"I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind." — Albus Dumbledore

It's official. Xenophobia is Dictionary.com's 2016 Word of the Year. 2016 has been a year full of unexpected and dismal events. A year when international politics plummeted to a new low and when words such as Xenophobia, Post-Truth, Alt-Right and Brexiteer were the most searched words online.

With so many unusual outcomes, this year perfectly justifies the existence of the insurance and risk management industry. Now that Christmas is almost here and the curtains are finally being drawn on this year, I was wondering that if I were to choose three major events from 2016, what would they be?


The United Kingdom is in a state of disarray. Living in France, I would consider this as one of the most important events of the year. On 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to opt out of the European Union. The "Leave" campaign won by 52% to 48% and all hell broke loose. From a significant rise in racism hate crimes to the stepping down of the leaders of the "Leave" campaign, the country has been engulfed in a veritable bedlam.


Apart from creating a cacophony of opinions, the Brexit has also cast a dark shadow on the future of the UK. If you break down the voting statistics according to the demographics, you will find that although England and Wales voted "Leave", 62% of the voters in Scotland and 56% of the voters in Northern Ireland voted to "Stay". A Scottish referendum was held in 2014 to decide whether Scotland should be a part of the UK or not. Although in 2014, 55% of the people voted to remain in the UK, there is a high probability that the present-day Scots might opt to exit the UK  in the case of a fresh referendum (which would probably be called 'Sexit'?).

Considering the unstable and volatile political state of affairs, some firms have already started planning to relocate to the European mainland as it would be more cost-effective for them to operate from inside the EU. With cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt and Paris trying to woo these firms, there is bound to be some (if not a lot) migration of talent from the UK to the EU.

With higher risk come higher returns. This might be an opportune moment for risk-loving investors. Finance thoughts apart, it would be interesting to see how the negotiations shape up in the coming years. Now with Theresa May struggling to salvage the situation and the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty yet to be triggered, the UK will remain in a state of uncertainty for at least the next two years. Unstable and uncertain are words that investors and businesses detest.


From a businessman and a reality TV show host to the president-elect of the largest economy in the world, Donald Trump took everyone by surprise on 9th November 2016, when he defeated Hillary Clinton in the US elections. When his campaign started, most of the people took him for a joke. The promises that he made and the things that he said hardly made any sense at all. He made all kinds of horrible remarks about women and about people from different races. There was hardly a soul on planet earth that Donald Trump had not offended directly or indirectly.

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Carmel, Indiana.
Image Courtesy: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Media pundits thought that he could never win. Political analysts thought that he could never win. Once again, the demographics had a lot to say. Nearly, 45% of the US did not vote. Maybe because most of them thought that he could never win. Well... and then he won.


The Syrian Civil War has been one of the deadliest conflicts in recent history. With the recent air strikes on Aleppo, it came to a point where it epitomises a monumental failure of mankind. Innocent civilians were caught in the friction between the state and the rebels. It has been so bad that even the UN addressed it as a "complete meltdown of humanity".

Looking at the Before vs After pictures of Aleppo, it is heartbreaking to see how such a magnificent historic city has been reduced to a pile of corpses and debris.

These photos courtesy of Ahmad al-Khatib, a media activist in Aleppo, show Syrian social worker Anas al-Basha, 24, dressed as a clown, while posing for a photograph in Aleppo, Syria
But with each such incident, there emerge heroes who put up a brave face against these atrocities and bring hope and cheer to people. Aleppo also had people such as Anas al-Basha, popularly know as the Clown of Aleppo, who decided to stay back in Aleppo to bring some cheer to the traumatised children.

The White Helmets on a mission

Then there are the Syrian Civil Defence volunteers, AKA the White Helmets, who have been relentlessly working to save and rescue people in the war-torn city. The White Helmets have saved more than 73,000 lives till date and were the favourites in contention for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016. Although they didn't win this year, you can still support them for winning the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize by signing an online petition (Click here for the link).

All good things come to an end. Thankfully, so do all the bad things. I can't say which bucket the year 2017 will fall into. But I wish it falls in the 'good' category.

