Sunday, December 25, 2005


Presents wrapped? Check
Cards Sent? Check

Great - now can collapse in a heap, but before that...

Merry Christmas one and all!
(and something I pinched from Juney)

A Hokkien Christmas

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A time to every purpose under heaven

I think Fabien's Grandfather's funeral was a dignified and touching ceremony. I lit the candle in front of his coffin to show that his light shines on, because (click to see the English translations): Il y a un moment pour tout et un temps pour chaque chose sous le ciel , and I'm the official transport system for his latest descendent.

You see, this I suppose is a good time to make the

Official Online Announcement

we are going to have a baby next year- no kidding...

Here is Sohni's lovely announcement for us (click to enlarge):

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Empowered or Deluded?

I was just reading this extract from the NY times on women who choose to give up promising careers to stay at home with their families. I wonder whether it is empowered or deluded?

If you are interested, this is what the Becker-Posner Blog has to say about it. The subject has been discused in quite some detail, so I won't go into the economic and social arguments here. Just limiting myself to my own personal experience, my thoughts are these:

I wonder whether I am it's a great thing that my husband's career is interesting and provides for many oppourtunities for international travel, or that it is all terribly incompatible with my own land-locked career?

I work for much less money now than when I was a lawyer. But on the other hand I've ticked a lot more things on my "Life's to-do List" this year than I ever could have done working in a law firm, such as:
1) taken a crash course in economics (yep I finally understand Lagrangian multipliers!)
2) learned to make passable deserts (something which always confounded me)
2) speak enough Italian to kind of survive
3) Finished reading my French Lit books (which were otherwise gathering dust on the shelf)

The List of other things which I want to get around to doing whilst in Turin are:
1) get a driving licence (this is actually quite hard to do in Italian!!)
2) learn more about photography, art and art history
3) read more about Corp Fin, Econs and Sustainable Development (eclectic I know, but considering a career switch to microfinancing and development work)

Of course, I do wonder whether I could have done all those things whilst working as an in-house lawyer... I actually think it was possible, because I left work at 5pm almost everyday, but would have taken longer... However I think there is no need to torture myself with a whole bunch of "what ifs" and "maybes".

The point is, I've put my career temporarily on hold because this was the state of affairs Fabien and I agreed on for now. However, just as I look forward to starting full time work again (although I am not sure if I necessarily wish to go back to law) I also have learnt to enjoy the increased flexibility and the fulfilment with working free-lance light-weight academic - as opposed to my "heavy weight" academic friends who actually make a career out of university education.

Merry Merry Christmas and Peace and Goodwill to all!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Surprise party for ME!!!

My husband could have a mistress outside and I really wouldn't have had a clue... Who knows what he does behind my back? In this case - a truly truly wonderful gesture...

I thought he had organised this party for my birthday last week which had to be cancelled because of his grandfather's funeral. So we had dinner in Geneva instead. What I didn't know was that it was not cancelled -- only postponed to yesterday night!!

So... All our friends from Torino appeared at dinner bearing presents and food - it was really sweet of them!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

UN ideals

I managed to get a UN security guard to stand still long enough for me to take a photo of his badge.

I am a fan of the UN actually (*blush*). I actually think that Silvia Broome, is a believable character. Hey, if I spoke several languages (including a fictious one) and looked like Nicole Kidman, it might as well have been me... Actually, I do believe in a lot of things the UN stands for and what it tries to accomplish. Okay, there are alot of things wrong with the system, and it does drive me nuts some days.

This is what Mike Moore, former Director General of the World Trade Organisation says about the UN which I think is pretty accurate (emphasis mine):

I still get irritated by political leaders who attack the U.N. system, demand the U.N. do something, then deny the U.N. the resources, the mandate, and a coherent management system to do the job. It’s obscene when leaders attack the U.N. because peace-keepers stood idle while genocide was committed. They were instructed not to interfere. The U.N. can only do what Governments allow it to do. And that’s how it should be. The U.N. is not a world government. Those of us who believe in the system must be at the forefront of reforms to re-invigorate its structure and mandate, otherwise those who don’t trust multilateralism will win by continuing to undermine by preventing the reform that it needs.

Friday, December 16, 2005

In times of sadness and rejoicing

French funerals are generally pretty dignified. There isn't much overtly violent emotion and people just kinda sniff quietly in the pew. Maybe it was because Fab's grandfather was a pretty dignified kinda guy.

In the bright winter sunshine, we went from the church to the cemetary for Bon-Papa's burial in the family grave. The part where I started to cry was to see Bon-Papa's youngest brother (he is 90 plus years old!) come in his wheelchair say his last goodbye to his brother. He is the last sibling still alive.

What made the day a strangely emotionally charged was because immediately after the funeral, we had a lunch reception in Bon-Papa's house in Mons, and then on the same night, we had (on the other side of the family) Ingrid's Profession of Faith dinner reception. As we are in fairly strongly Catholic North France, religious milestones are also big family events.

So we attended this big celebration for Ingrid. These are some of the photos of the family who attended the happy event.

Ingrid is Fabien's youngest cousin, and the "bridge" between their grandmother's grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As Ingrid is only a few years older than the first great grand-child, she is of course, by far the most popular baby-sitter of the family! So you will see lots of the little ones running around too.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happy Birthday!!

I am 28 years old on this day. My brother Shaun is 24 years old - Yup we share it...

I am sure my parents planned it like this so that we only get ONE joint birthday AND christmas present for 2 children ... (sneaky Singaporeans huh?)

Happy Birthday anyways Shaun.

I don't think we celebrate birthdays very much in my family, but Fab's family likes to make a bit of an occasion of it. Unfortunately with the death of Bon-papa, it was not possible to do anything too grand (and we were leaving for Geneva) so we had birthday breakfast for me in Armentieres.

What was a little logistics nightmare, was that Fabien had organised a little surprise party for me, with our friends, at home in Turin, but had to cancel everything at the last minute because we had to drive back to France - Thank you sweetie - it was the thought that counts.

Akan Datang!

(which is Malay for "coming soon")

Will soon post a little more about
1) the Funeral of Bon-Papa and our thoughts
2 Geneva and meeting my Trade Law friends

PS - thank you especially to Joan, Jean Nie and other unamed friends for sending your happy birthday wishes - it is very sweet of you...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In Passing

We just recieved news that Fabien's paternal grandfather just passed away yesterday.

We will go to his funeral this week, so I won't be blogging for a bit.

In a way, I think this is not a bad way to go. He was 100 years old, his 3 sons grew up healthy, he saw his grandchildren grow up. He was in full possession of his mental faculties (albeit with a little hearing and eyesight loss) but he was active and lived a full and healthy life, generous and giving. When I first met him 4 years ago, he was curious about Singapore, gentle and charming.

We just spoke to him on the phone last week, and he was happy to hear from us in Turin. He dropped down and died whilst pottering in his own home, so there was no question of ever being painfully ill or having to suffer any kind of degenerative disease.

I think this funeral is to say goodbye to someone who lived a full and happy life which we should celebrate, and try to emulate.

okay, gotta go and pack now - but see you here again next week. We will leave tommorrow morning and drive up to Lille (stopping over in either Reims or Troyes), and directly to Geneva on Monday because Fabien has a meeting there.

See you here next week.

Kids: Ethical Parenting

Another one of my biggest bug bears is on ethical living - what does it mean? This one is an article taken from the Guardian (try link in the title). But in case you can't reach it, I have edited it for your reading pleasure here in this blog post.

To put it in context - the writer, Leo Hickman and his partner Jane just had a baby girl - Esme, and have subjected themselves to an ethics audit by the following people: Hannah Berry, writer and researcher at Ethical Consumer magazine; Mike Childs, campaigns director at Friends of the Earth; Renee Elliott, council member of the Soil Association and founder of Planet Organic shops.

========= start of edited article =======

Jane and I know we are going to receive a mauling for using disposable nappies. So Jane holds up one of Esme's Pampers and invites the castigation to begin.

"The nappy question poses many ethical dilemmas for the modern parent," says Mike. "You have opted for convenience at the expense of the environment. Disposable nappies are a major waste problem, with eight million nappies thrown away every day in the UK. Ninety per cent of these end up in landfill. Disposable nappies can even make up half the contents of a family's bin. You should try using reusable terry nappies instead. You may find this is not practical all the time, but you will save money. The Women's Environmental Network estimates that using terry nappies instead of disposables can save £500 over the nappy-wearing lifetime of a child."

