Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Incognito in DC

(PS: The shadows under the eyes are the marks of 23 hour flight and 10.5 hour time difference...)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Auf wiedersehen Arndt

When I posted the picture of my ‘housewarming pizza’ a few weeks ago, many of you wrote me expressing their surprise for the number of friends I already had. My answer was that it is not too difficult to meet people; the difficulty is to find real ‘friends’...

I can’t say I found in Arndt a real friend: too little time to know each other, too different the stages in our lives (I just arrived and discovering India; Arndt is leaving after two intense years) - but from the first time we met I had the feeling we could have developed a good friendship.

Unfortunately, what it could have been ‘the beginning of a good friendship’ will only remain another interesting meeting among the constellations of people that we have met and will meet travelling around the world. Yesterday eve was Arndt’s farewell: "Auf wiedersehen Arndt, sehen sie in einem anderen leben..."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Farewells again...

Developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships is one of the most 'emotionally tough' aspects in expats’ life. In thse situations in fact, relationships almost always start with the tacit awareness that either you or the other person would, soon or later (often sooner than later), leave.

Not even four weeks ago I invited my new friends to my housewarming party. Within one week, three of those friends will leave Delhi and India.

Last Friday it was Shairi’s farewell. Yesterday eve we said good-bye to Ramya. On Friday it will be Arndt’s turn…

And within this continuous turnover, I silently yearn for some stability…

(By the way, yesterday’s dinner was the best meal I had since I moved to India. Thanks Massi!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Qutb Minar

Today we discovered another piece of Delhi: its ‘Muslim’ heart.

The Mehrauli archeological site - which comprises various monuments such as Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid (the first mosque in India), the tombs of Dargah Qutb Sahib and Adham Khan (important characters in the Delhi sultanate), etc. - marks the area where the first Muslim kingdom in Northern India was established about 1000 years ago. Among the various monuments, the most famous is certainly Qutb Minar, India’s highest single tower, built in 1193 to celebrate the victory of Muslim sultan Qutb-ud-din over the last Hindu king in Delhi.

And while walking between these ruins and monuments, vestiges of past empires, Delhi reminded me for a moment Rome. And wondered: do Indians think that Rome looks a bit like Delhi while visiting the 'Fori Imperiali'?? ...

(Below: French tourists…)


Mathilde et maman

La maman est toujours la maman…

(On the background: our terrace - the green where I practice golf every morning before going to the office)

Les “Chabbert sisters” à Delhi

With only a few hours of delay due to a not well defined ‘technical problem’, the Chabbert sisters landed yesterday night at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. (Monsieur Iweins, don’t worry anymore - you can go to sleep now and have sweet dreams: your wife and Veronique are sound and safe… )

It is the first time in India for Madame Iweins, while for Veronique it is a return to the land of the Indus after almost 36 years. We look forward to their impressions and reflections at the end of their trip: "is India as you imagined it?" or "has India really changed from the way you remembered?" …

A quick look at the program now: tomorrow and Tuesday, the Chabbert sisters will be in Agra and Fathepur Sikri. After a day of rest in Delhi on Wednesday, Mathilde will join the party and - all together - they will leave on Thursday at the discovery of Rajasthan: Pushkar, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Bundi, and finally Jaipur. Mathilde and the Chabbert sisters will be back to Delhi on Thursday 3rd in the evening. We’ll provide periodic updates on this blog, so that family and friends do not have to worry…

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Week-end in Neemrana - pictures on line!

Pictures of our week-end in Neemrana now available at: http://picasaweb.google.com/mmmarchisio - vote your favourite one!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Neemrana

“If you want to visit India, travel now, because from April onwards the only place you would like to be during week-ends is your living room with the A/C at maximum” - is the common advice we have received from nearly everybody since our arrival. And so, for the second week-end in a row we ventured outside Delhi ...

The destination of this week-end was Neemrana, a historical town in Rajasthan, about three hours from Delhi. The main attraction of Neemrana is, without any doubt, the Neemrana Fort. Built in the XV century, it became the third capital of the descendants of Prithviraj Chauham III, the Hindu king who ruled in Northern India during the second-half of the XII century. The Fort progressively lost importance during the centuries, and in 1947 Raja Rajinder Singh, the ruler at that time, decided to move out his residence from Neemrana, and tried for forty years to sell what remained of the Fort - but couldn’t find any buyer. Finally, in 1986, the ruins were acquired for restoration, and the Fort was transformed into a hotel.

Together with Arndt, Prerna, Riccardo and Yvonne we spent our week-end there, and it was like becoming children again. As in every self-respecting castle, the Fort was full of stairs, small terraces, observation posts, courtyards and gardens, secret passages, shortcuts, hidden corridors, etc. and the only thing we had to do was enjoying this unique playground! It was after the sunset though that the castle really became ‘magic’, as thousands of lights were lit-up, and the castle seemed to be hanging in space between the darkness of the surrounding valley and the night...


