Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Parlez Politics?

In the US, you can know people for years and never discuss politics. Here in France, the topic can come up just a few minutes after meeting someone.

The Brit and I were browsing in a shop when the shopkeeper began making polite conversation. After a few exchanges, he asked if I was American (he used “vous” so I wasn’t sure if he meant me or both of us). I told him I was American and the Brit was English. He immediately asked if I had voted and started talking about the election and how happy he was that Obama had won. He said Obama winning meant that the US was a true democracy and he hoped that things in the US would change with Obama in office. It’s funny that he automatically assumed I was an Obama supporter. Maybe he thinks any American abroad is a dem or perhaps the Brit and I give off a strong liberal vibe.

When this type of exchange happens it still catches me by surprise because talking politics can be rather taboo back home unless you’re amongst people you know share your political views (or you’re prepared for a very heated and often nonsensical argument). In France, it seems that it’s always open for discussion.

So far I’ve managed to get by with only a few “You have a slight accent where are you from isn’t Obama great” conversations. If it happened more often, I’d have to consider printing a cards to give to the shopkeepers/cashiers - “I’m American. Yes, it’s great Obama won. Can I just pay and skip the political dialogue?”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Parisian Parking

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Metro Manners

RATP has implemented a metro sticker campaign in an attempt to keep people from blocking the doors. Roughly translated the 1st sticker says When the signal beeps, I keep away from the doors and the 2nd one 1 second lost in the station = the entire line being late . It's a nice try, but the first time I saw the stickers, I thought – who are they kidding? The only people who will heed the instructions are foreigners and provincials. Parisians will think it doesn’t apply to them, because if they need to hold the doors open, then everyone else will have to suffer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Freaks, Carnivale or Twilight Zone?

There are some moments when I feel like I've suddenly been thrown into a scene from a movie or film. This morning's bus ride was either Freaks or a Carnivale episode. There was a man with 6 fingers on each hand; a woman who looked more Romulan than human; a person who appeared to just miss the height requirements of a dwarf and was dressed as a woman with a fur coat, yet had the face of a man. (S)he reminded me of Samson from Carnivale. To top it off, there was a teenage boy who I've seen on the bus before and appears to have a developmental issue. He was in a seat towards the middle of the bus (I was sitting all the way in the back), and after he'd been on the bus a while he moved next to me and proceed to shift about in 2 seats (it was a round de 6 places) and mumble to himself. It's time such as this when I look around for Rod Sterling.