Like all parents, we thought we had done everything we possibly could - bought everything our baby requires, attended antenatal classes, created a cosy nursery, exclusively breastfed her, read all the books. So when we hear that the manner in which we are raising her is bad for the environment, we are left reeling and somewhat dejected.

About a week later, we settle on nappies made by Mother-Ease, as the poppers are the easiest to use and the nappies fit snugly. So we go ahead and order 20 more at a cost of about £200. Considering that disposable nappies can cost upwards of £1,000 in a baby's first year, we justify this as a long-term investment. We are comforted further when we ask the nappy lady how long they can be expected to last and she says each will take at least two children through to potty training.

An area we have less success with is plastic toys. We can stop buying them, but it is hard to expect friends and family to adhere to the principles of our ethical experiment. It raises a much bigger question, too, about where you draw the line.

Should you impose your views on others, even if you feel passionate about them, or should you only ever try to live the best way you can and not preach to others?
======== end =====

The answer is I don't know. I guess if you and your family have a certain view about say, plastic toys, you should inform the people early on that you think that they are bad, so that nobody will be caught out buying inappropriate gifts?

On that note -- Please do not give plastic (including plush) toys to our kid!! There are sites with alternatives like wholistic planet where you can get other toys..

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Game Season upon us

Torino means "little bull" and the Piemontese are justly proud of their meat and dairy products. I try to buy organic milk, honey and cheese from the fresh market, but organic meat is hard to find. So I am pretty happy to know that game season is upon us - wild game tastes great.

Game cusine is popular in this reagion, partly due to its the long association with hunting. One of the most beautiful hunting lodges and the summer palace of the House of Savoy is Stupinigi , located 10km outside Turin. The Savoy dynasty were monarchs over Sardinia and Italy. The monarchy ended on June 12 1946, because Italy became a republic and exiled all male Savoy descendents.

Tough tits for them, but thanks to their royal hunting traditions, we have these great regional specialities:
Stambecco Brasato
Civet di Camoscio
Cervo al Ginepro

BTW - Stupinigi is no longer a hunting lodge but an art museum, and its surrounding forests have become a natural park... Elaine and Irene tried to see it but missed it - so you guys have an excuse to come back!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

What Art Piece are you?

You Are Best Described By...

Fluo Flowers
By Olivier Kosovsky

Apparently if I were a painting, I would be Fluo Flowers..

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Who are your friends?

Nope, I am not going paranoid, and those mushrooms for dinner are perfectly fine. I wanted to post something like this on 25 Dec, but I realise I will probably not be online, so better say it earlier than later.

I thank God for being blessed with friends - people like you reading this now (yeah - like all 2 of you).

So who are our friends? What makes someone a friend? The biologist might say you just like the way the other person pheromones smell. But I'd like to believe it is a bit more than that... I think one key trait defining all my friends is generousity. My friends are by and large very generous, and I don't mean merely with money, but with their knowledge, their comfort, their advice, their efforts and their time.

It is wonderful and I feel truly blessed. Even by the people we have met in Turin, it is amazing how warm and open they can be in just a really short space of time - and I am not just talking about the 4-legged and furry kind of buddies either.

Merry Christmas! You are Loved!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Christmas is definitely coming


Christmas is coming, and I have not finished shopping for Christmas presents, nor cards nor anything else. If you do not get anything from Santa this year, it must be because you have been naughty - you must have added 20 mins to your parking coupon or didn't hold the lift for someone rushing to come in or said you had no time to do something when actually you just didn't feel like it... and you THOUGHT nobody was watching...

That is just my excuse for not sending out all my cards and stuff in time.

Anyway I am STILL trying to buy cardboard and poster paints to do that thoughtful little craft project which I said I would.. Paint Christmas cards for my family and friends!! This of course all depends on the feasibilty of it all given that I am still trying to buy the right kind of bloody paper.

Also promised Massimo an Advent Calender covered with pictures of Olga and Camilla.. Still struggling with my box to put photos on it. Also Promised to make Char Siew for Elaine and Marco. And of course I have a work deadline due in 12 days - my own advent calender has started...

You know you can take me out of all my long list of commitments in Singapore, put me in Italy, and what do I go off and do? Go off and over-commit myself again - Fwaghhh!!

Monday, November 28, 2005

some dog gone days

Some days it just aint' worth getting out of bed. Today seems to be one of them.

Due to a variety of administrative/logistics issues and unforseen circumstances, there is Absolutely No Cash in the house (save for some loose change). I am really grumpy because many places (like the market!) are cash-only. However, before you rush out to send cash and food packages, don't worry - we'll live: it is only an 8 hour liquidity crises, and everything reverts to normal once Fabien comes home and we go to an ATM ...

This may seem like a morbid reflection the earlier post about being a sucker to beggars, but I really wonder how would we cope if (touch wood) by some catastrophe, we lose all our money? There but for the grace of God go I seems to be the sentiment at the moment.

We take so many many things for granted. And we think we need more to live than we really do. But simple pleasures in life tend to be free. Like playing with my best buddy Olga:

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Remembering Poetry

One of the things I enjoyed about studying Literature at A level is having to my mind a fount of random quotations that bubble up when I least expect it.

This one is from Robert Frost on friendship:

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

Lovely isn't it? Just thought I would take some time and share it with you.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Move aside Martha Stewart

Uncle Andre and his wife are visiting Turin. They are staying with Uncle Giles and his wife, Damienne. Giles is Fabien's godfather, who by a stroke of luck, is an expat in Torino also. Damienne and Andre are Fabien's mother's siblings. So much for genealogy - back to the story...

Tonight there is apperitivo for everyone in our humble house, and this is the menu:

Cold Stuff: Mozzerella and tomato skewers, Veggie crudities, Gristini, Platter of parma ham and diff kinds of salami with new potatoes, pickled onions and gherkins
Hot Bits: Deep Fried Spring rolls and Mini Croque Monsieur

I had to be physically restrained from planning some more food. It must be my Singapore paranoia of having not enough food in the house when you have guests.

I am going to put up the photo of the foods when they are finished tonight. AKAN DATANG on this blogpost and you will see the results of my efforts.. Who needs Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver when you have Sharon taking over the kitchen! MUAHHAhahaha (*diabolical laughter fades away*)

Fab says if he sees an explosion from his office he will know what happened. He hopes that he will come home to see the house still standing...

follow up post on this issue

These are the promised photos - sadly, you only see the cold foods becos the hot stuff was still in the oven.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Social conscience of the Sucker

One of the most annoying things about being in Europe (which conversely is something I miss about Singapore) is the presence of beggars on the streets and in the markets.

Being a liberal bleeding heart, I cannot but help to give spare change to pregnant mothers, grubby children, gypsys and anyone else who gives me a stupid excuse and pleading look.

Fabien and I have had countless discussions on this point, with the conversation usually begining with the words "you are not helping them you know" YES i know they mostly don't need it/earn more than I do/use the money to buy drugs/alohol etc...

However, unlike him, I have not been hardened through travelling through India on less than 3 USD a day, besieged into numbness by suffering humanity.

So today, when I went to the market, and the usual pregnant woman comes to me asking for money (I must have the word "sucker" stamped on my head), I decided to try something equally compassionate but not involving a cash donation. I opened my shopping bag, and let her pick up from my own fruits and veggies whatever she wanted- she took some baby tomatoes, carrots, a banana and an apple.

It may have cost me more money than giving her the loose change in my wallet. But I felt generally better for it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's snowing!!

Yay! It is snowing today.

Little flakes drifting down just outside our window, creating wet puddles on the concrete that you can jump into. The fact that it is snowing in Torino city centre in November is actually not so common, because it tends to rain or sleet rather than have perfect little fluffy icicles coming down. It will snow more in Jan and Feb...

Given its rarity, I am justifiably excited about being able to see snow in November.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Life's little ironies

I went to the ILO today on Maestri del Lavoro. It is part of a UN cluster of buildings in Turin, together with UNICRI and a small UNESCO office, so the whole area is within a fenced up compound.

I realise that in most protected places in Turin, if you look not Italian/North European, you may get asked for your ID by the security guard at the entrance. I don't know what it is like at the other UN compounds in the rest of the world, but in this one, it works the other way around!

Due to the UN hiring quotas there are a whole lot of black/asian/women and other minorites walking in and out of the compound everyday. I have never been stopped to be asked for ID, but Fabien (white, male and therefore an endangered species) is always stopped at the entrance whenever he comes to get me.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The first snow flake of the year

This weekend was spent quietly. It was pretty cold so we didn't get out of Turin, instead we tried to finish up our wedding "Thank You for coming to Aubry" cards...

