Category Archives: I survive in Paris

Rollers et Coquillage contre le psoriasis

Ce dimanche Rollers et Coquillages etait particulier. Il y avait du monde en orange, et des ballons partout. On ne se contentait pas de rouler pour le plaisir, il s’agissait aussi de faire prendre conscience de cette maladie de la peau qu’est le psoriasis.

Si on peut rendre service en se faisant plaisir, pourquoi s’en priver!

Orange rollers

Orange rollers

Fait amusant, cette fois ci on est passe devant chez moi 🙂

L'invasion de Rivoli

On etait vraiment nombreux

Nous sommes ombreux

Nous sommes nombreux

On a fait une pause pas loin du bois de Boulogne

La pause

La pause

Avant de repartir pour Bastille via Clichy

Cest reparti

C'est reparti

Pour plus d’information sur le rollers du dimanche dans Paris c’est donc Rollers et Coquillages.

Et pour voir plus de photo suivez le lien

Les photo sont prises avec mon telephone portable. Il est trop difficile de transporter un reflexe dans de telles aventures, mais je compte bien tempter l’aventure dimanche prochain. A suivre!

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Opera garnier

A sunny day at the opera Garnier. It’s 18:00, I’ve decided to take a walk to place de l’opera and take the bus 81 to Chatelet from there. It’s a very nice sunny day and french people are doing what they do best: appreciate the sun.

Cafes and Brasseries opened their windows and tables overflow on the sidewalk.
It’s an amazing warm spring day. A great day to survive in Paris.

Posted by ShoZu


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Barack Obama on racial problems

This is a speech which, when I saw it, I thought: I’m witnessing history.

I think that Barack Obama speaks with his heart and honesty.
It’s a speech for which, I would be proud to be american.
These are words that has to spread.

I’m touch by it because I’m mauritian and we face the same issues, but it shows off differently.
I think that I would vote for this man solely because of this speech…

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories tha t we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicia ns, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committ ed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs – to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

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Paris is burning around the Olympic flame!

The Olympic flame to the Beijing Olympics is in Paris right now.

The problem is that with the Tibetan rights protest and human right in general, brought to light recently, French people is not really happy about this.

It’s important to know that The Olympic board gave the Olympic games to Beijing in exchange of the promise that China would improve human rights.

Sadly, improvement to the eyes of french people is not there…

They are very proud that human rights is born in France.

Facing this, there’s the fact that China is a huge market that politicians and business men would love to tape into.

The background is set and now that the flame is in Paris, a few hundred people are trying to stop it.
They even tried to completely extinct the flame with extinctors. There’s police everywhere, the runners are running under strong escort.

All in all, this buzz is only about one thing ultimately: Change the world to the best.

But in this field, there’s a man standing out. I haven’t follow up the American presidency much until I heard a speech. It’s my next post.


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Countries are products

I was surviving happily in Paris recently and talking about holidays.

I have been pretty annoyed, shoked by the attitude people had toward travelling.

Basically, they view the country they travel to like a product. They buy their holidays the same way they buy cheese…

Did you know that to sell Mauritius in Paris, the travel agencies give a warranty that their will be 10 days of  sun out of their 15 days of holidays.

The happy customer will buy a whole package: plane ticket, hotel and… SUN!!!

From this experience he will get nothing but a beach which he should consider a paradise. His idea of a paradise is a long white beach with sun.

They want a long white beach? We will give it to them! The hotel location has no white beaches, the sea shore is indeed beautiful but they don’t care. They want the beach. So, boats load up tons of sand, destroy the sea in the lagoon.

It’s the same guy who will explain that it’s so terrible to cut trees in the amazonian forest but they don’t realize that its their commercial attitude toward things that drives the business.

Talking about Mauritius, one of my friend is on holiday there now and he had to face a cyclone as soon as he arrived.
I mentioned it and they were all laughing like how much he planed it and now there’s no sun.

I tried to explain that having the experience of a cyclone is not necessarily a bad experience.
In Mauritius we face it with fascination for such a powerful demonstration from mother nature and we are scared too because it will destroy things. (nobody dies we have years of rehearsal).

My friend instead of laying on the beach has been completely taken cared of by my family.

Going to a country is to go there with the right attitude. It’s not just about laying on the beach and benefit from the much required sun. I can tell that in most mauritian heart their will be a warm welcome to you foreigner.

Enjoying Mauritius is about opening to the locals, not laying in the sun.

I already know the answer to that point. When I go to some places, I paid that much. I don’t necessarily want to talk to people. I just want to enjoy my sun peacefully, I paid for it.

Well, that’s my point and the circle is closed.


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Care to help people?

This is one of the greatest difference with living in Thailand or Mauritius.
There’s a huge amount of activity I can do on week end outside of selfishly enjoying myself on a trip somewhere or in a bar at night with friends.

I can’t count the amount of time I’ve seen someone crash in Thailand, in Mauritius, or even this morning in Paris. Most of the time it involved a motorcycle of some sort.

