Wednesday, October 28, 2009


In Physics, equilibrium is the state of an object when no part of it is accelerating. And it is happening everywhere. Are we fed up with the speedy pace of modern life? Lately I have randomly met people who are more interested in emotional balance. Last Friday, my cousin Rodolphe very kindly took me out to the Eagle in Farringdon (check it out, the food is delicious!), and I met a Swedish girl, as I was reading Healing without Freud or Prozac by David Servan-Schreiber. My expression, as I was reading, striked her, and she wanted to know what I was reading. We talked for at least 10 minutes about the importance of developing one's EQ. It was totally surreal, and both her boyfriend(?) and my cousin looked puzzled that two total strangers could talk, as if they had known each other for ever. The following day, I was buying some food supplements in a west London shops. A client said that he had to do something to the shop keeper, who rightly replied: "No man you don't have to do anything, don't put such pressure on yourself.". I backed him up to the great surprise of the other. And it is true, we are free to chose what we want to do. There is no absolute truth, it is only a way to stop us from being ourselves, and self-pressure, only contributes to violence and terrorism. Something is changing fast, everywhere. I walk up this morning and was humming - anyone knowing me knows I constantly sing without noticing it anymore - the song Am I black enough by the Chosen Few. And it goes: "We gonna move on up one by one...we ain't gonna stop 'till the work is over. We gonna move on up two by two, and this all world is gonna be brand new..." I am still humming with a broad smile on my face...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tied to others

London is an individualist city, where one can easily lost him/herself, and feel lonely. Historically, it is a trade city where people run after wealth and riches. Every big brand promotes their products on the ground of originality, when really everybody is dressed with the same poorly made clothes, eats the same industrial food. Something is changing though, life certainly is a battle in this world but one needs to go beyond survival to give it a sense. Lately, I have interacted in the street with strangers, and have started to think differently. This charming lady from the Balkans stopped me walking - or should I say running - to ask me, with a strong Russian accent, if the buses were running. She'd obviously waited for a long time. And of course, I couldn't resist but take a picture. Today, I was waiting for a friend at the corner of Electric Avenue, and a charming Jamaican old man kindly asked if I could hold his canvas bag for him to put a carrier bag in. And he rightly pointed that we need each other. My mind drifted on the meaning of freedom. Is it just independence, self-expression and originality? Or does it go beyond that? Independence, when isolated, makes one lonely, and therefore loses all its sense. I am experiencing the benefits of interacting with members of the urban community, without being tied to a group. I experienced that interaction can serve my professional and personal life. On Saturday, I was shopping at my local hardware store, and was telling my business plans to one of the shopkeepers. A client, who was eavesdropping, gave me some useful advice. I later learnt that he was opening a bakery round the corner from me... a new coffee place in South Island Place. It came as a great news for the days I feel to lazy to make my own breakfast...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Harlequin Glorybower

I love Autumn. Colours are beautiful. The light is constantly changing, and the landscape looks different throughout the day. In my opinion, autumn is the best time of the year to peep into front gardens. I know I am a sad person, but I can't help myself. Front gardens reveal so much about their owners personality; pleached trees and immaculately clipped box squares to match the big white cubes one can guess looking through white curtains, or messy and spontaneous gardens of old roses poking behind a wall too high to reveal the interior of a house. Walking around the other day, I came across one of my favourite plants Clerodendrum trichotomum. This shrub originally hails from Eastern China and Japan, and to tell the truth I haven't seen yet in its native habitats. Overall, it is a rather unattractive plants. It only caught my eyes, as it was standing by itself, braving trained and clipped plants in the surrounding gardens. And I've never resisted the beauty of its fruits: star-shaped with five reddish arms hugging a metallic blue centre. One can use a hand lens to observe this autumnal gem. And if I add the sweet fragrance produced by its summer flowers, the I am a very happy gardener indeed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eldorado of Modern Times

Supermarkets are packed with food and crammed with people. They either walk purposely towards their prey. They, more often, blankly stare at the shelves, confused by so much choice. One is amazed how little interaction happens between strangers. Sometimes people argue when someone jumps the queue at the till, or when the 'self-service check-out' (horrible thought and word) has broken down. On such occasions, one can hear a very loud rosary of fuck this and that. Supermarkets and the lack of contact are at the antipodes of independent food stores or markets, where the cashier -even when he is very rude - doesn't offend my hears half as much as a bleeping machine. I once needed to find some ingredients for a new recipe, and didn't know what a groundnut was. I was determined to come back home with what seemed essential to a food venture's success , and asked around me to quiet shoppers. A Swiss couple did their best to help me in my quest, without success, as they did not know more about groundnuts than I did. Some people looked offended to be spoken to by a stranger in a supermarket, and gave me dirty looks for not minding my own business, like everybody else! This sociological experience reinforces my belief that mankind increasingly prefers to talk with machines than with their peers. And, if like me, you don't know what a groundnut is, a very kind gentleman, looking sceptic at my question, eventually gave me the answer: "It is a peanut".

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Northern Line

I hate being on the tube at peak hours, hesitating as to jump on the train now or to wait for the next one that will be as packed - if not more. Tonight, I took a leap of faith and jumped on an overcrowded wagon. To my surprise, I was followed by a rather attractive man in his fifties, who closely escaped to be beheaded by the doors closing. I gasped and pushed him forward to avoid a drama. He thanked me and said "No senses, no pain", which was the beginning of a conversation on how insensible we were, that if I was a cow - I could detect a little sarcasm in his comment - I would not be allowed to travel like this. I wasn't surprised we shared the same thought; anyone sensible would agree on the inhumane conditions of travelling. The conversation drifted to the obvious question: "You are not English, aren't you?". To pretend I am English would mean to stay mute and miss on the nonsense of such rare moments, sounding like pirate recordings. A tube journey, at this very uncivilised time of the day, can be thoroughly enjoyed. Rescue a charming and witty stranger from the doors closing.