We went to an exhibition of René Magritte (1898–1967) and Paul Delvaux (1897–1994). Very disturbing, and I love it. The perspectives are so warped and wierd and acid-trippy! Never thought I would enjoy surrealist art... But never say never eh?

Fabien and I discussed a whole bunch of stuff, the details of which will not be posted here, but sometimes it is just nice that you know the fact of something happening without necessarily knowing the details - Except the most important one:-

Mush Moment Alert
We are so blessed with a great marriage, wonderful family, friends so we are grateful...Toi qui aime ce que qui aimez...

Less goey and random details - you can stop throwing up now..

The temperature is really starting to plunge this week (brrrr)...
The first Snow Flake of the year may fall this week!

It is a good enough cause as any to get all excited about...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Work Life Balance

This is a bit of an old chestnut, but there is a good spin on it written by Brad in Feld Thoughts which I thought I'd tag here and if it doesn't work you can try clicking on the Title of this post.

The mythical work/life balance is a bit of the promised land, especially when you are a struggling lawyer or a teacher or researcher or even back to school as a student. But I know you can find if somehow as long as you find an organisation which pays more than just lip service to concept. As long as you discipline yourself to what is important to you.

It feels a little hypocritical for me to blogging about such a balance, because I hardly have a stressful job at the moment. But strangely enough, it is the perspective which comes from having time to think about my own values which prompted me to write this.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This one just cracks me up

Ever wanted to be South Park Character? I tried to produce some not particularly convincing characters for Fabien and me.

But you can go knock yourself out with this link

click here

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Which historical figure are you?

Amelia Earhart

Adventurous and boundary breaking. You believe that you can do anything, and do not hesitate to take risks to achieve a big goal. You like to problem solve, when a problem comes up.

Try this yerself

I stole this rather flattering meme from Kit.
I like Amelia - I have always thought she was one highflying babe.
To infinity and beyond!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yoga Mama nonsense

I was reading this absolute balderdash on businessweek. I don't have much to add to the existing long list of comments already present in the article. If you can't follow the link, try this using this:

If you cannot be asked to trawl through that trash (and who can blame you?) my reading is that the writer attempts to lampoon the desperate housewives meets sarah jessica parker ladies who have children as a lifestyle statement. Manipulated by greedy manufacturers of organic babyfood, branded baby products and other expensive (read = unnecessary) products, these yoga mamas rush from their own spa sessions to baby massage class in their designer togs with matching LV stroller.

The bluff is called, and you can see it in the reader's comments which I've extracted here:

This article takes two distinctively different trends and melds them into one. There are mothers who are avoiding toxins in products so they spend more and mothers who just spend as status. Organic is more expensive but not superfluous

Nuff' said. Organic and fair trade products may cost more - but how much is your conscience worth?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Torino Weekend en famille

Parents (Fab's) came for the long weekend. Since Pictures speak a thousand words, I will just save you these thousands:

This is us at the top of the mountain with the Sacra San Michele. It is basically an abbey dedicated to the angel with the flaming sword - michael (so Mikey - we went to YOUR abbey!)

One of the nice things about being up in the mountains were the mountain sheep and goats wandering around in a flock. You really think about the parable of the Lost Sheep when you see the little one that get left behind bleating away. But fortunately the others are not far up the road...

Photographic tip of the day

If you try to take romantic couple pictures by yourself (i.e. holding the camera with one hand and trying to focus and click blind)... make sure you turn off the zoom function...

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Agony of Waiting

As posted previously, this week is madness incarnate.

So many emotions bunched up together. Start of week in Milan, so happy to see Auntie Anne, then the parents of Fabien appear, and then it is relentless entertaining, interspersed with preparation for interviews. Today my candidacy goes before the Senate for the tutorship of the International Trade Law Course 2006 Edition, and they will inform me the result either just before or just after Christmas..

wish me luck!

Oh yes - what are you last 5 things to eat before you die? This list is inspired by the BBC - take a look here

1) fresh sashimi - was swimming 10 mins ago
2) char grilled argentine steak very very rare..
3) katong laksa
4) char kway teow (yet another plebian pleasure)
5) tartiflette

A predictable list for me perhaps, but OH SO GOOD...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Busy Week Ahead!

Busy week getting back into Torino. Have to get some paperwork done at the Questura -- I have finally recieved a blue piece of paper, and I can now use that to get a special piece of pink coloured paper, which later enables me to get a Carta d'Identita, so that I can finally register to learn how to drive. Need to get cracking on Some More wretched Italian lessons so that I can actually _Understand_ the driving instructor. He is the only driving instructor in the world that doesn't seem stressed when I take my hands off the steering wheel, but then again I am sure he understands that you NEED your hands to talk Italian...

MUAHHAHAHAHA - Drivers of the world beware!! Another crazy Italian trained driver will soon be unleashed on this world!!

Also Fabien's parent's are coming to visit us in Torino because there is a long weekend in France. They'll be here from Thursday to next Monday, so will expect to be busy busy! I have staked claim on the title of "Favourite Daughter In Law" -- but that is of course because I am their only daughter in law (kekekeke).

Fab is likewise adored by my parents as favourite (and only) son-in-law, so it is nice that we all get to play happy families like this. I guess at the end of the day, our parents on both sides can see we are very much in love and happy, and they are happy for us as we kiss and make up after every little spat and have loads of lazy weekends, enchanted holidays and busy weeks, and otherwise carry out our happily married existence.

Sappy Italian Word of the Day - "Amore" (pronounced Ah-Mor-Ray) which means "beloved"..

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Beautiful Torino

Weather changing again!

It is getting cooler now, and you can start to see traces of breath each time you exhale. The afternoon light is sometimes so lovely.

Take a look...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dammit, I am a cherry blossom

what's your inner flower?

[c] sugardew

just for you to entertain yourself, i stole this off Luc the Hell Hound..

What flower are you anyways?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Koh Samui honeymoon

After 2 weddings, one international move and an August French holiday to recover from all that, we decided that it was time for our Asian honeymoon on Koh Samui. (life is tough luvvies...)

We spent 10 days in this villa , and we loved every moment of it. It did have the potential to be utterly boring, given that we didn't plan our usual holiday barrage of sight-seeing and sports activities. There is no TV or DVD player in the villa, but we ended up playing cards, and otherwise creating our own entertainment.

.... scrub your filthy mind...

Most days were spent reading, having blissful spa sessions or going to the beach and having nobody around you for miles and miles.

So the next time you consider a holiday think of a nearby destination, not too expensive with lots of privacy and a good book (spouse is an optional extra).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

We are Back in Turin!

We just got back from our whirlwind of overseas trips. Some were fun, some were reflective and some were not so much fun.

For the last month,
Sharon's schedule was Turin - Paris - Singapore - Seoul - Singapore -Samui - Singapore - Paris - Turin. For Fab it was Turin - Frankfurt - Beijing - Frankfurt - Turin - Paris - Singapore - Samui - Singapore - Paris - Turin.

So we are pretty tired now, and will blog about the fun bits when we upload the photos.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Back to Singapore to stuff my face

I am going back to Singapore! Tommrrow to be exact. My wait-listed flight seat was confirmed, so I am back in Singapore to stuff myself with all the food I have missed.

Anyone want to join me?

Wanna try the new Xiao Long Bao place at Bugis
Go back to No Signboard seafood
If got time - Keiyaki or Shang palace, but what i really really miss is hawker fare
char kway teow at either Siglap or joo chiat
lots of prata at Causaurina
mango tree or chat masala
Komala villas - S. Indian buffet
carrot cake, chicken wings and BBQ stingray at Chomp Chomp
True Blue Peranakan's ayam buah keluak and meatball soup
Chinatown soya sauce chicken noodles
sticky beef noodles

okay that's the list for the moment, of course, more will be added ...

oh yes, and quiet date at Botanic Gardens with Fabien to re-live the moment when we first met 5 years ago... Has it been that long? how time flies. And I still think he is the sweetest funniest and sexiest man alive. (*apologies for inducing bulimia in anyone reading this*)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Shoe Lust Satisfied!

Just a short post to say that I collected my boots today, and I think they are nice. A shame I can't put a photo up here (no camera) but suffice to say - I don't look ready to join the Line Dancing Aunties outside Far East Square just yet.

Rainy season is just begining in Seoul, and the temperature is dropping. It is still pleasantly cool, and the leaves are turning yellow. Went for a walk with Mum in the Botanic gardens (it's up in the mountains behind the Hyatt).

