Tag Archive: travel


https://www.racked.com/2016/3/14/11173148/kinfolk-lifestyle-magazines

Unlike reading a newspaper, reading a lifestyle magazine is more an aesthetic than functional choice, a way of pursuing higher, or at least less immediate, interests like art, fashion, food, and good manners.

Lifestyle magazines are treated as light fare, but they fulfill the deeper purpose of helping us define ourselves. A publication like Godey’s Lady’s Book, founded by Louis A. Godey in Philadelphia in 1830, included fiction and poetry, as well as recipes and how-to guides outlining a “moral, maternal lifestyle —€” this is how women should be,” Haveman says. Editors published letters from loyal readers, and a consensus about how to live a particular kind of life formed over time.

What separates true lifestyle magazines from the likes of Harper’s, the New Yorker, or even N+1, which might obliquely define certain ways of life, is the sense of commodified identity that can be found in a publication like Cosmopolitan, described by founding editor Paul Schlicht as a “family magazine” when it launched in 1886.

The lifestyle magazine demonstrates what to consume as well as how to behave, and this ethos has informed how newspapers define their lifestyle content as well. In the 1950s, the New York Times summarized its women’s pages as “Food, Fashion, Family, and Furnishings.” Jacqui Shine’s comprehensive essay on The Awl shows how the women’s pages gradually evolved into a “Living Style” section that the Times launched in 1978, now known simply as Styles, with its signature “ambiguous variety of cultural reporting and criticism,” as Shine writes, a mix that continues to define lifestyle editorial today.

It’s worth noting that many popular lifestyle entities were, and continue to be, directed at women; the relationship to the domestic often means that the term itself is unfairly gendered. However, it is in fact an equal opportunity genre. GQ and Esquire became the dominant lifestyle magazines for men during the later 20th century, with “lad mags” like Maxim and FHM flaring up in the ’90s. Still more titles are unisex.

The category might be best summed up by what Adam Moss called the New York Times Magazine‘s iconic front-of-book section under his editorship in the 1990s: “The Way We Live Now.” (Though the Times Magazine isn’t a lifestyle magazine, Moss’s FOB section as well as his current domain, New York magazine, reflect an aspirational urban mode of living.) The successful lifestyle magazine is a mirror that reflects the trends of our times back at us, only a little prettier, more polished, and less complicated. It is “designed to either turn one’s life’s preferences into cliches, or turn cliches into your life preferences,” says Mental Floss executive editor Foster Kamer —€” often both at the same time.

Kinfolk’s Kin

Many independent print magazines populate Kinfolk’s wake. They often share its minimalist design, heavy stock, and serene photography, but each presents a slightly different shade of lifestyle. Here, a short list.

Alpine Modern: A Boulder, Colorado-based magazine, store, and cafe focusing on the concept of “elevated living,” both literal and figurative.

Smith Journal: An Australian quarterly that covers a quirky mix of “thinkers, adventurers, and makers.”

Four & Sons: A print and online publication “where dogs and culture collide” documenting a canine-friendly lifestyle.

Cereal: This Bristol, U.K. quarterly concerns “travel and style,” including branded accessories and city guides sold alongside the magazine.

Another Escape: “An outdoor lifestyle, creative culture, and sustainable living publication that explores the stories of passionate people.”

Drift: A New York-based title about “coffee, the people who drink it, and the cities they inhabit,” with truly insane column widths.

Les Others: A biannual French magazine and digital platform focusing on “fresh air and creativity.”

Provencial: This American quarterly’s mission is to “encourage a lifestyle of balance with a clear and intentional delineation between work and rest.”

 

By the mid-2000s, lifestyle magazines had become multi-platform lifestyle brands, moving from providing readers a sense of intangible community to creating the non-editorial products readers actually consume in order to solidify that sense of belonging. You can now buy a Monocle cardigan or croissant, or live in a pre-fab home designed by the shelter magazine Dwell. Print may have become less relevant with the advent of the internet, but businesses pushing aesthetically-conscious consumption are even more relevant as we document our every move on Snapchat and Instagram.

But it’s meant to be looked at more than read. The magazine’s large format, embossed serif logo, striking covers, and heavy stock have come to define the latest generation of lifestyle magazines. It’s now possible to find Kinfolk clones covering everything from mountain climbing to fatherhood to the joys of dog ownership. The copycats only serve to magnify the sense that Kinfolk really is everywhere.


Kinfolk itself is content with staying mysterious; it’s part of the brand. The company doesn’t release news about itself, and its websites are comically light on background information. After a month’s worth of emails, however, Nathan Williams agrees to meet for lunch near the magazine’s new headquarters in Copenhagen. (Still under renovation, the office is not yet “a comprehensive representation of the brand,” the communications director Jessica Gray warns me.) I book a flight departing a few days later and land in a wintry city, the sky flat and gray like matte paper.

Williams’s careful posture and soft voice seem of a piece with his upbringing. He often pauses to think about or check on his words. During these pauses, he purses his mouth, glances into the distance, and then soldiers on, having confirmed the proper valence of his sentence, often murmuring “yeah” in agreement with himself.

The late aughts could be considered an apogee for lifestyle blogging, a more diaristic and less nakedly monetized medium than its print equivalent, and Mormons led the charge.

 

Beyond its Mormon credo, Williams chose BYU Hawaii for its strong international business program, helped along by a scholarship offer. There, Williams studied economics in the footsteps of his father, an economics professor, “but I knew that I wasn’t really going to find something in that field I would enjoy.”

The late aughts could be considered an apogee for lifestyle blogging, a more diaristic and less nakedly monetized medium than its print equivalent, and Mormons led the charge. That was when Dooce and its proprietor Heather Armstrong, “queen of the mommy bloggers,” as the New York Times described her, hit peak popularity; Armstrong had attended Brigham Young University in Utah, but left the church before turning to blogging.

 

A spread from Kinfolk‘s winter 2016 design issue. Photo: Ouur Media

Mormon lifestyle blogging also intersected with the peak of flanneled artisanal hipsterdom that occurred around the same time. A 2012 article in Trinity College’s Religion in the News chalked this up to the recession. Without money to spend, “millennials have begun to look towards social gratification as a means of self-worth,” doubling down on close circles of friends and shopping at thrift stores for retro fashion.

The idea was to create a title that did talk about things we thought were important, a focus on community, slowing down, quality of life.”

 

 

The Copenhagen studio of Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi was featured in the summer 2015 issue. Photo: Anders Schønnemann

 

With issue sales mounting into the tens of thousands, the team moved to Portland in September 2012, where they brought their staff up to a dozen and launched an event series that saw official Kinfolk dinner parties hosted all over the world. These were documented in easily parodied videos in which, for example, a picnic table perfectly set for 12 suddenly appears atop a picturesque cliff that the attractive diners later leap off of into the ocean.