And all the time, the only thing I could do is check if that unfortunate person is taken cared of by people around and walk away… Now… Walk away is not that bad and I would actually suggest it to anybody around an accident just sight seeing…
I feel that not knowing first aid, the best think I can do is go. But I don’t like it!

In Thailand, there was nothing much I could do. I mean, just try to get a first aid class there! It would be all in Thai any way and I would probably end up heart massaging someone who just need to drink a little water!

In France, I just go online, searched “premiers secours Paris” and found a class, which is provided for free but not to everyone. You must have a good reason. For the first aid guys, they have to make sure their time is well spent and you will actually use your skills.

Now, I’m waiting to see if they consider me a good candidate. I’ll write a new blog post later to tell if I’ve been chosen or if I’ll walk away the rest of my life… If I want to survive in Paris, I think it’s a good skill to have 🙂


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French Quizz about cheese


1) Which country is named by french people: “The other cheese country”?

2) How many different cheese there are in France?

3) Which area of France has particularly strong tasting cheese and even worms in it (for some of them)? There are different answers.

For some of those questions, I don’t even have an answer yet. I do know the strongest tasting cheese in France because I smelled it personnally.

The next culinary step will be on wine and the next one after on foie gras 😀

Oh! And optional question because UK is France’s bestest enemy: Is there more than just cheddar in UK?

Also, I’ve found some truth about cheese, for example, did you know that some cheese are made from something called “caillette” which is used to turn the milk into cheese. This caillette comes from young bovine stomach (how do we call cow’s babies anyway?).

Which  brought me to this striking truth: To really appreciate cheese, we must not know how it’s done.


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A crowd of fan of 2 persons are harrassing me to write something about the Velib’ in Paris.

If you start surviving in Paris, you should know that there’s one threat for your business: the strike.

It’s famous, French go on strike for any possible reason and I’ve seen it recently, the trigger could be as simple as a rumor!

And one of the strongest union is the railway ( and in Paris, the urban transportation ( Like in Thailand there’s a rainy season, in France it’s a strike season and very often it will be around festivities days: New year, Christmas, Eastern; but I disgress… In fact it has to be a whole new blog post.

Where does the velib’ fit in? Well, when there’s no more subways and buses, there are a bunch of choices left:
You can walk, rollerblade, take a cab (if they are not on strike too), bike if you own one. Finally, if you don’t walk or don’t know how to roller blade and you also realize that a cab is extremely expensive, there’s the Velib’ option!

So what is Velib’. It’s a free biking rental. The bikes are hooked to station like the one in the photo below:

Velib place du chatelet

France has this ability to give options which has advantages and disadvantages.

If you want a fast internet connection you will probably wait ages and never get it (I know something about it).

For the velib’, it’s long to choose a bike but you can pick them anytime, or you can apply to some membership and it will be longer to get the membership but then very fast to pick a bike.

So what we will discuss here is how to pick a bike quickly. Because how fast you can pick it, is going to be the mean of survival during strikes!

The fast ways:

1) Apply for a Navigo card which can be used in buses, subways and RER (suburb trains) . There’s an office in every big stations and it’s a 30 minute job. They can even take your picture with a webcam there. Then, go to the velib website and pre-apply for a membership. I really have to get use to this. My whole life I’ve been applying for things. In France, there’s a new step, it’s pre-apply. Basically, when you register on their webpage, they will send a paper to you that you will fill and post back to them along with a cheque. This mandatory step to a post office is the real apply. Then it will take close to a month to get your membership. Finally you will be able to use it quickly at any velib station. It’s a bip on the bike you want to pick. Fast and easy, long membership.

2) It’s same as mentioned above, except you get a card for the velib only. So it’s a bit shorter and you got to handle 2 cards all the time. I don’t like this. I would probably loose it very quickly. And knowing the pain to get it, it’s easier in France to loose a credit card than a velib card.

The long way:

3) You can use your credit card which you will get pretty quickly from your bank. They are efficient. Problem is, you can’t bip your bike, you must go to the dreadful control panel (upper right in the picture), go through a lot of steps to pay for the bike (caution), choose the bike and so on…

So to show you how important choice of card is for Velib’s at strike time, here’s a little story from my best friend Vincent:

“I go out of my place to pick a bike because of the strike and I could see this guy piano-ing on the control panel and pressing the buttons very quickly. it was the last bike in the station and he was visibly nervous. So, I come to him and ask: ” Are you taking this bike?”. He answer: “Yes! Yes!” while keying faster and faster the required information.

Then I tried to get another bike and I realized I shouldn’t have let the previous one go… There was none. Then i turn in a street and I could see the same situation: A velib station with just that bike and that guy piano-ing fast on the control panel. I couldn’t let this go. I start running to the bike 100 meter away. The guy hear me, turns around to look and come back to his control panel and key the numbers even faster!. Too late. I’m arrived, bip the bike and take it out.

Nico. You MUST have a card for Velib’!!!”

So, if you ever go survive in Paris for a while, go through the pain of applying, pre-applying, applying for a proper Navigo card which does everything for transportation.

Finally, with Velib I got a new game. When I get close to a station, I try to hook it without touching ground with my feet.

