Un blog Travellerspoint

Chinese New Year in Paris, Movies

sunny 9 °C


Chinese New Year exists in full force in Paris. In fact, as I was told by my new Chinese friends Sam and Henry (haha...but I'm sure they have complicated Chinese names), the new year parade in Paris was much more inclusive than in China proper. Chinese people from all over China were represented - meaning, even tribes from the south and west. And, funny enough, so were Africans. Maybe the organisation reponsible for the parade didn't have enough Chinese volunteers, but boy, were there a bunch of Africans! One "show" part of the parade even featured them beating on drums...very Chinese...


Before the parade, seven of us went to eat an a kosher Chinese restaurant not far from Place d'Italie (where the parade was), called Lotus de Nissane. Sounds authentic. Sam said that some of the waiters/one owner spoke Cantonese. The other owner/waiter were Jewish. But the food was all right...definitely not like the Chinese food in the U.S. The noodles looked like they had been Ramen-packaged and thawed. But the fake crab meat was good...at least better than nothing. Sam and Henry said it wasn't really like the Chinese food they're used to, either. Oh well, I'll do more research later and maybe find better reviews on other kosher Chinese or sushi restaurants. I know there's a bunch of the latter.

Who came: Daniela, Audrey, Caroline, Sam, Henry, and Amir (Israeli from the bar!). Jenny, Sreya, Emi, and Genia couldn't make it. Some of us are going to the Lions Bar tonight again. Amir has to work at EL AL first, so he'll be coming a bit later than the rest of us.

Sunday night, Caroline, Emi, and I went to the movies to see the hilarious Franco-Belgian comedy "Rien a Declarer." No subtitles this time either, but I understood almost everything, again. I'm very glad of this! Sometimes, I have trouble when they speak very quickly while being mad at each other or while joking in a fast-pace. The movie takes place at the Douane (customs) between France and Belgium and is about the duaniers (people working there). One is a Belgian who absolutely hates French people and everything French. He gets this from his dad. The other is a French guy who is in love with the Belgian's sister. In between this is a dude trying to smuggle cocaine from France to Belgium. The two unlikely partners get paired up to monitor the little streets to make sure these kinds of people don't get through.

Here's the movie poster:


Tomorrow is the International Marketing presentation on the North American summit of 2009 with my French partner Monty (I did make the Monty Python joke and she got it). I hope it goes well! We have to speak for 15 minutes total. Thanks to Monty, I think we can do it, because she speaks very slowly in English :-) We made a nice PowerPoint to go along. Thank goodness that will be over.

Lions Club tonight!

A bientot

Posté par parischica 06:33 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

Brunoy Shabbat, Vacation Plans

overcast 9 °C

It's official. Sreya, Audrey, and I are going to Nice, France and Milan, Italy for our winter break vacation Feb 18-27! I am SO excited. Before, some of us were planning on going to London and Dublin, Ireland, but since this is outside the Shenghen (EU) territory, we would only be able to go for 3 days. This is because there are special forms needed to travel outside the Shenghen territory, OFII forms, and we haven't received these yet. There was no way we were booking flights/trains without those forms. London and Dublin will have to wait for spring break in April. Nice and Milan are no less beautiful! I've already sent emails to the two Chabads trying to set up Shabbat plans. For Chabad of Milan, I sent the email in the 4 languages that I DO know, hoping that they'd know at least one! The reply was in English: Please call ####. Cool!

And, I just spent a fabulous Shabbos in Brunoy, a suburb of Paris, with Pessy Notik's family, the Gourevitches! I know Pessy from Chicago - she's originally from Paris! She told her family I was coming, and her sister, Freida, who is also 20 years old, called me up and invited me for Shabbos. Pessy has 9 sisters!! Three are left at home: Moussy (22), Freida (20), and Eisla (spelling?) (13 I believe). One sister is studying in seminary in Israel, another sister is a shluha (Chabad "missionary") in Stockholm, Sweden (!), Miriam lives in Lyon but was there for this Shabbos, and there are two other married daughters that I don't remember about...In the kitchen, there's a beautiful photograph of all 10 daughters outside in a "pyramid" form, wearing matching sweaters of a few different colors. Esti, their mother, is one lucky woman! Imagine all the grandkids she's going to have!

