Source: Wikipedia

Last night, I took a very old book of Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale off my bookshelf and read a few. I’ve had this book since my Japan days (1964 – 1974) and the book print was dated 1967. The book is beautifully illustrated. The above is not from the book.

I re-read a few interesting ones.

I like stories like these. Imaginative and simple. One of them I read was the Shoemaker and the Elves.

The Shoemaker and the Elves (Brothers Grimm)

A shoemaker, through no fault of his own, had become so poor that he had only leather enough for a single pair of shoes. He cut them out one evening, then went to bed, intending to finish them the next morning. Having a clear conscience, he went to bed peacefully, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. The next morning, after saying his prayers, he was about to return to his work when he found the shoes on his workbench, completely finished. Amazed, he did not know what to say. He picked up the shoes in order to examine them more closely. They were so well made that not a single stitch was out of place, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. A customer soon came by, and he liked the shoes so much that he paid more than the usual price for them.

The shoemaker now had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. That evening he cut them out, intending to continue his work the next morning with good cheer. But he did not need to do so, because when he got up they were already finished. Customers soon bought them, paying him enough that he now could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. Early the next morning he found the four pairs finished. And so it continued; whatever he cut out in the evening was always finished the following morning. He now had a respectable income and with time became a wealthy man.

One evening shortly before Christmas, just before going to bed, and having already cut out a number of shoes, he said to his wife, “Why don’t we stay up tonight and see who is giving us this helping hand.”

His wife agreed to this and lit a candle. Then they hid themselves behind some clothes that were hanging in a corner of the room. At midnight two cute little naked men appeared. Sitting down at the workbench, they picked up the cut-out pieces and worked so unbelievable quickly and nimbly that the amazed shoemaker could not take his eyes from them. They did not stop until they had finished everything. They placed the completed shoes on the workbench, then quickly ran away.

The next morning the wife said, “The little men have made us wealthy. We must show them our thanks. They are running around with nothing on, freezing. Do you know what? I want to sew some shirts, jackets, undershirts, and trousers for them, and knit a pair of stockings for each of them, and you should make a pair of shoes for each of them.”

The husband said, “I agree,” and that evening, when everything was finished, they set the presents out instead of the unfinished work. Then they hid themselves in order to see what the little men would do. At midnight they came skipping up, intending to start work immediately. When they saw the little clothes instead of the cut-out leather, they at first seemed puzzled, but then delighted. They quickly put them on, then stroking the beautiful clothes on their bodies they sang:

Sind wir nicht Knaben glatt und fein?
Was sollen wir länger Schuster sein!
Are we not boys, neat and fine?
No longer cobblers shall we be!

Then they hopped and danced about, jumping over chairs and benches. Finally they danced out of the house. They never returned, but the shoemaker prospered, succeeding in everything that he did.

NB: I checked. It’s a public domain book 🙂


This is going to be a quick post. I need to get ready for a whole day of meetings.

I love Shanghai so far. Arrived yesterday and checked in at 2pm. I’m staying at this really interesting hotel called Shanghai Hengshan Group Moller Villa Hotel, which is an old preserved mansion from 1936 that used to be the home of a certain Mr. Moller. Go and wiki him.

The hotel is Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale style. It’s almost like living in Hansel and Gretl’s little castle. I felt like licking the outside walls to see if tasted like gingerbread. I didn’t. Though I admit touching it and smelling my fingers. The rooms are well appointed and there is a really surreal fairy tale-ish cafe at one end of the garden where a friend and I had coffee and cognac.

I also love December Shanghai weather. I take the cold very well and I was walking around taking in the city in nothing more than what I would wear in Singapore with an addition of a leather jacket. 9 degrees celcius, light wind. No sweat. Pun intended.

From 2pm, I walked around the hotel area for about an hour or so then a Singaporean gentleman met me at 3pm and took me driving around the city. The Bund area, the jewish quarters, the financial district, etc. The architecture really struck me. Beautiful and eclectic and most fascinating. Whetted my appetite for more.

Hey, I’d like to go on but I really have to rush out of here. No Facebook or Twitter here so I’ll post the pictures I was able to take when I get back to Singapore tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some photos of the lovely, quaint and almost surreal Moller Villa Hotel. Click the pictures to enlarge.