Kids, nature and MPs

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An ordinary day in Strasbourg. Kids are on the river.

An ordinary day in the European Parliament. MPs are in their comfy chairs in the modern tower of Babel.

Let’s switch their places for a while: MPs – on the river and let the kids play in the tower.

As an MP, if you want to have the floor, you’d have to paddle to the chair, against  the wind, the waves, the rain into your face…

If you want to talk to a lobbyist, you’ll have to paddle to the bank (of the river)… .

For committees’ works, you’ll have to do it in the open. Whispering will not work, as the passing by boats can be noisy. And there is no air-conditioning to protect from the boats’ emissions…

Perhaps, this will make the MPs hear the voice of kids, when they demand care for the Earth, nature, the health and well-being of generations to come.

“Across many mountains” by Yangzom Brauen

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“Across many mountains” tells a story of a family who had to flee Tibet to escape the Chinese regime. It is narrated by Yangzom, born to a Tibetan mother and a Swiss father. It is a memoir of three generations.

I learned many new things about Tibetan culture, religion, social structures and Institutions. As the author herself puts it “that’s why I have written this book, in an attempt to prevent the culture, traditions and true story of Mola and Amala’s country from being forgotten.”, as the life of Tibetan refugees and their descendants on foreign lands takes precedence over their native food, beliefs, faith and way of life.

The author touches upon the internal divide of Tibetan people over autonomy vs independence and their struggle to keep the international attention to Tibet and Chinese invasion. It is a personal account, so I understand why some lines befriend cautiousness in expressing views. Still, it requires courage to put on paper the account of Chinese regime’s acts and their impact on Tibetans’ lives.

“Dream big. Heroes who dared to be bold” by Sally Morgan

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7:00 am. I am reading out loud. It is my kid’s wake up routine. It works better than the alarm clock, for both of us.

My latest morning reading is “Dream big. Heroes who dared to be bold” by Sally Morgan. The book contains brief stories of 100 people of all ages and backgrounds from many different parts of the globe who made a difference and brought change. They come from different walks of life: mayors, actors and actresses, inventors, dancers, refugees, bloggers, conductors, boxers, rappers, and many others. They each had a voice and used it. Each story has a “call for action”, an invitation to reflect on one’s talents and abilities, which could be put to good use.

To me, the narrative and some terms are perhaps more fit for an American culture and understanding, so the book may not speak to some who were less influenced by/ are less familiar with a western way of thinking. The personalities in the book do come mostly from the Northern hemisphere. And its title hints to the proverbial “American dream”, at least to me. In fairness though, the author also pays tribute to much less known stories of heroes from China, Agentina, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.

Would I recommend the book? Yes, wholeheartedly. Would just suggest to read it with an open mind and use it for discussions with your kid over a cup of tea or hot chocolate.

Merci Monaco

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for such a wonderful immersion into Dali’s artistic journey at Grimaldi Forum

for the wonders of jewelry making by Chaumet

for the new turtles nursery for Samy and Avril at the Oceanographic Museum, which we always enjoy visiting

for our first visit to the zoo, which only got 3/10 from my kid, who knows everything about how enclosures should look like and she is serious about it. Some enclosures are beautiful nonetheless. The zoo is home to 250 animals and all of them were donated, which makes it unique

for the return of the unhindered view on the Casino in all its green splendor

for the best tarte au chocolat at Costa. The lady there also vows to the excellency of chocolate éclaire. Something to try next time 🙂

for an excuisite chocolate ice cream by Marcolini, enjoyed in a true schoolgirl spirit on the stairs of the Opera. It brought back a dear childhood rebelion memory: to eat ice cream in the middle of winter and on the stairs of the bus station

for the discovery of Gaia, an ode to Greek cuisine in the heart of Monaco. I loved the food’s magic power to take you to the Hellen land and then bring you back to Cote d’Azur. We enjoyed the watermelon and feta salad, the cheese pie with truffles and the fish in salt crust. Wine lovers will find there a fine selection of Greek and French wines (to the extent I can judge). Service is personalised and well syncronised on a very busy night

for an amazing view from Le Meridien, which was very generous with us and exceeded our expectations

for the mind-blowing taste of Munegu – a cake born from a blend of panettone and fougasse – from Mada One by Marcel Ravin, to share and enjoy with the loved ones upon return

“ The words in my hand” by Guinevere Glasfurd

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Imagine wanting to learn to write and your palm and finger your only “paper and pen”… Inimaginable, right?

From the gaps and holes in history of women mentioned in archives, the author built the story of Helena, a maid in Netherlands, who knew René Descartes for more than a decade. Some say this is the story of Helena’s strugle to learn. For me, it was equally the story of Descartes’s strugle to learn. It was the time before his first publication, which is considerate to date as the basis of modern science and which required numerous explorations from him.

It is also the story of a woman’s aspiration to be independent and free from social expectations and bounds.

It is the story of a loving mother, who passed on to her daughter the love of letters and thirst of knowledge. It is the story of a mother’s grief for her child and her rebirth as a mother through the birth of her second child.

It is the story of a children book writer and her belief that all children – boys and girls – need to learn to write and read.

It is the story of female sisterhood and friendship.

It is a story of love, as impossible as it seemed in that century.

And, it is beatifully narrated.

Merci Obernai

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for such a warm welcome on my bday with my family

for the fun in water

for your blend of tradition and excellency in hospitality

for a picture perfect design with nature at its center

and last and not least, for decadent desserts and … the coffee which took me by surprise – it was hot! A first in France 🙂

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Lee Harper

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In the July 13, 1960 The New York Times, reviewer Herbert Mitgang dubs Mockingbird “a winning first novel by a fresh writer with something significant to say.”

I read the novel in 2019. This book made me laugh. It also filled my eyes with tears. I tend to think its effects on me as a reader had to do with the author’s choice to narrate the story through a child’s eyes:

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” “If there’s just one kind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think I’m beginning to understand something. I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time . . . it’s because he wants to stay inside.”

The above is a dialogue between two siblings, a brother and a sister. The story unwinds in a small fictional Southern town in the USA in mid 30s. The kids characters make sense of the world around them through friendships, time at school, peculiar relations with neighbours and other white and non-white communities. The story gains intensity as their father becomes a defense lawyer of an afro-american accused of a white woman rape he has not committed. The father becomes a “nigro-lover” in the eyes of the community and his kids are verbally and psysically attacked. The displays of courage and compassion in the face of racism, prejudice, violence and hypocrisy were admirable back then, and, perhaps, even to a greater extent – now.