Archive for March, 2009

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 19

March 31, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.


Day 19. Eleven more days. For once, I am writing at the beginning of the day. Since I ve gone to bed quite early two nights in a row, I woke up at 4:30 am, caught up with 2 days of writing my novel and now am listening to the following track on Deezer:

I like these moments of quiet before a day of work is going to start; in French, we say “l’avenir appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt”, i.e. “the future belongs to the early risers.” I’m an occasional early riser, so I don’t know if the future belongs to me… But at least today does !

When I do wake up so early, I have the time to think about what I will do today. Lately, work has been very fulfilling, even though it’s not been easy- but has it been for anybody lately ?

I think I’m writing now, instead of tonight, because I am avoiding going to the gym 🙂 I have done everything I could possibly do from 4:30 to now (6 am) : writing, accounting, facebooking, and now blogging !


My school just had a big reunion week end in Paris, and some pics of me have been tagged on Facebook. I’m looking at them, and I’m thinking that I’m not sure I look better with all the weight lost. Actually I find myself looking very weird on them. Is it the photographer? Well, there was 5-6 different friends taking pics. I’m not sure what to think.


Otherwise, it’s becoming easier to follow the rules, and yesterday I didn’t feel an impulse to binge. It’s almost as if it was starting to be natural to listen to my body and eat accordingly.

All right, screw it ! I guess I’ll go to the gym.


Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 18

March 30, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.


The rate at which I am losing weight is a bit scary. Is it really ? It feels good, because I am experiencing success and it seems that the method actually works when I actually follow it. I am happy to say that on day 18, I still haven’t broken any of the rules, and that I only have 12 more days to go to complete the trial.

I think that going through a family lunch without failing is a big achievement. At least in my family. After main course, I wasn’t hungry anymore, and was a bit pissed off actually, because I wanted to enjoy some of the delicious cheese laid in front of my eyes, as well as the chocolate cake. I didn’t though. 1,5 hours later, I started to be hungry again, and I took the opportunity to enjoy exactly those two things !


In my last trial, I went through 7-10 days during which I was feeling in a state of despair. Now, during this trial, I must admit that I am in a foul mood, and do not want to see people. I feel like hiding under my duvet and shut myself completely to other human beings.

I am hoping that this is only temporary.


In terms of figures, I have lost 5 kilos since the beginning of this trial (and 9 since I stopped drinking).

Free Web based G.T.D. (Getting Things Done) with iGoogle

March 30, 2009

Do you want a completely free one-stop site where you can at the same time manage your context lists, store your documents, and add items to your calendar, so that you can fully implement G.T.D. online ? It is possible with iGoogle.

G.T.D., context lists, what the heck ? These terms will only make sense to you if you are familiar with David Allen’s workflow management system: “Getting Things Done”. If you need to learn more about it, then visit G.T.D.’s official website.

There is no need to pay for a monthly subscription to a service to get all you need to implement a web-based version of GTD. There is no need either to have 4 browser windows open, so that you can work with your lists, tasks, calendars, etc. You need one thing, though: a google account. And it helps if you also have a gmail account. If you have a pop3 account, you can ask Gmail to go and get your mail for you. If you have hotmail or Yahoomail, it will also work… you’ll see. So  your first step is to open your Google account.

Once you do have your google account, sign in to iGoogle. Delete all the gadgets, except for the gmail one. Click on “Add Stuff”, and add the following gadgets: Google Docs, Google Tasks, Google Calendar. Now, if you have hotmail or Yahoo mail, search gadgets that allow you to retrieve these emails. They exist, and I am using one.

Your iGoogle desktop should look like this:


As you can see, I have added the Hotmail module.

On Google tasks, I created new lists that I named after my contexts: @office, @home, @shopping, @calls, etc. Google tasks is still a Labs application, so it’s a work in progress. Right now, it doesn’t allow you to see all your lists at the same time, but only seperately.

Google Docs allows you to store documents, classify them by folders, and search through them.

Google Calendars has all the functionalities of an Outlook Calendar.

Gmail allows you to create labels, and to label your emails. I’ve created labels after the names of my projects. This allows me to retrieve in one click all the emails associated to a specific project.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 17

March 29, 2009

Weekly family lunches should be illegal.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Days 13 to 16

March 28, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.