Saw some nuns from a convent doing a nature hike. They looked really cute in their uniform and habit (kinda like Maria from Sound of Music, and looked about the same age as Julie Andrews anyway), but with hiking boots and caps! Yep - they were wearing these caps (presumably to ward off the bright autumn sunshine) on top of their habits.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Just a bit of frill

warning - girly post

I just had my hair highlighted and had a hair trim and treatment here. Dammit Koreans can really do hair great!

With sign language and gesturing I managed to tell the hairdresser that my highlighted hair had grown longer and the roots were all black and boring. So she managed to match the original highlighting to my roots, and made everything nice and even. It looks like my hair grows out with natural highlights ~sooo proud~

Love the way she could just figure it all out (okay in retrospect it is pretty obvious) But when you don't speak the language, the potential for a hair disaster area is just enormous... (*shudder*)

I also found this place in Itaewan underground market that does custom made boots. You select the leather and design from some fashion magazines, the old guy measures your foot and calf, and you pick them up in 10 days - easy! I will pick mine up on Friday, so I hope they turn out like the magazine picture! I asked him for a simple low-heeled calf-high boot in black leather with a single matte silver buckle just below the ankle and the zipper on the side. I hope I don't end up with cowboy boots for line dancing!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Seoul thus far

I have discovered my inner geographer. Maybe it is a result of too much Discovery channel on Korean cable tv, but I realise now how much a country and culture is shaped by its climate.

My dad and I were discussing Kim Chi - the potent pickled and spiced cabbage (and other veggies) which is eaten at every meal in Korea (including breakfast). This is quite integral to Korean cusine, and is a result of their harsh climate - Long and cold winters, not much arable land. This means a single summer harvest of fruit and vegetables, and pickling and preseravatives the rest of the year. The national sport seems to be mountain climbing, and in recent times, snow sports. Once again, this is due to the lovely and imposing mountains around Seoul. Makes me wonder how Singapore developed a national sport at all.

This weekend we are going to the DMZ. Will post more about it later.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Expressions of Sorrow

I miss my husband when I am in Singapore. Last night was particularly difficult, because when we grieve, we look for support from our loved ones. But what if your loved ones are in separate places?

I want to go home to Turin, yet I feel like I have to stay close to my family at this time. What do you do when the interests of "home" and "family" appear divergent? My mother wants to go back to Korea. I will go with her, because I know she would appreciate the company, and so would my father.

I miss Fabien deeply, yet I dare not say it. Because if I did, it would be generally taken as if I did not want to be here with my family that needs me. Yet, a refusal to acknowledge that I miss my husband and my normal life in Turin, is a refusal to acknowledge that these were sacrifice which I willingly made.

Made even greater because I have to miss him without giving expression to my longing and lonliness. What is left unsaid is an aching, silent cry, building into a scream.

Can you hear it?

I am glad you can.
This is a necessary outlet.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


A Big Thank You
To all the friends that have sent condolences, I will thank each of
you personally in my own time. It is a tough time, and I appreciate your support.

For all the people who have been silent, and wonder what there are condolences for, perhaps you may wish to refer to the earlier blog post.

For all the people who recently have sent inappropriate emails or jokes, despite having access to this blog, shame on you. This is because the blog is updated for the benefit of people like you. If it is possible for you to log on to your CNN or CNA to find out what is happening in the world, why would it be so difficult to click on a link to find out what is happening in our world? It takes thought and effort to put the information online, and if you cannot be bothered to meet me halfway by going to read the blog, that's fine, but please do not complain about being left in the dark, and for goodness sakes, I just lost someone close in my family, I don't want to read inappropriate and thoughtless forwarded jokes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Emergency Trip back to Singapore

I have to go back to Singapore, and I am leaving this week.

There has been a death in the family so I need to go back and just provide moral support to my parents.

I am blogging this so that if any of my friends realise that I am in Singapore without saying hello, they can take this as an apology in advance.

It is hard for me to feel connected to this death, even though I am pretty close to this person. Being in Turin somehow distances me, and i feel like this is not really happening. Also I realise that my parents - particularly my Mum, is very affected, so it becomes necessary to be strong at this point, and I can grieve in my own private time later.

hugs to all - and treasure your loved ones because you don't know when they will be gone..

Sunday, September 11, 2005

have yourself an ambitious little christmas


Please email me your addresses early because this christmas, I have decided to create personalised christmas cards for everyone.

Inspired by all the artists supporting themselves in Brittany, I have decided to draw/paint/ and otherwise create cards for everyone.

You are to send me your addresses and try not to spurn my artistic endeavours.

this is where we were at the U2 concert

We got the newspaper after the concert, and realised we could see ourselves from the ariel photograph (well.. kind of!)

I have pointed it out on the picture here. From where we were standing, we could see the celebs walking through the runway to get to their VVIP seats right in the front. The Beckhams, Elton John, Bill and Melinda Gates were there. But I suppose the guys will be more interested in the fact that Jordan was there (I can testify to the fact that her breasts really do not bounce when she walks).

Thursday, September 08, 2005

our first few Hardelot photos

Fab jumping over water
Originally uploaded by vacheorange.
Okay I am starting with the Hardelot photos first. This is taken on the beach, where you can feel the wide expanse of space on the dunes. Nobody for miles around !

Just click on the photo which should bring you to the Flicker website where you can see other photos of Hardelot. AND the horses at the show-jumping competition.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

St. Malo - Sailing, Mont St Michel and Langoustines

From Hardelot we drove to Caen in Normandy. Basically Normandy's tourist attractions can be summed up as one huge graveyard. We didn't stay too long there, but drove from Caen towards St Malo, Brittany.

Our first stop was Honfleur- a historical seaside port town, very pretty and touristy with cobblestone streets and lots of restaurants with English menus (i.e. catering to British tourists). Whenever we saw the Breton coast or any of its portside towns, there would be LOTS of boats in every shape and description. The one that excited us lots (which we actually have a shot of and I will add it here once I find it) was an old sailboat with long wooden masts and looks like the Cutty Sark or something. It seemed like everyone here had a boat, ranging from the little tug that you take fishing in the afternoons, to whales which seem to belong more in St Tropez than St Malo.

Mont St Michel
We had some lovely mussels and steak frites there and then drove to an even tinier town (population of 50) called La Poultiere. It is so tiny that I cannot find a weblink for it. We stayed at this place called La Gedouinais, where the earliest parts of the house date from 1320! It overlooks the Abbey Mont St Michel, which we climbed once in the day and once in the night. I totally recommend visiting the Abbey at night because it gets lit up and you can feel like you have stepped into the set of The Name of the Rose and Sean Connery will pop out at you dressed in Bendectine robes.

From La Gedouinais we went to drove around Brittany pigging out on crepes and seafood. Hence Langoustines being the last keyword, because I had a truly marvellous seafood platter one night in Dinard. It involved different kinds of crutusceans served up on a bed of kelp and accompanied by various delicious dipping sauces. I found that there is some technique to eating Langoustines - this animal which seems a cross between a prawn and a lobster. (it has a head like a prawn but long pincers like a lobster). You need to be really careful not to cut your hands on the hard shell because it really doesn't want to be eaten!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hardelot - Horses, Dunes and Tarte Tomate

Back in Turin - arrived last night at about midnight, driving through the Frejus tunnel (connecting France and Italy through the Alps) with absolutely nobody inside is great! Now just bloging about our holiday, and decided to summarise each place we visited with the key words, begining with our first stop in Hardelot - Horses, Dunes and Tarte Tomate.

Fabien's grandparents bought the Hardelot appartment a long time back, and various family members just book it in advance, get the key from the concierge and spend as long as they like there, looking out onto the Opal Coast. French coastlines have lovely names - Cote d'Azur (Azure Coast), Cote d'Emaraude (Emerald Coast) and so on..

So I went horse-riding there every morning for the 2 weeks we were there. As I am a pretty crap rider, I end up spraining my fingers alot (- does that answer your question Mike?) and so they get so swollen I can't even close them, let alone wear a wedding band. Fabien prefers more sedate activities like playing golf, and had his first golf competition on Golf de Pins. We also spent afternoons walking around and exploring the sand dunes which go on for many kilometeres (it is a protected area so you cannot drive there). It is a childhood playground for him, so it was really nice to see the little kids running around there and imagining how he must have been like 20 years ago!

Right, so that is Horses and Dunes explained. Tarte Tomate relates back to the delicious meals that Fab's parents prepared for us (they came to stay for 1 weekend in the 2 weeks we were there). I had the best 20 minute meal ever! Tarte Tomate is store bought filo pastry spread in a tin, topped with mustard, melted gruyere, sliced fresh tomatoes, sprinkled with sel de guerande and whatever herbs you can get hold of. 10 minutes preparation time, 10 minutes cooking, and voila! French taste and elegance in a tarte...

