she will gift it to me till I realized it is one of the chain ones which I am not terribly fond of. Now I am praying it is NOT for me. I took the opportunity to head to the perfume and cosmetic part and tried some Chanel 22 but sadly no parfum testers today - so EDT. Hmm it is OK but I have tried the parfum and I KNOW it is superior. The SA was a newish one and she bullshat excuse my French about how this is great blahblahblah.
I escaped to Marais for my absolutely brilliant shiatsu session.

A very dear friend C (what a friend eh?) gave me a gift to try shiatsu massage for total relaxation and I loved it. I think I will go back for 10.
I was in the Marais and then Hotel de Ville area (I did feel rejuvenated and all that). After the session feeling rather lightheaded, hungry yet wonderful, I wanted to gorge some icecream down my throat to quench my thunger (thirst-hunger)! Lo and behold I see a rather largish (by Parisian standards) store called Fruits and Passion (I wondered who on earth would want to name a store that!) situated at 15 rue de Rivoli. My antennas went up at a supersonic pace and I found myself inside the shop - icecream, hubbyscream (for buying all the things I do and not needing them) all forgotten! I had to explore this hybrid between Bodyshop, L'Occitane and Crabtree and Evelyn in one set up. They have all the things you find for skincare, bath and home perfumes. They also have a rather delicious range of Cucina products - foody home perfumes and candles and jellies, tapenades, vinegars.......
It is originally from Canada and the French seem to love these products or maybe these were tourists. I saw about 15 women and men browsing. Oh and they have a cute section for aromatherapy and kiddie stuff too. I left with a few gifts for some friends and a huge cannister of lavender spray for linen for chez moi. It is the only store in Paris at present till the left bank catches up a bit. Well they do sell in Bon Marche, Printemps etc. Oh they do have plenty in Canada - the motherland of Fruits and passion but not in the US of A according to the SA.
If you are in Paris and in the area and BHV is too claustrophobic for you. Head this way and enjoy browsing.


So that's all folks!!

Pic of Caron above taken by Parislondres sometime earlier this year!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

One of my favourite cartoon characters - or should I say two!

please click on image to enlarge!

Fascinating stuff r/o

Hope you all have a super day!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Cinema, Cinema!

Nope - not that rather awful perfume called Cinema launched by YSL last year, but I have to write about a film I watched again last night by one of my all time favourite directors - the late John Huston.

I wanted to see something "good" late last evening and even though I know many of Tennessee Williams' play to film adaptations have depressed a fair number of people - I absolutely adore them - my other favs include Cat on a hot tin roof, A Streetcar named Desire, etc.. Mind you, these are not movies you want to watch when you feel disinclined to think and want rather light entertainment or even some fast paced action films. I tend to watch these films when I have time to enjoy films at one go and I want to watch and re-watch actors whom I respect greatly. In a nutshell - you have to be in the right mood to see enjoy the beauty of the film.

My movie of this week has to be The Night of the Iguana.

A bit about the play (source at the end):

Tennessee Williams's The Night of the Iguana is the last of the distinguished American playwright's major artistic, critical, and box office successes. First performed on December 28, 1961, on Broadway in the Royale Theatre, The Night of the Iguana won Williams his fourth New York Drama Critics Award. Like other plays by Williams, The Night of the Iguana focuses on sexual relationships and odd characters, including one crippled by his desires, the Reverend Shannon. Indeed, in retrospect, many critics see The Night of the Iguana as the link between stylistic eras (early/middle to late) for Williams. They argue that Williams reveals more of himself in this play than his previous work. Indeed, unlike many of Williams's plays The Night of the Iguana ends on a positive, hopeful note. However, some contemporary critics of the original Broadway production found the play lacking form and derivative of Williams's earlier successes, such as A Streetcar Named Desire. There has also been a lingering controversy over what the iguana, mentioned in the title, represents. The iguana, which spends most of the play tied up on the edge of the veranda, is seen as a symbol for a number of things, including freedom, what it means to be human, and Shannon. As an unnamed critic in Time magazine wrote, ''Purists of the craft may object that, strictly speaking, The Night of the Iguana does not go anywhere. In the deepest sense, it does not need to. It is already there, at the moving, tormented heart of the human condition." (source

