Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fundamental Difference Between French and Americans

Frenchman: "My English isn't very good."
American: "Ooh it's not so bad. I can understand you."

American: "Je ne parle pas très bien le français."
Frenchman (with a grimace): "No you don't. Your French is pretty bad. Let's just speak in English."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chez Jeanette

Last night I decided to go to a vernissage at the 12 Mail gallery with a couple of friends. As the gallery was very tiny and as the number of people inside exceeded a safe capacity and as there was no free booze flowing we left in search of other adventures. Our initial plan was to check out another vernissage not too far away and then to grab a quick drink. However, when we failed to find the second gallery we decided what the heck "let's go get our drink on" and that's exactly what we did.

We headed over to Chez Jeanette, the popular hotspot for young Parisians. I've been to Chez Jeanette several times in the past and despite having good time with my friends I was mostly underwhelmed with the ambiance and atmosphere of the place and the service of the bartending staff left a lot to be desired. But something was different last night. We cozied up to the bar, ordered three pints and started chatting away pausing every few moments to check out the new "merchandise" walking through the door. As we were finishing our pints and deciding what to do next (the consensus being to head home and call it an early evening) one of the bartenders surprisingly started chatting us up. A few moments later three shot glasses, filled with an indiscernible red liquid, were placed in front of us and like that our plans to call it an early evening were tossed by the wayside.

There's something to be said for friendly bartenders and free drinks. Since a bartender's wage doesn't depend on gratuities as much as bartenders in the US it's rare to find friendly bar staff let alone get free drinks out of it. But suffice it to say, the small gesture by the bartender last night has completely changed my opinion of Chez Jeanette and it's now a place that I'd willingly and happily frequent again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Parisian Love by Google - Not So Fast

This morning I watched the Google Superbowl ad entitled "Parisian Love". Initially, I found the ad to be sweet, charming, romantic and everything that is wonderful in the universe. I could hear my mind chanting "Go Love!". But then almost instantly, something dawned on me and it was as if my usually dormant cynical and bitter self awoken (which she tends to do around this time of year) and shouted "that ad was crock of bull". And then I thought about it some more, it's really not because I'm cynical and bitter that I didn't like the ad. It's because I've been living in France for the past two years that I was able to evaluate it with a bit more of a critical eye than someone who hasn't had a similar experience.

In case you were wondering here are the top 3 reasons why the ad didn't resonate so well with me:

1. Every male Anglophone expat in Paris knows that it's not so easy to impress French girls. If it were so easy then maybe the ratio of Anglophone men dating French women to Anglophone women dating French men wouldn't be as skewed to the latter. I'm not going to speculate here as to why this may be but feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

2. Implying that one can impress a women simply by buying her chocolates is antiquated, overly simplistic and somewhat demeaning to women.

3. If it were so easy to find a job working in France having very little French skills, then I probably wouldn't get as many emails as I do asking me how to accomplish such a feat.

And in case you haven't seen it, here it is:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Côte d'Azur

Back in December my good friend Amy who used to live in Paris came to visit for several weeks during her school break. Amy had always wanted to visit the south of France so we decided to take an impromptu weekend trip to Nice to visit a mutual friend that lives there.

We took the 10 hour night train because we really wanted to get the most out of the experience and I'm pretty sure that I got so much out of it that there really is no good reason for me to take the night train again. Upon arriving in Nice our host met us up at the train station and brought us to her place. Being the wonderful host that she was, she immediately whipped up some crepes, fresh fruit and coffee for us. And after catching up for a bit we were off to the marché at the Cours Saleya. After that Amy and I walked around a bit, took in a few sights and then headed back to the apartment.

On our second day we woke up relatively early and made our way to the Matisse Museum (good), saw some ancient Roman ruins (good) and then checked out the Chagall Museum (can I have my money back please). We stopped briefly for a coffee, chatted with two old men who were impressed with Amy's hair and then boarded a train and were off to Monaco for a few hours. While there we visited the jardin exotique, the casino (of course) and the palace before heading back to Nice. On our last day in the region we visited the Russian Orthodox Cathedral (gorgeous) before boarding a train to Cannes. I really wasn't blown away by Cannes which is probably why I have no recollection of what we actually did while there. What I do remember is that my knee was killing me after walking around so much that I had to stop by a pharmacy to get some medication to alleviate the situation.



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dubai, Oh My!

One of my unofficial New Year's resolutions is "do more, think less". This may not sound like the best motto to live by for some but for me it's a truly useful reminder to not get all caught up in the constant analysis, processing and what if scenarios that tend to cloud my judgment and paralyze my decision making when it comes to experiencing certain things in life.

So do more, think less is exactly what I did when an opportunity presented itself for me to travel to Dubai. The old me upon considering the situation; alone, to an unfamiliar region, to visit a guy that I had only met once, would have never even considered it a possibility let alone been able to board an airplane. The new me however, looked up ticket prices, run a quick cost benefit analysis and was on my way. Life is all about experiences is what I keep reminding myself.

As for my trip, it couldn't have been better and all of the fears of the old me were for naught. My host was absolutely amazing, kind and generous and I can't possibly thank him enough for welcoming me into his lovely home. Dubai doesn't have the charm that old European cities like Paris and Rome have and I was initially put off by the somewhat its Vegas-esque, faux feel. Even though there were quite a few things that I didn't like about Dubai I have to admit that it is quite impressive what they were able to build and accomplish there in the middle of a desert. Whether or not it's sustainable is yet to be seen.

Transitions

As you may have noticed I've taken an extended blogging hiatus as of late. The reason being is because past couple of months have been somewhat challenging and I wasn't ready face certain impending realities, let alone put it all out there for the masses to read.

What I can and am willing to say at this time is that I'm going through a transitional phase and how things end up is anybody's guess. But stay tuned to see how it all pans out.

In the meantime, I have a few recent trips that I took that I plan to blog about in the upcoming days.

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