30.9.08

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7643373.stm

This morning there was an awful stampede at the Chamunda Devi Temple at Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. Around 200 people are dead, mostly men. Please pray for Jodhpur and especially the families of those who have been killed.


Driving in Deauville.


View from upstairs bedroom.



Mom, this is the best I can do. As much as I want to click away, I try to show photographic restraint at equestrian events, Hermès parties, and the like so as not to look like a tourist.

Unfortunately, there is one thing I have found. Like old-row boys driving down 13th St. in black Tahoes shielded by Costas... polo players in white pants riding Argentinian Thoroughbreds in France are always better from a distance. It's depressing, but true. Better I learn it now.

Girls look better in sundresses and by candlelight, men look better in white pants, everyone looks better at Gallette's and polo players and fratdaddies are better at a distance. Oh well.

29.9.08

http://www.startribune.com/world/29773444.html?elr=KArks:DCiUBcy7hUiacyKUU

After his meeting General Petraeus was in Chantilly touring the Museum on horseback.

requested by Pam




Living room and kitchen.

I LOVE POLO



I play polo now. I haven't played a real game, of course. I've only practiced a total of about 4 hours. But I can hit the ball while galloping, which I think makes me legit. There is nothing like riding a horse full speed into the wind while balancing a mallet in the air, and then leaning half way out of the saddle to hit a little ball! Seriously. It is the best sport ever. Extremely physical, dangerous, stylish, doesn't last too long, and virtually everyone is good looking.

The France 15





As in the Freshman 15 (or 23 in my case) except the culprit isn't Bud Heavy and Yellowtail and Arby's...it's baguettes and cheese and tartes and Chantilly creme and foie gras and Haut-Medoc wine that's to die for and real butter and whole milk and basically every fattening dairy product you can imagine. Yes, and I'm lactose intolerant...

And while riding horses is a good workout for the inner thighs, the rest of my bod (namely the lovehandles) are really going to suffer if I don't stop eating. Really soon.

26.9.08

It's a small world after all


http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/pdf/uk/newsletter%201.pdf

Last night I met a family friend of the family I live with/my boss. The wife is American and the husband is French. I had recently discovered that a friend of a friend was their au pair a couple years ago. Last night I found out that the wife went to SMU and Vanderbilt...and spends her summers in Nashville! A fellow American and SOUTHERNER!

Anyway, this is a newsletter from a nonprofit out of Nashville that supports Chantilly. Pretty cool...and random.

Picture is of dinner. The Renauldons in the foreground, Nancels in the back.

25.9.08

I have recently been told that I remind people of 1. Mary Poppins and 2. Doris Day.


Should I take either of these as a compliment?

24.9.08

Les Etoiles de Pau

I'm going to Pau, a town in the Pyrenees of southwest France, in a couple weeks for a horse show. It's the last competition in what you could call the 5 "Grand Slam" shows of three day eventing. Three day eventing or "cours complet" combines dressage, jumping, and a cross country course over three days. Wikipedia just informed me that Pau is a sister city of Mob-town, AL. Random. Also, the first Grand Prix in the world took place here in 1901. AND, the first golf course in continental Europe was laid out here in 1856.

There are only 5 other four-star CCIs (higher level than Olympics) in the world of this caliber:

Adelaide, AUS
Lexington, KY, USA
Badminton, UK
Burghley, UK
Luhmuhlen, Germany

I realize that this post is quite boring and my mom is the only one who will look at this website, but here it is for everyone:

http://www.event-pau.fr/uk/accueil/accueil.html

18.9.08

Normandy is AMAZING!!

17.9.08

my friend leslie is so funny

she needs a job...here's how she plans on getting it...

Dear Mr. Employer,

I would like to express interest in your company’s ability to save me from the hell that is moving back home after college. In case you were wondering, I possess no initiative, which is a direct correlation to the fact I sleep under my parent’s wedding quilt and help my grandmother tweeze her eyebrows on the weekends.

If you would be so kind as to review my attached attempt at squeezing all my qualities onto one page in a Microsoft trial edition that expired yesterday, I would be forever indebted. (I found that lucky adjective in the thesaurus) So skip your lunch break, ponder over my run-ons, and get back to me on how my life will change by spending 78% of my week in a box. Ciao.

Sincerely,
Apathetic in Alabama

16.9.08




channelling Stevie Nicks


Old men, my wheelhouse.


just another dog in another bar in France.


Watch out Saudi Arabia, I make a good lookin' Muslim. At the Cuban Cafe with one of the funniest people I've ever met- Ruth the journalist from Belfast.

Warm summer breezes, French wines and cheeses...



OK, so it's not so warm...but the other lyrics ring true.




Still loving on our horses even though they really weren't very cool on this day...Gardeau threw Caroline off and Palush doesn't know the difference between a trot and a gallop.





Riding around the grounds during the jumping show. Voilà Caroline la jeune fille au pair pour la famille Renauldon.



Pascal getting Gardeau ready for the polo game (it's been raining a lot lately and the horses need spurs so they don't slip and slide.)



