Thursday, March 20, 2014

The secret language of French signs

Welcome back... It's been such a long, strange journey...

France, like many other countries around the world, is quite unique in its culture and traditions. Draped in a rich history and laden with all sorts of nuances, it is a quite intricate country. The problem is, some of these cultural things are invisible to even the most trained eye.

Perhaps the best way to make way through all of the DO's and DON'T's of France is to better examine the signs and pictures that exist everywhere throughout the country. And though the language may be a bit of a mystery to some, I am more than happy to translate exactly what each picture means and entails for your next visit to the land of love.

Let's take a look...

Unbeknownst to most people, there is a strict "no speaking" policy between any two doors. If you happen to see whisperings between any entrances, gates or portals, make sure to notify the proper authorities immediately.


Unlike many countries, hitchhiking is actually lawful, so long as it is done in the proper manner. Three rules of thumb apply when trying to catch a free ride in the legal way:

1) Only vehicles with ladders and a fin (or fins) attached to them may be summoned.
2) All hitchhiking requests must be made while standing or sitting in another vehicle. This helps to convey that a ride is not needed, but simply desired.
3) You may only attempt to get a ride from vehicles whose color match your outfit worn at the time of the hail. This ensures that proper French fashion standards are kept.

If you have a pet rabbit, do not leave it unattended. Though doors are not allowed to verbally communicate with one another, they have found a way to coordinate vicious attacks upon unassuming hares.

When traveling with a group of people, there must be a uniformity in the posture of the cabin/car. If everyone else is leaning one way, you too must be leaning. No exceptions will be made.

The only addendum to the above mentioned rule is people of size and those traveling with a cane. They too must also follow suit with the posture of the rest of the people near them, but may do so in either direction, leaning forwards or backwards (as depicted above)

Javelin throwing is allowed most everywhere in the country, so long as the proper form is kept. If you don't look fancy doing it, you will be arrested on the spot. ***PLEASE NOTE*** If you are able to hold the javelin without actually touching it, you may be entitled to a free baguette. Check with the nearest boulangerie if you are able to accomplish this feat.

And lastly... If you're going to walk your dog, please make sure either than the dog is leading you rather than you leading your dog, or that neither you nor your dog look jovial while dong so.

Pay attention to the signs the next time you travel, and you too will learn to reap the benefits no matter where you are!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

thoughts on an early saturday morning...

Years ago when I was still living in Chicago, before I had decided to "move" to India, I was catching up with some old friends I knew from the class that helped change my life. As Mandela, Kenya, and I walked down the pier, I shared with them the wisdom that had suddenly and unexpectedly thrust itself upon me. "As a grown man ... you have to decide what it is you want and go fucking get it." It had, and has, become that simple for me. There is no one else in this world (the Lord being above it) that truly knows what it is we want. And why shouldn't we actively pursue that which it is that we want most?! Do we so blindingly fear failure to such an extent that we have convinced ourselves it is better not to search after what we truly want as we are destined to fall short?!... Another revelation, as simple as it seems, was while watching a Tigers game. I sat and marvelled how as a child I had idolized the athletes on my favourite squads, and how they were grown men, how they were professionals - special and gifted. But as I watched I realized that these guys were now younger than me! I had become a full grown man!.. so why couldn't I be special and gifted too?! Writers, painters, poets; they also are human. So why not trust that AT WORST my odds are like flipping a coin, 50-50, but that really the universe conspires towards my happiness...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clever Paris

The one thing I find I appreciate the most when I am traveling - whether it be to work, exploring the city, or in Paris - is clever people doing things just to amaze and delight others. The creators of such projects do them in the knowledge that they benefit nothing tangible from their labor; but they know that they may be sharing a smile... And it is here that creativity truly lies.

Parisians, though my last trip let me to believe otherwise, are also victims of garbage tv...

tasteless promotions...

arrogant, yet passionate, nationalistic pride...

and images that stick with one for a lifetime, even if they only stalked in the bowels of the city.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paris, how you never cease to amaze me

Even a continent and numerous time zones away, I still find reminders of home. These two, par example, could be spot on representations of my roommates, though in essence and not in appearance as neither appears to be Hispanic.

But really what catches my eye here in the City of Lights is how the ordinary is quite extraordinary.

A building covered in growth and life resides in a usual spot next to the sidewalk as all the other buildings do...


a simple possibly stolen Egyptian monument is nice to look at,

but gains so much more cool when it is discovered that it helps to tell time as well.

And while great feats of strength and balance occur at every level of the city,

it is the sings simply French that make Paris unique all on its own.

**NOTE: if anyone may know why the French qwerty keyboard is only slightly different I would LOVE to know. I only assume it is because it is French, and therefore the French must do things their own way - even if it may not have sense to the rest of the world**


If you hqve ever used q french keyboqrd you zould soon reqliwe hoz vqstly different it is, even though there qre only q fez keys thqt qre out of plqce, so to speqk: It took ,e q solid " ,inutes to find zhere the qpostrophy zqs locqted:::

I also discovered the predecessor to Air France...

and was reminded that Paris is a town that makes everything feel sexy.

