Tag Archives: #2022

Thank you Strasbourg

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for a sunny day and filterless pics

Cathedral
Place Gutenberg
Batorama
Place Kleber

for my comfy stay at Villa La Florangerie

Villa La Florangerie

days of productive meetings with my superb colleagues, new and renewed work connections;

for my superb reunions with my favourite patisserie and chocolaterie owner @patisserie_francois (their vienoiseries are the best, I dare keep saying it)

And the skillful hands of my wonderful reflexologist Joëlle Michelon at http://www.reflexologie-strasbourg.com/

Thanks to all gardeners who keep Orangerie impecable and lovely to enjoy.

Parc de l’Orangerie

Thank you to all who cooked our meals @acantinacompoircorse, @arnauld and @lafignette. And, naturally, for the best to my taste chocolate @maisoncaffet.

The ristretto @cdgairport was a good final note on this trip, served with the sound of a hearty laughter of the barrista.

Merci beaucoup et a la prochaine!

“I would rather eat a cactus…than run a project” by Lesley Elder-Aznar

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I found the title funny, even if I would rather not eat a cactus, in any event, unless it has been processed into agave syrup. Many of the aspects touched upon resonated with my project manager’s life in the corporate world: negotiations with other departments, the surprise of learning about costs recharging, change management…

The book covers the lifespan of a project from initiation to the business case, kicking of the project, executing, communication and training plans, to closing and monitoring of the project. Sections on project roles (who is who), agile project management and behaviour changes enrich the technicalities with insights.

As the author tells us herself: “The whole purpose of this book was to demystify project and project jargon, to make it less scary, to make it more accessible to everyone. Not just the people who are working in project world, but all of the people who are on the receiving end of change, or unwittingly seconded onto a project.” It is indeed a book largely for uninitiated. Yet, those who are more experienced can still find useful reminders. I also read it as an invitation for staying humble in interactions with more junior by experience colleagues. It also felt at times as reading through training materials or attending a training as on some pages the author “speaks” to you (“hold on..”, “humor me…”). There is nothing wrong with that and there are readers who prefer this way of presentation of information. It can also inspire you in you are preparing for a training delivery – forget not to give credit.

The lines that made me smile: “If you have a Finance team that can organise this without you promising to name your first-born child after the Finance Manager, then you are destined for success!”

“Your friendly Finance business partner will spend much time explaining to you about cost-centres and WBS (work breakdown structure) codes and how it’s all going to take place in the monthly cycle. Just nod along and ask them to email you when it’s done. Or you risk wasting years of your life trying to understand it.”

OtsY restaurant in Tbilisi

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OtsY was on my list of “to be discovered” in Tbilisi. What better occasion than Tbilisoba to do it!

I sat on the terrace and enjoyed the views to the oldest still-standing church in Tbilisi – Anchiskhati Basilica – to my right, and to Gabriadze marionette theatre to my left. Soft music in the background just enough to let you immerse in a calm atmosphere.

I let the choice of wine in the knowledge of locals. It enchanted. Vazisubani Estate collection Kisi white dry wine was a perfect choice for my choice of meal thanks to its aromas of peaches and quince. For a starter, I ordered the Georgian salad. It surprised my taste buds with freshness of herbs, balance of flavours and generosity of proportions. The heirloom pink tomato, cucumbers, red onion paired divinely with a sublime coriander sauce.

For the main course I went with an Eggplant achma. Those familiar with the Georgian cuisine know achma – the generous cheese buttery pie. The eggplant version will satisfied the buds of any seasoned vegetarian. Layered roasted eggplant, tomato jam and Sulguni cheese, topped up by finely minced herbs of the season.

For dessert I went for a ristretto and Chocolate Crémeux with Poached Cherries & Almond “Gozinaki” – perfect balance of textures and bitter-sweet flavours to finish my meal with a memorable delicate after taste. Compliments to the chef and the kitchen!

The service is impeccable: quiet, smiling, warm, no rush- no hustle, always in control, and spreading gratitude and generosity. I warmly recommend it and wish every success to the team of OtsY!