Posting on this blog has become part of my life, and I miss it when I don’t make the time for it. Often, as ideas go through my mind, I think: “I should share that in the blog.”


If you have ever looked at the links on the right of my blog, there is a link to a blog called “passive-aggressive notes.” Seeing a visual manifestation of somebody flipping out of anger usually cracks me up. But I have to admit that mocking it is a way for me to distantiate myself from a person who in my eyes failed at keeping his/her anger for him/herself. Why am I talking about this? because as this Paul McKenna trial has been going well for the past 16 days (“well” as in, I didn’t fail once to follow the principles) it seems that the emotion of anger manifests itself in my mind through pretty aggressive thoughts, and I’m wondering if I’m not developing a case of passive aggressivness.

Today, I got really annoyed at an old granny who took ages to enter the bus, and I was standing behind, and it was hailing outside; I pressed her to hurry up. I got yelled at after, which made me laugh !

I’m not really sure where the anger comes from. For once, it could be the fact that I still have to repress myself from not raiding a candy stand or a cheese shop. I still feel an impulse to overeat and 16 days haven’t been enough yet to make the mental switch I am hoping for. Sometimes, I wondered if overeating wasn’t a way to express a value of freedom. As in eating “as much as I want, and nobody is to dictate what I should or shouldn’t eat” is kind of way to regain power and express my freedom. I wonder if cutting that freedom is partly at the source of some of the aggressive thoughts I’ve had.

But it could be something a bit deeper that I don’t fully understand yet. After all I’m doing some work with a counselor. There was a great comment on my previous no-alcohol trial. A guy said: “you will see how fast you will recover the sensations you had in your childhood.” And I thought: “well, isn’t that exactly what I want to run away from?” And by not stuffing myself with food, I’m going one step further into the exploration of things I avoid. For those who’ve never done it, overeating is very numbing. You don’t feel a thing when your stomach is stuffed to the brim.

Feeling vulnerability

I went to the gym today for the first time in 1,5 months.

Whenever I heard people say: “I’m eating and becoming fat, so that I can protect  myself”, I’d always thought: “cut the bull shit. Being fat doesn’t create an emotional barrier. On the contrary, it’s even harder for your emotions, as people are judgmental of fat people, fat people get less seductive attention, and there is the self-hatred involved too.”

I realized that maybe people meant being fat creates a physical protection. Why did I think that? After my workout I felt weak. Not weak from the exercize, but weak from being slimmer, having a trimmer shape, and it was as if I couldn’t resist if I was physically attacked. Very strange feeling.

Still praising French movies

On a side and more positive note, I’ve got a movie quote calendar on my night table. Most of them aren’t that great, except the one I came accross yesterday. and it’s from a French movie… Hurray for us again ! The movie is called Jules et Jim, directed by François Truffaud.

And the quote says: “Tu m’as dit je t’aime, je t’ai dit attends. J’allais dire prends-moi, tu m’as dit va-t’en.” Which means: “You said I love you, I said wait. I was about to say take me, you said leave.”

Not sure how it sounds in English, but I find it beautiful in French.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Days 11 to 12

March 25, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.


Funny how it was so easy to get myself off the booze and how difficult I find it to prevent myself from eating when I’m not hungry.

Fortunately, I am still doing this trial, so that means I haven’t failed to follow the principles of the Paul McKenna method in the the past 12 days 🙂


The moments I am struggling the most with are when I am at work and under pressure; I can feel a strong compulsion in me to stuff myself with something… anything. It’s like a biological reflex. I look at it with some sort of fascination. I know that such a reaction is a learned process to deal with stress. But I have forgotten about the learning. I don’t even remember learning it. And this compulsion doesn’t feel like environmental conditioning at all… it feels like it comes from my body.


We are a society with an approach to food consumption that is not at all in tune with our hunger. Yesterday afternoon, I felt really hungry at work. (and real hungry, not stressed hungry 🙂 ) So I asked around if anyone had cookies, or anything, and somebody replied to me: “c’est pas bien de manger entre les repas”, i.e. “it is not good to eat between meals.” And here, it’s unclear whether “good” is to be understood as the opposite of evil, or as in “beneficial to your health”. But bottom line is she communicated to me the idea that even if I was hungry, I shouldn’t eat.