Next post will be our next stop in St. Malo - Sailing, Mont St Michel and Langoustines!

Monday, August 29, 2005

running all over the place

This is a quick blogpost from the tourisim office near the Mont St Michel

We are in the middle of our 3 week vacation. Started by spending some time at Hardelot, where I went riding eveyday (my fingers are still sprained and swollen, and I had to get rid of my wedding and engagement rings!) and Fab entered his first amateur golf tournament. I still think that a golf course is a waste of horse riding space...

Then we are driving along the emerald coast of Normandy and Brittany. Gorgeous sights to see. Fab has his birthday tommorrow in a wonderful secret location. Will post photos when I get back to Turin next week.

We will end the vacation with a bang at the Braderie in Lille next week. Eddie, Randall and some of our Italian friends are joining us in Lille, so it will be a riot!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Why we are so lucky

I was reading this email from Daphne, a friend of my parents who lives in Norway and just spent 2 weeks in a Sichuan village school. As I type this, Fabien and I are on the way to Hardelot to stay in his grandparents beach appartment. We are really so lucky, and Fab and I would like to seriously think about doing something positive for people less fortunate than we are.

Daphne's email extract:

China is a gigantic country under dramatic changes of different kinds. When thinking about China, people most likely come up with its new modern façade and rapid economic growth first. At the same time, we all know that its development is unbalanced and full of contradictions. In its western inland, poverty still prevails. In addition to poverty, Dayingpan has another problem that cast dark shadow over its people: it is known as a leprosy village. Leprosy is a disease that easily arouses fear. It is contagious (though in fact, very difficultly), and patients with leprosy sometimes have dreadful appearance with deformed limbs. To control its spread, the Chinese government relocated some patients to remote areas for isolation decades ago. To date, there are some hundreds of leprosy villages in rural China. Those patients managed to survive with minimal resources and form families. However, their children and grandchildren, albeit born healthy and normal, usually have no legal registration and identity. They are a group of people forgotten by society and encaged by the cruelty of destiny.

Dayingpan village needed a primary school of its own. Until a few years ago, it was only two shabby classrooms, and pupils could go only as far as the third grade. Then, "Wings of Hope", a Taiwanese charity organization, came, bringing along capitals, expertise and care. Dayingpan Primary School gained a brand new look and vitality. My sister started working in "Wings of Hope" in February this year. It was from her that I learned about the whole thing.

I was assigned with various tasks: teaching English to kids at 3-5 grades, some basic genetics, and some knowledge about Europe. After two weeks at Dayingpan Primary School, the result was, I had a lot of fun with the kids and all the volunteers, and I wasn't bitten by the flea at all! The kids were really adorable. They love to learn, to sing, and to get in contact with us all. Dayingpan was the least developed area I've visited so far, but their kids were by far the most happy ones. In addition to school work, they all have a lot of house chores to do: taking care of the younger ones in the family, pigs, cattle and farms.

Now I've been back to Norway for one week, there are still numerous images and details from Dayingpan in my mind, lingering. I don't know if you believe in karma and previous lives, but you might at some point have uestioned yourself, "Why are we luckier than so many other people in this world? What have we done to deserve all this?" In a place like Dayingpan I witnessed, some things we take for granted are other people's dream, even something as fundamental as an ID card. I think we should all cherish what we have and be humble.

When we were about to leave, everybody was sad. At the dawn of 5 a.m., our bus drove away on the snaky mountain road. Joyfully, I realized, as a volunteer at Dayingpan, I gained more than I gave.

Here you can find some pictures of me in Dayingpan: link

Friday, August 12, 2005

photos photos

Images from the past couple of weeks, which I thought best to disgorge from camera before setting off for next round of holidays

This is the picture postcard view of the alps taken from the window of a moving car. Not too bad if I say so myself. It was from our weekend visiting Denis and Marie near Grenoble.

This one is taken somewhere at the Picadilly Circus Starbucks, by random Korean tourists. What I realise I like about London is that you hardly hear English being spoken - lots of Chinese dialects, Korean, and many East European languages etc.

Somewhere in a Greenwich pub, Lucy, Ed, and Eric met me. Lovely Chocolate Beer here can be found just here ----------------------------------->

Inspired by pirates of the caribean? You can see the pirate flag in the background if you click on the photo to enlarge. We are actually at Whitstable, the oyster harvesting English village near Canterbury. This of course begged the question why we are there in the first place, and the answer is that Christabel had her inspired holiday itineary planning moments.

This is the Matisse Museum in Nice, where Fab and me had a little wander the day after our U2 concert - will put up the images of Bono when I come back from France. We also drove past the village of Eze where Bono keeps his home away from home in France. I wanna be a Rock STar too...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Shaun's news

I am really happy for Shaun - he has gotten his working visa and job all sorted out. It is a big change from the usual clueless brother that I have, and he is becoming this more or less organised indivudual - although we have big arguments about his views on ethical principles, I must say that I am really proud of him.

Anyways, he is going to work in URS after he graduates. If (like me) you do not know what URS is about, you can go to this link :

I am glad he is going to be an engineer. I kind of think it suits him better than being a doctor (he is from JHU) or an investment banker type of person (another popular choice for people with engineering degrees). The fact that my brother is going to work in a job related to his degree makes me slightly envious. I wish I had studied to be a vet instead! This is because if I were I vet, I could get a job reasonably easily each time Fabien moved countries - after all all dogs speak the same language right?

However if I was not a lawyer, I probably would not have met so many of my lovely and wonderful friends (possibly not even Fabien) so I suppose I can live with being a lawyer in the end.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Paradise on the Cote D'Azur

The most earth-shaking bit of this weekend was the U2 Concert which we watched at the Stade Charles Erhmann in Nice. It was quite a party! U2 had invited Bill Gates, Elton John, the Beckhams, so we had an entire galaxy of stars to watch, but it meant that security was pretty tight. They removed all the caps from your mineral water bottle so that nobody could throw it! Celine (Fab's little sister) is staying with us this week, all the U2 photos are on her camera though, so I can put them up in another post.

Fab used to live in Nice and work in Monaco, so he showed us around a bit for the rest of the weekend. Of course we went to the beach, which is where you see us in this photo.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

August - seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness

The one remarkable thing about Europe that never ceases to amaze me is the belief that people are entitled to a rest.

As uncontroversial as this sounds, in Singapore and in most Asian cities, were work is a priviledge, rest is a luxury not a right. So the idea that on Sunday there are no shops open and the only part of town busy is the church, just does not wash in Singapore. Well to be fair, it does not work in London or NY either. Perhaps it is partly also the big-city syndrome.

In Turin (which is a big enough city - take a look at the entry in wikipedia ) everything comes to a complete standstill in August. It is as if the entire city is forcing you to go on holiday. Nobody works really, apart from crucial or emergency services. The roads are pretty empty and most shops have a sign which says "chiuso per ferie" which means closed for vacation. It is as if it is somehow understood that you are not meant to be working in August.

Check out some thoughts about this by Ben blogging about Florence:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This Man is a Lifesaver

As you may or may not know, I am considering taking this exam in Econs in October this year. The reason why I am still undecided is because it is Bloody Too Much Work for a lousy entrance exam. Because IF (that is a very big IF anyways) I get in, it means that I have to write this Frigging Long dissertation which is probably not going to be worth the paper it is printed on. There are no two ways about that dissertation, if not you have to return the grant money that you probably long spent on ciggarettes and alcohol. The point is that I dunno if even want to spend the next 3 years of my life committed to that.

Despite the indecision, I have made the discovery of the week - a WONDERFUL website by this dude called Karl. It is the only thing which allows me to make sense of my current econs study. It is not so hard actually, kind of like A level econs but with more calculus and statistics involved. The problem for me is that I remember sod-all stats and calculus.

Once the maths starts to make sense (with a bit of help from Karl) then I must admit that econs is really pretty fascinating stuff, and I am enjoying learning something just for the pleasure of doing it . So yeah, maybe if I feel like I have managed to cover the syllabus before October then I will go take the 2 sets of 3 hour papers (with an oral exam at the end of the day!). And if I do not cover the syllabus, then I will come back and angst on this blog about what a failure my life has been - you have been warned dear readers that there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Still fudgy on the outline

Do you remember a post in February where I wondered about the road ahead?