Tbilisi Gastroweek

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Tbilisi Gastroweek

I’ve been to gastronomic festivals in couple of countries. You usually get a programme, with a starting time, and with precise times to know when and where which chef will be cooking. @Tbilisigastroweek lured us with interesting announcements and we chose to go on 1 October, because of the promise of a seeing chefs cook and tasting meals from different countries, which set it apart from my previous “chefs of the country where the festival is” kind of thing.

So, when due to traffic we arrived 20 minutes into the event, people were gathering slowly in Ciskari by the Turtle Lake. Good, Georgians do not keep it according to schedule, I thought. We had no programme, and no one around seemed to have one. There was wine and cheese and churchkhela to welcome guests. Two hours or so into the event, some images appeared on the big screen and a chef took his place behind the table. Thanks, they obliged with an English power point and I could understand who that was. My initial bother about what seemed like a delay to me and unforeseeable sequence of the workshops retreated under the influence of a glass of Georgian wine and the majestic calm of walnut trees under which the tables were set. And I got to enjoy this “no rush no hustle “ type of organisation, because there was clearly an organisation to it. The scenery of the nearby Turtle Lake added to the rhythm of going with the flow.

I will not go into all presentations and demonstrations. Those curious can see it all on Tbilisigastroweek social media. The workshops started with Chef @Tekunia who introduced the Georgian chef Guram @Chvenirestaurant.

Chef Guram and his team made for us Street food Pork and red beans stew/ pickled Staphylea with homemade mayonnaise/Georgian “nadughi” mint cream cheese topping.

Chef @Maksutaskar from Turkey @Neolokal restaurant in Istanbul gave a lecture about Anatolian cuisine and the things we share. Very valuable in a world of division. I loved the concept he introduced – “Mothers’ nation “- a concept of transmission between mothers and daughters (and sons), beyond borders and nations. The image of him and his mother was heart-warming. He also shared another type of maps – a culinary map, to look differently perhaps at the world we see. He advocated for cooking as a tribute to tradition mindful of adding sustainability to it.

Congratulations to the team of @Tbilisigastroweek for their first such event. Keep organising them, in your own unique style. We will gladly oblige.

“Ali and Nino” by Kurban Said

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I rarely read Introductions, for they tend to give you certain perspectives right from the beginning. Yet, the Introduction to Ali and Nino is worth reading, while remembering that: “Ali and Nino would be well worth reading even if it were not the brilliantly achieved novel that it is. It takes us, as Western readers, into a world in which it is very good for us to be.” To me the novel gives voices to all engulfed in the turmoil of the first world war: Ali, a mohammedan in heart and deeds, Nino, a Georgian aristocrat staying true to herself even in a harem in Persia, an imam who can distinguish between love and senseless sacrifice, true friends who’ll put their friend’s best interest above their own… The novel takes the reader to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Dagestan, and Persia, and we learn about the morals reigning in all these places during those times, while Nino and Ali’s love between a christian and a mohammedan unfolds in spite of everything and everyone.

My favourite passages:

“The Orient’s dry intoxication comes from the desert, where hot wind and hot sand make men drunk, where the world is simple and without problems. The woods are full of questions. Only the desert does not ask, does not give, and does not promise anything. But the fire of the soul comes from the wood. The desert man—I can see him—has but one face, and knows but one truth, and that truth fulfils him. The woodman has many faces. The fanatic comes from the desert, the creator from the woods. Maybe that is the main difference between East and West.’”

“The wise man must not let himself be disturbed by either praise or blame.”

“The magic of this town lies in the mystical bond between its races and peoples”. – about Baku.

‘This wine is pure, for God is in it.” – Georgians about their wine.

Probably one of the most just description of Georgians: “Georgians seem to me like noble deer, strayed amongst the jungle mixtures of the Asiatics. No other Eastern race has this charm, these graceful movements, this fantastic lust for life and healthy enjoyment of leisure.”

“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

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It is no news that history is selective and the greatest human stories are left unwritten. This is one of the reasons I am drawn to authors who bring to light, even through fiction, the stories of those we will not find in historical accounts.