Listening to my hunger is not an easy process, because it is not a completely objective criteria. At least with other diets, when they give you lists and quantities of food to eat, or a number of calories to absorb, it’s easy to follow the guidelines because they are precise (if you manage to follow, but experience has taught me that I, and many other people, tend to not be able to follow).

Following the hunger is not objective. It involves gauging your own physical sensations. In the beginning, it seemed that my hunger was easily satisfied, and therefore I would eat very little. This scared me that I wasn’t eating enough. But when it came knocking again, I would eat, so I don’t think I am being unhealthy.

In the past 3-4 days, I have noticed that I have eaten more, as my stomach has asked for more. But I’ve been steadily losing weight. (I weigh myself everyday, despite the fact that Paul McKenna says I shouldn’t, it’s the one thing I’m not following).

Sometimes I am afraid that listening to hunger leaves too much room for negotiation with myself, and that I start eating because I just convinced myself that I was hungry.

That’s why I’m saying it is not an easy process. It involves learning to trust different parts of my body and to be very aware of my sensations.

Go see “Welcome,” by Philippe Lioret

March 22, 2009

I love side notes, and I often share in this blog elements of my life that don’t really have a direct connection to the trials I’m doing.

A few times I have mentioned films that I go to see. The fact is that I am a big movie buff, and in Paris there exists a great subscription system with which you can have unlimited movie going for a monthly fee. Needless to say, I take great advantage of it !

Welcome, by Philippe Lioret

I can’t remember the last time I got excited about a French movie. Well, actually, it was last summer. But last summer was 8 months ago ! So my point is: I don’t get excited about French movies often. I usually find them not worked enough, complacent and hiding their laziness behind intellectual pretense.

Today, I saw the movie “Welcome,” and what can I say? I was happy and proud to be French again, as our culture was able to produce a fine film. Ironically, half of the film is in English, but that’s not the point. It’s still a French production.

There is not one bit that disappointed me: the actors, the synopsis, the dialogs, the directing (simple, but so efficient !)… It all came together to deliver a powerful film.I really hope the French bits get translated and that the film exports itself overseas…

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Days 1 to 10

March 22, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

So here we go again… My second trial of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin.” Why do I insist on using this slimming method? Because this is the only one that makes sense to me (after having tried many of them), and when I see healthy people around me, they don’t restrict themselves on the types of food they eat. They seem to naturally be following these principles.

I had many conversations with my friends about my next trial, and suggested I did something else (and they have had a lot of good ideas, which promise to be fun for the next trials). Despite these conversations, I really wanted to do more work on my physical health again. This is very important to me.

Moreover, as we were having these discusssions, I had already started to secretly follow these “I can make you thin” principles. I just wanted to stick with it for a few days before I announce it on this blog. What happened was that at the beginning of the India trip, I could feel that I was putting back on the weight that I had lost by going off the alcohol. The food in India is so delicious, and I kept thinking: “when is the next time I will get to eat great Indian food, cooked in India?” So using this as an excuse, I was eating a lot. When I felt this extra weight back on, I was disappointed that the kilos lost effortlessly by going off the alcohol were back on. So without anybody knowing, I started using this method again.

In my first trial of “I can make you thin”, I didn’t give it a full chance, because I kept breaking the rules. So even though it was a good experience overall, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to see the full potential of the method, and to grow into new habits.

One of the reasons I kept breaking the rules is when I would go out with my friends and drink alcohol, I would come back home and eat to fill my drunken stomach. I was not necessarily hungry. This put me on the path of failure, and I believed less and less that I could succeed in following the method.

Getting off the booze was something I needed to allow myself to follow the principles for 30 days and see if they actually work on me. Ironically, Paul McKenna writes in his book that it is better to stop drinking in the beginning of using his method… Guess I didn’t want to hear that part at the book 🙂

I have made a decision however: if I break the rules one day, then I will stop the trial, because there is no point in calling it a 30 day trial, if I’m not actually trying and breaking the rules. It’s been 10 days so far that I have been able to diligently abide by the 4 principles. So let’s see how it goes and hope that it can last 20 more days.


After 10 days, I’m already getting compliments from people at work, from friends and from my mother that I look better, as it shows I have shed kilos off. This is good. 🙂

“the last time I get to eat this…”

This is one of the excuses I have used numerous times to indulge in overeating. Getting past this self-limiting belief is a challenge in this trial.

