The Spoiling of Vladimir Kagan
Copyright Vladimir Kagan February 14, 2015
Plural noun: sybarites
A person who is self-indulgent in their fondness for serious luxury
Synonym: hedonist, sensualist, voluptuary, libertine, pleasure-seeker, epicure, bon vivant, bon viveur
A Sybarite was a native of Sybaris, an ancient Greek city in southern Italy. Sybarites were stereotyped as seekers of pleasure and luxury, and "sybarite" and "sybaritism" now connote such sensualism.
The Sybarites never had it so good!
I came to visit my sister and console her after the loss of her husband, David. Two weeks, perhaps three… who would have guessed that I would still be here almost two months later? For someone who thrives on activity and diversity, this could have bordered on insanity; incarceration in a sanitarium. No one stirs in the house until 10 am
But, why get up at 7 or 7:30, my usual “rise and shine” hour, when we get to bed closer to one-thirty or two? My wake-up call is the muffled sound of the steel security blinds being electrically retracted to allow the morning to penetrate. My room has a picture window overlooking a wooded landscape and a grandly restored turn-of-the-century mansion. Each morning I am greeted with a different setting; one day covered with a blanket of white glistening snow, the next brilliant sunshine, all too often though, the day is a gloomy gray with a thick cloud cover with no chance of burning off. Consequently, the occasional bright sunshine is a special treat.
Breakfast at 11, lunch at 2:30, tea at 4 and dinner always after eight… and often considerably later. Breakfast can be served in bed or on a small table in the library overlooking a bucolic winter scene. We face east and west so there is never a time of day when streaks of sunlight, if in fact there is sunshine, cannot penetrate the rooms.
Lunch is set out on a beautiful dining table capable of sitting fourteen but graciously set for five or six depending on who will drop in unannounced. The table is always replete with fresh flowers. Like most of the furniture in my sister’s house, the table is early Kagan vintage, beautifully preserved and loved. That alone makes me feel at home.
And then there is my sister’s loving attention. Need a manicure? The next day a delightful Spanish lady turns up to trim my nails: feet and hands. Feel stiff? - A charming Swiss masseuse appears to ease the pain. Need a haircut? you don't go to a barber, she takes me to her coiffeur.
A selfie at the hairdresser
The cook in the kitchen prepares divine meals, but my sister is an inveterate chef and cannot stay out of the kitchen. Her soups are to die for! The cuisine hovers between healthy and Asian, neither of which catch my fancy… but never mind, Tanya gives me a free hand to shop for my favorite food: “Schweinerei” – pig food: sausages, salami, jambon cru, prosciutto, cheeses galore and crispy fresh-baked bread… And of course after dinner chocolates. Have I gained weight? Of course not. Ha ha!
My favorite "Pig" food
To ease my anticipated tedium, Tanya wisely assigned Slavica Rnjak, better known as Gloria, to entertain me; keep me out of trouble and definitely spoil me. (Not in the biblical sense), But pampered I am. Every morning my clothing is carefully laid out – color matched from head to toe. It helped that my departed brother-in-law had a closet full of the finest polo shirt with Hermes labels; cashmere sweaters from Italy, and sweat suits in every color imaginable. My sheets are changed every other day… new linens bring new colors. The chest of drawers, now assigned to me, was originally built by my father, one of my earliest designs dating to the mid-forties. The drawers are carefully organized and tidied daily… open one and it looks like a display at Saks 5th Avenue or any high-class men’s haberdashery.
These photos don't need a caption!
I have a desk bigger than any in my homes in America. I have two screens for my computer to keep me in touch with my office and monitor new design development. I sketch, I scan, I write Blogs… why bother to come home?
She invites friends for fun musical evenings -Fabrizio Chiavetta is a concert pianist, who plays magnificent accordion... here is is playing both at the same time
When Tanya's daughter Vicki arrived from Milano, we went straight out for a great steak dinner... Do you see the family resemblance?
Polly Hering, Tanya's devoted daughter, who lives in Geneva, at Art Expo
We go out for lunches - Tanya makes certain that I have a pretty girl as my guest: Nadege Chambrier studies environmental engineering in Lausanne - Albano and Gloria joined the fun
The reward for a frigid walk; a delicious Peche de lac lunch with my friends Marion and Jullius
A twilight stroll along the lake
On one of our cultural outings: a visited to the Fondation Martin Bodmer that houses a World class book collection. the exhibit space is purposely located underground not to obstruct the magnificent view of the lake. The Swiss architect Mario Botta did a sensitive design inserting a modern structure into an historic landscape
How do I keep fit in such a sybaritic environment? It’s not easy. Gloria and I take walks in the neighborhood and photograph chimneys, iron gates, old buildings and gnarly trees. Friends take me walking along the lake. Geneva has diverse museums to visit on gray days. I have found a superb trainer who makes me crawl on the floor and works on my abs. When I do finally leave here, I will surely have the much treasured six-pack stomach muscles Arnold Schwarzenegger is so famous for!
Vladi the tree huger can't resist an ancient tree
And finally: a clear sign to curb your dog!
Thinking of you!
See you stateside…sooner or later.