Kinfolk hit a cultural nerve that went far beyond the print magazine. “I don’t think we created anything new, maybe it’s just collected in a certain spot and presented in a certain way,” Williams says. “How many people post and share Kinfolk on Instagram, it’s kind of bizarre. It turned into its own beast that we have no control over.” Williams doesn’t have a personal Instagram and the official magazine account only posts once or twice a week, but #kinfolk is used about once a minute.

the magazine’s oppressive neatness also seemed like a mold followers had to fit into, performing m for the sake of an Instagram photo. “Everyone feels like every little part of their life has to be perfect. Nothing looks real anymore,” he continues. “You spend 20 minutes setting up your morning coffee with a copy of Kinfolk on a marble countertop.”


 

The editor is acutely aware of his magazine’s reputation. “We have our haters. There’s definitely a misconception that Kinfolk is more of an aesthetic and less of a,” Williams pauses at length before continuing, “company, or publication with at least some substance. The idea that some folks think it’s full of editorials of girls running through daisy fields with flower crowns, which, it’s not. God, no.”

Kinfolk‘s editorial mission has morphed into a larger pursuit of what Williams calls “intentionality”: “figuring out what’s most important to us and then finding a way to actually spend our time and energy on those things.” As Doug Bischoff puts it, “It’s kind of self-help content, but done in a way that appeals to our readership, paired with interesting writing and art direction.”

A Parisian dining room shot for the design issue. Photo: Anders Schønnemann

The magazine confronts our never-ending search for authentic connection, particularly in the internet era. “We’re on our laptops, on our phones all the time, that in itself is fine,” Williams says. “But the flip side is that it does create an appetite for real life, for relationships, for genuine bonds with the people around us. Kinfolk leverages that appetite.” For the duration of our lunch, Williams’s out-of-date iPhone doesn’t emerge from his pocket once.

This notion of authenticity has resonated around the world. Sales were strong in Japan even from the initial issues, and media companies there as well as in China, Korea, and Russia eventually inked syndication deals to translate and produce their own editions of Kinfolk, with careful oversight from the Portland team. Through an agent in Japan, the company hooked up with the local brand Actus to produce a line of clothing, austere outfits that a friend of mine visiting Tokyo described as “a cross between Muji and Everlane,” as well as a series of ascetic housewares, both under the label Ouur Collection. With the name “Ouur,” “the idea is we’re bringing together likeminded designs and ideas,” Williams says. But the significance of the name “just kind of turned into bogus.”

Ouur is modeling itself on businesses like BuzzFeed, Vice, and Vox (parent company to Racked), among many other media companies subsidizing their original editorial content with creative studio branches.


 

The lifestyle was better in Denmark, too. As Kinfolk might also imagine its readers, the Danes perennially rank among the happiest people in the world. “The work-life balance, it’s definitely a good fit for that. Most Danes don’t work past 3,” Williams says. Alongside the Danish emphasis on family, which Bischoff appreciates as he and his wife raise their two small children, there’s a “borderline laziness,” he says, then stops short. “I shouldn’t say that. They know how to spend their time wisely.”

“Even their ‘Imperfect’ issue was perfect in every way, shape, and form.”

Williams changed along with his company. As recently as 2012, he identified with Mormonism, but no longer does, nor does Katie (Doug and Paige Bischoff are the only two Mormons left on staff, Williams later writes over email). When I ask him to elaborate, he declines, preferring to leave religion out of the conversation. It’s clear, however, that Kinfolk has also become more inclusive.

I ask Williams if these editorial shifts were an intentional effort to change the magazine’s early notoriety as a bastion of white hipsterdom. “The first few issues it was really just an oversight,” he says. “If 90 percent of our shoots are happening in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Portland, I know people don’t like to hear it, but they’re actually not very diverse communities. That’s no excuse. You make it work, you figure out how to properly represent your readership. That’s what we’re doing now.”

Yet there remains a sanctimoniousness to Kinfolk. It portrays a right way of doing things set against an invisible wrong, packaging anxieties over topics like family, friendship, and connection in the guise of rustic tablescapes and drapey garments. Even if its models are more diverse, the magazine still has a pervasive air of whiteness about it, in the overall aesthetic homogeneity and the quest for a self-professed “purity.” As photographer Andrew Lee notes, “even their ‘Imperfect’ issue was perfect in every way, shape, and form.”

Kinfolk still offers a one-size-fits-all-who-seek-it lifestyle solution with little tolerance for mess. The increasingly rarified image of luxurious simplicity that it projects is far from possible, desirable, or even recognizable for everyone.

 


A few days after meeting Williams, I moved from my hotel into an apartment in Nørrebro, a hip neighborhood across the river from downtown Copenhagen. An open studio with tall ceilings and expansive windows, it’s described as “Boheme New Yorker style” on Airbnb. As I wandered across Copenhagen from artisanal coffee shop to curated bookstore, I thought about why I want the things I want: an industrial loft apartment, a precisely poured cortado, intimate dinner parties —€” all things that show up in Kinfolk.

I learned these aspirations through magazines, novels, television shows, and the tastes of my friends. Lined up, they seem like the punchline of a joke at my own expense, the reduction of an identity to a few arbitrary objects, and yet I feel an unjustifiable loyalty to them as mine.

I stop in Atelier September, a cafe and furniture boutique in a stately old storefront. With soft lighting, mid-century modern designs, and marble countertops, it exudes characteristically Danish hygge, the trendy term for coziness. But my mind kept wandering back to Kinfolk, which had become a kind of scrim warping everything in its own image.

From a beatific barista I order avocado toast, a culinary trope of the magazine’s audience. It had a local twist, the avocado shellacked like fish scales on dark Danish rye bread, and tasted transcendentally good. Maybe it was the jet lag, but bathed in the mild light of the gray day falling on the marble, I momentarily felt like a better person, or at least more like myself. Then I Instagrammed my cappuccino and it shot past 30 likes, a personal hit.

A lifestyle is made up of a shared vernacular. My Instagram was so popular because my friends recognized a quiet coffee in a foreign city as a badge of the lifestyle that we aspire to. Perhaps these days we demonstrate our mutual recognition by exchanging likes rather than buying magazine subscriptions. Aspiration is mediated by digital technology rather than print. We model our lifestyle goals in Instagram photos because the medium is so accessible. We can publicly participate in our chosen lifestyles all the time, constantly signaling our belonging and getting affirmation in return, creating our own communities rather than waiting for the directions of an editor.