In India, during the wedding festivities, I really wanted to experience all this delicious food that was laid in front of our eyes. But then I thought: there is so much that I cannot humanly try a bit of everything. So I made plates, where I would put a bit of 5 of 6 different dishes, and eat as I was hungry. If my hunger left me, I would stop.

This allowed me to have a great culinary experience, as I got to taste such a wide variety of Indian dishes and still be happy that I didn’t betray my trial.

No later than yesterday, I was at my mom’s. She had such good cheeses in her fridge, that I thought it was a ‘now or never’ opportunity to eat great cheese that I wouldn’t usually have at home. In normal times, I would have taken them out of the fridge and start spreading them on bread. I didn’t do it, but I definitely felt that compulsion inside my body. I had to do a conscious effort to fight it.

This feeling of eating something for the last time is dangerous for overeaters as it creates a sense of urgency to binge on a particular type of food in a minimal amount of time.

Listening to my hunger

I’m still learning to listen to my hunger. I guess that after almost 30 years of not eating according to hunger, learning to follow it cannot be done in 10 days.

Often, I eat a few bites and find that I am no longer hungry, leaving huge amounts of food in my plates. Usually, 5-10 minutes later, I start feeling hungry again, until I have had a little more.

I also find that hunger comes knocking at hours that are not into our social schedules. We, as a society, have established a schedule of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), but I find hunger to be erratic and and often comes between meals as well. Eating between meals creates a bit of guilt, as dieticians always tell you “don’t eat between meals!” But I must eat when I’m hungry, right? So I do what I’ve got to do.


All I can say right now, is that in 10 days of completely following the method, I have lost more weight than in my first attempt, but I will give more figures at the end of the 30 days.

gotta go now, as I feel hungry 🙂

No Alcohol for 30 days – Afterthoughts

March 17, 2009

Freedom from fear

In my last post, I forgot to say something really important that I think is at the core of my recent positive feelings. I mentioned that not drinking alcohol gave me more energy, physically and mentally. The direct consequence is that it has given me the strength not to act on my fears. Fear hasn’t disappeared from my life, and I think everybody has fears and uncertainties about their future, their choices, their relationships, their jobs, their security… I am skeptical when someone says he or she is not subjected to fear, at least when the latter expression is understood in the English sense. However, I think that people differ in the way they react to their fears; and I believe it is possible to not be “subjected” to fear, if I understand the word “subjected” in the French sense.

In French, the expression “être un sujet” means “to be at the order of”. In the middle ages, the society was organized between the lords and their “subjects”, i.e. the people who were living on the lands of the lords and working for them. Taking a break from alcohol, and suddenly gaining strength, has helped me gaining freedom from my fears. They are still there, they exist, but I am not at their mercy. I don’t act like they suggest when they come knocking in my mind. I decide the course of action. That is why I have been saying I’ve been feeling like I’m in such a good place. It needed to be added to my concluding thoughts, because this is the great gift of this trial.

India highlights

I have also said that increased sensitivity was a direct consequence of not drinking, and India rewarded richly my new sensual awakening. Much has been written about India, and I don’t believe I can go to the degree of depth that has already been achieved in talking about this country. But experiencing a glimpse of this culture and attending a wedding there was like the universe saying to me: “do you realize how strong life can feel?”

The cab ride from Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport to the Bombay Yacht Club (my hotel) was symptomatic of the rest of this week. Many flights arrive to (and depart from) Mumbai in the middle of the night. My flight didn’t escape this rule, and I arrived in Mumbai at 2 a.m. The ride was made in pitch dark, but I was able to see two things that constituted a trailer for the week to follow.

The taxi stopped at a checkpoint to exit the airport, and two little children came to my window to beg for money. I had been warned not to encourage beggars, and therefore not to give to children. They came with a beautiful smile and their deep eyes stared at me, as they said: “give me a small English coin sir…” “Ok, hello sir, give me 10 rupees”. 15 minutes later, I started to see people who were sleeping on the sidewalk. As I kept paying attention, I realized that all throughout the way, homeless people occupied spots on the sidewalks, sometimes entire families.