Pre and post polo pics of Bienvenido, the horse I usually ride. He's from Argentina and is super nice to ride. This was the most gorgeous sunset ever.

Kali and Adèle's Saturday funday.




Seriously. Do not ask me where she learned about human anatomy!

12.9.08

R.I.D.E. Normandy

www.aso-equitation.com

That's the link to the R.I.D.E. Normandy show we are doing the press for...it takes place in Deauville next weekend and will have basically everybody that's anybody in the equestrian world. Recent Olympic gold medalist (jumping) Eric Lamaze, 11 of the 12 World Driving Championship winners, and members from the Olympic gold & silver medalist eventing teams. Should be fun.

PS- you can click on the British flag to read it in English ;)
www.jumping-chantilly.com/csi/accueil.htm

There you have it, the link to this weekend's show jumping competition in Chantilly. I just ate lunch in the tent for riders, press, and other important people. And WOW WOW WOW!! First of all today I am wearing jeans, flip-flops, a hoodie, and a T-SHIRT. Didn't really realize exactly the kind of people I'd be dining with (not that I would have changed, this J.Crew hoodie is the warmest thing I have at the moment and it is like 50° outside). So I was underdressed to say the least. According to Pascal this is OK because "we are Polo peole and we are cooler than that." Fashionably underdressed. Much better. Anyway, it started off with lots of Moët, then white wine and salmon and caviar...then red wine and beef tenderloin and quiche and a fabulous pear tart. Horses are jumping fences outside, well-bred hunting dogs are running around inside, baguette crumbs are littering the white tableclothes. Yep, I'm in heaven. I thought the world's best looking people were in the Deep South. Turns out they are in Chantilly this weekend. And the Prime Minister wil be here Sunday for the elite jumping. Roll Tide.
I'm going to start blogging more, I promise! And I apologize for the lack of funny videos... haven't made it to un vrai francais bar yet.

I arrived in Paris early last Saturday morning after almost missing my flight from Delhi to Abu Dhabi. Yes, I know everyone is advised to arrive at l'aeroport at least two hours prior for int'l flights...but I had bigger fish to fry (aka powershopping) and arrived 20 minutes prior to takeoff. Evidently Etihad Airways and Jet have some codeshare agreement going on, which is unbeknownst to me at the time. So I arrive with an email printout telling me the time I leave and arrive, and that's all. It doesn't say the airline, which is OK, b/c I booked an Etihad flight.

"Your name isn't in the system," the Etihad check-in lady tells me.
"Well I booked it and here's the gmail saying I did," I say.
"Do you have access to the internet...we need something with the flight number on it," she says.
"Do YOU have access to the internet? Because I'm in your airport and the flight leaves in less than 30 minutes," I say.
She looks at me like this is news. Why the hell would they have internet access in an international airport?!
"Isn't there some like airlines network where you can type in my name and find where I'm supposed to be?" I say.
I'm a little frazzled at this point b/c they are acting so calm, knowing that my flight is already boarding.
"Yes ma'am, what you can do is buy an Emirates flight and take the next flight to Dubai and buy a flight for Paris. When you have access to the internet you can email Etihad and see what went wrong," I'm told.

Seriously?!

Luckily an upset white girl attracts beaucoup attention at Indian airports, and soon the head honchos were leading me through security to my JET AIRWAYS FLIGHT. You'd think that airlines with a codeshare would be able to figure stuff like this out.

OK, so the flight to Abu Dhabi was good. Jet is by far my favorite Indian airline, if not my favorite in the world. The food is actually very edible, the service is perfect, there is enough leg room for ogres like me, and they still enforce the weight, height, and beauty standards for hostesses. Actually, I think the USA is the only country that allows 50 year old redneck women with poofy hair to be stewardesses. Asian countries do it right.

Abu Dhabi's airport is small, but really nice. Mosaic tiles form the entire complex and the duty-free stores have lots of pretty stuff I can't afford. As I was sipping a cappucino awaiting my connecting flight, a group of Muslim women with full burqas asked me what lipstick I was wearing. "Healthy Lips by Laura Mercier," I tell them as I pull the tube out of my purse. They want to get some. I wonder...when exactly will they wear it and for whom?

Flight to Paris is good. I arrive at 7:30am with no plans for where to go or how to get there. I find the lone computer with internet access in the airport and start googling "hotels in the Marais." Jot down some street names and Voilà, I'm ready to roll. After eavesdropping on an English-speaking couple behind me I decide that they are definitely tourists and therefore may be of some use...

"Ummm do you have a Lonely Planet?" I ask.
"Yes indeed," they answer, pulling it out of their rucksack.
Hells yeah...so I wrote down some more hotel names and proceeded to get in one of the Mercedes taxis lined up outside. First indication that I'm not in India anymore.