This is ultimately why Kinfolk worked so well. It created a lifestyle with familiar, do-it-yourself tokens —€” the unfinished wood tables and mason jars and dinner parties —€” fit for a world in recession, and subsumed them within an iconic visual style that was equally easy to participate in through social media. Kinfolk also came into existence just as we started using platforms like Instagram aspirationally, translating the aesthetics of the glossy print page onto the even glossier screen and making them our own in the process. As Williams admits, he lost control of what “Kinfolk” communicated. It means more to people as a label than as a substantive movement or even a magazine.

Photo by Anders Schønnemann for Racked

The #Kinfolk community is united less by particular ideas about how to live than a superficial visual style. It enforces monotony rather than embracing differences of identity. The same emblems of aspiration can now be found in Brooklyn or Copenhagen as easily as Tokyo, Lisbon, London, or Istanbul, and Kinfolk is always there to provide them, piggybacking on the meme it has become.

The challenge that Williams and Ouur face is how to reclaim an image of self-affirming authenticity when the perspective that once made them unique is now universal. It’s the hipster paradox: you can’t be both nonconformist and part of a massive, global group.

“Convergence is possible only at the price of shedding identity,” architect Rem Koolhaas wrote in his 1995 book, The Generic City. “Identity is like a mousetrap in which more and more mice have to share the original bait, and which, on closer inspection, may have been empty for centuries.”


There’s a kind of schadenfreude to watching the meaning drain from a lifestyle aesthetic, in the fading relevance of latte art and avocado toast. Lifestyle is like high fashion —€” you can only chase it in its wake, catching fleeting moments. I started to wonder what Williams himself was chasing, so I met him again one night at his office.

The editor doesn’t live an immaculate Kinfolk life. Williams watches Seinfeld at home after work and follows along with the latest potboiler TV: The Good Wife, The Black List. Rather than novels, he reads the usual business books on entrepreneurship, leadership, and running a creative team. But he still has to determine how Ouur will direct the Kinfolk-y aspirations of its audience, present and future. The vision of a lifestyle must constantly be refined, made to appear effortless, timely, authentic, and unaware of its own artificiality. To better explain his goals, Williams shared a moment of clarity he had experienced earlier that day.

Joni Mitchell

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/joni-mitchells-openhearted-heroism 

All she needed was her lyrics, preternaturally analytic, wry, and shrewd; her chords, largely self-invented, a kind of calligraphy of the moods; and her voice, which modulates from patter to rue to rhapsody in a single phrase. In concert, she sometimes trained her attention on a single listener in the front row, casting the stranger as the vivid “you” of a song who in real life may have been Sam Shepard, James Taylor, or Leonard Cohen. The best pop music is often preening and shamanic.

This photo of a Danish kitchen appears in The Kinfolk Home. Photo

excerpts from  https://the-shooting-star.com/2013/08/01/10-life-lessons-from-2-years-of-travelling/

We take life too seriously.Most of us have been brought up and set in such moulds of what our life should look like by the time we’re thirty, that we forget it’s okay to mess up and live a little. Meeting people both in my own backyard and halfway across the world made me realize that you don’t always have to be running and aspiring for something more. That more than a steady job, a posh apartment, a promotion, a life partner, or even a to-do list, it’s more fulfilling to have a life that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

Freedom is underrated.

At some point after I quit my job (Read: The Story of How I Quit My Job to Travel) and gave up any semblance of a regular schedule, I started to wonder why so many people, my family included, couldn’t appreciate the sense of freedom I felt everyday. Then I met a fisherman in Mauritius who chose not to work in a factory for more money like his friends, because he loved the sea and could choose not to work on some days and still feed his family (Read: What a Fisherman Taught Me About Paradise). It was his philosophy that made me more sure of mine.

Possessions are overrated.While moving to Delhi from Singapore two years ago, I had accumulated a few suitcases worth of stuff, from six years of living there. I decided to get rid of most of it, though not without the gnawing feeling that I was going to miss it. The truth? A month from then, I didn’t even remember what stuff I had left behind. I’m in the process of instituting a big change in my life after August, and this time I’ll be more than happy to get rid of the things I certainly don’t need.

Karma can bitch-slap you.You know when you go all out to help a friend and then they brutally backstab you? That’s kind of what karma has done to me recently. I won’t go into details, but I think I’ve learnt my lesson right here in the travel industry. You can either do the right thing or be politically correct, and while both have their consequences, it’s not true that doing the right thing can’t screw you over. That’s just how life is.

Strangers are kind.I’ve trashed all those horror stories that end with the lesson, don’t talk to strangers. If I had a penny for every time I’ve been overwhelmed with the kindness of a stranger on my travels, I’d be a millionaire. Families with so little in small villages in India have shared their meals and life stories with me. People in Turkey opened up their homes and hearts to this stranger from Hindistan (Read: So Long, Turkey). The hospitality of an Aussie expat in Mauritius and a French-Mauritian couple in Rodrigues blew me over. And I haven’t yet experienced anything close to the warmth of the Bahraini people (Read: Land of a Thousand Friends). So trust your gut, but let strangers show you what a kind world we live in.

Happiness is not the goal.I always thought that the leap of faith I took two years ago, to live and travel on my own terms, would take me closer to the illusive feeling of happiness. And it has. But happiness is such a fleeting feeling. Happiness for me was a drunk man on a lonely road in Sri Lanka stopping and shining the torch in our direction, till we found our way back to our guesthouse. Happiness was walking into a bakery in Turkey to ask for directions, and having the owner pull out his truck to give me a ride. The memories of these moments last, but happiness itself doesn’t. Recently a friend told me, we’re not people who can be happy. We’re just drifters. It’s true.

Fridays in France: Six Decadent Places in Bordeaux

The Decadence Project: Bordeaux France

#1:  The Burdigala Hotel

Burdigala Hotel3First, let’s check into the ultra-chic Burdigala Hotel and let the refined elegance of the five-star oasis cover us like a soft cashmere blanket. Feel that? Ahhhh, that’s relaxation at its finest.

hotelEvery inch of the Burdigala is classy and chic, yet comfortable. No pretenses here, just lovely luxury.

Burdigala Hotel2At La Bacchus Bar inside the hotel, the region’s delicious wines are samples and nibbles served.

Burdigala Hotel4Every room, from the “regular” to the opulent suites, are designed to make you feel like you’ve died and gone to Style Heaven. (yes, I said that. Style heaven.)

#2: The Café Opéra

Cafe OperaDo you like your fries with a side of opulence? Then Café Opéra is calling (singing?) your name! Located inside Bordeaux’s famous Grand Opera House, the lovely cafe is perfect to stop in for a quick lunch on the terrace or inside the chandelier-dripping main dining room.

