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Chronicles of msadele

Welcome to my W O R L D

My Whole Brain Is Crying

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Image credit: Google gifs. Merci beaucoup.

In today’s lesson I accomplished everything and nothing. This is how it went …

2 hour commute to my 2 hour French lesson – way on the other side of Paris. 3 tram stops and 4 metro stations changes later. I’m exhausted before I get there. So many numbers already.

I meet my tutor M in the local bar/cafe and pop a Panadol with my “thé aux fruits rouge”. Really hitting the hard stuff this morning.

We begin. I learn. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, indefinite, definite and possessive articles all determined by gender (masculine/feminine) and whether they’re flying solo (singular) or at a party (plural).  M says “indefinite article” to me and I nod politely but really my mind goes blank. I’m supposed to remember this. I’d like to know exactly how many people read and go “oh there’s an indefinite article, a noun and a verb and there’s that doing word thingo”. Do you?

Moving on from my English Lit failure …

M taught me how to count. It’s very similar to Italian so it seems like a no brainer for me. Then you hit 60 and sh*t gets real. For example:

  • 60 is written soixante. 
  • 70 is written soixante dix, because 60 + 10 = 70. Dix being 10. OK. Stay with me.
  • 71 is written soixante et onze, because 60 + 11 = 71.  Onze being 11.  Still there?
  • 72 is soixante douze, 60 + 12 = 72. Douze being 12 …. and so on, until you get to the mothers of all the numbers, 80 and 90.
  • 8o is written quatre-vingts, because 4 x 20 = 80. Just let that sink in for a minute.
  • 90 is written quatre-vingt dix, because 4 x 20 = 80 + 10 = 90. Got it? Nailed it right.

Picture this … 

You’re at the checkout with no digital display to show you the total amount due. It’s common in the local stores here, at the butcher and the baker the candlestick maker.

You’re still working out the coin sizes (1 and 2 cent pieces still exist). The assistant tells you in the fastest of French, which sometimes has a Chinese or Vietnamese accent, “douze euros et quatre-vingt quatorze centimes”. 

???????? WTHeck ????????? “My Whole Brain is Crying”

Your mind goes AWOL. You search around in your purse attempting to cover up the fact you have no idea what they just said by looking for change, whilst you’re frantically trying to reiterate the words in your mind to come up with a ’round about number. You cannot work it out so you mumble “je n’ai pas la bonne monnaie” (I don’t have the right change) and hand over a bank note. Defeated.

This has been me on countless occasions. I’ve boycotted stores for this very reason. I prefer to support the local guys so I really need to get better at this change thing.

If you are still trying to work out that number, it’s €12.94. Easy! Ha.

 

 

 

 

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One Little Word Is All It Takes


Or in Matéo’s case “mammmmaaaaaaa” and sometimes “adaaaaaaa” or just “mum” (with little Aussie/French accent).

Thanks to Mum’s Grapevine for the continuously humourous content, it makes me feel almost normal. Too good not to share.

Je m’appelle Adele 

So today I had my first real French lesson.

The ‘not from a lonely planet phrasebook’ kind. Those are incredibly useful but if I want to have real life discussions, I need to extend my vocabulary past “une baguette s’il vous plait”. 

French lesson
“Terre des mots” is a text designed for primary school children. My tutor has high hopes for me.

I’ve only been with my French (now) husband for 7 years. Call me an avoider. It’s a difficult language and I’m a big chicken. There, I said it. Just too scared to fail because I suck at languages. My other half is the polar opposite, he’s a language sponge.He speaks a few of them. Sometimes I switch off when he talks about the “langue”. He doesn’t know this because I never let my eyes glaze over. Clearly I’m joking, sort of.

All jokes aside, there are very good reasons for me to learn.

Here’s my motivation list ….

  1. So I understand when my husband is talking bad things about me to my son, like “mummy won’t let you eat that chocolate, she said no”. That’s a diplomatic example.
  2. As above except applied to the in-laws. You feeling me?!
  3. Employment. Even though there’s a buhzillion foreigners in Paris who everyone tells me “seem to have easily landed English speaking jobs not speaking a word of the language”  – well, I am not one of those “lucky” ones.
  4. So I can say more than “putain” or “conard” when some ar*ewipe fails to adhere to basic road rules, like stopping at a pedestrian crossing while my son is on it! (that really gets up my goat). Insulting people politely and with a larger vocabulary seems important here. I need to get on that train.
  5. For myself. It’s a slow and painful death living in a foreign country with a language barrier. I need to expand my circle. My daily conversation revolves around “get your finger out your nose” and “no, you can’t have any chocolate” and my  personal favourite, “how many times have I asked you not to do that?!” Nooooooooo.

Back to my lesson …

One tram and four metro station changes later I make it to my teachers hood. Remember I live just outside of the peripherique, so going to the westside of Paris is like a day trip for me. I’m doing one-on-one lessons. We go to a local bar. I’m ensured it’s quiet. This is important as I sure as hell don’t want people listening to me.