It’s tough. The hook is a flat hole and the bike plugs in very tightly. It can’t be done everywhere because plugging it requires a proper alignment with the station. it requires space to maneuver. I’ve find out that standing on the paddle gives a much better control too. I love the Chatelet station because there’s a lot of space. I always plug it right there. It gives me this superman feeling and 30 seconds of fame with 2 passers by who couldn’t care less.

edit: I’ve just find out that they also got a blog.


Filed under I survive in Paris

More paperwork to go to Paris

This is a great news.

I’ve got my papers sorted out. The lawyer office in Paris did a great job and I have it ready well before the announced deadline.
Now, I need to go to the french consulate with a convocation letter and more paper work and get my long stay VISA.

I also need to open a bank account from Thailand… I have to admit I was a bit suspicious here. Wait a minute… Open a bank account? From Thailand?! It IS possible!

It is indeed possible but I’m hitting a wall of Thai administration.

Here’s what I need to open that bank account:

Payslip of 3 last months
A valid passport
A residence certificate
Tax paper

The first 2 documents are easy to get.
Difficulties starts with residence certificate. The person at the bank stated that I could have it from my local authority. I dismissed the idea right away. Imagine that! Wrestling with the Thai administration, explaining them what I need and probably how they must do it too! Yes… HOW they should do it is part of the process.

After a quick and deep thinking, I asked if there’s another way to get it. Apparentlty my condo’s office can issue that document. It will be enough.
This morning I went to my condo office:
Me: “Is your boss here?”
Him:”Aray na krap?” (He is polite)
Me: I’m looking for your manager.
*walks in a room behind and someone else comes in*

I explain the whole thing again. I can read on his face that he has no idea what I want.
He asks me to write my name and phone number on a piece of paper. I take the luxury to include what I want.
My girlfriend tells me: “I got the feeling you won’t have it tomorrow”.

In the afternoon I get a phone call: “This is Condo office. I understand you want a residence certificate”.
I have to admit I started hoping a bit here…
“What is a residence certificate?” ARGH!
I went into explaining what it is, why I needed it and I dictated him by phone what should get into it:
“To whom it may concern, this is to certify that Mr Nicolas de Fontenay lives at Condo soi Ruamrudee since XX/XX/XXXX.
Also print it on header paper, sign and stamp your company’s stamp on it”
Me:”Can I have it tomorrow?”
Him:”Tomorrow not possible!”
Me:”Anytime this week then. I need it badly!”
Him:”I tell you when it’s ready.”
I got the feeling it won’t be this week either…

Funny things about that:
I got to tell what I want. I could as well do it myself. It’s almost like doing a fake…

When I explained why I must have this paper the guy told me: “This is so complicated”.
I agreed with him just to make my paper work easier. Rule1: Do not piss off the person supposed to give you an important paper.
In fact, he kinds of forget that I’m opening a bank account in Paris from Thailand!
This is not going to happen in Thailand before the next 50 years (with some luck).

Now. That’s just one paper.

I talked to the company’s HR this morning about my tax paper:

“I need my tax paper very soon”.
“You can’t. We start the procedure on your last day at the office
You will have it when you will be in France. I’ve already done that for a colleague of yours”.

Blast it. Thailand 1, me 0.

To summarize: If you want to survive in Paris, you got to survive in Bangkok first!
Also, opening a Bank account from Thailand is technically possible but practically impossible…


Filed under I survive in Paris

Surviving in Paris – It’s an art but french know that already.

Dear fellow readers.

From now on this blog will be in english.
I’ve said it before in French, but since I’m going to live in Paris and write articles belonging to the “I survive in Paris” line, I think it has to be written in English.
French are not interested into survival in Paris. They survive since they are born. I got nothing to teach them.

Quite exactly, I’m planning to survive in Paris. The big shock when planning to do that is the cost. The difference is huge between Thailand and Paris.
Now if I want to settle in Paris, I got to pay a 2 month rental as a caution, plus one month in advance.
Then, because a real estate company is supposed to do the search for me, I woud have to pay an additional 2 months rental to them. Plus the taxes!

It looks very very scary at first sight, but as a survivor in Paris, the first thing to learn is that there’s always some sort of schema to help people out.
Renting an apartment in Paris requires an MBA! Because there’s loads of paper work to fill. Proofs of this, proofs of that. Salary, tax papers, there’s also this rule saying that you can’t rent an apartment which rental is more than one third of your salary. Who came up with this kind of rules?!

So, since it’s a lot of money to advance if you are not born in this country, there’s this schema I’m talking about. It’s called LocaPass.
It means the french government pays your apartment and all the costs, including the real estate fees, and you pay it back monthly.

Right now I’m planning to say: Listen Guys, it’s very nice to try and look a place for me, but I think I will be better doing that by myself.
A very nice friend and ex-collegue I’ve haven’t heard of for years just contacted me as the story and horror was unfolding in front of my eyes just a few days ago, to tell me:
“You are coming to Paris, that’s great! I’m in Paris too now!”
Then, as I explained my difficulties:
“You can come to live with me for a while until you find something for yourself.”

I guess there’s someone listening to prayers sometimes.


Filed under I survive in Paris