Every now and then a photograph captures my eye and stays with me for days. This photograph (above), by Amsterdam-based photographer Katrin Korfmann is one of them. If I had stumbled upon it in a gallery – I know I would have bought it on the spot. It is one in a series of aerial photos that Korfmann did of the Hindu Holi Festival. Celebrated on the 14th day of waxing half of Hindu month of Phalguna (February-March), Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors.
Campari & Sofa Posts
Sheffield-based street artist Phlegm created this jaw-dropping mural in Oslo as part of an art festival focusing on urban graffiti and street art. This Crocodile, apparently getting a little dental attention, was one of many images that appeared randomly throughout the Norway’s capital city. Organisers are planning to move the festival to a different city each year … so keep an eye on walls near you.
I first tasted this dish at the Hotel Condotti Palace. It was one of the hotels preferred by our record company in Rome (always, always a fabulous bunch of people with excellent taste) and perfectly positioned at the top of the Spanish Steps for the occasional night off. Camparigirl and I paid it a quick visit when we were in Roma during July – and it is still as understatedly elegant as ever.
One of my favourite things about the Condotti was that they had a buffet table at lunchtime. Loosely themed along ‘cucina povera’ lines – the chef would basically walk to work via the market in the morning and pick up whatever was fresh and seasonal and put six or seven dishes together. Full and robust in the winter, light and fresh in the summer.
That day, Omar Sharif – the Egyptian actor and champion bridge player, was the only other (early) diner in the bar/ restaurant. We met at the buffet and I introduced myself – telling him that my mother (who is a pretty good bridge player herself) had always admired his style. He was delighted and invited me to join him for lunch – treating me to my first Negroni ever (as an aperitif, never with food!) – and introducing me to Vitello Tonnato. It was the most delicious of lunches in all ways. Charming company, lovely food, gorgeous old-fashioned hotel dining room.
I am no stranger to radical changes. When I left the music biz to move to the San Diego ‘burbs and “take over” an existing family, in the form of a husband, two children and two dogs, I didn’t really miss the days spent on the phone, the intercontinental travelling, the constant concerts I had to attend or even the Grammies. I was too busy figuring out what a soccer mom was and what PTA stood for (two scary concepts to this day). The only perk I missed was the expense account which had afforded me nice extravagances I wouldn’t have been able to pay for myself.
In time, a second career blossomed, one which was food related. It lasted eight years and gifted me with wonderful memories, new friends and a different kind of stress. Because I tend to be driven and competitive, it was easy for me to both succeed but also to identify with what I did a tad too much. Eventually, it became apparent that what I did was not in synch with what I wanted anymore. Not that I necessarily knew what I wanted but what I did know was that it was time to stop, get off the treadmill and quiet the constant mind chatter that was not helping me unlock the next phase of my life.
The first time I realised I snored was when I went on holiday with my friend K to Morocco and she woke me in the middle of the night. I had just left my job and was stressed, she was in the middle of a merger at hers and was more stressed. Why two New York City gals decided to do Morocco on a cheap and cheerful is beyond me. What we really needed was a long weekend at a Four Seasons somewhere. Alternating cocktails with spa treatments. But, as ever with me, I want to travel somewhere new and K needed a break.
By day two – K was really cross and I understood why. I once had a boyfriend who snored so loudly that I used to sleep in the lounge. Made me vile tempered the next day. And ultimately ended the relationship. My dad had also always snored – I remember my niece mimicking him when she was about 8 months old. They were taking an afternoon nap and in between Dad’s stentorian roars, we heard little baby snores: mixed with giggles.
Last year I met some women in Kwa-Zulu Natal who blew my socks off. KZN is the province most devastated by HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Almost 40% of the population there is estimated to be living with HIV. One in five children is an AIDS orphan.
I was there with the Positive Heroes Ultra-Marathon team. We do outreach work in communities around the race routes. Nothing better proves that HIV is survivable than five healthy, fit people standing up in front of you saying “Hi I am HIV positive and I am running the Comrades Marathon (almost 90km /56 miles) tomorrow”.
That day we were visiting a secondary (high) school about an hour outside of Durban. Parents had trickled in to see what we were up to – and two ladies came over to me and offered me some eggs. They were so thrilled that we were at the school, that we had honoured them with a visit – they had come to welcome us.
But more than that – these eggs were from their own chickens. As we talked, I learned they had a business. They had grown from having one henhouse – supplementing their families’ food store; to building and maintaining three henhouses that held 20 chickens. They sold and bartered the eggs. Fed, housed and clothed their families with the proceeds. And, importantly, were able to send their kids to the school we were visiting. They were very proud of their henhouses and they offered to show them to me.