During the week there, poverty has stared at me (and at my companions- and probably at the people who live here too). You cannot escape the sight of poverty in India, whether a big city, a small town, a village, or upper class wedding festivities. It is always there. Sometimes clever, sometimes funny, sometimes annoying- but always touching.

As the cab was driving through the dark roads, we passed by a group of people who were dancing and partying on the sidewalk. A spotlight shone on the numerous colors of the sari dresses of the women. My window was opened because of the suffocating heat and their music made its way to my ears. Blue, red, yellow and green forms were undulating to the rhythm of the song. This vision was brief- only a few seconds- but it had all I would keep witnessing throughout the week: colors, music and elegance.


Bombay traffic

By the way, for people who don’t know (and don’t be ashamed, because I wasn’t entirely sure before I came there) Bombay=Mumbai. As a westerner, it is difficult to remain insensitive to the chaos created by Bombay traffic. I woke up to the sound of car horns, and the concert of honks (what am I talking about a concert? a symphony, rather) doesn’t stop until cars are off the road and people are fast asleep. Why is that? Rear-view mirrors are not used in India, and hearing is an important part of driving. Not honking is dangerous. By honking, you make your presence known, and therefore, you prevent a car to suddenly sway in front of you and cause an accident. All big vehicles actually have at their back: “Horn OK Please”, which means really: “if I crash into you, it’s your fault, because you didn’t honk and I didn’t know you were there.”

Lanes are mere suggestions. Stopping at a red light is optional. Well, that’s not entirely true. At night, on Sundays and on holidays, they are optional for everybody. During business hours, only small cars stop at red lights. Buses and trucks don’t. It’s their right as the strongest vehicles on the road. Isn’t the police doing something about it? Yes, it is. But the flat rate to bribe a policeman is 100 rupees.


The holiday I attended on my first day in Mumbai was called “holi”. Isn’t that ironic? Holiday-Holi… no? Ok… Anyway.

Holi, is known in the West, I think, as the festival of colours. Before I met with my friends, I went to an ATM next to the hotel. On the way there, a child covered in purple and red colors came to me. “Hello sir… Where are you going sir?” I replied: “to the bank.” Then I thought: ‘Why did I just say that?’ The kid replied: “ok, after you give me 10 rupees.” As I came out of the ATM booth (attended by a security guard), 15 children were waiting for me. I walked in a decided manner away from them, but the first kid kept following me. When he saw I didn’t reply, he said: “ok sir, pick a color”. I didn’t reply, because I was afraid he would have the nerves to charge me for it. He put his hand on my arm that became purple. “Happy Holi sir” and he left. This was the start of Holi festivities.

I met up with my friends, a Parisian and a local, and we went to a Holi party in someone’s courtyard. We came equipped with bags of color powders, water pistols and water balloons. The goal here is to get as messy as possible and paint people’s clothes and faces with all the different colors we have in our bags: blue, green, red, purple, yellow, etc… Getting people wet is also part of the fun. There are food and drinks available. The local friend serves me a drink called “Bhaang”. I ask him: “Is there any alcohol in it?” He said : “No.” So I took two sips. Then he said: “it’s worse than alcohol. It’s bhaang. It’s got weed in it. Or opium.” I thought he was joking with me, so I gambled: I drank a glass, hoping that he wasn’t right (but also kind of hoping he was). As a safety net, I drank only one. He drank 7 of them. The party started at 1 pm. At 2:30 pm he said: “guys, I’m not feeling right at all, I’m done, I’m going home,” and he left. He slept until 9 am the next day !

As for me, my one glass got me stoned. It was treacherous, because I didn’t feel anything for a long time, and after the drug had gone through my digestive system, it suddenly kicked in. My Parisian friend and I took a cab with two locals, who were stoned as well. You know some people say: “drugs expend your perception”. I think it’s the exact opposite. I repeated numerous times during the no drinking trial that sobriety actually enriched my perception, and made me open to the world. Being drugged actually created the opposite: I was completely shut down from the rest of the world, but so were the other two in the car. Nobody was talking- just staring blankly in front of them.


Scams exist everywhere. I hear stories about foreigners coming to Paris and getting scammed by cab drivers. But in some places, scams are expected to happen and India is one of those places. And I’ve got to say: Mumbai delivered on expectations.

