AnAmericanDogInParis

The Adventures of a 12 pound Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) going to Paris.

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Tom & Maxine like to travel. Blogging helps us create a record of the trips, and share with friends and family...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Various Observations

At the risk of yet one more mention of food, here goes. Walking the other day, I found a small Italian grocery store. In their window they had 9 different fresh, probably handmade, pastas for sale. The Italian grocery by us (Marche St. Germain) usually has 4. They looked pretty compelling.

Also, the chocolate makers have started to put out displays of their 'automne' chocolates. I'm not yet sure if, in the chocolate world, autumn flavors are different than summer ones. I know that there are seasonal differences in beers -- but they are cast into fall shapes like mushrooms. I'll do some research on flavors...

On a different subject, whenever I launch Yahoo Mail, Yahoo pops up an advertisement to 'click here' and participate in the American green card lottery (Yahoo can tell from the IP address assigned to my internet traffic that I am in France). I understand from someone that I met here -- an Italian, living in Paris, who wants to move to the US -- that some portion of immigration slots are given via this sort of lottery. I would have thought that immigration was done in a more considered way than a lottery -- maybe some portion of it is?

On another subject, it is interesting to discover the pervasiveness of English. First off, we are living in an area with lots of Americans and tourists. So, we cannot help but hear at least some English as we walk down the street. It also makes it extremely easy to deal with shopkeepers -- they humor us as we try to speak French, and often switch immediately to English. However, even outside of this area, the French see things in English every day. For example, there is an advertisement on the metro to go to the "wall street english school" (or something like that). We saw a French boy the other day wearing a Torrey Pines (San Diego) sweatshirt. There are lots of logo'd items in English. There are at least 3 English language bookstores within a 10 minute walk of our apartment. What I find interesting is twofold. First, that over Maxine's & my 20+ years of travel, we've found more and more done in English. Second, I suspect that in Los Angeles I could go many months without any direct reminders of 'things french' -- or reminders of specific other languages/cultures as well (aside from those that have been incorporated into American culture.

One other comment about speaking French. My language skills, such as they are, are enough to converse in restaurants, ask for specific help, read museum notes, etc. I've come to realize that all of this is context specific. I was at the post office yesterday buying stamps and someone was sitting in the corner talking loudly to himself (or at least he was being ignored -- maybe he was the postmaster?). I couldn't understand what he was saying and it occurred to me that he could as easily be reading names from the phone book as asking for money or commenting on Chirac's administration. Without context it is difficult at this stage of my learning.

Final observation for this blog. The other day I went by the bookstore Shakespeare & Co. Twelve years ago Maxine & came through Paris and I stopped there to buy some books. As I was fumbling through my pockets for money to pay him, the owner told me not to bother, that I was in all the time, and I could just pay him next time I was there. The reality is that this was my first visit, I hadn't been there before, and I was leaving the next day. But, the conversation was a very powerful one for me. It started me on a path of WANTING to be someone who was in there all the time, etc. I feel luckier than I can begin to express to be in that situation years later. And, I thank the owner, George Whitman, for planting the seed!

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