Monday, November 26, 2007

RER stabbing

Occasionally something happens in/around Paris that I hope my parents don’t hear about because it will make them worry (more than they already do). Yesterday a student named Anne-Lorraine was stabbed on RER D by a convicted rapist. She was still alive when she was discover but died soon after. The story doesn’t seem to have much news coverage, but there are a few links below where you can read about it. The nutcase who did this should be locked away in a dungeon for life with various creatures gnawing away at his appendages. And that’s being charitable…
Whom Will France Mourn? A Tale of an Accident and a Murder
Fait divers

Friday, November 23, 2007

smoking as weight management

Someone who has been a smoker for about 20 years claims she won’t quit because she’s afraid doing so will cause her to gain weight. Apparently the side effects of looking older than one’s age, stained fingernails, not too mention the damage to the lungs and cost aren’t important. What matters is not gaining a few kilos. I’m sure there’s a logic to this way of thinking, I just haven’t found it…

Monday, November 19, 2007

les grèves cont…

The strikes are still going on and the Parisians are getting irritable…ok, more irritable than usual. Even though the bus trip to the office this morning took 3x longer than normal, I had a seat and there was a passenger who made the rest of us laugh. He kept calling the driver and anyone else he spoke to “cousin”. “Vas-y cousin, avance!” “Tu descends cousin?” “C’est bon cousin, ferme la porte.”

The trip home this evening, however, was less than amusing. A colleague and I left early trying to try to beat the rush hour - an idea that didn’t quite work out as planned. We were able to squeeze onto the crowded bus and after 30 or so minutes of tortoise pace traffic, the driver encountered a car that wasn’t far enough to the left. He yelled out the window a few times and eventually the car moved over, but not enough for Mr. Chauffeur’s liking. The bus moves forward and we hear the unmistakable crunch of one vehicle hitting another. The crazy thing is that the driver seemed to have hit the car on purpose, to make a point.

Well that was it. With that little crunch, restraint went out the window. One passenger starts yelling at the driver about how they (RATP, SNCF etc.) are annoying us all with this ongoing strike. An elderly lady yells at this passenger that they have the right to strike. “C’est constitutionnelle!” The bus driver and the car driver are screaming at each other. And pretty soon many of the passengers are bellowing at I have no idea whom. The driver opens the doors to let people off and announces that he is obliged to wait for the police. So now not only has he pissed off the car driver and all of the passengers on board, but all of the bus drivers and passengers who are behind him, because he’s blocking the bus lane!

After this lovely voyage I walked home since I didn’t have the energy or patience to fight with aggressive Parisians to force my way onto the metro. It took me 40 minutes to get home, but the nice thing is that part of the walk was through picturesque Montmartre. The strikes are supposed to go through Wednesday…If today was any indication, people may soon become violent. Bienvenue à Paris and watch out for any irritated Parisians wielding baguettes!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


A crazy French woman walking down the street, holding a can of beer in one hand and a stuffed rabbit in the other, yelling at cars as they drive by.

Friday, November 16, 2007

ils n’arrêtent pas…

And this is a "good" strike day. Read about life with les grèves in Paris here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

les grèves

Anyone who’s lived in France for more than, oh…two weeks, could tell you that strikes (grèves) are as much a part of life here as baguette, wine, stinky cheese and cdc. During the past month there have been strikes by RATP and SNCF, the opera and Air France and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were others I didn’t hear about. Because we didn’t suffer enough during that last round, we’re now in the midst of yet another strike that started last night. I am typically Parisian in the sense that I don’t have a car and rely on my feet and public transportation, so I worked from home today. I’m all for trying to protect your pension scheme, but I’m also selfish. And I get annoyed when my convenient transportation is interrupted for more than a day or two. Let’s see how Sarko handles the situation. I expect that I’ll be working from home through the end of the week.

Monday, November 12, 2007

study time?

On the bus this morning a mother was helping her daughter with her English lesson. The person next to me was going through her Portuguese language workbook. All of the language study should have motivated me to review my sheets of Spanish verb conjugations that I so optimistically carry in my bag. Instead I decided to procrastinate and enjoy the city scenes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

les crottes

Aside from finding it a bit cruel to keep a dog cooped up in an apartment all day, I have no issues with Parisians and their dogs. EXCEPT for the dog crap otherwise known as crotte de chien (cdc). Just today when I went for my Sunday pastry and baguette, I encountered a trail of cdc. Whenever I see a cdc I wonder - who are the people who let their dogs do their business in the middle of the sidewalk (or the inconsiderate connard who allows the dog to leave a cdc in a metro station) where some poor soul is likely to step it in?? Don’t these same people have to walk and navigate around the cdc? And how difficult is it to go a few feet to the gutter or the nearest tree? Maybe there’s a society of dog walkers who have secretly invented a transporter and they just beam outside when Fido has a nature call so they don’t actually have the joy of stepping around or hopping over the cdcs. A couple of years ago the city featured an ad campaign that showed cdcs in different home situations (e.g. next to the bathtub, in the living room). I think the text of the ad was “Not in your home? Paris is your home.” Even if that’s not an exact translation, you get the idea. The ads were clever, but they didn’t seem to change the cdc-leavers' behavior. Maybe they were too busy avoiding the cdc trails to see the ads….

Saturday, November 10, 2007

french flirting begins at a young age

Last week I had dinner with someone who was in town for a few days. We ate in a small restaurant in the latin quarter and there was a group of people finishing their meal. There was a little boy around 5 or 6 years old with the group and after they left they stood outside chatting. While the adults were talking the little boy came back into the restaurant and tugged on the server's sleeve to get her attention and said "au revoir". After saying goodbye, he went to the door turned and called out "a toute a l'heure". Apparently this wasn't enough of a farewell because he then stood on the outside of the glass door, looked in and waved at her. No wonder the French have a reputation for being flirts, they start at such a young age...

Friday, November 9, 2007


Someone tells you that she doesn't drink dark teas (only white tea for her) because they stain her teeth. Yet you've seen her drink coffee and red wine several times. Does this make sense??

Thursday, November 8, 2007

xmas cultural differences

Today, I had to explain the Rudolph the red nosed reindeer story to a designer in Prague AND stickers! The designer had only the baby Jesus story for xmas and didn't play with stickers as a child. I never gave any thought to either being particular to anglo cultures, but apparently they are. Colleagues from France and Singapore weren't familiar with Rudolph either. Who woulda thought that after several years of marketing experience and an MBA I would be reduced to explaining a children's holiday story for a colleague...

Follow up: the boyfriend sent me this link that explains the character of Rudolph was created by a department store in Chicago in 1939.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I got back from London a couple of hours ago. No matter how many times I visit the city I still find it ugly and depressing. This time it was an overnight trip for work, but whether it's work or visiting friends (I still don't understand what possessed them to move there) the place is equally unappealing. As a colleague said, it's like entering a movie about Jack the Ripper... Once again, it's so nice to be back in Paris.