Can't remember my driver's name, but he was Portuguese and didn't speak any English. So I got to practice my francais right off the bat. I was really impressing myself. The words were flowing. "I'm better at French now than when I studied it in school," I think to myself. Finally we get to the Marais area (my fave in Paris) and go to hotel #1. Booked. #2, booked. #3-15 booked. Seeing my desperation, the receptionist at random Marais hotel #15 called a friend one arrondissement over (#1) and found me a room. I hugged him and went on my merry way. The hotel did indeed have a room. I don't know if it was worth 107 euros...and I definitely don't think the taxi should have cost 75 euros...but I was tired and sick of looking. Paris makes America look cheap.

Later that day I'm munching on a croque madame and drinking some wine when I meet some fun locals. I tell them that I don't really quite know what I'm doing in Paris, but what I definitely need to do is buy a phone. So they take me to two phone stores, we compare prices...they translate for me...and voilà! I have a French phone. At this point I'm scared to get in touch with my employer because I assume there is a reason he hasn't responded to my latest emails. I decide to not call until the next day. Besides, I need to do some shopping first.

Thank the good Lawd, he answered! And was happy! He thought I wasn't coming anymore. Hallelujah. So I go to the Gare du Nord, hop a train, and get my butt to Chantilly. (Update: he tends to delete emails written in English or sends them to spam...)

Since then I've been living with the most wonderful family, riding polo horses daily for a couple hours, eating fabulously fattening food, and attempting to translate French press releases into English. It's truly wonderful. The family I live with has two children- Adèle, 7, and Arthur, 10. They also have a German/Czech au pair, Caroline, who is so much fun...and really makes me look bad as she is fluent in German, English, French, Czech...can play the piano...dances...can cook, etc. I'm just really happy to be here.

Yesterday evening my boss had a polo match. After each checker in a polo match, the players change horses. All together, there are three or four horses. My job yesterday was to keep each horse warmed up between rides and adjust the tack for the game. Polo is fast paced (each checker only lasts 7 minutes) and very intense. I was jumping on and off horses, galloping in circles, and tightening girths...good times. Then it started raining...and it's freezing cold here, by the way. Lucky for me I had decided to wear an almost see-through white button-down. I don't know if it was out of pity or because I was creating a scene that another groom gave me his thick sweater. It didn't keep out the rain, but it did help in the modesty department. Finally the game was canceled (after 2 of our horses had gone nuts and broken their halters) and we rode the horses back to the trailor, took all the tack off, loaded them up, changed into dry clothes, and headed back to the house. "Are you missing India now?" Pascal asked me. Which is an interesting question that I'll have to answer in a later post. Right now though, I'm LOVING France.


Adèle, la jeune fille de Pascal et Sophie. Après le "Pony Club."

6.9.08

video


Me at the Sunset (underground) Bar. This was last Saturday. I tried to find a place that had wireless internet so I could at least listen to the game online. No internet cafe would open at 5:30am for me!!! Ugh!

So I went to the Sunset Bar down the street, because after questioning them earlier in the day, I was assured that "Am-ree-can football" would be shown on one of the 2 sports channels they receive.

Before even knowing this, I made a trip to my previously blogged-about hat stand in Dalhousie Square. This time not only was there a BAGFULL of UA hats, there was a gem of a hat that actually had ROLL TIDE embroidered on the back. How could I pass up this crappily-sewn paraphenalia?? It was a budget-breaking 75 Rs. I proudly wore it all the way back to my hotel where I changed into my Ganesha t-shirt (God I'm cool...I've never looked quite this awesome at Bryant-Denny) and threw on some Bama-inspired lipstick while listening to various Eli Gold, Doug Layton, and Ken Stabler broadcasts such as:

New Year's Day 1993
1989 Bama vs. Penn State
1989 Bama vs. Ole Miss
1996 Bama vs. Auburn
1972 Bama vs. UT
1985 Bama vs. Barners,etc.

I'll go ahead and thank the Donweiser for having these rousing clips available on the computer for my perusal.

Touchdown!
Touchdown!
Touchdown!
Touchdown!

As it turns out, only figure skating and soccer were being shown at the Sunset Bar. Not even one American football game. My deepest thought while watching these couples figure skate was "wow I should start roller-skating," because these skaters have the best glutes on Earth. (As it turns out this is quite hip in Paris at the moment.) Still, the Sunset Bar felt like the only right place to be. What else was I going to do- sit in my hotel room eating digestive cookies like the night prior? So, to commemorate the first football season I would spend outside Alabama, me, my hat, my Ganesha, and my new friends jammed to my trusty iPod which churned out the likes of:

Yea Alabama
The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down
Back Where I Come From
UA's Alma Mater
Sweet Southern Comfort
Southern Cross
Stars Fell on Alabama
Rammer Jammer, Vols edition
Bette Davis Eyes
Boys of Summer (thoughts of Mary Fran flooding my head :))
and basically every song Heart or Al Green has ever recorded.

All in all a good night. Made even better on Sunday at 1pm when Pamcakes informed me of our performance.

Bama's on the cover of SI.
McCain is going to beat Barack HakunaMatataWindbagSelfRighteous Obama.
And I'm in Paris.
Unbeatable.