The film:

Going back to the film -
It is possibly one of Richard Burton's best performances where I felt he really did justice to his reputation as a powerful actor. I have possibly seen most of his films - (some OK, some good and some brilliant) and I found him truly fascinating as a young cinephile (not only because of his numerous marriages to Elizabeth Taylor). I wish I had seen him in the Theatre as Hamlet or any other plays - but then maybe I have in my last birth!

If you have not seen this film, I would strongly urge you to see it when you can. To add to Burton's magnetism as a defrocked clergyman - there are the two wonderful actresses of all time Ava Gardner
and Deborah Kerr
Deborah Kerr is stunning as always and plays a sensitive Hannah Jelkes and Ava creates such an impact as the rather flamboyant Maxine Faulk - right through the film you are drawn to these characters and you wonder what makes them tick etc. It is also a perfectly cast film. Not a believer of spoilers at all - so I suggest you see this if you have not.

If you have seen this and I am sure many of you have - I would love to know what you think of this masterpiece.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Natural beauty of the week...

(please click on the photo for an enlarged image)

Aravalli Range in north-western India is one of the oldest mountain systems in the world. The present Aravalli Range is only a remnant of the gigantic system that existed in prehistoric times with several of its summits rising above the snow line and nourishing glaciers of stupendous magnitude which in turn fed many great rivers.

(Above info from

Photo was taken by this blogger last December from the magnificent Monsoon Palace, which was used as one of the palaces when filming the rather interesting James Bond film Octopussy.(more photos later or see archives February where I posted many photos)

Udaipur is one of the most beautiful lake cities in India and possibly the world - sadly the gorgeous lake Pichola is drying up rapidly.

Thought for the day:

'I am comforted by life's stability, by earth's unchangeableness. What has seemed new and frightening assumes its place in the unfolding of knowledge. It is good to know our universe. What is new is only new to us.' - Pearl S. Buck

Sunday, August 07, 2005

This week's entertainment figure is Tony Blair

All the humour and this great cover was provided by Private Eye

Ibrahim Ferrer - the most wonderful r/o

Cuban singer of Buena Vista Social Club fame has passed away.

I am very sad and regret not seeing him recently.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Lifestyle or just life...

We live our lives a certain way and each of us cherish some things more than others. Some their homes, some health, some our friends, some their daily bread, some their intelligence, some their freedom and some their wealth....

I believe that most people invest in brick and mortar for stability that we all want at some point in our lives. Yes - home is sweet home if one is lucky to have one - being the main goal in people's lives or the main expense of one's livlihood.

I grew up in India where there is a huge difference in lifestyles or should I just say lives - depending on whether you belong to the the lucky haves or the unlucky have-nots. Well it is the same all the world over I guess. One man's shack maybe another man's palace etc. After all there is a roof of sorts.

Talking of the haves: I read about a mansion suitable for none less than a billionaire (as if they do not make it into news often enough). I was frankly quite revolted at a house going for £ 70 million according to the BBC.

Talking of the have-nots - the homeless inhabit streets all over the world. I know it does not make sense what I am trying to compare but for a homeless person a shop shed is enough shelter when the mega rich need ostentation of the above variety. I was so unimpressed reading that one house has five pools not WHY would one need FIVE pools?

Here in Paris, we have a teetotaler homeless man A in this neighbourhood who reads newspapers and is always cheerful and for whatever reason he has stolen our hearts and we give what we can each week to make sure that he gets by.