Kristin Hannah tells us why she wrote “The Nightingale”: “In war, women’s stories are all too often forgotten or overlooked. Women tend to come home from the battlefield and say nothing and go on with their lives. The Nightingale is a novel about those women and the daring, dangerous choices they made to save their children and their way of life.”

“The Nightingale” – or rosignol in French – takes the reader to the German-occupied France in the second world war. Nightingale is a code name for a Resistance member who rescued downed airmen in France and took them on foot through Pyrenees mountains to the British consulate in Spain. The main characters’ stage is shared by two sisters – Vianne and Isabelle – who were estranged after their mother’s death and reconnected through unbelievable struggles of war. The characters seem to be opposites at the beginning. As the story unfolds, we see them more alike than apart, each brave in her own way.

“The Gift” by Edith Eger

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I saw the book on a friend’s instagram account. It clicked immediately with my needs at that moment in time. I read it in one go. It’s truly a gift. I probably used the highlights more often than in any of the books I read so far. It’s humane, genuine, and humble.

A few of my favorite quotes:

“If you’re perfectionistic, you’re going to procrastinate, because perfect means never.”

“Power has nothing to do with brawn or domination. It means you have the strength to respond instead of react, to take charge of your life, to have total ownership of your choices.”

“If you take back your power and still want to be right, then choose to be kind, because kindness is always right.”

“We aren’t born with fear. Somewhere along the way, we learn it.”

“The most toxic, obnoxious people in our lives can be your best teachers. The next time you’re in the presence of someone who irks or offends you, soften your eyes and tell yourself, “Human, no more, no less. Human, like me. Then ask, “What are you here to teach me? “

“Mary Magdalene Revealed” by Meggan Watterson

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If you ever wondered what happened to the legacy of Mary Magdalene, and who she might have been (as opposed to the story told be the church), you might be curious enough to read “Mary Magdalene Revealed”:

“The earliest evidence of the lost gospel of Mary Magdalene was discovered in January 1896, at an antiquities market in Cairo, by a German scholar named Carl Reinhardt. It was written in Coptic on ancient papyrus. … It was placed in the Egyptian museum in Berlin with the official title and catalogue number of Codex Berolinensis 8502, which is a mouthful. So, scholars refer to it as the Berlin Codex.” There are different answers to as to why the Gospel of Mary, and those of Philip and Thomas for that matter, were not selected by the church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. to be hammered out in the creed of the Christian faith. To me this does not matter. They made their choice. I make mine.

Watterson is a trained theologian who introduces herself as a “person who engages in the study of all that has been left out of our ideas of god”. I became a bit sus when I got to the lines were she positioned herself as a feminist. Having lived in comunism, I am wary of any -isms. Yet she explains the kind she is and I find it resonating with my belief as “True freedom means having the power to define what being free means in our lives.” This enabled my brain to read the book with a grain of salt, as the author reveals to us her personal life, all for a reason. So be patient when you get to these passages.

Watterson introduces us to what she believes to be the most “eloquent way to describe love” from the opening lines of the Gospel of Mary: “Every nature, every modeled form, every creature, exists in and with eachother.” And invites us to see “the Christianity we haven’t tried yet”. Not a Christian herself she is able to question the conventional wisdom, so I found myself furthering into the inquiry of what I have forgotten.

What some of us missed in the Chrstianity that was designed by the church is encapsulated in a quote from Leloup The Sacred Embrace of Jesus and Mary: « The restitution of the true character of Miriam of Migdala as a companion of Yeshua of Nazareth can help men and women today realize their potential of anthropos, their full humanity, which is both flesh and spirit, both human and divine. »

The book was revelatory to me in many ways. If, for example, you wondered if there is a meditation concept or tradition in Christianity, you’ll gladly discover Hesychast from 4th century Cappadocians and the masterpiece of Saint John of Sinai The Ladder of Divine Ascent. Or if you are wondering about included and excluded scriptures, you’ll find the reference to Dr. Hal Taussig A New, New. Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century revelatory.