Fingers Crossed! :)
I have long been a fan of Impressionist paintings and after having encountered several works of art in various museums across Europe, I had a chance to see one of the most symbolic masterpieces of the era at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris. Although the museum is not a huge one, the works of art on display are simply sublime. Even though the museum contains the works of several great artists, the highlight of the museum is Nymphéas, one of the final works of Claude Monet, which consists of twelve large canvasses displayed in two oval-shaped chambers.

Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was a founder of the French Impressionist painting and the most prolific and consistent practitioners of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perception as it is presented in nature. This included en plein air or plein air painting, an art form where the painter works outdoors in the lap of nature and painted the views presented by nature rather than painting an artificially created set.

Claude Monet
Although most of the paintings made by Monet are displayed in museums across the globe, the Musée de L'Orangerie houses his final masterpiece, Nymphéas, which he wanted to give to France as a gift.


Every wondered why the Impressionist movement is called so? The impressionist movement started with a painting called the Impression, Soleil Levant by Claude Monet. This painting depicts a sunrise at the port of Le Havre, Monet's hometown, with two small boats in the sea and a red sun in the sky. Surprisingly, the term was coined by a famous art critic, Louis Leroy, in his satirical review of the painting style.

Impression, Soleil Levant
This art movement was characterised by relatively small, thin yet visible brush strokes, open composition, accurate description of light in its changing qualities, ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and unusual visual angles.

Musée de l'Orangerie

The Musée de L'Orangerie was built originally in 1852 to shelter the orange trees of the garden of the Tuileries. In 1921, the administration of the Beaux-Arts decided to assign to the Direction des Musées Nationaux (as it was then called) the two buildings overlooking the Place de la Concorde, the Jeu de Paume, and the Orangerie.
Since Monet had earlier indicated that he wished to donate some decorative murals to symbolize an end of the first World War, he was suggested by Georges Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister during the war, that he install the painting in the Orangerie. After visiting the place, Monet completely fell in love with it. Not only does the museum overlook the Seine river, but it also is located in the peaceful garden of the Tuileries. Since the garden was right next to one of the busiest crossings in Paris, it completely symbolized the Nymphéas (Water Lillies) as a peacful place in the midst of all the commotion. Monet spent several years painting and conceptualizing the installation of the Nymphéas and finally it went on display at the Musée de L'Orangerie in May, 1927, just a few months after Monet's death.
Apart from the Nymphéas, the museum also contains the works of Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Alfred Sisley, Chaim Soutine, and Maurice Utrillo.

Musée de L'Orangerie


Nymphéas or Water Lilies is a series of 250 oil paintings made by Claude Monet. During the last 30 years of his life, Monet concentrated all his energy to complete this series while trying his best to not to lose his eyesight, which kept declining almost to the extent of complete blindness. Nevertheless, Monet wanted to present to France a set of decorative murals to symbolize the end of the Frist World War. The Water Lilies, being the perfect embodiment of peace, calm and harmony was the perfect present. The work consists of twelve murals displayed on the walls of two conjoined oval rooms. These long murals give a feeling of being surrounded by water lilies in a calm and quiet atmosphere. The two oval rooms join together at the center to make the infinity symbol to represent endless peace and tranquility.

Nymphéas at Musée de L'Orangerie

Alhough Claude Monet was one of the most influential painters of his era, his final years were not as rosy as one would imagine. In 1911, Monet's wife, Alice, passed away. Just a few years later in 1914, he lost his son Jean. After Jean's demise, Monet was left with only his daughter-in-law Blanche, who took good care of him. As a final blow, during these years Monet also started developing cataracts. This was a huge setback since Monet's skills were highly dependent on his eyesight and with each passing year it just got worse. In the midst of the all the commotion from the first World War and a moribund eyesight, Monet needed a lot of perseverence and determination to complete this piece of work. 
There was a time when the enemy forces had reached just 6km from Monet's place of work. However, determined as ever he decided not to abandon his place and keep working till the piece is complete. Finally, after years of perseverance, the work was finished and it was decided to display these murals at the Musée de L'Orangerie.
Monet died on 5 December, 1926 of lung cancer. But his legend still lives in all his paintings. 

"Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love."
-Claude Monet
Finally starting with my first post.... Hello Paris!