Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Some more thoughts

I thought of some other differences. Banks are more security prone. You can usually walk into an entry way, and then you have to press a button to open another door, here you walk into a small space before you get to another door. That door will not open until the door you just walked into is completely shut. So for a moment you are stuck in a little phone booth sized space. Once the one door is shut the other door will either automatically open or in some place the teller has to press a button to let you in.

The roads are definitely different. I think I have mentioned before that they are very small and twist and turn everywhere. A good example is right out my apartment window. The road below is actually about three lanes wide. However one lane is designated as a parking are and it is always full. That should leave two lanes for traffic except that the lane on the other side of the road is very often filled with parked cars as well. I mean really its a lane of traffic, yet people have no problem pulling over and parking their. So this leaves one lane to drive on. Well my particular section of road curves a bit into a slight "U" shape. Which makes visibility a little difficult. So traffic will often nearly run into itself before one car has to back up a bit and pull over between two illegally parked cars to let the other car pass.

People park like that all the time though. Just today at the grocery store there was a line of cars parked parallel and then when the spots ran out people just parked beside that line of cars so that the first group would not be able to get out. Then on my way home a lady stopped her car in the middle of another street so she could run into a store and buy something.

The road signs confuse the heck out of me. They are all little minus signs and triangles and diagnal lines. Sometimes the main road has the right of way sometimes the road intersecting with the main road has the right of way. sometimes the right of way just arbitrarily changes.

A couple of other things I have done of late. I had lunch in Place Kleber which is this gian town square kind of thing right next to Homme de Fare (Literally man of iron) which is where all the trams intersect with each other. Anyway I'm having my sandwich and watching all of the people walk by when this gypsy beggar walk up to the group of women sitting across from me. The gypsy puts her cup out for handouts and gets nothing so she walks to the group next to me and again gets nothing. She then walk to me and I just shake my head no. The gypsy goes away quietly. About five minutes later, however, she comes back to the first group this time more agressively. I don't know what the heck she said but is was pretty forceful and lasted awhile. Finally she gave up and moved to the next group. They tried to ignore her, but she went up to one girl and tapped her on the shoulder and again talked very forcefully and demanded money. They repeatedly said no and she came over to me. She said something and pointed to a sign of which all I could understand was Merci (thank you) but it must have said some other begging things. I again gave her a firm head shake no and ignored her.

Last night we went to an American friendly pub. The English department where Amy works was meeting with a bunch of English students so they could practice their English. It was very funny because I got in a heated discussion with two frenchmen, and a very Brittish collegue of Amys over US politics. None of it was anti american or hateful, but it was very lively and quite fun.


Jamison said...

There is one bank in Montgomery that is just as you described... it used to get hit alot by burglers... now it hasnt ever been robbed since they implemented this several years ago! Considered "racist" I guess...

Speaking of Race, what are the french like when it comes to racial issues? Here, it seems to control every aspect of our lives! Some teacher in jersey got fired because she had a pic of the president in her classroom... wasnt this a commopn practice in our classrooms growing up? Do the classrooms in france have pictures of Jaque Sheraque?

Do you and amy drive? Or walk/bike everywhere?

With all the begging and traffic issues, youd think police are lax there, do you see them often? Do they carry guns or just sticks?

midnitcafe said...

I've only seen one or two cops drive down the street. I've never seen a policeman walking anywhere. And the way people behave, I'm guessing its pretty lax.

We walk most places or take the tram or bus. They have four trams (little trains that just run through the city) that run to most points throughout the city. And then the busline will take you just about anywhere the trams don't run. And the public transportation here is a little different than you probably think about. It's not just poor people and criminals riding them. Just about everyone does.

There is no way I would drive here. Like I said the streets are narrow and winding, the traffic laws are incomprehensible to me and the people drive like maniacs. I was on the bus the other day and the bus is doing like 40 down this little road nearly ran over a little old lady on her bicycle, honked at her and rode her but until she moved to the side!

Racism seems to be a bit of a problem. The other day there was a big rally because the public schools here will not allow you to wear any sign of religion. You can't wear a cross necklace, the jews can't wear their little hats and the big one was the Muslim women aren't allowed to wear their head scarves. The scaves are a huge part of their religion and so hundreds of women cannot go to public school because it would violate their religion to take them off and the school won't let them in with it on.