jeudi 28 juillet 2011

Conversations with a Parisian

So last night I spent 4 hours (!!) chatting to a Parisian, a stranger no less. I find that I can usually relate well to Parisians, both having grown up in big, well-known cities (mine being Sydney).  I'm not actually Australian Australian. No I'm not Aboriginal either but my parents or ancestors did not immigrate here from England. One of the most tiring and frustrating questions I get asked when I travel is, "Where do you come from?" And when I answer "Australia" they usually stare at me, puzzled, and then there will be more statements and questions such as "Oh but you don't look Australian!" "Are you sure?" "Oh I didn't know there were people who look like you in Australia" and all sorts of ignorant crap like that. In hindsight I guess I have to feel sorry for these people because they've lived such a sheltered life and never ventured outside of their own mono-cultural society!

So I was completely surprised when this Parisian I was talking to asked me where I was from and I said "Australia" and then there were no further questions asked! I couldn't believe it! That almost never happens. The conversation just continued on as normal.

However, maybe 10 minutes later I couldn't help thinking about it so I brought it up again. I asked, "When I told you that I come from Australia before, why didn't you ask me any further questions?" He told me that because Paris is so multicultural and he realises that (shock horror) there can be people who are born in France who don't look French and don't have French origins, the same thing must exist in Australia! Hurray! Bravo! So my conclusion is that he didn't have a problem with it because he comes from a big city because in almost every other place I've been to in France (and elsewhere around the world) I've been asked these dumb questions...

He said he thinks it's impolite to ask questions like that and it can be seen as being racist... something to do with the past, something to do with the French and the Africans... I can't remember the exact details but it was an interesting conversation.

Another thing I found interesting about this conversation was that he told me he grew up in the 6ème arrondissement, which - according to my knowledge of Paris - is a rather wealthy neighbourhood. It is also quite busy, crowded, noisy etc... and it's for that reason he now lives in a tiny city with a population of only about 6000 people! He says he really likes the peace and tranquility now. Ha!

I told him about my recent trip to Paris and how I went to Galeries Lafayette because I just love looking at the interior of that department store! He told me that Le Bon Marché is even more ritzy and the things they sell there are the top of the range luxe.

We talked about so many different things, it was such an interesting night!

dimanche 24 juillet 2011

Désormais et Dorénavant

So on Thursday and Friday I was with my old friend the TGV listening to and reminisicing about the announcements you hear on the train platforms. There was one word that I did not understand and I was wracking my brains for what it could be. I wasn't even sure if it was one word, or two, or three...

Just then I had a Skype chat with someone I found through one of those languages learning sites (and OMG thank God he was a good chat partner. They are so rare to find) and then he typed it "dorénavant" and immediately I made the connection that that was the word they were saying over the loudspeaker!

Here is the exact sentence : "Nous vous rappelons que dorénavant l'étiquettage de vos bagages est obligatoire." (We remind you that from now on it is compulsory to tag your luggage (with your details))

Now I only came across the word désormais because of Facebook (I had since switched my language to French about a year ago) but did not realise that dorénavant means practically the same thing ("from now on").

It's funny the different ways by which I learn new vocabulary!

Here is a somewhat related blogpost about train platform messages.

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