Part I: Kuting in Paris – Lost in Translation

It was my first time to attend a multi cultural class outside my home continent (Asia).  It was not part of my itinerary, but since it was raining during my second day in Paris, I just wanted to stay indoors, but not in a museum.  So I decided to sign up for a wine class. 

Cashmer left early for her first of many business meetings, I mean, many. I had to muster all the courage to walk the ‘cold and unfamiliar’ streets of Paris by myself; just relying on – my memory of the map, limited French language, and a trained internal compass (the one that screams in the head – I’m lost!). 

Paris is not as crime-free as Singapore.  There are pick-pockets and muggers in Paris.  Majority of those elements have medium-to-heavy built; it would be difficult to use against them the skills I got from the Karate Kid, Kung Fu Panda, and Elorde – even if I combined the techniques from those three legends.  If I had to carry a map around the city and made it obvious, it was comparable to carrying an imaginary signboard, screaming: PREY.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Before things got too excited, I had to remember to wear four layers of clothing – thermal undershirt, thermal stockings, thick denim dress, wool cardigans, trench coat, scarf around my neck, and semi high-cut boots.  Imagine – Kuting (Kitten) in Paris.  I am a self-proclaimed Sun Kuting  (comparable to the Sun King of France), therefore, I don’t really thrive in cold climate.  I needed more calories to keep my temperature warm.  No human blanket available, so I just  enjoyed a hearty brunch at the Radisson Blu.  The French won’t surely like it when I’m hungry. (Thanks, Hulk.) 

best tasting croissants and pain au lait 

It was a gloomy day in Paris when I stepped out of the hotel at 12NN.  The weather forecast was pretty accurate, with temperature at 8*C, drizzle, occasional winds that sent shiver to the bones.  I walked to the nearest Metro station, my hands in akimbo, and I was trying to act normal, I mean, unfriendly…pretending to be a ‘local’.  Here is the route I followed:

The Metro station is called Richelieu Drouot (Chartreuse colored line – light/soft lime green), my ‘home station’ for several days.  (Good thing, I bought a 3-day Metro ticket the other day at Champs Elysee.  Minor train stations do not always have days-worth of tickets to sell.)  4 stations from Richelieu Drouot is the Franklin D. Roosevelt station.  From Roosevelt, I transferred to the yellow line going to Louvre de Rivoli.  When I reached Rivoli, a brasserie caught my attention – so I had to walk in to try some authentic French cuisine, plus a bottle of Badoit (I got addicted to this sparkling water – it’s like Sprite minus the sugar). 

From Louvre, I had to take walk to O Chateau, which is located along Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau.  It was quite a walk, because the French people are so not inclined in giving directions, or they don’t speak English at all. 

Scenario 1:

Me:  Excuse me, Madame.  Bonjour! (Bon – shouwr :  Good day)  Do you know which way to…

Lady:  (cutting my sentence) Non Anglais…(meaning: no English)

Scenario 2:

Me:  Bonjour!  Do you know which way to O Chateau, Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau?

Guy:  C’est dix minutes a pyay…

Me:  Pardon (Par-don). Je ne comprends pas (Zher ner kom pron pa).  Parlez vous Anglais?  (Par-lay voo ong-glay).  (Translation:  Sorry. I don’t understand. Do you speak English?)

Guy:  Pardon.

Scenario 3:

Me:  Bonjour! Excusez-moi (eks-kyu-zay-mwa = excuse me).  Do you know which way to O Chateau, Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau?

Guy:  It’s near.  You just walk to the left (signaling to the right)…

Me:  Oh, so you, mean, left (using my hand to signal to the left)…

Guy:  Sorry…Yeah, it’s to the left..then…ah first, no, second street, turn left…you won’t miss it.

Me:  Merci!  (Thanks)

Guess what?  I followed his instructions and I got lost…I was trying to find my way to O Chateau in the next 15minutes.  The street signage were not so helpful, but I knew O Chateau is somewhere within that area…I sent a distress signal to Heaven:  Lord, please send me angels…sigh, sigh…The street was empty, and I was getting nervous, but I continued walking that led me to the next scenario…

Scenario 4:

Guy:  Miss, Filipina ka? 

Me:  Oo, Filipina nga ako. Nawawala ata ako.  (Yes, I’m Filipina. I think I’m lost.)

Lady 1:  San ka ba pupunta? (Where are you going?)

I showed them the address.

Lady 2:  Sa kabila lang ito.  (Next street from here).

Guy:  Tawid tayo. Tapos, unang kanto kaliwa, kita na O Chateau.  (Let’s cross the street.  Then, first street turn left, you’ll see O Chateau). 

Me:  Thank you.  It was an answered prayer.  I was starting to get scared already, then you people saw me.  Hay… 

Prayer granted.

I was at O Chateau 15 minutes before the class started. I was the only Filipina enrolled in the class for that day.  Most of my classmates came in late because they also got lost.  It was an informative and enjoyable class that warrants another blog entry.  =)

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