Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Same but different

Each day I see the differences between a Latin country and an Anglo-Saxon one. I had never imagined there could be such strong differences in outlook, behaviour, temperament. You see it in driving, family, education, service, and light switches and plug holes to name a few. But what's a French Home Show like? Is it the same or better than what I knew in NZ? Same but different.

I've attended Home Shows in NZ from both the customer and the vendor perspectives so I was interested to see a Home Show a while back in Chartres. Same in that the traffic was horribly clogged to get to it, the search for a car park, the smells of food, the noise of demonstrations, queues, freezing temperatures outside but sweltering ones inside the exhibition halls.

The Home Show at Chartres had a new flavour for me. With such a large population in France and within Europe where was more of a focus on artisans and their wares. There were things you wouldn't normally see in NZ shows.

Of special interest to me were the furniture makers, the upholsterers, the musical instrument refurbishers, knife-makers, clock and watchmakers, the clog makers, the rugs.

Of limited interest to me were the cottage industry clothes, handbags and hand made jewellery.

As expected there were lots of wine and food stalls. Working exhibits included carpenters, thatchmakers, mosaic decorators, furniture decorators. After a few hours I got choosy and jaded by the food and clothing and dinky and kitchy candles and wall ornaments. There was a stand on solar energy and another on heating but I found the lack of really eco-products disappointing. NZ shows have rain tanks, solid wood burners, worm farms etc. There was a landscape garden display but it was static and quite conventional. Overall I found the show interesting but I wouldn't want to do it often.

Another thing I won't be doing often is teaching Bellydance. After teaching two classes at the Dance and Fitness Centre in Cafeolait the teacher decided to come straight back after having her baby and seems to be stalling about giving me lessons in return. She said we could start in December, then she changed it to January. I do hope she'll keep to the bargain.

 It was an exhausting and challenging opportunity teaching beginners. The class was still mixed ability so I did my best not to give exercises too hard but interesting enough for those with dance experience. On the final lesson I introduced them to veilwork. That was well-received. The exercise did me good.

Well-received isn't the word I'd use for two other recent events. I received a message via Facebook from the 'ex-gangster'. It's been a year since I've heard from him and was subjected to his appalling behaviour the last time we met so I was very surprised to get a short incomprehensible message. He'd come across me on Facebook and worked out that I was still in France. He asked me if I'd gone to a high school in Morocco. Bizarre, he knows that's not true so I told him he must be looking at his own profile instead.I don't think all the marbles are in place.

I went back to the sous-prefecture in Rambouillet because I now had an expensive translation for my NZ drivers license so surely now I'd get my French one? Nope. First I was told I didn't need the translation (B.S) then told nothing had still been done about it, three women crowded around a computer trying to work out which date they should go by; the date on my visa or the date stamp on my first Titre de Sejour. They didn't know the anwser and still couldn't fathom the translated drivers license.

I didn't leave until they gave me a paper saying I could drive for six months while they tried to work out what to do. I was left standing for an hour and a half with no explanations while they disappeared and fluffed around.


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