Well it is a couple of months down the line, and I still have not really gained a clear idea of where I am going with my life. Which is screwy because I have always been quite sure what I wanted and just went about doing it. So it is a bit wierd to be a bit directionless right now. Do I still want a UN type of job? I dunno because what I have seen so far of the UN is just bloody downright depressing. All that optimistic energy and resources squandered on administrative bullshit shaded in light blue colours.

Good quote from Prof Posner in the the becker posner blog :

"As John Stuart Mill pointed out in On Liberty, when one's ideas are not challenged, one's ability to defend them weakens. Not being pressed to come up with arguments or evidence to support them, one forgets the arguments and fails to obtain the evidence."

I spend a great deal of time examining my personal motivations to make money, or learn about new stuff, or be actually useful to somebody else (not a lawyer then!). I have started asking myself whether I really want to be a lawyer still - maybe I had good reasons to do so before, but perhaps they are no longer applicable now.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

public displays of affection

When Fab was in China, I went to watch this dance performance in the park with some of our Italian friends. Our friend - Manuela is a professional dancer. This is a shot of us at some good cause formal dinner some time back. She is the tall one in the pink dress. BTW I know that this talk of good cause dinners makes me sound like a real tai tai, but I assure you that I am NOT, so lets get back to the blog ...

Manuela is a great dancer, and did an interpretation of physical love through a pretty sexy pas de deux - it was suggestive stuff! Firstly the costumes show off the dancers great bods but don't leave much to the imagination, and secondly since they are supposed to be making like rabbits on stage, the male dancer gets to cop quite a few feels (all artistically managed of course). This would not make me wonder too much online, except for the fact that her boyfriend was sitting right in front of me, and I thought I percieved a couple of flinches during the performance.

I wondered how it must be like to have the rest of the world see what a great bod your girlfriend has, but yet see some other guy's paws on it. At which point is it "purely professional" and at which point does it cut too close to the bone? Not had a chance to ask him yet, but it looks like a wierd cocktail of pride and discomfort.

For me - hey if I could dance like that I WOULD NOT REALLY CARE! The costume anyways is just to show the world what lovely form you got, and if my girlfriend/boyfriend had a line like that, I would be proud as punch I would...

Friday, July 29, 2005

London Calling

Just got back from London last night, so will post a bit more when I have finished the more mundane crap such as washing my clothes and unpacking. It was wonderful meeting all my friends again (*waves at them*). They seem well in spite of the possibility that you might get blown up on a bus just as easily as get run over by it. In fact some of them seem more annoyed at the fact that we are being charged 9 pounds for white rice at Four Seasons, when the quality of the duck seems to have plunged...

It is really strange how Italy is starting to become familiar. When the plane came into Caselle airport, I found myself thinking "it is good to be home".. I guess it is because the language is begining to make sense. One major breakthrough today happened when during one class, I found myself writing the explanation of another word IN ITALIAN. Which means that now I can start using a REAL italian dictionary instead of an English - Italian or French - Italian one. Amazingly enough, it is easier to learn Italian using French as a medium of instruction as opposed to English.

The washing machine has stopped, so I will come back and post again in a short while..

BTW for those who have been following the saga, we FINALLY have wifi in our house!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Parma ham Posting

One of the absolute greatest things about going to Parma for a holiday was the parma ham.

“Prosciutto” is from the Latin “perexsuctum” meaning “dried”. It was in 100 BC that Cato the Censor first mentioned the extraordinary flavour of the air cured ham produced around the town of Parma in Italy; the legs were left to dry, greased with a little oil and could age without spoiling. Not much has changed about the way they prepare this, and if you go to Parma you can have these marvelous tasting tours!

I have always been pretty partial to the stuff, and when I bought some, I had to figure out what to do with it, so this is my Parma Ham Posting, where I have put up some REALLY simple Parma Ham recipies scoured from the internet - you can fix these even if you are a busy lawyer.

Parma Ham and Fig Salad (as opposed to the normal parma ham and melon)

You can also try this one if you are more ambitious:

Roasted fillet of monkfish wrapped in Parma ham

As of now I cannot think of anything which you can do with Parma ham for desert, but tell me if you are feeling creative. BTW I am in London now, and all seems well although sadly there was the death of a brazilian technician, wrongfully shot by police at Stockwell.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Weekend in the Alps- have you read Heidi?

This is a photo of some of Fabien's friends, and the girl in the pink shawl on the left is Marie, and her husband - Denis, is standing next to her. The reason why I am showing you Denis and Marie is because we have just spent a weekend at their holiday house in the Alps. When Fab first described their house, he began by asking "did you read this book called "Heidi"?

The house is situated in postcard kind of surroundings, with this glacial and magnificent mountain in the background, and meadows and cowbells in the foreground, and you half expect some singing nuns and yodelling cowherds to appear any minute.

It was absolutely beautiful, but I have not uploaded the photos yet, because Fabien has taken the camera to Beijing (he is currently there for a conference), and he went straight to the airport on Sunday from the Alps.

We went canoeing up this river, and swam in the huge artificial lake (there is a hydro-electric dam nearby). We had barbeques in the garden and I re-read The Name of the Rose whilst Fabien, Denis and Marie went to play golf at the Grenoble golf course. We also went along The Route Napolean and saw the statue of Napoleon on horseback, depicting the moment when he encountered troops who had been ordered to stop his march on Paris. He walked toward the soldiers, flung open his coat, and challenged them to shoot their emperor. Instead, they threw down their muskets and joined his army.

Friday, July 15, 2005

weekend in Parma

Last weekend was spent in Parma -- mmmm foood, and also big castles, museums and an albino peacock!

This is a photo of us just outside the stables of the Chiarratorre . The Chiarratorre was built by the Count Pier Maria Rossi between 1448 and 1460, for his mistress (and later wife) Bianca Pellegrini da Arluno.

The origin of the castle is quite scandalous because when Rossi and Bianca met each other, they were both respectively, respectably married to other people. So they had to leave their respective spouses (from child marriages) and run off with each other. This castle was part of the massive PR exercise to integrate back into polite society, and many great banquets were held in the dining rooms to buy approval from all the other counts and countesses..

So yes, money can buy you both love and social acceptance unfortunately...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

On Skinny People and Nudity

I joined a gym near my home, it is called "il pardo" and it is used by skinny women. Lots of them. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that this is a reasonably up-market gym - for those of you in Singapore think - more towerclub than california fitness. so I am surrounded by 50 year old italian women with botox faces and cellulite free bodies - I hate them all! However it is pretty comfortable, and convenient, they have pilates and yoga classes (taught by the flamboyant gay guy that seems to be a fixture in all such gyms - you have to air kiss him before the start of the lessson!) and anyway I need the exercise to go to the beach without any hangups.

There are turkish baths (i.e. what we call a steam room with pretty murals) and sauna and cold pools and stuff like that on one floor, and Everybody walks around there in the buff. It is really a bit unnerving the first time, but you look like a freak if you are NOT naked. i suppose this is the way the gym motivates people to go and excercise. I mean - you really do not want 20 other people to look at your cellulite and grin smugly do you??

Friday, July 08, 2005

The sad state of the world we live in

Just checked with most of my friends in London - they are all mostly fine - Thank god.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Holiday time is here again!

Whoopie dooo, I am planning HOLIDAYS. I think you really need to stop working once in a while, and holidays are just to very important to keep mind and body somewhat intact. Sooo here is the plan - London to see friends, and then [blank space to insert choice]. Fabien and me are thinking of (in no particular order): Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Croatia, Southern Italian Islands, Sardinia, Corsica or Spain. Some reasonably sun-drenched spot, but also with other interesting things to see... Will update you guys more about it later. In the meantime, short weekends are: This weekend in Parma (home of the parma ham!!) and next weekend in Grenoble at one of Fab's atas friends family holiday home..

Monday, June 27, 2005

on adoption

On a completely different topic, I would like to talk about my desire for a family. The interesting thing about this desire of mine is that whilst we are perfectly fertile, I am really keen on adopting a child. There are lots of motivations culminating in my desire to adopt, so let's keep it simple and talk about the main impetus, and the possible issues..

1) We like children, and can give them a good environment to grow up in

the child I would like to adopt already exists, and is born to parents unwilling or unable to care for him or her. By the way this is NOT a pro-life/ anti-abortion spiel. I am thinking of children already born in orphanages from Ukraine to Uganda to Uzebekistan, for whatever reason, they need to have a home, and I believe that Fab and me can provide an excellent one.