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#3: L’Autre Petit Bois

L'Autre Petit Bois4

L'Autre Petit Bois2…………….wine bars in Bordeaux are like churches in the Bible Belt: plentiful. But L’Autre Petit Bois is a stand-out that will leave you smitten. Not only do they serve a variety of local tastings, but the decor is unmatched. Chandeliers hang among the tree branches, furniture whispers of Baroque-style France and whimsical elements keep things fun and casual. Sip, sip!

#4:  Bordeaux Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux)

bordeaux cathedralII

BordeauxCathedral3Bordeaux features several stunning basilicas and cathedrals, all with their own charm and history, but the Bordeaux Cathedral (also called Saint Andres or St. Andrews) is a must-see. The Romanesque house of worship was originally built back in 1096 and has been continually renovated over the last thousand years. Dramatic interior architecture, including soaring rib-vaulted ceilings and pointed arches, will take your wine-infused breath away.

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#5: Walk the rue Sainte-Catherine

Rue-Sainte-CatherineI don’t know about you, but I love strolling through French streets. No purpose. No agenda. Just seeing what I might see. That means I’d love the rue Sainte-Catherine. Considered the longest street in Europe (1.2 kms!) it is lined with lovely shops, a fountain, a bell tower, and even a cemetery. Explore quickly, explore slowly, but take time to really indulge in all the little secrets that rue Sainte-Catherine wants to share.

#6: Place de la Bourse / Place Royale

Place de la Bourse

place_de_la_bourseAlthough gorgeous during the day, with it’s symmetry and jaw-dropping architecture, Place de la Bourse (Place Royale) is best seen at dusk. That’s when the square, built in the 18th Century in honor of King Louis XV, begins to glisten. As darkness falls, the surrounding buildings (and famous fountain!) are illuminated, suddenly adding a touch of magic to the monument.

The siren song of Santorini

  • A view of the town of Fira. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
    A view of the town of Fira. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
  • Boats docked at Nea Kameni. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
    Boats docked at Nea Kameni. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
  • The zig zag route to Thirassia. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy
    The zig zag route to Thirassia. Photo: Priyadarshini Paitandy

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/the-siren-song-of-santorini/article5006806.ece

Sweeps the culinary vote

Blend of Local Food on a Plate. Photo: Sonia Nazareth

  • Blend of Local Food on a Plate. Photo: Sonia Nazareth
  • Serving Qahwa Outside the Grand Mosque. Photo: Sonia Nazareth
      Serving Qahwa Outside the Grand Mosque. Photo: Sonia Nazareth

There’s much more to Omani cuisine than just sun-dried dates and fresh coffee, finds Sonia Nazareth.

Oman’s reputation as a land of striking contrasts — of desert sands and azure seas — is as well-established as its reputation as a culture of boundless hospitality. Dates and qahwa (strong aromatic coffee that combines a rich blend of freshly roasted coffee beans and pungent cardamom powder) are central to any ritual of welcome.

I remember people shaking their heads at me in despair, at a gesture so uncivilised, as my offering to pay for the aromatic coffee and sun-dried dates in the Bedouin homes I visited.

The capital city of Muscat does the big city thing and offers a variety of international cuisines. But Khargeen Cafe is perfect if you want to try local fare rooted in tradition. The waiter in this low-lit atmospheric restaurant — with its trees glimmering with fairy lights and the music of sizzling kebabs — takes brisk charge to keep pace with the stream of customers flowing in, “You’ll be wanting shuwa, everyone loves our shuwa,” he declares with pride. This traditionally Omani and Eid-celebratory dish of roasted goat or lamb, elaborately cooked in a large fire pit dug in stony earth, lives up to its succulent juicy and exceedingly tender reputation. It needs to be eaten with khubz rukhal, a wishbone-thin bread as light as a feather. Despite the fact that we’re partaking in a meal of shuwa without the accompanying camel races, and dances by men with shields and swords that usually go with this festive food, it sweeps the culinary vote.

The constant in traditional Omani cuisine, whether at home or at a restaurant, is all fresh ingredients and generous quantities. The one meal I ever partook of in an Omani household saw the table shifting uneasily under the weight of the feast upon it. Msanif (small patties of shredded meat, flavoured with a pungent coat of seasonings, covered in light batter and fried), Mishkak (bite-sized pieces of meat, basted in honey or date syrup, marinated in the juice of limes and skewered on date palm sticks); Samak bil narjeel (fish in coconut sauce). Besides being delicious in itself, the fish is a rich reminder of Oman’s sea-faring trade.

………….If scented candles could be made out of the air here, the candles would smell of an enticing mix of cloves, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and black peppercorns. These spices when ground together are called bizaar. The man selling them, with pride written all over his youthful face, recalls a time when Omani sailors set sail with cargos of frankincense, horses, dates and copper to trade for spices, silk and porcelain……………………….Fresh dates may be boiled to a pulp and strained through muslin to make a honey-like syrup. This is then used as a dip or spread for bread. The pulp is added to rice and other traditional dishes.

To eat or drink ethnic food as close as possible to its cultural context and in the vessels that were crafted for it can transform an everyday encounter into an extraordinary experience. But the feeling of cultural satiation stems from more than good food and drink. It stems from the generosity and kindness, which clearly makes any experience here more than the sum of its parts.

 http://theartoftheroom.com/2013/06/toujours-provence/

 

 

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A Provençal mas constructed of local stone overlooks lavender fields below a village in the Lubéron. Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Summertime in Provence is a feast for the senses – fields of sleep-inducing lavender contrasting the positively sunny disposition of row upon row of sunflowers; the colorful and tempting displays of fruit, vegetables and flowers at village marchés arranged in eye-catching compositions reminiscent of a Cezanne or Van Gogh; aromatic herbs carrying their heady notes through the warmed summer air; the building crescendo of cigales (cicadas), the official symbol of Provence; the golden and red ocher and metallic redolence of earth; the green-gray calico of the plane tree’s bark; the secrets of the mistrals; the sun-baked Provençal clay that protects and cools dwellings with rustic simplicity; the Provençal table set with fresh and simply prepared local ingredients; the distinctive herbal flavor of the traditional apéritif; the sound of crushing gravel over a game of pétanque. Provence beholds a romantic, seductive beauty and ease of living nonpareil. Slow living has always been a way of life here.

Luberone Sunflowers 470

A colorful field of sunflowers in the Lubéron.

A marché in Aix-en-Provence. Photo by Cristopher Worthland.

The deep russet ocher earth unique to Roussillon. Photo by Cristopher Worthland

The mottled beauty of plane trees on a gravel terrace at Le Mas de Baraquet, home of Bruno (architect) and Dominique (garden designer) Lafourcade (British House & Garden magazine).