Some of the scams in Bombay are plain-right annoying: it’s mostly taxi drivers who over charge the foreigners who don’t know about the system. Basically, there is a meter, that was installed some decades ago, and there is a price chart that details the equivalent between what’s on the meter and today’s prices. Problem is, that chart is never shown to the tourists (I’ve seen it only once) and when you ask the driver to pull it out, he pretends he doesn’t speak English (he probably doesn’t, but I’m sure he knows the word “chart”). For the same distance, a ride can be charged anywhere from 15 rupees to 250 rupees.

On the contrary, some scams are very ingenuous and you have to bow to their cleverness. A couple of European friends got pulled by a lady, who put a bracelet on the wrist of my friend, then pretended to do a little tour of sights. Then some people hit her with a cane and she said it was the police (it is unclear if this was the police or some accomplice). She said: please buy milk and sugar for my child. My friends tried to give her 20 rupees, she said: “if the police sees you give me money, they will kill me.” So she took them to a shop, asked for milk and sugar, and the vendor said: “ok, it’s 750 rupees”. After 1 day in Mumbai, you know that there is NO way it would be 750 rupees. With 750, you dine at a luxury restaurant. The vendor was part of the scam. My friend wasn’t so sure, but he thought something was wrong, and he said: “look take 20 rupees, or take nothing.” He just acquired his first street credentials!

Another friend got caught in the very elaborate balloon scam. A balloon vendor walks around with enormous yellow balloons. My friend thought: “oh, I will buy this for my nephew.” He asks for some, and a tough negotiation starts. At the end he gets a pack of balloons, but he is so exhausted by the negotiation that he doesn’t care to look at the product he was given. The vendor leaves; another comes and says: “oh, you’ve been cheated on. He didn’t give you the big balloons, he gave you only small ones.” My friend opened the bag, and indeed, it was filled with little balloons. My friend gets upset, tries to find first vendor, doesn’t manage to, and the second one says: “look, give me some money, and I’ll exchange the small for the big ones” My friend accepts. The second vendor leaves. At that point, a third one comes and says: “you’ve been cheated, these are the medium sized balloons, here are the big balloons!”

Scammers and beggars always have the brightest smiles on their faces; and at the end of the day, it’s better to be had by a clever scam than to be pickpocketed. At least, you respect the work put into thinking the scam.

Children beggars are especially difficult to say no to. As I was walking alone in the market, a little girl started to follow me and started begging. She was a beautiful little kid (like the two ones at the airport) and I felt so cold-hearted to deny her request. The day after, I saw her at a street corner, and an old lady passed by her, and gave her food. It was her lunch break; and the old lady was her “employer”. I felt a less guilty, because now I know that a) this girl is fed, and b) the money would go in that old lady’s pocket (or whoever is at the top of this organization). It now is obvious to me that this was no coincidence that the kid beggars who came to me were all beautiful: they are chosen by their employers because they are the ones with most chances to melt the hearts of the foreigners

The wedding

Many movies have been made about Indian weddings (Monsoon Wedding being the most popular one with the Westerners), so I won’t repeat here what’s already been described. However, there is one moment of the ceremony that I really want to share with you. On the second day of the festivities that we attended, the official and religious vows of marriage were pronounced. The whole afternoon touched me deeply and I will attempt to describe the events as I witnessed them.

Around 3 pm, the party separated in two clans: the people invited by the groom, and the people invited by the bride. All men from the first clan had a red turban tied onto their heads. Men of the second clan wore pink turbans. The groom arrived in a jaguar, was welcomed by a vintage orchestra straight out of the fifties and was put on a decorated horse. It was a juxtaposition of grand class, old-fashioned colonialism and superstition; for some reason, this mix worked very well. As the groom approaches the house where the bride resides (symbolically) his party stops him and starts dancing around him. This is of course to rejoice with him, but this is also to slow him down, as if to enjoy the last moments with him as a single man. It takes a good 20 to 30 minutes for the groom to make its way through the last 200 meters before the house.

