Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to live to be 120yrs old

120 years old. That's the age St Kevin reached before God called him to heaven. Sounds familiar, right? A holy man who devotes his life to God and just happens to live an extraordinarily long life. Too familiar? Cliché even? Unbelievable, right? “I mean how could someone live so long, especially back in those days?”

St. Kevin lived an isolated life as much as he possibly could in the valley of Glendalough. An ascetic, he maintained a lifestyle of minimal sustenance: his shelter was a stone-framed beehive cell, he wore a single layer of clothing and ate only what he could find - berries, roots and fish. When I first learned of these details, I wondered, as have many since his time, 'how could he live on so little?' especially under Ireland’s climate!

On Tuesday, I fasted. I'm not talking about your 'only fish on Friday' fast, I mean no food for at least 24hrs. Why? Explore this website to learn the reasons behind and the benefits of fasting. I did this not solely for religious reasons but for physical and psychological reasons as well. I didn’t view it as a chore or as ‘work’. I was actually really excited about the idea and looking forward to the fast.

If nothing else, it was a challenge and made Lent a little different this time around. I had had the conviction to abstain from all chocolate during the Lenten season. Not very creative or original, but a respectable vow nonetheless given my preference for the smooth delicacy. Deciding to fast every Tuesday of Lent (from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday) only materialised after extensive reading on the risks, benefits, concerns, preparations and how to break a fast.  

I really enjoyed fasting – no, I didn’t actually spend it twisting in agony from hunger pangs! It’s an enlightening experience. And that goes for simply reading about fasting too. Intrigued? Here’s some quotes from notable figures throughout history.

After my 24hrs were up, I thought that I might as well go a bit longer for added benefits. I ended up fasting for over 38hrs.

I don't think I could manage to do it every week until I'm 120, though!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

10 Things I didn’t know about France and the French people

  1. Most things are closed on Mondays
  2. They love comics
  3. Culture and tradition over innovation and convenience, which means you can only buy your shopping at certain, in my opinion, tight, hours and never just at one place.
  4. They pay for everything, from setting up a bank account to insuring a rented property
  5. Even though they produce a lot of cheese, it’s still damn expensive
  6. Having a drink at the pub is pretty much the same as having a coffee at a restaurant. In other words, they don’t have a laugh and become merry to let off steam while drinking.
  7. Clothes are expensive. In contrast, the clothes we buy in Ireland are so cheap that I can only assume thousands of people in some far away country are getting paid next to nothing to manufacture them.
  8. Get-togethers and private parties/meals are nearly a weekly occurrence for the French. I like this.
  9. Most of the showers do not have ‘showerhead holder’ fittings as standard! Only one free hand in the shower which means longer showers.
  10. They think ‘Anglo-Saxon’ refers to the English speaking world rather than simply the English people and culture.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What are the odds?

Today, in Grenoble, I saw someone who I thought looked familiar.

I thought she was a girl to whom I had given a Dublin tour about two years ago. Weird, I know.

She (and her boyfriend and mother) stayed in the pub where I work for about an hour, I’d say, during which time I perceived one or two quizzical glances from her. 

With those, my intuition seemed more probable, but it wasn’t until they were about to leave when I realised…

Her boyfriend came up to the bar and ask me, in French: ‘are you Irish?’, ‘did you use to give tours in Dublin?’. Smiling uncontrollably in knowing, I ‘yessed’ his eager asks. He was about to ask me another question, or pose something assez verbal or assez physical to me – quite a jealous guy, I reckon – but he held back.

Then, the girl (I say ‘girl’, she’s in her 20s) and her mother came up to the bar and wanted to confirm it for themselves. Needless to say, they seemed less fraught in asking. As it happens, a girl and her mother to whom I gave a tour, and subsequent pub crawl, about two years ago, in Dublin, find me, working in a bar, in Grenoble, as she starts her Erasmus semester as a psychology student in Grenoble. It’s difficult to believe.

On the other hand, I have given tours to a few thousand people so I suppose such a ‘coincidental’ occurrence was bound to happen sometime!

No doubt it’ll happen again – I can’t imagine too many people thinking ‘Is that the guy who gave me a Dublin tour a couple years ago? Nah, I’m sure there are loads of people who give Dublin tours, from Donegal, over 6ft3, with an unmistakable accent, and long, flowing red-golden curls?’

Ok, maybe the last part was a little too detailed.