Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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Location: Singapore

A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not a Typical Singaporean


Laura must be thinking I am a strange Singaporean, who does not eat and who does not shop in Paris.

She is my friend’s friend – a Singaporean married to a French and living in Paris and rents out her studette, a few floors above her apartment, to budget travellers like me.

She took me ‘’marketing’’ at the open air market and supermarket on Rue Poncelet in her 17th district neighbourhood.

She pointed out the ‘’best fruit stall’’, ‘’ the Aux Enfants Gates boulangerie with the best croissant’’, the Comtesse du Barry store with great fois gras and gourmet food, the best chocolatier in the neighbourhood (on Rue Courcelles), even the best house-brand madeleines and palets Bretons and galettes Bretonnes (at LeaderPrice supermarket). She kept urging me to get some. I told her I have just caught a miserable cold and would prefer some fruits and perhaps salad, since I had not been eating well in Barcelona.

So I got one grapefruit, some strawberries and a carton of juice. ‘’That’s all? What are you going to eat tomorrow?’’ she asked. ‘’I will figure out… anyway I will be out tomorrow…’’ I replied. ‘’Aren’t you going to get some bread to go with your salad?’’ she asked twice. ‘’Er no…. ok – since you recommended, I will get a croissant for tomorrow’s breakfast, and a macaron for lunch today’’, I told her, since Denis back home reminded me to try macaron in France.

‘’I take you to Comtesse du Barry and buy some fois gras lah… you can buy in very small cans – just nice for one person per can to go with your salad…, ‘’ she urged. And when I got there, she kinda made me get five cans. (I think they will last me a year!)

In the evening she invited me to dinner. The white wine that Jacques her husband chose was excellent. ‘’Are you sure you want more, since you are not feeling well?’’ he asked.

The crust of Laura’s chicken pie was burnt. ‘’Don’t write in your blog that she burnt the pie,’’ Jacques said. ‘’No, I am sure she will write everything, and she will even write that Jacques told her not to write about the burnt pie,’’ Laura joked.

‘’So what did you do today?’’ Laura asked. I told her I had gone to Rue Royale to get my chipped Lalique ring replaced at half price (they wouldn’t do it in Singapore even though I had bought it there!) and then to Jardin des Tuileries. ‘’Huh?! That’s all for the whole of Saturday?’’ I could sense her disbelief.

Her reaction: ‘’My other Singaporean friends would be spending one whole day at Galeries Lafayette and another at Printemps, and buy at least five branded bags. And to save all their money for shopping, they would not eat at restaurants but would buy food or maggi mee at the supermarket, cook them at the studette…’’

I felt I had to ‘’justify’’ my time. ‘’Ya – I sat for a while at the garden and time just passed.’’

But it was true. I just slumped on the chair facing the pond at the Jardin, oblivious to my numbed fingers and the cold, watching the ducks and kids, and wondering where my energy had gone.

Two years ago I had been full of energy and had walked non stop from morning to night all over Paris, not relying on the metro. I had even gone jogging at Jardin du Luxembourg.

Now I prayed that I would get my energy back, that I would get the life and fire in me lighted up again. I prayed that it was temporary, and that it was purely due to the cold that I had caught, on the very day of my arrival.

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