In my recollection of thoughts occuring
in the boring 3 hour train ride this morning , i discovered with nostalgia that i was quite fond,in my school days, of a certain Dickens novel with the majority of its plot taking place in the time of the French Revolution. It is from this story that i; then a nubile young girl of 16, knew of a place named paris
, the french revolution and a frightening apparatus known as the guillotine.
This is the tale of two cities
, a story masterfully crafted , involving perplexing characters and tragic endings, yet everything is beautifully contrasted and thematically presented, mostly in the setting of a bloody revolution. See my point already?Anyhoo
i shan't bore you with the details of this story but i'll
like to share with you, a part which seems to me now as i recall 10 years after i read the book,rather curious, in a way that it prompted me to think how myself, coming from my background and culture, and the french people, on the streets of paris
, on the train in saint nazaire
, in the supermarkets, how different we are in our ways how different we are in our tastes, of food , of political thoughts ( im
quite lacking in that area) and of life, essentially. You see, there is a part in the story which tells of how repressed and poor the peasants of the streets in france
are during that time and how the aristocrats, adherent to an ancient regime are conceited in their ways and value very little the worth and dignity of the poor. The Marquis, a character in this story, potrayed
as a cruel heartless noble man, famously said , "Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend," observed the Marquis, "will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof," looking up to it, "shuts out the sky."
A particular scene in the story in the story describes the spilling of red wine onto the dirty cobbled streets as a crate rolled off a transportation carriage of a wine merchant and the peasants scurried to drink it jubilantly, unfazed by the state of their own degradation.
I at this point, think two things, one, wine is precious to the french looooonng before today and two, theirs is a culture of saving and salvaging, of preservation and conservation. Ok i know these peasants were poor then but somehow this virtue of conservation lives on till today.
But seriously now, i didnt just derive at this observation from a story i read ten years ago, its encounters and exchanges with french people, albeit a very very small number still, that i realize the differences in the way of life back home. Paris is rich in history, and its apparent everywhere, the old churches, monuments, streets.. hell, even the apartment im living in IS live testimony to how old this place is, and singapore of course is a young baby of a country, not much of a bloody past except for world war two when the japs occupied our island, Singapore is just really spanking clean, sparkling new, with glass, steel concretes-hardly anything is more than a hundred years old. In the culture of the new we overlook the need to save, to salvage to conserve. Ours is a consumption culture, where our people buy and buy neverending in their search for "perfection"; yet another pair of shoes,yet another top or yet another newer phone.just cause we can. im not saying paris is any much different in this respect when it comes to buying. But people here value more the 'oldness' of things, an antique lamp, the beauty of history in an art deco chair,etc.
i admit with heaps of guilt that i indulge in wasting, in the land of dubs,too many a times, i throw many overdued food items away due to my carelessness and neglect of consuming them before its best before date, yet i accumulate and accumulate, acquiring more and more, being spoilt in my neverending ability to acquire more. Everytime i move, i shock myself by discovering the amount of nonsense that are completely useless and obviously carelessly bought and chucked away, and you guess right i had to leave them behind, to the garbage. oh the shame!!! i hope france will teach me something, it is starting to a little.
Gilles is helping a great deal, he is a saver, in all sense of the word. i need to kick this habit of wasting, cold turkey style. And it looks trés trés conducive at the moment as everything here i perceived too expensive to be worth spending on. fingers cross that im being liberated from consumption. one thing though i bought this really cool phone..... =p im sorry!but it comes in the plan ok!!!
anyway today i had breakfast, singaporean style, without
my kaya toasts and teh on white ceramic kopi tiam style cup and saucer :( im suffering cold turkey of the food and convience of familarity im going to miss...
runny eggs with black sauce and pepper. mmmmm home...