2) This is an overpopulated world we live in, and so we do what we can do ease the pressures

if you look at the world as a whole, 80 million or so people are added every year. We consume fossil fuels in large quantites, devestate pristine ecological systems, the list of sins continue. So since I am not an advocate of genocide, I do think we can transfer the kiddies from places of high birth rates (and also high infant mortality rates!) to the so called "developed" countries. I am no Malthus, but I kinda think that we are breeding ourselves off this planet!

3) We want to have biological children too

This one is a really controversial issue, and I hope I have not opened a hornets nest here. It sounds hypocritical in the light of statements (1) and (2) above to say that we also want biological children. But we do. There is no logical reason for this, and it is a purely physical/biological/emotional kind of desire. I have done a little research on this issue, and it appears to be an urban myth that you cannot raise well-adjusted adopted children with your own biological kiddies. I guess I am reasonably confident that children raised by Fab and me will be well-adjusted and hopefully happy whatever their genetic origin.

So these are my current thoughts on adoption and starting a family. Will welcome any points of view, and have a good week ahead..

Friday, June 24, 2005

should i do this Phd?

Okay I dunno what I am supposed to do with my life right now. I just graduated with a A+ on this international trade law course (Meah was actually right - see previous post on exams) so now you would think that all my problems are solved. But they have only just begun !

The director of the course is encouraging me to sign up to do a 3 year law and econs PHD with the University of Turin. The beauty of that PHD is that it is 1 year compulsory in Turin, and then the other 2 years spent writing the thesis can be done anywhere in the world, but the supervising prof must come from any of the 4 partner universities - Cornell, Ecole Polytechnic, Univ of Ghent..

Dunno much about law and econs, but from what I heard these are pretty good unis in that field. I am really quite interested in that idea, but the question becomes - what do I do after that? Also, do I want my PHD to be in Law and Econs (considering my vaunted lack of numerical ability, this really may not be a good idea)?

Comments please! And "just go be a tai tai" is not really a serious option...

oh yeah - and just to let you know, I have a mental age of 23 years old:

You Are 23 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

in our appartment

in our appartment
Originally uploaded by vacheorange.
yesterday we had a party in our appartment for the end of all written exams. Only the oral exams left and then Sharon wanders into the realm of unemployment!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

okay okay just another couple more photos..

outside Chateau
Originally uploaded by vacheorange.
This is one of the photos which show you how beautiful the day was!

just one photo first!

sortie de l'eglise
Originally uploaded by vacheorange.
okay, because me and Fab are currently trying to figure out how to put photos on the blog, we will start with a France wedding photo. BUT eventually they will all be online at by the end of July (shameless plug for estimated timeline that will probably be delayed...)

Administrative Confirmations

Okie Dokes - a few confirmations. Firstly, I confirm that I have given you the correct address below: 53 Via San Massimo Torino 110123, Italy. Secondly, WE HAVE A HOUSE PHONE! it is +39 011 839 0692 and we have also got internet access and skype ( at home now.

our skype name is "sharonandfabien" so you can search us out on skype!

Okay lah, have to go and Study now (or what passes for studying anyways). sigh - mybad! I am more interested getting into living in Turin than actually preparing for my exams. Yesterday we went for a party at Paolo's house. Who is Paolo? Well, some random stranger who helped me buy ribbons for the France wedding when the shop assistant did not speak a word of English, and of course "Orange Ribbon" is not exactly one of the first few words that you learn when you start Italian. Anyways, Paolo was in the ribbon shop buying strings for his latest movie which he shoots in his own home, using carefully constructed plasticine figures - kinda like Wallace and Gromit. His daytime job is as a molecular biologist in a cancer research lab - which may explain his hobbies, or not as the case may be...

Friday, June 17, 2005

I hate exam stress!

Shaun just left early this morning from our house. Phoned him when he was checking in at the airport, then went to school for my exams. I hate exam stress. There are 2 more exams next week before the course ends. Don't you just hate it when, after the paper, people discuss their answers and then you are filled with dread when your answer appears COMPLETELY different from everyone else's? I know the golden rule that you should not talk about the paper after it is over, but then why is it so irresistable and then you hate yourself for doing it? ARRGGHHHH

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I love Company!!

Guys, once wedding madness has passed and your normal friends Sharon and Fabien are returned to you, please feel free to drop by Turin.

Hans and his lovely sister are over here now, and it is nice to have them staying in our house and proposing architectural solutions! They are probably going to see more of Turin then we will...

We are located at

Via San Massimo, 53
Torino 10123 Turin

(Let me double check that postal code, now that I have typed it, it looks wierd!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wedding Madness Part 2

Hi everyone I will go quiet now because I am running around with wedding madness (Part 2) !!! The planning in France is nuts.

My phone number is (39) 3489158187

Call me to say hello, and remind me to take Deep Breaths...

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Grand Conspiracy

We had this interesting lecture on FIDIC contracts. For those of you that don't know, this is the French Acronym for Federation Internationale De Ingenieurs - Conseils, which came up with the Bible of International Construction Contract - the FIDIC conditions.

How did these contract conditions become so popular? Well, it has to do with the tender process of all 3rd world countries who take development aid from the World Bank and other similar organisations. Apparently, in order to qualify for such construction grants, the recipient country has to agree to use the FIDIC tender conditions, which are recognised as a fair mechanism in the competitive tender process. Hahaha by no small coincidence, the global commercial arbitration industry (excluding ICSID and other investment arbitrations) is ruled by about 70 percent construction arbitration, and guess who are the resident FIDIC experts? the European arbitrators of course!

It is a grand conspiracy I tell you..

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Summer is in the air

One thing that I do NOT miss about Singapore is the constancy in weather. You can feel the anticipation in the air at each change in season. Now the days are getting longer in Turin, the flowers start to appear on trees and shrubs and days are getting longer. You start waking up really early in the morning, thinking that you are late, because the sun is so high in the sky. And you start eating dinner increasingly later because you keep thinking that it is still afternoon! I love being a student, but as this course starts to draw to a close, everyone is wondering what they will do next. I really want to continue to be friends with the people I have met on this course, but realistically I will consider myself lucky if I can keep in touch with a handful of these people in a year's time. On verra...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ikea should sponsor this blog

Okay I have already asked Hans for his architectural opinion on this issue, and we will now straw poll the rest of the readers of this blog (yes all 3 of them!!)

The guest "room" and the master "room" are actually the same large room, and we need to figure out how to partition the two "rooms" in a way that will enhance privacy (visual, audio, we will take whatever we can get!).

Any proposed solution must be subject to the same sloping roof so the partition cannot be the same uniform height. The two "rooms" are at the attic-loft level, which means that it is all of 40cm tall at the lowest point, and about 3m at the highest point. Oh yes, and there is also cost constraints, so this means that the solution will probably involve purchases from ikea... Soo Any bright ideas?

Monday, May 02, 2005


It is official we have moved into our new home. Which is Via San Massimo number 53. It is the land of boxes and unpacking! It is not so bad. Yesterday Mira and Cri came to help me to unpack stuff whilst Fab built shelves and finally our BED (all courtesy of IKEA). Then we all went out for Pizza dinner at our favourite pizza restaurant, where the waiter spent all night trying to figure out where Mira and I came from. It must have been tough for him because Mira and I look kind of similar (sort of Asian) but she is from Kazhakstan and I am from Singapore, so it was really funny to see him struggling! Each time he brought a course, we would give him another clue!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tutta Bene

I am really relived! Madoka just emailed me to say that she was fine, but really sad that the train accident has claimed so many lives. Am pretty relieved, but pray for all the families of the victims injured or dead.

On a more cheerful note, THANK YOU everyone who has given these really cool suggestions for the tables in France. I think I am going to use Kiddo's idea and adapt it accordingly depending on how it all looks when I do the mock-up.

Today we had this test on the Vienna Convention. I think I did okay. We have a lecture in the afternoon on the social impact of globalism. Today is also ILO World Day for saftey in the workplace. Apparently working can be dangerous for your health! we got stickers and stuff to advertise it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

All Quiet on the Western Front

There are some people I have not heard from for some time, so I am blogging this with varying degrees of concern.

First there is Shaun - my brother in Baltimore. YOO HOO Brother -- Are you there? And why your emails have gone quiet? You mean you are actually studying?

Second there is Madoka. For those who do not know her, Madoka was this friend I made when I was studying French in Rambouillet. She lives in Osaka, which was the site of huge train crash a few days ago, and I have not heard from her, so I hope she is okay too.

Okay, I guess I will hear from them at some point in time. In the meanwhile I am trying to settle the billion logistics for the wedding in France. If anyone knows of an interesting way to present chopsticks (they are our wedding favours here) please drop a comment on this blog. Otherwise I leave you with the theme idea which we decided on for the dinner.

