Fête des Voisins

Earlier this week, we had a brand new Parisian experience. It was la Fête des Voisins, also known as European Neighbours Day. This day was initiated in the 17th arrondissement of Paris in 1999, aimed at “fostering community cohesion”. Our building is one of those little communities, apparently, that take the opportunity of La Fête des Voisins to get to know each other and catch up. Since our troubles witth the gardien, we thought it a good idea to participate. And it worked. First of all, we finally got round to introduce ourselves to these anonymous neighbours we greet in the court. And we even got some nice chit-chat with the gardien and her husband.

Surprisingly, I think we were one of the few immeubles en fête, because none of my Parisian colleagues had ever heard of this. which is a shame, because to me, every excuse to have a little fun, is a good one. So, note in your calenders for next year: the last Tuesday in May is la Fête des Voisins.

Song Story 9 – Fat Boys Wiping Out

Looking back some years, I can see myself walking a springtime sunlit street somewhere in The Hague. On my way to the video rental place. A well known one locally, mainly for their commercials on the biggest local pirate radio station. Not only did they have an extensive collection of video tapes, but they were also quite big in cd’s. One of the cd’s I rented, to get a copy on tape, of course, was one of the Fat Boys. I think the title must have been Crushin’. On it were famous songs as Jailhouse Rap, The Twist – with Chubby Checker, and of course this one with the Beach Boys. Hurray for nostalgia!

Continuing Gardien Issues

The continuing story of our ‘conflits the voisinage’ with our gardien and her family reached new heights last night. It’s really amazing how anti-social people can be and how much that can influence your sense of feeling at home in your, well, home. This time, they did not try to wake us up early in the morning by stomping around on the floor of the empty office above our appartment, but they really made an effort in banging and making ridiculous noise at 2 am. Just as we were getting ready to go to sleep, after sitting on the sofa, watching a movie and just being relaxed. Apparently, that makes too much of a disturbance to our gardien. Okay, I’ll admit that at one point during the evening, there was a lot of noise of people laughing, chatting and noisily going down the stairs of the service stairwell behind our appartment, but the gardien must know by now that we never use these stairs. Our access to it is efficiently blocked off, and it’s just too much effort to use them, while we have another stairwell by our appartment’s front door. Fortunately, this time I was fast enough to grab my camera and record the noise making. I even caught one of her family members on cam, entering their appartment right after the noise stopped. He saw me recording, and afterwards even rang our doorbell. Very sorry, but I ignored that. I am not going into a ‘conversation’ with crazy people in the middle of the night. Especially not since previous attempts of conversations all ended in our words being fenced off by false accusations, screaming and lies, every time we tried to start to speak.

I just hope the housing agency will take proper care of it this time. The building owner doesn’t care enough, and, maybe rightfully so, until now choses to believe the lies of their employee. But guess what, they’re on candid camera now.

Excersises In Concise Writing

What I like about my attempts on writing poetry, is that it is a training in organizing my thoughts and finding a nice and concise way to get a certain thought or message across. These are also traits you can use in the consulting business. There will be only a few linguists that will have a negative view on the effect of trying to write poetry on language skills. If you compare that to the upheaval we saw when text messaging, and the limited character space that came with it at first, brought folk to condense their messages by shortening words to character combinations, you’ll see that there is an important difference between concise writing and condensed writing. Although I am not fully convinced that condensed writing is necessarily bad for language skills, I prefer the excercise in concise writing. And that is what I also like about micro blogging, of which Twitter of course is now the most popular instance. The limit of 140 characters has not, at least in most of the tweets in my timeline, led to overly condensed writing. Most tweets I see are examples of a concise way to convey a thought. It is mostly urls that are condensed by the url-shorteners. Maybe writing with a 140 character limit should be part of language training anyway. I can see a course in basic education where assignments are to write poetry in regulated forms (haikus, sonnets) and interesting tweets. Of course without resorting to well known aforisms.

Snapshot of Lutetia – Palais Chaillot On Trocadéro


This picture of the Palais de Chaillot on Trocadéro and the esplanade is actually taken from the ‘wrong’ side. The original Trocadéro Palace had a central building and two wings. For the International Exposition in 1937 the old palace was demoslished, and this one, by some called ‘rather ugly’, was built. The central part was left out for the purpose of giving a good view of the Eiffel Tower. But by themselves, the palace and the esplanade are quite a sight. Even without the tower in the background.