Because I grew up in India, I sadly and naively expected all those years ago - only to see homeless people in Asia and when I first saw them in the US, it was a huge shock to my system. What is a super power like the US of A doing with homeless people rather why are there so many homeless people in the US? I was told by most people when I asked that they had mental problems, or were social misfits (hate that term) etc. In the UK, there has been a government policy at play where mental institutions have been closed down rapidly and mentally unstable people are returned for "care in the community". Now that I find totally irresponsible bordering on criminal attitude on the government's part. If such true community care existed then that would indeed be quite an idea . The death of a social worker (and numerous assaults) makes me wonder how it is all going. I call this "the vicious cycle of perceptions"! As a result some of these people become homeless and really get no true help at all from the community (not to mention other aspects of substance abuse etc). This is MY take on part of the problem. Please point out if I am wrong. Here is an older report

I meant to write an upbeat piece on lifestyle - wanting to discuss one of my all time favourite architects Horta - but somehow this mansion news really annoyed and upset me today especially when we all know that life can be unfair and there is very little distribution of wealth on this planet.

Parislondres would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Parislondres responds to an Interview the superwriter Tania...

of that really fab blog

OK so Tania has asked me the following - rather meaningful questions and here are my answers to them:

1. Who has had the greatest influence on you, and why?

My paternal grandmother, whom I loved, feared and respected dearly and who was a wonderful woman - fluent in eight languages (4 Indian and 4 European) , made her own lotions and potions and did not really believe in soft touch stories for her delicate grandchildren. We were told Bram Stoker's Dracula and other scary stories during most holidays and I remember asking for more! Do you remember how fun and scary THAT could be?
No seriously - it has to be Didi (that is what I called her) means - an elder sister in Hindi.
Didi spent a lot of time with us or should I write we spent with her - she was always there making each day - especially holidays wonderfully entertaining for us. She encouraged us to develop a passion for reading, arts and music. She was also quite a ballbreaker in the best sense of the word. Wish I had learnt more on that aspect of life....she was a true feminist! She was a beautiful, witty, talented, cultured, strong minded, well travelled, spriritual lady. She never feared speaking her mind, was kinda stubborn and had a heart of gold! What a combo!

2. What are your most favorite and least favorite parts about living in Paris?


Most fav:

1. Pace is SLOW......
2. Food is mostly excellent
3. Architecture is great though you can get bored after a while - (Haussman made sure of that!)
4. Not too close to the outlaws (a good THREE hour drive hehehe)
5. Eurostar - anytime London visits
6. Curse in English/etc. people do NOT understand
7. French friends I adore are really great and I get along with them better than most other European women on many levels.
8. Am a hypochondriac - pharmacies on every corner.
9. Love booze - no dearth of wines etc.
10. Love art - no shortage of culture
PS - forgot to mention all the Perfume boutiques.......

Vive la France!

Least fave:

1. Too many French live here!
2. I detest small dogs (badly trained ones) and rather filthy dog owners who are most inconsiderate - leaving roads full of shite and when it rains it can be disgusting.
3. Men are lecherous - it encourages them if you are married - I swear!
4. Curse in French and they understand
5. Women are stick thin and they eat more than I do (or pretend to)
6. Much too much temptations...
7. Not cosmopolitan enough
8. Awful Indian restaurants
9. I miss UK Theatre
10. I so miss Cafe Nero and Starbucks on every corner - am bored to tears with French cafe culture - I do frequent many tea rooms here.

3. If you could have either the power to be invisible or the power to fly, which would you choose?

Power to Fly - I dream about that day and night.
I love making an entrance/impact so what is the point if I do have the power to be invisible non?

4. What is a common misconception that people have about you?

Well - that I am nice?

5. What was the best meal you ever had in your life?

Tania - tooooo many to remember - ones I loved a lot were at Agata e Romeo in Rome, our Belgian wedding feast etc..... FAB!!

