I Am Curious, Issue 54

I am curious, so I have some questions:

Would you visit Iraq as a tourist? 

Iraq has started promoting itself as a tourist destination. It portrays itself as home to an incredible cultural history, beautiful green parks, and monuments. The intent: for the world to see it as open and welcoming. Visitors will require an adventurous spirit but I do admire the underlying aspirational goal.

I don’t think I am ready for Iraq. However, I recently read a couple of inspiring articles about Beirut and Lebanon (see picture above). That city deserves our tourist dollars so that it can rebuild itself as the Paris of the Middle East. 

Consider staying at Arthaus Beirut. The August 4 explosion brought down ceilings, shattered every window, and destroyed its facade just hours after its launch. Owners Nabil and Zoe Debs re-opened this boutique hotel in September 2020, a demonstration of legendary Lebanese resilience. It has made my travel wish list. 

Different sides of the same Coin?

Recent covers of The Economist addressed Power and Paranoia, The Chinese Communist Party at 100 (June 26 – July 2, 2021) and The Real Risk to America’s Democracy (July 3 – 9, 2021).

Before answering the question, read these editions of The Economist. Forget problematic voter suppression laws. Worry about partisan control of elections. Ultimately, the GOP wants what the Chinese Communist Party has – control over the electoral process. 

How do you view the return to the office? 

Consider this quotation from Leopold Banchini Architect:

“An office is not necessarily a space with a computer, but a space where you can exchange ideas, draw, build, test but also meet with clients.”  Thisquote appeared in Apartmento Magazine, Issue 27. If your answer is a space with a computer or you worked with Ricky Gervais, no wonder you want to continue working at home. If you believe that meeting to exchange ideas is critical for success, you miss the office. 

Do you get seriously “blah” periods during which you just wish to switch off work?

I do. I have been working at something or another ever since I turned 12. So, I have fifty-nine years of uninterrupted work experience. There have, however, been lots of blah periods. After sixteen months at home, I am in a deep funk. I embraced the benefits of power-napping over twenty years ago. Now, that 15 minutes is about the amount of time I would like to work each day. I will get over it. I always do. 

Are you planning to travel?

Bordeaux, France

I cannot remember the last time that we spent over 450  nights in a row in one place. But now, the world has started opening up for the fully vaccinated. I have eaten out at least a half-dozen times over the past few weeks.  Also, I would have planned a trip to Nova Scotia if my son living there had a fix on his agenda. 

I do have airfare purchased and most accommodation booked for two trips:

  • Two weeks in London before Christmas
  • Four weeks in Bordeaux and the Dordogne region followed by two weeks in Paris. 

So many places to go! I would love to be in Italy this fall but I don’t know if I could squeeze in another trans-Atlantic flight in a six month period. My internal clock adjusts quickly, my wife’s is much slower. 

Who is the best female chef in Italy?

According to Guida dell’Espresso, that honour belongs to  Casa Maria Luigia’s Jessica Rosval. Casa Maria Luigia is Massimo Bottura’s luxury B&B in Modena. Jessica grew up in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux and attended Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec. She begged Bottura for a job after eating at his Michelin three-floret restaurant, Osteria Francescana

Jessica Rosval, second from left; Massimo Bottura, far right.

Bottura founded Food for Soul, a humanitarian organization dedicated to change through food. Jessica is the culinary director at Association for the Integration of Women and teaches culinary skills to migrant women in Modena. 

So, yes I am curious and I will have many more questions.

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