Site Feed

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cyprus Cypress

At the moment Sarah is attending Cypress College. It is located in sunny Orange County California. Set in an urban location, La Palma, this campus looks like a sea-side resort with very modern buildings, lakes and lots of palm trees. I really liked it when I was there last week. Surrounded by large boulevards and one family houses it represents a very nice example of Southern California architecture. Sarah should be there for a few months.

At the moment Bart is in the island of Cyprus in the Southern part of the Mediterranean. He is there with a couple school-mates for a university project.
We can follow his progress via his blog and web site. Bart should be there for a few months

It is quite strange to have two young ones in our family far away from home in places that are so alike in name. Many of us were looking in the wrong web sites to see information about Cypress or Cyprus but we are getting used.

That is because they are Homophones – words that are pronounced the same (and may or may not be spelt the same), but differ in meaning, such as waste and waist. They are together one of the official pair in the list of English homophones (words with different spellings and meanings but the same pronunciation) in the word list created by Roger Mitton from the Advanced Learners' Dictionary of Current English.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cosi Fan Tutte

Am I the only person in the world indifferent to this opera of Mozart? I went to La Monnaie last week to see Cosi Fan Tutte with Bert. The evening was very enjoyable but if I have to rank the reasons here they are: the company, the food, the scenography (sets and costumes) and last the music and the singers.

The company: I met Bert as usual at the Cafe de L’Opera in front of the opera house. This time I invited Miriam and her husband to join us for filet American, fries, beer and espresso. Miriam and I are members of the Women International Club of Brussels . We have by chance the same opera abonnement so we meet at every performance. We talked for two hours and the time went flying. They are very charming people.

The scenography of the opera was very original. It was set in a greenhouse. The lights marking the day and night gave a real feeling of the time passing and the evolution of the story. The performers would open, close and even break the windows during the performance. This gave also a new feeling to an opera that is very static.

I appreciated the singers slightly less than usual. I do not think they were miscasted but just that the opera is a bit boring. Maybe because I saw it for the first time and I was concentrating on the story. Maybe next time I will concentrate more on the music and the voices.

Anyway I think the real problem is that with the 200 year anniversary of Mozart we have been subjected to a very heavy dose of him, I feel a little tired and bored.

I am ready for an other genius’ birthday.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Luxembourg on the radar screen

A couple of weeks ago Herman and I went to Luxembourg for the weekend. We took the train from Ottignies and arrived in Luxembourg, two hours later fresh and happy of not having to drive down there. Paul came to pick us up. We went to the apartment where Raffaella had prepared a very nice lunch with soup and baked salmon. After lunch we had coffee. Raffaella was testing the new Mukka Express that actually makes coffee or cappuccino. I can really recommend it, it works.

In the afternoon Herman and Paul went to walk in the woods next to the city in cold rainy weather to talk about business. Raffaella and I went window shopping down-town. It is a lovely city with very elegant stores and pedestrian streets. All the top fashion houses are there, there is a lot of money thanks also to the banking industry.

In the evening we went to eat at the very trendy Kariboo Restaurant . All black: floor, walls, ceiling, table and chairs with neon blue lights, the restaurant has a mistery feeling. The food was excellent and the service attentive. After dinner we had a drink at the "Secret Garden" Lounge Bar. You sit on bean bags and sofas and upstairs there's a Turkish area. I highly recommend you go. Very good music. Two hot spots if you have a couple of days in Luxembourg. We slept at the Hotel le Royal probably the best hotel in town. Luxurious and very central.

Next day, Sunday morning, we had coffee and croissants at the bakery An Der Bakes in the Grand-Rue. French quality and German quantity: big croissants and big cappuccinos. Delicious! Raffaella had made reservation for a Jazz Brunch in the "Abbaye de Neumünster", which was constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries and has been restored by the Luxembourg Government and now houses the newly established Centre Culturel de Rencontre. UNESCO has awarded the Abbaye World Heritage Site status. We left Luxembourg in the afternoon happy of our weekend.

Quiet and peaceful country.

Not anymore.

In the past week the country is in the news every day. Dark clouds are gathering and you can see worried politicians trying to find solutions.

It was the discovery of the iron ore around 1850 which marked the turning point for Luxembourg and meant its economic take-off. An important steel industry came into being in the south-western corner of the country, drawing tens of thousands of foreign workers into the ore mines and steel factories, and bringing prosperity to the whole country. The steel exports constitute one quarter of the value of the Luxembourg export trade. The Arcelor group produces 90% of the whole Luxembourg steel output. In spite of severe labour-shedding during the eighties, Arcelor remains the largest private employer in the country. Arcelor is the world's biggest producer of Flat Carbon Steel and Long Carbon Steel, among the leaders in Stainless Steel production, and among the largest firms in Europe for distribution, transformation and trading.

Mittal Steel, the world's largest steelmaker, has made an 18.6bn euros (£12.7bn) bid for rival firm Arcelor. Mittal is headed by Lakshmi Mittal, one of the UK's richest men with an estimated fortune of more than £15bn. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker has confirmed that his government is opposed to a takeover of steel firm Arcelor by rival Mittal. Mr. Juncker made the comments after talks with Mittal boss Lakshmi Mittal. Luxembourg-based Arcelor has already rejected Mittal's 18.6bn euro ($22.6bn; £12.7bn) hostile bid.

I cannot imagine how this Luxembourg - Indian story will end but somehow it will mark a milestone in our collective psyche.
February 2006 will be the date of an announced hostile takeover not only of a company but of a whole country.

Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening? Add to Google expatriate