Now, if you have a blog and you want to be interviewed, leave me a note in the comments that says, "Interview me, please."I will respond by asking you 5 questions, but not the same as the above questions. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions and interview someone else in the same post or new post.

New food/drink feature - each week I would like to share a chef ....

Fruit of the week - wonderful flat peaches. These are truly sweet, juicy and delicious.

......I admire, discuss some of the local markets, maybe wines, teas, chocolate or simply some recipes I enjoy cooking. This blogger happens to be quite a foodie and it would be a shame not to share that aspect of my life with all of you. One thing I must admit is that I detest following recipes unless they are from my own head - with scales and other measuring implements - I am not fussy and I am a lazy cook - really more of an experimental cook - I cook food as and how I like to - whenever and however it suits me. If I do not have an ingredient, I happily substitute it with something else and rather predictably NONE of my meals ever turn out to be the same.

This week's chefs are:

1. Jamie Oliver - whom a lot of you may detest. I like Jamie. I think he has done wonders to the modern Brit cuisine and his recipes do work. They are also not overly measured, overtly pretty things but they taste good and frankly that is what I am after - tasty food. When I want pretty - I go to Michelin starred restaurants to enjoy that aspect. I am being unfair to my own style but you get the picture don't you?

Enjoy his site! BTW - Jamies apparently learnt to cook some serious Kerala cuisine from Das (who told me so first hand) - who is the owner of the fab Rasa restaurants in London.

2. Das Sreedharan is an incredibly modest but talented Indian chef and is also a superb entrepreneur. He has done some good PR for "authentic" (meaning non-Bangaldeshi) Indian cuisine in London town. His restaurants are all great places to enjoy a meal if you are in London town. I so hope he opens a restaurant in Paris very soon - where Indian cuisine is pretty awful to be honest. The ones that are here are nothing like in India nor anywhere else. I believe a lot of the chefs are from Pondicherry and via Mauritius - however all the chefs in these restaus claim to be from North India. Whyever?? :(

Recipe of the week:

Chapli Kebab

(this blogger made this easy peasy recipe yesterday) - no photos as I did not think of posting this today.

This is a popular dish of the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan.
1 kg mutton or beef mince - (I used half that amount and used beef mince from our butcher, you can use chicken mince too)
3 green chillies finely chopped
1 bunch chopped coriander
2 table spoon original corn flour
2 ½ spoon coriander seed (half crushed)
salt to taste 1 tea spoon dried pomegranate seed (Anar dana)
1 table spoon of ginger and garlic paste
1 tea spoon red chilli powder
3 diced tomatoes
2 diced onions
1 slightly beaten egg

(you can alter the amount of chillies according to your taste)

Combine all the spices and ingredients along with mince. Mix them well, make palm size kababs. Then take 5 table spoon of oil, pour it on frying pan. Fry the kebabs on medium or low flame. Each side of kebab should be cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with Nan and Mint Chutney.

I did not have any anardana and did not use cornflour but I used a pinch of mango powder. Also went a bit overboard with garlic last evening. I also serve with lime and salad. It did turn out to be great. You can also make a Kathi roll (wrap) by putting a couple of kebabs in the Nan - add some salad and tomato and roll it up and eat with your hands the way it is done in India and you have a delicious meal.
A variation is to mash some potato and mix with the kebab mix - make small round or elongated shaped kebabs before frying. You can fill any indian bread with chilli chicken etc. These are very quick and easy means and in India etc. they are considered to be snacks.

It is delish. Try it and let me know.

Drink suggestions: Belgian beer (if you don't have Cobra or Kingfisher) or iced green or white tea.

Pudding: We had some chocolate profiteroles. :)


I do not claim that i cook everyday as I mentioned above I am a lazy cook at the best of times - there are so many things to get done - so I follow short cuts and during summer months live on roast chicken (from our Marche), smoked fish, smoked ham, good salads, fresh fruits, good wines. etc. We also eat out a lot.

