Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur

In Delhi/Gurgaon it was hard to get to the Alliance. Here in KL, I visit it every two weeks, using my son’s student card to borrow books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and comics.
This week’s bagful:
Debussy – PrÉlude À l’aprÈs-midi d’un Faune
I left my copy of Mallarmé’s poems along with all my French treasures with a friend in Gurgaon.
I was introduced to Mallarmé by my French teacher at school. This gentle French woman, Brigith, with wispy straw coloured hair, was named “Radha” by the Mother (of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry). She was very bespectacled and, though quite plain, it was she who opened the windows of my soul to French poets like Rimbaud, Verlaine, etc. We would just sit and read the poems together- no homework, no nothing in that school.
But here’s my favourite one


Mon âme vers ton front où rêve, ô calme soeur,
Un automne jonché de taches de rousseur,
Et vers le ciel errant de ton oeil angélique
Monte, comme dans un jardin mélancolique,
Fidèle, un blanc jet d'eau soupire vers l'Azur!
- Vers l'Azur attendri d'Octobre pâle et pur
Qui mire aux grands bassins sa langueur infinie
Et laisse, sur l'eau morte où la fauve agonie
Des feuilles erre au vent et creuse un froid sillon,
Se traîner le soleil jaune d'un long rayon.
Stéphane Mallarmé

At the KL Alliance, I also borrowed Eurojazz – a medley of stuff with very African touches.
Films: Les Tontons Flingueurs and Les Barbouzes.

There was a discussion on French films at and I got this one as a result. It’s priceless. Sadly, it didn't have English subtitles and so I was rattling off a translation to help my hubby understand what was going on.
Here, you can listen to some dialogues and the famous kitchen scene dialogue transcript is also there. Be prepared to die of laughter. I’ll try and write more about this film later.
The other film in this set (also starring Lino Ventura) is also classic.

Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac (Depardieu) is a master swordsman, captain of the Gascony cadets, a man so skilled with the blade that he can defeat a hundred men single-handedly without breaking a sweat, whose name strikes fear in the hearts of lesser men. 
Cyrano is not only a soldier, but a poet, who cherishes words so ardently that he will hunt down an actor who performs poorly, and who is so passionate that he will toss away a year's salary simply to abort a mediocre stage production. Skilled as he is at both war and wit, Cyrano would seem to be the paragon of manhood—yet beneath his veneer of bravado he is a shy, sad soul, having been cursed with an oversized nose that, to Cyrano, renders his features grotesque, unlovable.

I was introduced to Edmond Rostand’s play by another of my French teachers, Sébastien (Half-Russian and half-English). I’m planning to read it again.
If you want you can read it here
I think I’ve read this before – the point of getting French books in English is in the hope that my son will read them.
I was rather sad to learn that Napoleon was racist but anyway let's see what this book has to say about the Petit Colonel.
Haven’t read them yet.
Le Monde (Jan 2006) – got it to find out more about the French stand on the Islamophobic world of today
Marie Claire Feb 2005- this issue was disappointing but normally Marie Claire is a good read.
So, in one way, my French should be really receiving a shot in the arm!
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