Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mistakes of a Novice

I've been doing fairly well, getting around with my mediocre french. Having an international data plan and my trusty blackberry helps because I'm able to look up words I don't understand. Even so, there are times when my roommate and I clearly made mistakes.

1) "Nous sommes finit" says MC, hoping to relay to the waiter that we have finished eating. She quickly realizes that she just told the waiter that we are a dead sort of way.

2) At a brasserie, we decide to order a salad because we needed some greens in our life. We choose a "salade de gruyere" which we think is a a salad with some gruyere cheese. Or so we thought. Out comes a plate full of grated cheese in salad dressing. Note to myself: prepositions are important. Next time, I should order a "salade avec gruyere"...a salade with gruyere cheese, instead of a salade of cheese.

3) MC and I are at the french train station trying to purchase a ticket back to Paris, but none of our credit cards seem to work. We step back to observe what the frenchies were doing. It seemed simple enough, press a few buttons and stick the credit card in. Then why didn't our card work? I read the message on the screen and all I see is that my credit card is "muette." I look this word up on my phone....apparently, my credit card is "silent, deaf, stupid." The french machine is telling me that my US credit card is handicapped. Great.

4) MC grabs me and asks "Did that LCD sign just say that people of the devil should call this number?" It's hard to believe that there are enough people of the devil in the small town of Colmar (France) to necessitate a toll-free-number. So MC proceeds to stare intently at the sign waiting for the sign to change so we could double check what she saw. After 10 minutes, the same message comes up and we notice that the "V" was really a "U." People of deuil (mourning) should call this number. I knew there weren't that many devlish people in Colmar.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Loving (and a little hating) in the "City of Love"

I have a love-hate relationship with the Parisian Metro system.  I love that even when I don't know exactly where I'm going, I do know that the Metro will get me there (please keep any philosophical and/or practical comments about getting somewhere when you don't know where you're going to yourself).  I love the art nouveau Metro signs that make public transportation seem glamorous.

On the flip-side I hate that my beloved Metro regularly smells like a public restroom.  I keep hoping they will come in and bleach those lovely white subway tiles into germ-free, non-smelly oblivion, but I'm not holding my breath...except for when I'm in the really stinky places.


There is no doubt, that Paris really is the "City of Love."  It's actually inspiring to see elderly couples holding hands as they walk down the street together.  (Random note:  I keep telling my roomie that I'm going to "steal" one of the well-dressed Parisian babies I see on the street.  I think she is going to steal a cute set of hand-holding Parisian grandparents).  Couples are, generally, more demonstrative than we are in the US and typically it's pretty cute...but not always.

Paris is oozing with places to have a romantic moment:  lighted bridges, quaint little bistros, heck steal a little kiss in a beautiful church...God is a big fan of love.  So why in the world would one choose to have their romantic moment in the afore-mentioned public restroom smelling Metro!?! Seriously friends, this is not something I have seen once or twice, and it is not limited to hormone-afflicted teenagers, you can regularly see those cute Parisian grandparents mid-makeout in the Metro.  In my attempts at learning parisian I am really trying to understand this, but I'm too busy holding my breath to be able to concentrate for long.

My personal favorite happened this weekend as Teena and I took the Metro home from Montmartre.  Squeezed into the train with us was a middle-aged couple that was certainly in Parisian love.  She had slightly frayed hair and was wearing hot-pink/purple-hued lipstick that looked to be the same color as my French tutor's in the US.  I am sure it was quite popular at some point.  He had hair that is just slightly too long and pierced ears (plural) a la "Pirates of the Caribbean."  I couldn't help but notice, as I dodged getting caught in their googly-eyes, that he too was wearing the lovely hot-pink/purple-hued lipstick; not only brightly on his lips, but also brightly in his mustache.  It must have been quite the makeout session!   

So why do the subway makeout sessions happen?  I haven't quite gotten to the bottom of this yet, but I have noticed that there are Durex condom machines all over the city...including in the Metro.  Apparently, after much market analysis, Durex has decided that Parisians are open to a little "romance" anywhere in the "City of Love."  Our Metro encounters strongly confirm this.  I'm just hoping anything we witness in the future stays PG-rated...I don't know enough French yet to tell grandma and grandpa to get a room.