Some thoughts for the weekend.....

"For he who has no tranquility there is no concentration" - The Bhagvad Gita
"What do I think of Western civilisation? I think it would be a very good idea" - Mahatma Gandhi

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all" - Oscar Wilde

As you know how much I adore Palais Royal - here are a couple more photos for you to enjoy. I am also fascinated by IM Pei's pyramid.
There are several black and white photos I took when I lived here in the mid-nineties - which I will hopefully scan and share.

Have a super weekend!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

New weekly feature here on my fragrance experiences

As some of you know, I organise visits to perfume boutiques for individuals which is called Perfume Path tours - please check
I try not to write much about perfumes as there are so many fascinating blogs out there who do it better than I do. However, a very kind and lovely fellow blogger M (yes the super talented and philosophical one who writes superb stuff and her blog is really going places - )
M suggested that I write more about my fragrance experiences in Paris as I live here and that is precisely what I plan to do on a weekly basis from now on.

My perfume experiences this week included visiting two of my current favourite boutiques:

A. Yet another visit to my favourite Palais Royal, where I enjoy the calm beauty in the centre of Paris. On Monday, I met up with my friend A for an afternoon of coffee and natter. We HAD to stop at Serge Lutens - it is really inconvenient that I happen to love Palais Royal and SL had to have this magnificent boutique there. A re-tested Rahat and Cedre - the new SL beauty. She enjoyed both and actually liked Cedre very much. I think Cedre is really beautiful and a real relief for a Serge Lutens fan - after the dreaded launch of the rather unexciting furniture polish like - Miel de Bois!
I tested Iris Silver Mist (a very dear friend V who is super talented and writes a fab blog - loves this so I wanted to re-test in her honour) and suss my reaction on that fine summer day , Rahat (one I truly detested and criticised in the past and then this spring I suddenly fell for it) and the bewitching Fumerie Turque. I sadly happen love them all now and I guess I will have to wait and justify the "need" for purchasing all three. Wait - I just realised that Iris Silver Mist actually calms me down, Rahat makes me smile and Fumerie Turque transports me to a holiday destination in an imaginative opium den somewhere terribly exotic! ;) Aren't these good enough reasons (at the risk of sounding so very shallow when there are many worthy causes that would do better with those 300 euros!) for mortals like me to procure, enjoy and survive in this world? ;)

For notes on all the above perfumes please check J's own Serge Lutens webpage - she is SL's ultimate spokesperson
(J aka Bela is also the creator of one of my favourite slap blogs - well it is one of a kind really -I visit whenever I wish slap the rest of humanity called

B. In the past eight months or so - I have been rather impressed by the service at the Patou boutique. After reading about custom made perfumes and their sample creation for people who may wish to get perfumes created for them at a cost naturally. This will be some 43,000 Euros - but then nobody else will smell like you if that worries you greatly and you will get a couple of litres of juice in wonderful flacons to last a while and any future repeat orders etc. I visited the Patou boutique on Wednesday to smell the most wonderful Julye which has been written about by Luca Turin in his blog recently -

Julye is beautiful! It starts off as he described it. The perfume is stunning and right up my street as I love leather notes in perfumes. Thus is a woody-fruity-floral-leather - rather feminine but any confident male in touch with their feminine side will be able to wear it too. This will be used to give clients who want a custom made perfume an idea what the creations will be/can be like. It is a great visitng card of sorts and my oh my what a gorgeous one! I plead with them to start selling the juice in affordable bottles to us all soon. I will be doing a special feature on Patou in September so do watch this space...

Tomorrow I maybe visiting the Caron boutique on Faubourg St. Honore. My favourite Caron boutique by miles. I am maybe indulging in some Tabac Blond and maybe some N'aimez que Moi. I will add that to my next week's post.

Next week: Caron, Montale, maybe Miller et Bertaux and maybe even some photos....

Have a wonderful weekend all of you!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

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