I’ve learned a quiet bar in Paris is like a Friday afternoon knock-off drinks. Quiet, not quiet. Apparently it’s the a new cool thing to have your lessons out and about, submerged in the Parisian way. The only thing I was submerged in was phonetics, grammar and conjugation. Up to my eyeballs.

Kudos to my lovely tutor though (I’ll call her M), she kept her voice on the low down and leaned into me so I didn’t have to speak very loud. Bless her. M is ace and her French (for a native Italian) is excellent. M speaks four languages fluently. Puts me to shame. So much shame. M was very patient with me and made me feel really comfortable so after a while I didn’t give a rats bottom who heard me. M was very encouraging of my pronunciation, overall status and ability to progress. Felt pretty chuffed after my 2 hours came to an end.

Feeling pretty confident I can nail this. I’ll keep you posted!

à bientôt


Because parenthood.

4 years , 1 baby, a wedding and 2 continents later …

One hell of a blogging hiatus, right?!

A wise woman reminded me today that I used to write once, and maybe had a good thing going.

So, I dragged this site out of the trenches, gave her a good wash, and put her best frock on. Let’s see what I can do here. New continent, new stories to tell. 

You’re probably going to read a lot of toddlers rants cos that’s where it’s all at right now. 

 Here goes nothing … thanks for listening.

Not so squeezy …

For those who think their subway or train line is full.  You ain’t seen nothin baby !

About a week ago, I went to see a couple of suppliers located in the north-west of the Jing, past the 4th ring road.  The best way to get to the edge of the earth, is via subway.  A taxi takes minimum 1 hour each way, and for those who suffer from car sickness like myself, it’s really not an option.

This lesson was learned the hard and messy way. Cab drivers here love to put pedal to metal, then slam on the brakes.

So I took a cab from work to the suppliers office close to CBD, and they drove us to the call centre out west.  I sat in the front.

On the way back I took Line 10.  See map below – showing start and finish points, highlighting stops 1, 3 & 5.

For a little perspective …

Stop 1.

Line 10, Stop 1Stop 3.

Line 10, Stop 3Stop 5.

Line 10, Stop 5Within 3 small stops the train is packed, like a tin of off sardines.  Imagine yourself  in 35 degrees, stinking (yes, stinky!) heat at around 70% humidity.

Getting off the train was yet another frightening experience, involving a lot of shouting and pushing people to move, who consequently end up outside of the train on the platform, just so peeps can get off.   Wonder what the ratio is for people who successfully get back on ?!

It’s a charming experience, and not in the Collins dictionary kind of way.

To Expo, or not to Expo

Agricultural Exhibition Centre, Beijing.

They take their potatoes seriously.

Ride My Bike Until …

A chinese dynasty has past since I last blogged.

Where does one start when so much has time has passed? A wise man said to me, “you don’t have to write much, just post pics an summarise”. Thanks @cannizzaro.  I’m taking the advice and I’m starting with the present. Well, nearly.

Every foreigner in Beijing will know that the best, and believe it or not, safest way to get around this town is by bike.  Bikes come in all types in these parts, Malvern Star knock offs if you want the retro look, teeny tiny wheeled fold ups, electric bikes for the lazy, and you can throw in a side car if you want to take the family.

I went with the good old fashioned kind that you need to pedal.  So here’s my new wheels!

Thigh BusterBig, little wheels - fold up styles

*I think they do the peace sign differently in China.

Montezumas revenge

This afternoon I was hit with a diarrhea tsunami … goes a little something like this

you feeling me?
Serves me right for considering my thighs, and eating salad for lunch. Now, I went into this restaurant as it appeared to be a reputable establishment, filled to the brim with Lo Wai (and locals, that’s when you know it’s OK), some of which were eating salads!

Must be my lucky day, or maybe big brother honed in on the tweet I posted whilst in the restaurant, commenting on their poor service. Karma strikes again.

Story goes; I ate, paid my bill and went for a stroll. 20 mins later, I’m half heartedly running (with knees locked) in a mad panic, back to the apartment, approximately 300 metres away, praying to anyone listening that I make it home. Refer to my earlier post this week “Always bring the kleenex” for a snapshot of why I will never go to a public toilet in China again. On that note: given my experience today, I now understand why the toilets look like that.

For anyone who has experienced this before, you will understand when I say, it is a fate worse than death.

Big thank you to Element Fresh for the $19 enema – looks like I’ll lose a few kilos before I head to Phuket, can’t complain about that !

p.s. I must point out this is the first time it’s happen in the 6 weeks I’ve been in Beijing, so I’ve had a pretty good run so far. I really think someone read my tweet and thought ‘yeah! let’s payback this whining b*tch!” ;-)

BTW the salad I ate was delicious, couldn’t taste the salmonella at all !

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