Monday, July 24, 2006

Home and Postcards from Provence and Cote d'Azur

I'm finally home. I can finally enjoy having uninterrupted Wi-Fi and the peace of mind to slowly upload my photos, sort through my clothes, and work on relationships. This is all the next month is going to be about: relationships.

One of the things you learn from Negotiations Analysis class is the usage of a framework known as the Seven Elements (our instructor, Horacio, absolutely swears by it). One of the elements is Relationship, and it is about considering how you can, and should, build the relationship in any ongoing negotiation that you may have.

Make no mistake about it: destroying the relationship, be it through the careless use of words or inept outbursts of emotion, is detrimental to any negotiation. It is not about being tough and acting tough - negotiations are also primarily about building the bridge between you and your counterpart and working towards a value creating outcome.

Hence, my focus for this summer: relationships. I am already starting by mending the most important one, the one which my future happiness and life depend upon, though the subject of which is somewhat depressing. I never realised how much distance can break a relationship. I never realised that feelings of longing can be so satiated with a simple meeting of hearts. I never realised how much some values meant to other people - too often, I held values with little regard, thinking them hinderances rather than morally upheld principles. I belittled the power of an idea, of a principle.

Next comes the next most important relationships: my parents and my grandmother. My parents have aged before my eyes and I have been blind not to see that ageing process. It is a slow, slow loris that creeps upon you unexpectedly, pouncing on you in the most unexpected way. He is 60, she is 58, and they have reached the point in their lives where the roles have somewhat reversed: he's forced into retirement and whiling his time away; she runs her own business and works insane hours. I'm amazed at the ingenuity my mother has displayed; I'm saddened by my father's spiralling descent from the peak of his success.

My grandmother has few years left, and the dignity to live it has gone from her, for each day is as uncomfortable as the next. Unable to speak properly for the strokes have atrophied the right side of her body. Unable to walk, to eat by herself. Worst of all now, she's unable to control her defecation and urination. I know people who'd rather die than live through a life such as hers - our dignity seems to supercede our quest to live. But she lives on and she has lived well by all accounts. Few years are left to her - she is 90. She wants to go on.

Then perhaps, the relationships that come next: friends. I'm not an initiator. Never has been one to initiate and start something going. I'm the classic tortoise - living in my shell of a house and hoping someone else invites me to the party. Perhaps I want to do something on my own this time. Perhaps I want to reach out, cast my net, and widen that small social circle. Perhaps I want to build stronger friendships.



BTW, photos from my trip in Provence and Cote d'Azur below. I hung out with a cool Shanghaiese babe, and an opinionated Beijinger dude. They made the trip really fun (and really tiring as well!).

Img2006-07-05-0023-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
Old busker playing an accordian. I dropped in 50 cents and asked him not to smile at me.

Img2006-07-05-0194-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
That disgruntled codger shut his windows on me after spying me taking this picture of him.

Img2006-07-05-0164-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)

Img2006-07-05-0168-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
She didn't really like me taking candid shots after a while. Such a poseur. :)

Img2006-07-05-0135-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
Yes, walking among lavender is hazardous to health.

Img2006-07-05-0131-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
We 3 spent hours searching for the perfect field. We never really found it but this one takes the cake for being the most expansive we found.

Img2006-07-05-0109-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
My dear friend's 到此游图. He wants one at every significant juncture we reach. :)

Img2006-07-05-0099 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
Living here = strong calves. Gordes is magnificent.

Img2006-07-05-0065 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
Pont du Gard - part of an old roman aqueduct that now is a UNESCO world heritage site, and place where tourists dip themselves in the river at low tide.

Img2006-07-05-0048 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
My attempt at being artistic.

Img2006-07-05-0044 (Provence Cote d'Azur)
My attempt at being artistic once more.

Img2006-07-05-0214-1 (Provence Cote d'Azur)

The changing of the guard at the residence of the Prince of Monaco. The ridiculous affair requires the guards to slap their sides when standing to attention. Several of them were actually portbellied. I fear for the Prince's safety.

See the full set of pictures from Provence and the Cote d'Azur


Alphabet Moppet said...

I hope i'm not being presumptous. Let me help give you a start. My email is hellotwit at :)

and i'm feeling god damn jealous. I can only be in France in 2012 and that's ages away.