The mottled beauty of plane trees on a gravel terrace at Le Mas de Baraquet, home of Bruno (architect) and Dominique (landscape designer) Lafourcade. Photo by Clive Nichols; British House & Garden magazine.

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Roussillon’s distinctive village washed in shades of red ocher. Photo by Cristopher Worthland.

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Endless discoveries abound within the region’s rich heritage: ruins of the Marquis de Sade’s castle in Lacoste, the Lubéron. Photo by Cristopher Worthland.

Atmosphere is the single most essential quality, in my opinion, of an engaging environment – be it interior or exterior, natural or man-made. For my love of houses I was instantly drawn to the regional vernacular with its taste for rustic yet refined simplicity and the hand-made versus the machine-made. There is a quiet, unpretentious elegance to how things are done here. There is an inherent grace and ease with which they live out their daily lives: no rush to “catch-up” with the latest this or that. Time stands still in these ancient hills of the Celts, Greeks, and Romans.

Les Ramades, Betty and François Catroux’s Provençal mas. Photo by François Halard.

My favorite Provençal dwellings are the simplest of them, void of “pretty” contrivances  –  bundles of lavender hanging from beams and posts; a panoply of pretty coordinating patterned textiles; rusty, wobbly iron furniture (please, not another iron daybed-cum-sofa!); or, a surfeit of quaint French country furniture. I much prefer rooms with a personal point of view that relate to their surroundings naturally and elegantly.

elegance |ˈeləgəns|:

1 the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance or manner; style
2 the quality of being pleasingly ingenious and simple; neatness

Van Day Truex's cottage, Chaumet, in Gargas, Provence. Photo by Michael Boys. The New York Book of Interior Design and Decoration, 1976.

The living room in Van Day Truex’s Provençal cottage, Chaumet, in Gargas, Provence. Photo by Michael Boys. The New York Book of Interior Design and Decoration, 1976.

English architect Thomas Wilson's 300-year-old home in the south of France. AD Jan/Feb 74. Photography by Tim Street-Porter

English architect Thomas Wilson’s 300-year-old home in the south of France.
AD Jan/Feb 1974. Photo by Tim Street-Porter.

Elegance need not be, as many assume, formal. Of course, there are many refined and formal residences that capture this region’s unpretentious qualities with grace and elegance. The best of them embrace the characteristics of their locale and traditions without resorting to kitsch notions of the romantic. Nor need rustic simplicity infer the bolt-hole of a country bumpkin – le péquenaud. Au contraire! A certain level of appropriate sophistication is always welcome in my book, and expressions of an artful life is high among them. After all Cezanne lived and worked here, as did Van Gogh and Picasso. What better place to express one’s creativity than in the calming embrace of the countryside? It’s cliché, I know, to say, but nature is my muse.

Château de Vauvenargues

Château de Vauvenargues, the 17th-century house where Pablo Picasso and his wife Jacqueline lived between 1959 and 1965.

Château de Vauvenargues

Picasso’s wife, Jacqueline, being illuminated by photographer Daniel Barrau in Picasso’s studio at Château de Vauvenargues.

Creative gestures through references to one’s personal history and caprices, within the parameters of good design, is what makes one’s abode compelling. Two designers whose work I greatly admire, Jacques Grange and François Catroux, inject their rooms with insouciant style, personality and panache, often referencing myriad stylistic periods and cultures. Their respective private residences in Provence honor local building traditions without resorting to local decorative artifice, creating highly personal, elegant and gracious rooms that transcend time and place.

Jacque Grange's farmhouse, Mas Mireio, in Provence. Photo by François Halard, HG; July, 1989.

Jacque Grange’s farmhouse, Mas Mireio, in Provence. Photo by François Halard, HG; July, 1989.

The living room of Jacques Grange’s Provençal mas was once a shed for farm animals. A mix of styles and periods is unified through shape, proportion, material and textural simplicity: the facing woven rush lounge chair in the foreground was designed by the French modernist Charlotte Perriand while the fauteuil near the fireplace is 17th-century; a 1950′s oak table by Jean Royère is watched over by a metal sculpture of a bull that incorporates a removable head mask once worn at fêtes in the Camargue – from where denim and the cowboy originate;  Berber rugs are laid over local terra-cotta tiles.

Mas Mireio

The library-dining room in Jacque Grange’s farmhouse, Mas Mireio, in Provence. Photo by François Halard, HG; July, 1989.

Jacques Grange combined seemingly disparate furnishings and decorative objects in the library-dining room: English Arts and Crafts oak chairs surround a table covered with a Tarascon quilt beneath a Venetian lantern; 19th-century French ceramic columns flank a window lined with Moroccan pottery. The mix is decidedly eclectic, a tad exotic, yet harmonious, bearing the quality of the hand-made.

The living room in François Catroux’s Provençal farmhouse featured in French Elle Decor. Photo by Marianne Haas.

François Catroux opted for treated cement floors imbedded with stones from the river Durance in a diamond pattern in favor of the ubiquitous local stone or tile. Natural materials and textures harmonize in a sober environment of cool, almost monastic, calm.

François Catroux Provençal farmhouse featured in Architectural Digest. Photo by Marina Faust.

The dining room in François Catroux’s Provençal farmhouse featured in Architectural Digest. Photo by Marina Faust.

Raw, bleached and pale painted wood furniture, rusticated and painted beams, a pale cement floor, and natural linen curtains punctuated by contrasting black iron table bases, the dark diamond pattern of the river stone-set floor, and the dark trim on the curtains is done to great harmonious effect.

These quietly confident rooms speak to me on a soul level. They aren’t designed to impress but to embrace, elevate and provide comfort. They represent a life well-lived free of artifice. These are rooms which  cultivate creativity in their absence of clutter, naturally. Nature is their muse.

In coming posts we will visit in more depth the Provençal homes of Van Day Truex, Jacques Grange and François Catroux. We will also visit another Provençal retreat designed by Grange for Terry and Jean Gunzburg, along with the famous and oft documented retreat of the late Rory Cameron, as well as a few refined and elegant estates that represent the best in gracious living and timeless beauty.

The Chic Catroux

It’s interesting how you see some designers all over the place and some nowhere at all.  I wish we could see more work of the interior designer François Catroux.  Maybe staying under the radar and a lack of self promotion is a French thing or a European thing.  It’s certainly, as we all know, not an American thing.  I think it’s even more interesting since François Catroux’s wife Betty was a model and muse of Yves Saint Laurent who was has more than her fair share of publicity.  The scarcity of published projects makes it that much more exciting when you do come across one and especially when it’s their own home.  Enjoy!
Betty and Francois Catroux, 1970

Icons of Elegance: François and Betty Catroux

It happened in Paris, at a 1967 art exhibit. While the city’s glamorous elite mingled about the room, sipping champagne and sharing laughs, two people were introduced who would eventually become one of France’s most glamorous power couples. On that night, 45 years ago, interior designer François Catroux set eyes on Chanel model Betty Saint, resulting in a lasting love, and creative influence, like the art world had never seen.