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Federico & Germana in Delhi

Five years in DC, and we could count the number of our guests on the tip of our fingers. On the contrary, it’s only one month we have been here in Delhi and the number of people that either came or are planning to visit us is increasing day by day. Emanuele was here last month. Mathilde’s mum and aunt are expected next week-end. Silvia and Chiara perhaps over Christmas. And tonight we received Federico and Germana, arrived today in India to spend their honeymoon*...

Tired by the long trip, upset because their luggage got lost... despite everything, we managed (hopefully) to cheer them up offering a taste of the comforts that sometime expat’s life can offer. Pansigh in fact, our factotum (maid, housekeeper, guardian, gardener, helper, cleaner, and now cook), prepared us an excellent ‘home-made’ Indian dinner. And at the end of the dinner we didn't have to worry for the washing-up...


'Stravaccati' on the couch, we discussed a bit on everything: Ladakh and the Maldives, the World Bank and Bancaintesa, Boston and Washington, past memories and future plans... And in between, we even managed to call Michele with Skype.

In short, for one evening, Delhi-Milan didn’t seem to be that far...

(*) http://www.matteoandmathilde.org/2009/08/e-anche-federico-germana-si-sono.html

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pictures of Fathepur Sikri and Agra

Pictures of our week end in Fathepur Sikri and Agra available on line at: http://picasaweb.google.com/mmmarchisio - vote your favourite one!

Stories will be posted soon...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In search of ‘happiness’…

In disagreement with the conventional development models, which consider economic growth as the main trigger for development, and with the use of the Gross National Income or the Gross Domestic Product as proxies for countries’ standard of living, Bhutan’s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined in 1972 the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’. This concept represented the first attempt to define and measure the quality of life of a nation in a more holistic way, focusing on the people’s well being and happiness, rather than on Government spending, private consumption, investments, import, exports, etc.

Starting from that moment, numerous attempts have been made to measure countries’ happiness, and dozens of indexes have been developed and used to rank countries according to their ‘happiness’. Not surprisingly, Bhutan often ranked among the top countries (and France towards the bottom, but this is another story). India as well resulted often high in the ranking. Being in a ‘happy’ country, we wondered therefore whether there was a way to worm out the secret of its people…

So, last week we attended a workshop on “Cultivating Happiness”, where the keynote speaker was the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard - no less than the ‘happiest person in the world’*! In short, Ricard argued that happiness is a status that depends on our mind, and that to be happy we need to train our mind to be happy (i.e. cultivate happiness). A flawless argument…

Not fully happy with… sorry, not fully satisfied with the argument, Mathide decided to learn more and to participate to a five-day Seminar on “The value of Patience in cultivating Happiness”. Well, the seminar is still ongoing, so it is too early to draw any conclusion, but… COULD YOU EVEN IMAGINE A MORE PATIENT MATHILDE??? Ah, India, incredible India…

*
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-happiest-man-in-the-world-433063.html and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/matthieu-ricard-meet-mr-happy-436652.html

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The irresistible charm of the Italian dandy...

With over 1.14 million copies/day, the Hindustan Time is the third Indian newspaper in English.

Well then, now have a look at what appeared on page 3 of the Saturday edition of the Hindustan Time* (and it is an irrelevant detail the fact that the Indian ‘third page’ is not the Italian ‘third page’...).

Another demonstration that in India (as in many other countries) it is hard to resist to the charm of Italians**, and that Italian dandies are always trendy and fashionable... ;)


(*) You can also have a look at the online version of the newspaper at:
http://epaper.hindustantimes.com/Default.aspx?selpg=3104&BMode=100&selDt=11/07/2009 (click on "HT City, Pg 03" on the bottom-left)

(**) The other Italian next to me is, of course, Riccardo

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Out of Delhi...

Matteo and Mathilde are back from their first week-end outside Delhi: Fathepur Sikri and Agra. Pictures and stories will be posted soon.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sei anni...

... e non sentirli.

7 November 2003: our story began, in a pâtisserie in Hampstead Heat, London, in front of two strawberry pastries. Six years after we celebrated our anniversary in Fathepur Sikri, Rajasthan, in front of an Indian cake, with the drunk owner of an improbable hotel singing love songs in Hindi for us...

... who would have imagined it six years ago?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Guru Nanak Jayanti

Today India celebrated the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism. Sikhism was founded in the XV century in reaction to the Hinduism and Muslim - whose rituals and practices Guru Nanak strongly criticized. Sikhs believe in the value of hard work and abide by a very strict code of moral conduct (abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, drugs... not sure about sex). Among the characteristics that make the Sikhs easily recognizable, the unshaven beard and uncut hair (often wrapped in a turban), symbolizing saintliness...

(In the picture above Manmohan Singh, Sikh and current Indian Prime Minister)

Taking advantage of the day of national holiday, we visited today Purana Qila (‘Old Fort’ in Hindi), the inner citadel of the city of Dina-panah, or ‘sixth Delhi’ (it is in fact proven that at least seven different cities were founded were now lies Delhi - even though many believe that the number of cities is in reality much higher...).

After three weekends dealing with logistics, this is the first day in which we finally manage to visit a bit our new town...


Sunday, November 1, 2009