Seeing Life from the Other Side of the Big Apple Pond
Seeing Life from the Other Side of the Big Apple Pond
Monday, May 22, 2006
There’s still time to join us in New Orleans this Saturday…
Living and Investing in France Round Table —
We’re pleased to announce a very special addition to the program — John Howell of John Howell & Co., Solicitors & International Lawyers, London. John is internationally well known for his thoroughly entertaining and brilliantly informative seminars about all aspects of buying property and living overseas.
And the best part is, we’re adding another two hours to the program, without adding another penny to the cost of the program! You’ll get even more priceless information for the same price.
Plus, invite your friends and relatives to join you for a celebration cocktails and dinner at historic Tujague’s Restaurant, the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans. Everyone is welcome!
Dear Parler Paris Reader,
I always go through a mild culture shock the first 24 to 48 hours after arrival in the States. The moment I get a hit of “Americana,” it acts as a mirror reflection of my Franco-European cultural crossings. Like a rude awakening, it forces me to realize how much I have changed in the last eleven-plus years living in a very different world.
This re-entry into the U.S. started with a bigger bang than usual. Each time I go through passport control, because my passport was lost or stolen in 1994 and never recovered, I am escorted to a special office for clearance. There is an office to which I can write to ask that this be removed from my record, but in today’s world of extra security, that may never happen.
The taxi to Manhattan was a slow ride in pouring rain and heavy traffic, but the doorman at my friend’s upper east side apartment was gracious and settling in was easy, until…I discovered that the locks on my suitcase wouldn’t open, no matter how hard I tried. Luckily, the “Super” in the building gallantly rescued me by prying them open. When I opened the big blue heavy bag, not one easily mistaken for another, it took three looks before realizing it wasn’t mine at all!
Panic! No time for lunch or leisurely welcome to the Big Apple — Back to Kennedy airport I went, with my daughter chuckling at me all the way, first in a taxi to Grand Central Station, then by bus to the airport. Pleasure came at the sight of my identical suitcase waiting for me, but with guilt at the pain I had caused the other owner who had flown on to Austin, Texas without her belongings.
Déja vu…another taxi ride in pouring rain back to Manhattan (less expensive than a taxi to Charles de Gaulle) with the right suitcase and a huge appetite sent us flying out on to the streets where we found some of the best Sushi I’ve ever eaten at a tiny restaurant on York Avenue at 83rd Street named “Suki.” Sushi in Paris is plentiful, but dreadfully uncreative. Point scored for the good ol’ U.S. of A. where tradition is tossed to the wind for “new” and “better.”
A manicure can be had on just about any corner for a whopping $10, so we treated ourselves to this small luxury. While sitting in the chair having my hands massaged and cuticles trimmed, I realized how just about every woman and many, many men, in the States, particularly in urban areas where nail salons are plentiful, keep their hands and feet in perfect condition. Nail salons have boomed in Paris the last ten years, but the price for a regular manicure is about 25 Euros ($32 at today’s rate of exchange), so I stopped indulging long ago. For this reason, very few Parisians are well manicured, and there’s no peer pressure to do anything different.
The next morning I met a young cou
ple who is thinking of moving to Paris in the next few years — where else (?), but in a Starbucks in Soho. Culture shock always sets in when first reading the menu board and the smallest coffee you can order is a “Tall” (it’s three times larger than a normal cup). Just the semi-self-serve system is not the usual French café style and when doctoring the brew found no normal white sugar — just raw (brown) and an assortment of sugar substitutes. As you may know, Starbucks has infiltrated Paris to a disheartening proportion (disheartening for us Americans who wince at the encroachment of Americana into our French world). There are 20 now in the City of Light, and the French have taken wholeheartedly to the big frothy coffees, both hot and cold, and the overstuffed chairs where one can sit for hours.
One thing I found very disturbing on the New York city landscape that Paris has perfected is the city ‘garbage.’ Mountains, and I mean mountains, of refuse in plastic bags, not all so perfectly tied and secured, are piled high along the edge of the sidewalks awaiting a pick-up, that only comes twice a week. While Paris is still battling the blight of the doggy poop, New York needs to take notice of the green plastic bins that contain French waste and get picked up daily. I heard from friends that a sanitation workers’ strike in the middle of Summer in New York isn’t fun!
Outside the Museum of Modern Art Store in Soho, while waiting for the personnel to open their doors to start the day, a few minutes PAST the appointed hour, a woman waiting there was becoming increasingly impatient. I remarked, “They’re just taking their time,” to which she replied, “No, they are taking OUR time.” I smiled at her, thinking how different my expectations had become over the years living in Paris, where it’s not unusual at all for a shop to close at any time, maybe with a sticker on the door noting “Be Back Soon,” or closed for lunch or vacation or whatever, with no real thought about who was wasting whose time…and I replied, “Well, I guess you could look at it that way.”
That’s when I fully realized how differently I see life now.
A la prochaine…
P.S. More to come on Wednesday, then off we go to the Big Easy for the Living and Investing in France Round Table on Saturday, May 27th. Tujague’s says they can seat up to 60! So, don’t hesitate to register at the last minute. For more information, visit /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_NOLA_2006/LIF_NOLA_home.html or email Schuyler Hoffman at [email protected]
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In 1922, while still residing in his flat above the sawm
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