In the four decades since their spectacular wedding, the couple has been a fixture in fashionable social circles, including Betty’s close friendship with late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.  But in the midst of the glitz, the Catroux’s maintained an air of elegant comfort, content to remain understated while other designers enjoyed the spotlight. Their names might not be as widely recognized as fellow designer David Hicks, but their spaces whisper of pure genius.

 With a client list that includes Rothschilds, Santo Domingos, the Shah of Iran and King Hussein of Jordan, there is no doubt of François Catroux’s decorative brilliance. So when he and Betty redecorated their Paris apartment last year, the couple put that brilliance to work, creating an atmosphere of pure luxury that perfectly reflects them.

A photo from Betty and Francois Catroux’s February 1968 wedding at Cap Ferrat, celebrated as one of the most stylish weddings of the 60s. The bride wore a Pierre Cardin fur coat and boots, while the groom opted for a chocolate colored velvet suit paired with a white turtleneck.

A a 1995 portrait of Betty Catroux by Philippe de Lustrac hangs above a Vladimir Kagan sofa.

Lovely items collected over the years are arranged throughout the apartment, giving the space a personal touch

YSL and Betty CatrouxBetty Catroux and Yves Saint Laurent, who called her “his twin sister”

Having redecorated their apartment in Paris, the couple next turned their focus on their country home in Provence.

The dining room is comfortable while maintaining a feeling of simple elegance.

Francois and Betty, 1970′s

 I adore how a socialite couple known to party until dawn with Brigitte Bardot and Loulou de la Falaise can still create – and enjoy – such a simple country kitchen, complete with unassuming cabinets and whimsical touches.

A cozy bedroom still gets the Catroux touch with stacks of stones that serve as bedside tables!

“My husband is an interior designer and a genius. It’s hard work living with men like Yves or my husband, who think about the aesthetic and about beauty all the time. You can never relax and you have to make an effort every second of the day. It’s a way of working really.” 

via Harper’s Bazaar

Matisse line drawings hand on the library wall, a place where many interesting conversations have surely taken place.

Dining al freco is done in style

Lanterns from Vietnam give a distinct feeling to the outdoor space.

Although four decades have passed since their meeting, the couple has maintained a young, fresh perspective on life, love and luxury. What rich, outrageous lives they’ve lived!

 

Tuscan Adventure

Tuscan adventure, was it all dreamed

Rolling hills played with mist, so it seemed

The people all smiled, full of life’s joys

Children played, both girls and the boys.

Foods of such taste that I’m drooling right now

As we sat and ate outside as nature allowed

Something so peaceful, a calm to the place

Like a painting on canvas trimmed with white lace…

The Irish Coastline

The BeZine

In Ireland, the ocean is everywhere.

Sometimes hiding in the mist…

History hangs heavy in the ocean air, like breath moistened by a story.

In rough weather…

Or calm…

Whether watching intently…

Or only vaguely aware of it…

You can still smell the salt in the air…like a ghost.

You can feel it like a heartbeat…

And hear it like a lullabye…

Copyright 2012 text and photographs Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in…

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Lakshmi Loves To Shop

“Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home “…Marvin Gaye

I love the words to this song. Obviously when you travel you don’t want your hotel to be just like home otherwise you would never travel at all. However, when I travel, the hotels I stay in are my “home” for those few days. I don’t need the perfection of five-star hotels but I do look for certain things to make my stay perfect.

  • Cleanliness is top of the list. I don’t mind a little faded and jaded as long as it is clean.
  • Safe and secure.
  • Character is very important. I love staying at places with little details that catch the eye.
  • Location is the key to getting the most out of your stay.
  • Great staff are the icing on the cake that complete your stay.

If you are visiting Fort Cochin in Kerala, India The Old Courtyard ticks all…

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Tree House in India

 

“………… Frustrated at having pulled so many bodies out of the sea, a retired police officer Yukio Shige, started his one man crusade patrolling the cliffs for potential jumpers. He convinced hundreds of people from jumping and taking their lives.”

http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/the-50-greatest-travel-books-of-all-time/

I doubt if I can read all of them  , but my first picks are  Kerouac , (has long been on my list) , Salak ,Krakauer , have read few of Whitman , Rilke , Ginsberg (I think  he and kerouac together , for knowing about the beat generation)  and of course – Mehta /Mumbai. These are the classic recos , but i think there are many works of fiction , which i  picked up for a dose of mystery or chicklit etc and  ended up travelling ( armchair travel , I mean 🙂  ), as the writers succeeded in intertwining the plot with the place , making it a fascinating read  .

My recos : So from the works of fiction I’ve read ( and can hopefully recollect) thus far – picks from my limited knowledge –   The Razor’s Edge ( W. Somerset Maugham) – Paris in all its bohemian glory  ,  Austen / bronte – for their depiction of english countrysides ( envy lizzie’s walks in the countryside , beautifully picturised  in the  adaptation *ing Ehle – my all-time fav portrayal of   Miss Bennet) , FINDING MONSIEUR RIGHT – Muriel Zagha and  Ellen byerrum‘s  Lost corset( should carry  these 2 as tour guides for Paris) , Out of africa – the real Africa in all its glory  – incomplete without its ethnic tribes – the Masai – poignantly portrayed by Isak , Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda  – though not a travel book as such , I think it portrays the hidden India , our soul- which we are trying to move away from , a mystery set in  Maine –  the name of which I can’t  recollect as of now , Shallow breath – Australia , with its beaches and wildlife , Louise penny‘s books  for a peek into the Canadian countryside etc. Now for the matador   list :

1. Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway

2. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux 

3. Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin

4. When We Were Orphans by Kazou Ishiguro

5. Four Corners: Into the Heart of New Guinea-One Woman’s Solo Journey by Kira Salak

6. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

7. Into the Wild by John Krakauer

8. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel by Dai Sijie

9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

10. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

11. America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

12. Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History by Robert D. Kaplan

13. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

14. Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East by Pico Iyer

15. The Castle by Franz Kafka

16. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

17. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

18. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

19. The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert

20. The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel by Liza Dalby

21. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

22. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thomson

23. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

24. Lord of the Flies by William S. Golding

25. Dubliners by James Joyce

26. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

27. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

28. Maximum City Maximum City by Suketu Mehta

29. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

30. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

31. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

32. Going Solo by Roald Dahl

33. I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallman

34. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost

35. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Marie Rilke

36. The Living City by Frank Lloyd Wright

37. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

38. The Beach by Alex Garland

39. The Size of the World: Once Around Without Leaving the Ground by Jeff Greenwald

40. Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

41. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

42. The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron

43. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

44. The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

45. The Book Bag by W. Somerset Maugham

46. The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham

47. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

48. Collected Poems 1947-1997 by Allen Ginsberg

49. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

50. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Bring a vacation home into your interiors by following the cottage style influence.   The cottage style brings in relaxation, casual charm and an open atmosphere to any space.  Cottages are usually associated with calming retreats away from your daily life routine, such as visiting a beach or perhaps a bungalow in the city or even in escaping to a cabin tucked away in the woods.  So create this ambiance in your own favorite spaces or home décor.  The cottage style is a bit simplistic than most but none the less filled with plenty of beauty and serenity. – See more at: http://stagetecture.com/2013/06/guest-blogger-how-to-bring-cottage-style-into-your-interiors/#sthash.Bbdhwip5.A8ZlGoaH.dpuf
Bring a vacation home into your interiors by following the cottage style influence.   The cottage style brings in relaxation, casual charm and an open atmosphere to any space.  Cottages are usually associated with calming retreats away from your daily life routine, such as visiting a beach or perhaps a bungalow in the city or even in escaping to a cabin tucked away in the woods.  So create this ambiance in your own favorite spaces or home décor.  The cottage style is a bit simplistic than most but none the less filled with plenty of beauty and serenity. – See more at: http://stagetecture.com/2013/06/guest-blogger-how-to-bring-cottage-style-into-your-interiors/#sthash.Bbdhwip5.fVbWhLw6.dpuf

articles/design

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/a-letter-to-young-men-who-protested-against-rape/article4278356.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/the-happy-persons-meal-plan/article4398708.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/no-workout-worries/article4278370.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/thank-you-for-the-music/article4398699.ece –  reminds of my dad trying raga recognition……….

My brother and mother then began to ask me (the newly-discovered savant) — “what feeling does this song give?” And I would reply “sad” or “happy” to start with, and on to “like praying” or “like boyfriend-girlfriend” or “like king-and-queen” (much to my family’s amusement, because I didn’t yet know the words “devotional” or “romantic”, or “regal”, but that is what I was trying to express). And so there it was: the raga name, its identifiable face or mukhda in a film song, and its bhaav or emotional charge, all “taught” to me in a non-lesson.

As I grew, Hindi film songs of the time and older ones became a rich repository of raga recognition. My mother would then often “staple” a raga that she was learning with a song that we liked, providing one more approach-road to the rich farmland of classical music. Was this a thought-out strategy to transfer music knowledge to her kids? I don’t think so. There was very little that was premeditated in my mother’s personality. So it is likely that she was simply joining some dots for herself and us, in a casual, relaxed journey of discovery.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/wellness-read/article4398710.ece -John Perry’s new book, Don’t Buy This Book Now!: The Art of Procrastination argues that procrastinators are often perfectionists, and structured procrastinating or doing one thing as a way of not doing something else is sometimes extremely effective.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/the-two-faces-of-tokyo/article4278372.ece   –  Everywhere I turn in this city, there is a visible dichotomy between the old and new. I get off the Metro and walk through a shopping area inside the station, larger than many malls in India. And at a short distance from the exit, I enter a Japanese home to witness a traditional tea ceremony. It is a different world here. The lady of the house is in her kimono and the students, here to (re)learn their traditions, are men in business suits.

There is a lot of talk about Japan’s, in particular Tokyo’s, global identity and modern ways but to my uninformed eyes, they seem as conformist as ever. While the style on the street is definitely avant-garde (think of Tokyo as an Asian Milan), people with tattoos are viewed with suspicion. Even tattooed teenagers trying out their newfound coolness are not allowed in several places including city buses and trains.

And they take their rules very seriously. My guide almost weeps in embarrassment when her cellphone suddenly rings in the middle of a Metro ride. There is no written law; it is just impolite and therefore not acceptable to disturb other passengers. That kind of discipline is ingrained and imparts them with a great dignity, even while noisily slurping noodles from a bowl.

I have read a lot about the Japanese love for all things aesthetic and sensual. Their preference seems to be for straight lines rather than curves, perhaps an extension of their need for tidiness. On my way into the city from the airport, I see building after building, a Legoland of little square boxes balanced delicately on top of each other.

This is the most fascinating culture I have seen, even if for a short time and from a distance. Japan is a country torn between the allure of a shiny modern persona and the strength of its strong traditional heritage. And nowhere is this struggle more evident than in Tokyo.

Must-dos in Tokyo: Visit the Asakusa Kannon temple and Roppongi Hills tower, make a day trip to Mount Fuji, watch a kabuki performance, attend a baseball match, buy a kimono, shop at Shibuya district and eat sushi.

                                                                                                                   BOHEMIAN / ECLECTIC /RUSTIC   DESIGN

 bohemian design
My Bohemian Home
My Bohemian Home ~ Outdoor Spacesberengia:Arched Window
  My Bohemian Lifestyle
thatbohemiangirl:</p><br /><p>My Bohemian Home ~ Outdoor Spaces<br /><br />
  My Bohemian Home <br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Incredible!!

http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/01/08/12-things-you-should-never-stop-doing/ –  Start doing these things now and never stop…

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/memory-plays-truant/article4324629.ece Memory plays truant – Despite the rising number of people with dementia, awareness of the problem and support for caregivers is abysmal,………….. Where will we get nurses/helpers we can trust and who are also trained in dementia care?

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/crime-and-punishment/article4324619.ece – Guilt and shame, inevitable human emotions that usually serve a constructive purpose, can sometimes assume pathological proportions.    (had  read Crime and Punishment  Fyodor Dostoyevsky – mentioned in this article – eons ago – shud read it again…………..)

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/great-statesmen-great-lovers-of-books/article4303270.ece – The weather and temperature in Kerala imparted a special smell to those magazines. The heat, the golden light coming through the windows, the smell of mangoes and the silence broken only by the tick-tock of a clock on the ground floor: the summer of 62 is a summer never to be forgotten. My passion for reading grew stronger with every passing day. Very soon I agreed with Logan Pearsall Smith, “They say life’s the thing, but I prefer reading.”

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/wellness-read/article4303279.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/dancing-with-the-divine/article4349452.ece

Dancing with the divine

The dance I dance becomes more beautiful each day,

When I can open my heart and swing both ways.

To feel for the ones I like and even those I don’t.

What a blessing to be shown,

That I can dance better being connected yet detached.

