Thursday, February 26, 2015

Observations on a Winter's Day

Today on a sunny winter's day I exit the house dressed with wild melon colored coat and tennis shoes and flowered jeans.  Yesterday I met  with an American, Sunny,  and she was dressed with orange lipstick and a peach colored top and jacket.  Today I ran into my Armenian friend, Silva, and she had on a "orangey" pink jacket and red high tops. 

It is very un-French to dress in bright colors.  Only foreigners dress this way.  The average French person has a variety of black coats and jackets and neutral colored clothes from head to shoe. 

On a serious note,  the recent Charlie Hebo slayings of cartoonists and police in Paris were a big shock to all of us, French and foreigners.  On one level though, the event was not surprising.  I think if you print the kind of scathing satires that Charlie Hebo published.... making explicit and obscene drawings depicting the great figures of all was just a matter of time before a terrorist/ or group fought back.  

  A most informative article was written by an American living in Nice,  Dana Kennedy.  She points out that one of the recruiters to jihad hails from her article found in the Daily Beast.   

Now during Carnival we have the largest French police presence in the country going on right now in Nice.  There are young men carrying "serious" guns on the famous market street: Cours Saleya; in front of Galeries Lafayette and walking around in threes and fours all over town.   Other then this addition, I don't see that people's behavior has negatively changed...especially towards muslims .  We did have a recent incident of a man stabbing one of the gendarmes as the assailant exited the tram.    But folks are calm.  The French are perhaps more sanguine, more fatalistic even, than my fellow Americans.  

The children are being escorted to the Carnival these days "deguisee" which you can figure out means: "disguised".  I love how they use that term instead of "in costume".  It is so much more imaginative for the children to be "disguised" even though maybe they are "unrecognizable" only in their own minds.  This new language continues to fascinate me.  

My friend who is new to Nice tells me that she was refused service in the market for not putting her fruits and vegetables in the thin plastic bags provided.  I pointed out to her that the system here is to weigh the fruit, tie up the bag and have the machine or the "fruit and veg. guy" put a price tag on it before you approach the main checkout stand.  

 On an aside to this, at a popular market here,  there is a DIY( Do it yourself) machine for the purpose .  You point to a picture of the fruit or vegetable you are weighing.   But the pictures are not in alphabetical, nor for that any kind of logical order.   It's easy to mix up a parsnip with a daikon. Too bad,  you just have to know. 

The biggest hurdle for a newcomer settling in France is really not about learning the language.   It's about learning new ways of thinking.  And that is the challenge as well as the joy ( and frustration) of growth in general.... isn't it?


  1. Great post. Thanks for keeping me up to date. Miss u. Book your tkt. Yasmine was just here.xxxxxxxxxxx,

    Leslie Caryn

  2. BTW love the socks!


  3. "The biggest hurdle for a newcomer settling in (insert name of new locale) is really not about learning the language. It's about learning new ways of thinking. And that is the challenge as well as the joy (and frustration) of growth in general.... isn't it?"

    I took out France, Mary, as you could really insert any place yet the truth remains about the biggest challenge being new ways of thinking for the newcomer. It was a much bigger challenge than I'd realised as an expat in New Zealand for just over a year now.

    1. I was wondering if the same applied to you, Maia. But looks like you have risen to the challenge. Love you pics of New Zealand.

  4. Great picture. I think it's what the world needs now.