We decided to name the tables after places which have some significance to Fabien and me. So for example, we have "Bali" and "Turin" which we enjoy together, and "India" and "France" which are very special to Fabien, and "Nottingham" and "Taiwan" which are special to me. Then we put photo albums and postcard on those tables (but no flags because they are cheesy) and we give the guests clues to find out which table they are on. Does anyone have suggestions on what other little things we can put on these tables? my idea is to have soft toys in costumes, like a plush baby elephant for India, a pig in a poncho for Mexico, a Panda for China and so on.. But what animal is suitable for France??

Monday, April 25, 2005

Northern Exposure

We are now in Lille this weekend because Monday is a public holiday in Italy. Basically we are 6 weeks to the weding here, so we needed to swing by and prepare wedding booklets and other nonsense in Lille. It is really pretty administrative, and (after the pain of deciding table themes and dinner menus) I realise why people only get married ONCE...

The good new though, is that I have learned about more interesting wedding customs from the North of France, where Fab is from. For example, in the Church, there is one part of the ceremony where people come up to the front table or something and bless a cruxifix of some other personal item intended to be in our future household. The idea is 2 fold. First, it allows people to get up and walk around in the middle of the service to stop them falling asleep and secondly, there is a church collection basket next to the cruxifix, where you can drop some change into. The money goes to the maintainence and repair of the church. I have no problems with this custom. I actually think it is quite useful, and when you see the stained glass window, you realise that it does deserve to be maintained and repaired...

I am also reading this really funny book at the moment. it is called "surely you are joking Mr Feynman!" and is the biography of the brilliant and eccentric physicist _ Richard Feynman.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Passing Exams Italian Style

Before I start - I am going to say hello to Jac -- (*waves madly*) because she would like to have something personal and I think you can be personal by blog as well as email. She is running all over the world at the moment, and I really hope she can run around to France in June this year, but of course, we will have to see. In any case, Pete can come by himself, because you know that the invitation is open to him too!

This post will have greater interest to Esther because it is about an Architecture exam, but it has a general interest to anyone who has had to ever take exams...

I gained some insight into Italian Style exams from this really interesting lady - to protect identities, let's call her M. [I know that I have a policy of using real names on this blog, but this particular case requires an exception] Anyway, M has 2 other siblings. An older brother and a little brother. The 3 siblings lived together in Rome, and attended the University of Rome at the same time. The older brother was studying engineering. He is clever and mathematical, and always did well in school. M is the sister in the middle, and she was very good at Art and literature. Then there is the little brother, who was desperate to enter the highly prestigious faculty of Architecture in Rome, but that faculty required a 2 section multiple choice entrance exam, with one section on Art and literature, and one section on mathematics and physics. It is not enough to be smart or to be a potentially good architect. There are 150 places for more than 2000 applicants, so you had to score really well.

The little brother had flunked this entrance exam one time already, and was close to giving up. So the two other siblings signed up for the same entrance exam together with him.

Why? The cunning plot revolves around the fact that they all had the same surname, they would all sit around each other in the exam hall. and so the Older Brother was the (*ahem*) guide for the maths and physics section and then stop writing (effectively only doing half the paper)and the Older Sister would perform similar services for the Art and literature section. So only the little brother handed in the COMPLETED paper with both sections, and has graduated from the university and is now a practicing architect.

This apparently is a very Italian way of doing things, where the ends justify the means. I asked M if she had any moral issues about doing what the rest of the world would think of as cheating, but apparently there is no inherent conflict because everyone is doing something like this!! There is less regimented adherence to rules here, which I find totally refreshing. However I would still need to apply my own personal moral standards to be comfortable in my own skin. I am not alone in this, because my classmate - Jukka from Lapland, lightly scratched someone's car whilst coming out of a parking lot, and left a note with his name and phone number. This has caused much amusement to the Italians all around...

Monday, April 18, 2005

dinner somewhere in Alba

One really nice thing about being here is that you get the experience of being cold and sunburned at the same time. It is kinda like skiing. We drove through the vineyards surrounding Turin (Alba and Asti), and ended up having dinner at one of those quaint little village places, where there is a fireplace and so on. You kinda think that you are having dinner in someone's house! The chef comes out to talk to you and throw in lots of freebies and stuff. We had a carpacio which melts in the mouth, some kind of chicken roulade, a pasta dish with some kind of meat sauce, and some kind of gamey meat. The desert was a sharing platter with different types of tasting portions. The only good news is that earlier in the week, I played football with my friends from the class for an entire afternoon. You can do that here because you don't really feel hot.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Toilet Paper Trees

There is a kind of tree here which has big pink blooms and lots of little delicate petals, which shred in the slightest wind. I will get a digital camera from Singapore and show you a photo of what I mean. After some rain, the pink petals get all soggy and wet, and plaster themselves on the pavement and cars and anything else in the vicinity. They kind of look like shredded toilet paper (you know the cheap bright pink kind?) This has led Fabien to christened them "Toilet Paper Trees".

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Totally Boring Game

Last night's match was a complete waste of time. Both sides were nonsense, and I am really disappointed. The only good thing was that there were no fights taking place between the hooligans, which would have really pissed off the real fans, because that would have called off the match.

I hear your comments and will put up photos of our appartment when we have a digital camera. Fabien will try to buy one in Singapore. Or someone who is coming here to visit can get one for us or something. I will try put up a photo from our pizza party dinner that someone else took on their camera. We went to this place where you can order rectangular pizza about 1m long! Beer is cheaper here than coke.

The weekend weather is going to be crap. It is going to actually snow!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Thanks Liyi!

Fabien and I were celebrating getting our appartment last night. It started with champagne and ended with Tequila shots. I also managed to talk to Liyi last night, and even though we stumbled home slightly wasted, I don't think any amount of alcohol could take away from the fact that I was really happy to hear from her.

Jean Nie emailed to say she just dropped by this blog (*waves*) she said you can use to call me because it is cheaper. I cannot use it to call any of you guys because I am on a public computer.

My phone number is on this blog! Scroll to the entry of 29 March.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Muggers and Misconceptions

Okay before I start on today's topic, I need to clarify the last post about our appartment. In case anyone is confused, the appartment that we got, is the one which required an interview with the picky Piedmontese Landlord. I think he prefers to call himself "selective" but at least he is not completely ignorant, and he realises that Singapore is not a hotbed of terrorist activity (or whatever his concerns were) and actually let us have the appartment we wanted for a reasonable price, and we are very happy about it.

Moving onto the first topic of today - I conclude that I am currently a shameless mugger. What do I mean by this? Well, I am a mugger because I study with consistency and enthusiasm. After working for 4 years, I now appreciate study of the law in a way that I never did whilst I was in university. For those of you that knew me in either Notts or NUS, you would know that I usually didn't even have a copy of the reading list. It would therefore surprise you to know that I am now reading ahead of the lectures! This means that I usually put up my hand and get all the questions right in class, ask questions and make what I hope are reasonably intelligent comments. I don't get much flak from my coursemates, because my comments/questions are usually simple and easy to understand (bearing in mind that most of my coursemates have English only as a second language). I cannot say the same for some of the responses recieved from some of the lecturers. I suppose they can make the excuse is that their first language is not English.

So where are my coursemates from? This class is about 40 percent Italian, and the rest come from the rest of the world. And we learn so much from each other, and take away a lot of preconceptions about other places in the world. For instance, Talal is my friend from Beirut. We had a reasonably long walk to the ticket shop to try to buy tickets for the Juventus - Liverpool match tommorrow. So on the way there, he gave me a quick history lesson on Lebanon, dispelled any myths about Beirut being a war zone, and invited me and Fabien to his house this summer. It is supposed to be a wonderful summer, because Lebanon will gain what Talal calls "actual" independence as opposed to the original powerless government which allowed Palestinians to force their way into Lebanese homelands (you can tell which angle this history lesson comes from).

If you walk through the classroom during a break, and you can hear Mira, the girl from Khazakstan, Murud from Uzebekistan, and Vitaly from Ukraine all speak Russian to each other. Listen to the 3 swiss guys talking to each other. Pierre will ask a question in French, Luca will answer in English and Manuel will object in Italian. After a few drinks, everyone automatically assumes that the rest of the world understands whatever language we are carrying on in, and I have had entire conversations in French to someone answering in Italian.

Okay, I will stop here because I have to finish reading this article on La loi applicable a l'arbitrabilitiè du litige (the law applicable to the issue of arbitrability). Did I tell you that even though the course is conducted in English, the reading list is in English, French and Italian?