Involved in the music yet matching step

With the one I’m dancing with.

Being aware of the other’s grip

And of my hold, I was told,

Not to cling tight, but relax.

Yet fear of falling and failing can impede grace.

I also know one can be consumed in the race.

Of getting to some other wonderful place

That promises peace

And I start to relax right now into a space,

Where, my emotions do not make me ill at ease.

And in that softening

I find the opening to slip away

From grips that are hard

And hearts that are cold

The more I dance the less I fear

I glide away from the familiar

And yet it all seems the same

The dance where I twirl

Not afraid to unfurl

Into all my glory

I see myself entwined

Dancing with the divine

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/treasures-of-spain/article4349453.ece –    Massive stone foundations and medieval ruins, dating back two thousand years, lie along the town’s plaza and now serve as a meeting point. The interiors of homes, cafes, restaurants, bars and even banks, are still adorned by Roman arches; their own personal souvenirs from history. The oldest shop that stands in the town dates back to the 1700s, and has been continuing its legacy of selling candles for almost 300 years. The cobbled streets culminate in the colossal Catedral de Tarragona, which is perhaps the only evidence of Moorish influence on the town; Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance eras are equally reflected in the cathedral’s architecture.

The lane with the painted dividers.PhotoS: Shivya Nath

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/blueprint-for-a-life/article4349446.ece  –  Mukund Padmanabhan looks back fondly at his days in the small and unusual Blue Mountain School, Ooty.  ……………was pleased to see “the school beginning to smarten up a bit and the children looking a bit less… wild.” I was extremely pleased to learn that it was Pearce who thought up asthachal , that simple but beautiful practice where children collect on a hillock in the evenings to watch the sun go down in quiet reflection.

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/the-great-tech-party/article4344353.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/an-interface-between-art-and-heritage/article4342146.ece

Landmark event:(Clockwise from left) An installation by Subodh Gupta; Ibrahim Quraishi's installation titled ‘Islamic Violins'; Artist K. Raghunadhan with his unfinished work; an installation made by students of art design and communication of CEPT University, Gujarat.Photos: H. Vibhu, K.K. Mustafah,Thulasi Kakkat

Landmark event:(Clockwise from left) An installation by Subodh Gupta; Ibrahim Quraishi's installation titled ‘Islamic Violins'; Artist K. Raghunadhan with his unfinished work; an installation made by students of art design and communication of CEPT University, Gujarat.Photos: H. Vibhu, K.K. Mustafah,Thulasi Kakkat

Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and currently preparing to host the Sharjah Biennale, expresses the same sentiment. “The city of Kochi with its layers of architectural historicity has definitely been tapped by the project hosts. The biennale has used historical heritage to a very good sequence,” she says, adding that on her first visit itself the biennale gets the viewers right into the different aspects of the city. In most other biennales she feels that the dialogue with the city goes missing.

To commence and continue this dialogue, is what Bose says, has been his main aim. “We have intentionally stressed on the cultural aspect,” he says. Driven by the wish to extricate art from the white cubes and open it up was one factor that comes across in the KMB. The Let’s Talk programme, its Educational Outreach programme, the cultural programmes that include theatre, music, performance arts and so on clearly take art to the people in a way never accessed before.

Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern, senses that openness when he says: “What IS different is that this biennial functions as a perfect vehicle for ‘performing the difference’: a public friendly ‘diy (Do It Yourself) platform for visual culture’ initiated and organised by artists, with and for artists. As a platform it unites and re-unites Indian contemporary artists who are showing an intellectual and visual ‘togetherness’ as never before. As a visitor, everybody can step in and make up one’s mind.”

Art critic and culture theorist Ranjit Hoskote believes that the curators of the biennale have given credit to an audience ready to accept the changing face of art, showcased here. “Exhibitions, especially biennales, are opportunities to expand one’s mental and experiential horizons as viewers – they should not be reduced to fit the size of one’s assumptions. A great many of the works are geared to affect the viewer at a primal, sensory, sensuous level even before their conceptual strategies came into play – through smell, shadow, sound. Today, viewers are more willing to experiment with new artistic experiences than before.”

The Hindu : FEATURES / LITERARY REVIEW : A moveable commune –  Shakespeare and Company is a bookstore in Paris where one feels like being in one’s own apartment, just exactly how founder George Whitman wanted it to be, says Charukesi Ramadurai.

I know it is fashionable to call it “the end of an era” when someone famous or important dies but in George Whitman’s case, it was definitely so. With him went an age where people loved to read and in his case, lived to read (he once said that he was in the book business since it was the business of life). Sylvia Whitman has been shouldering his legacy since her return from the UK over 10 years ago. “It has been very difficult adjusting to life at the bookshop without this eccentric, witty, wild character at the centre of it… I am still trying to find my way in,” she admits candidly.

.Photos: Charukesi Ramadurai

“Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise” reads the entry to the room, but from all accounts, Whitman’s generosity was never in anticipation of finding the odd angel who would sprinkle blessings on his shop. He was also known to describe it as “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Delannet says, “George was serious about this; he wanted his bookstore to feel like one’s own apartment — anybody can come and read all day long in the first floor library and never get kicked out.” Jeremy Mercer, a Canadian journalist who wrote about his stay there in his book Time Was Soft There , says, “The young people I met at Shakespeare and Company were infected by George’s mad, romantic view of the world and they left the bookstore with the passion to do incredible things. And the older people I met there were reinvigorated by it all, ready to go forth and face the world again.”

……………..in modern life, with its furious pace, there isn’t enough time to sit and talk with idle poets and eccentric cyclists. But my six months at the bookstore gave me that time and as a result I have some of the richest friendships possible.”

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-literaryreview/excessively-wilde/article4155259.ece -. The result — both in classical opera and in Wilde — is a kind of lightness in movement that entirely belies the sheer energy and vitality that goes into its creation. The final work is, as Stoppard puts it, nearly perfect. In another letter to Alexander, Wilde wrote, immodestly, but accurately: “The first act is ingenious, the second beautiful, the third abominably clever.” He might well have been describing his life.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/performers-with-a-new-profile/article4155298.ece –Thanks to social media, the mystique of the Carnatic musician has been punctured by finger pointing — with “likes” and “dislikes” and, on rare occasions, the proverbial middle finger, says Kalpana Mohan.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-educationplus/relax-help-is-on-hand/article4158435.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/pursuing-boredom/article4155297.eceart/destination-kochi/article4170978.ece – A uniquely British eccentricity celebrating the prosaic and mundane.

Pepper House: Scene of activity. Photo:Thulasi Kakkat Valsan Koorma Kolleri: Rebirth of material. Photo:Thulasi Kakkat

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/destination-kochi/article4179813.ece