Even the cars here share kisses...

Perhaps the most comforting thing to discover here is that though I may sometimes think it, I am clearly not the only one in the world with Paris on his mind...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Forgetting the norms...

The first two trips I took, the first to India and the Second to London and Paris, I had made reservations for my first two nights abroad. I did so as even though i prefer to travel and explore by the seat of my pants I was totally out of my element to begin both trips. So by having reservations to stay, if even for a few nights, it allowed me the piece of mind to begin my journeys with an ease of mind.

But since I was returning to Paris and somewhat familiar with the city I decided against making reservations. I figured it as simply as I would be able to find something, and since I had stayed at three different hostels the last time I knew where and how much I would be able to find lodging.

After glancing at to get an idea on pricing I discovered that two of the three hostels - Hotel Caulaincourt and Aloha - were still as expensive (relative of course) as they had been in the summertime, each about 30 euros. But alas! my favourite hostel, the 3 ducks, was showing beds available (to my surprise) at 18-23 euros per night.

When I walked up to the hostel I immediately understood why there were so few reservations made...  

Though my trip didn't start out quite as I had envisioned it, a quaint cafe (as all seem to be in Paris) calmed my nerves and reminded me that everything was going to be ok.

The raw beauty of the city also helped to inspire an inner calm and remind me that Paris is quite magnificent, even when you don't have a place to lay your head figured out.

Somewhere along the way I passed by this treasure, and in my ignorance I wanted to poke my head inside and ask exactly what it was that was offered there. 

Ultimately I decided not to, fearing that I would not be able to deal with the likely disappointment that they do not serve fries poutine...

Ever curious how French Paris is?...

... Paris is so French that even it's windows have mustaches...'s automatic doors are elegant and sleek...

...and it is perhaps the only place in the world where Indiana is considered chic.

Yet Parisiennes also keep a focus upon that which is perhaps most important:


The city is also quite aptly nicknamed, as even construction equipment is dressed to fit in with the city of lights.

... for everything else in the city reminds just how magical the city of lights is.

So I sat to have my favourite dinner: a bottle of wine, baguette and cheese. All I really needed to do was open my eyes to the beauty I am immersed in...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

return to the home of my heart

At British Airways, like many airlines, employees earn flight benefits after six months of service to the company. My DOJ (Date of Joining) way May 7th, 2012, making my benefits kick in on November 7th. But since everything in the company runs on Zulu (London) time, I gained access to flights at 7pm on Nov 6th. What that translated to is that I got to see the sun rise this morning over the Atlantic ocean.

Upon arriving in Paris, one of the first things that I encountered was a modern impression. It was a stark reminder of someone special back home, and gave me an immediate new twist on a city I am just beginning to know...

But of course - as it always is - it was the first time that I espied mon p'tit chou (the Eiffel Tower)) that my heart truly fluttered and reminded me that yes, I was indeed in Paris!

One of the neat things about returning to a city rather than being introduced to a city is that things become to become familiar. From Paris to the Moon introduced me to this establishment, but it was seeing it with my own eyes and recognizing it that made the city truly set in. It also fostered the feeling of knowing, that somehow recognizing something without actualy knowing it makes it that much more warm...

I was also treated with this wonderful truc, yet another reminder that though I thought - naively of course - that I knew all the city that indeed Paris is ony beginning to open up to me.

And of course my night ended with my little cabbage in the best garden of Paris.

And though I do not know that this is where I belong, It was a feather found that reinforced my love for this city.

I am beyond lucky to be becoming a dreamer.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How I spent my day; NYC's best sprinkler wash

After waking up from a nap after work I was faced with an odd segment of the day. Too early to go to bed, yet with nothing on my agenda I decided to take a walk through the neighborhood. As it so happened my phone was dying and only minutes before my decision had I plugged it in to charge. Instead of taking what would inevitably soon become dead weight I left it plugged to the wall and set out on my way.

By the time I reached about 20 minutes from my apartment or so it dawned upon me that I was completely disconnected from the world aside from what my senses could identify. Not only was I without text, email, and the seldom used phone feature, but I was without camera, internet, and maps. More importantly, I was without a clock.

So I walked. And listened to music. And thought.

In the process I had an evening of greatness without doing anything out of the ordinary. I took my time and walked up and down the spots of some of the graffiti in the neighborhood, checking out the new work and tasting some favourites as though for the first time.

As I approached a familiar corner, I decided to turn off my path to soak in a pair of black and white eyes that were just around the way. Continuing on past the mural I stumbled upon a city sprinkler, courtesy of the FDNY of course. Just past it and kitty corner across the street was a block party of sorts. Neighbors, family and friends gathered to eat some bbq and picnic food. Cars would slowly roll by to get their free car wash. People were everywhere.

It was New York City.

I had no camera, nor journal, computer, or any other way to preserve the moment other than a pen and a pocket notebook. So I sat down on the sidewalk, behind the hydrant and facing the fiesta, and drew.

That's how I spent my afternoon. I was doing nothing but living in the moment of where my feet and heart took me. I spent two hours sitting on the sidewalk and it was one of my favourite moments in a while...