A grotesque scene takes place, as two bands compete for the tips. People of the groom’s family, in their dance, hold 1000 rupees bills that they waive over the groom’s face in circles. This money becomes blessed and is distributed as tips to the orchestra; the problem is that two bands who wanted those tips desperately, and they would not stop playing (even though they were playing different music) and would press the tippers to give the money to them. This didn’t help make things go faster 🙂

Finally, the groom arrived at the threshold of the house, where a crowd of pink turbans were waiting. The people with pink turbans came down and welcomed us all, sometimes putting a string of flowers around our necks, sometimes hugging us. The mother of the bride opened her arms to receive the mother of the groom. The clan of the bride came down to dance with us as well, and the colors that were separated were now united in the festivities; red and pink moved together in this joyful crowd.

The groom then went up the stairs, and he was then stopped at a second gate where his bride was waiting for him. When he came at the threshold, both were lifted up the floor, and they did a ritual that I didn’t really understand, but in the end, she put a collar of flowers around his neck, and everybody cheered and applauded. Yes, I was looking at two friends getting married, but I felt I was looking at much more than that. The colors, the music, the actions of the ritual put us all in a kind of reverie. What was happening in front of our eyes transcended our cultures and our times. The groom symbolized Man. The bride, Woman. And as she put a collar on his neck, she accepted him in her house, in her family, and she welcomed him in her heart.

I wonder if it was a coincidence that the groom kept going up (physically). It is as if he must elevate himself to deserve his bride.


I am writing this as British Airways flight 198 is about to launch the security announcement and depart for London. I made a donation at a hindu temple yesterday and I guess I got immediately rewarded as I got a free upgrade to business class ! I love it !

A guy whom I recognized from the wedding just passed by. He saw me in that great business class reclining seat. He must think I’m some kind of hot shot. I’m not going to do anything to go against that impression 🙂 Stay tuned for next trial !

No Alcohol for 30 days – Concluding thoughts

March 10, 2009

This is a summary of the ideas that I have written in the 30 days during which I decided to go off all alcoholic drinks.

How did it start? The idea of trying to go off the booze for 30 days had been in the back of my mind for a while. But it took me one inciting incident (as we say in screenplay writing) to act on that idea and decide to embark on this journey. I won’t go into the details, but basically, this was a classic story of drinking too much and then being embarrassed by one’s own attitude the day after.

Did it justify getting off the booze? To be honest, I had more embarrassing drunk stories in my portfolio 🙂 But the momentum felt right, and I decided to go for it.

The first initial period, approximately 7 to 10 days, was hard. And I’ve got to say that if ever I was tempted to say: “ah screw it, let’s just have a beer, this trial is ridiculous,” it was in that period. I was unhappy when I started the trial; getting off the booze made me even unhappier. I thought that I would be more energetic, instead I became more tired, and felt like sleeping all the time. I thought I would cut off my expenses, but the price of sodas in Paris is as expensive as the price of beer.

There were two positive points that I hung on to:

  • I noticed that my wits were sharper.
  • I found I was able to still enjoy myself at parties.

Those points, and my stubbornness :), made me stick.

Little by little, the negative feelings dissipated, and a positive state of mind built itself slowly. My body started to feel healthier, and more energetic. At work, I became more motivated and more involved. Mentally, I felt stronger, as if nothing was able to attain me.

Let’s be real: it’s not like life suddenly becomes a sunny landscape with blue sky and a rainbow coloring my everyday… But, how shall I say it, I’ve felt like I have been on top of my game.

I started to feel things more accurately as well, allowing my senses to discern shades and tones of different experiences (whereas before I tended to be a black or white, an all or nothing, type of person). It was like my senses were acquiring a new vocabulary of their own, enabling them to feel –and express- a wider range of sensations.
The day that I talked about increased sensual accuracy, a person commented: “you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll go back to feeling like a child again”… and when I read that, I thought: “well, isn’t this exactly what I was running away from?”

More pragmatically, I also lost weight effortlessly.

So to sum up the positive points:

  • Better wits
  • Still having a good time at parties
  • More physical energy
  • More mental energy
  • Increased sensual perception
  • weight loss

The only negative points I can think about:

  • Not enjoying a good wine with a steak, or some cheese, not enjoying cider with a crêpe, not being able to tasting a good cocktail.

But that’s ok, that’s a small loss compared to the other points, and it’s not like I’ll never have a drink again anyway.
Right now, I have made the decision to carry on not drinking, as I’m in such a positive state of mind. And I encourage anybody who’s thinking of doing it in the back of their minds… it’s only for 30 days.