Esti is originally from New York, and you can tell that she's American as soon as you step into the house. Not your typical tiny French house. Wide, open spaces! LOVE! And the food!! I like Danielle's Sephardi cooking, but there's nothing like good old fashioned Ashkenaz food to make me feel more at home. Esti made knish that tasted like my great-grandma's "meat buns," which are essentially knish. The Gourevitch family, like most Ashkenaz Chabadniks, keep up their Yiddish! They speak Yiddish with all the grandkids to make sure that the language doesn't get lost. That was a bit difficult for me, because there were 3 languages floating around the house! All the kids, and their father, too, know English. So it was quite a mix. It was hard for me to speak French because of this. But I will try! I need to practice, and I told them that :-)

Thus, there were loads of people for Shabbos dinner, including some shy Yeshiva boys. Shabbos lunch was a lot smaller. Miriam's family was invited over to the neighbors, the Pinsons, who (small world!) have a daugher who is the Chabad of Nice!! And there's a Pinson in Brussels, where my school will be having a trip, so I'm going to meet many of them! Too bad there isn't a Pinson in Italy!

We managed to get to shul for about an hour. Walking through Brunoy was fun. To them, of course, it's nothing, but my eyes and ears were all open. Very French suburb with very French houses. We walked through a gate, and I saw in front of myself an old, run-down house with broken windows. I thought...no way...then, Freida led me down some stairs located just in front of the house, and into the shul, which was below. Very small. On the way back, I asked about the house. She said that King Louis XIV's brother used to live there!!! Of couse, not exactly in the house as it is now, because it looks more modern, but in France it's forbidden to tear down houses with history like that, so it was renovated instead. WOW! What that brother must be thinking now...shul under his house, a yeshiva behind it...haha!

Some Brunoy houses:


Tomorrow is Chinese New Year, year of the Rabbit. I am taking about 10 friends to a kosher Chinese restaurant called Lotus de Nissane, in the 11th arrondissement, at noon. Then, we're heading to the 13th arrondissement for the parade! And then, my Negocia friend and project partner, Monty, and I, have to finish up our presentation and paper, which are due Tuesday. Thank goodness I decided to get this out of the way. The more the better before vacation, so that I can thouroughly enjoy.

A bientot!

Posté par parischica 13:17 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

Classes, Interview, Lions Club

semi-overcast 7 °C

Monday: first day of classes. I only have on Mondays and Wednesdays, thank goodness. Business French with Monsieur Vo Tran. I think he's from Vietnam. He's a short, young guy who is hilarious! Best wake up call at 9am ever.

At 5pm, I had an interview for an internship opportunity. It was just 5 minutes away by bus in the 13th arrondissement! The office was tini tiny! Very French. It's a company called TemptingPlaces (www.temptingplaces.com) that specializes in unique boutique hotels. What does this mean? They put it this way...each hotel in their "collection" is unique in its own way and offers the client a unique experience that no other hotel in the collection does. The hotels are all over the world. The process is that a hotel calls up TemptingPlaces and expresses interest in becoming a part of the "collection." TemptingPlaces does conference calls that are geared toward figuring out whether or not the hotel reflects the values of TemptingPlaces. If the hotel is a good prospect, TP sends a representative over to investigate. During my interview, I was sitting in the chair of a lady who is currently in India investigating a prospect hotel.

The interview was in French and English (they wanted to hear my "real" voice haha). They told me that I speak very fluently (couramment), so that was a good sign. If they take me on, I'll be helping them in many areas I think. Social networking, translating articles about hotels for their website, doing research about other hotels. Helping with promotional events...This all sounds very interesting! They haven't gotten back neither to me nor to Genia, the other girl from IES who had an interview with them.

That night, Daniela, Sam, Caroline, Emi and I went back to the Lions Club (remember CouchSurfers?). Lee and Vanessa were there already. I came first, because I wanted to make it in time for the "quiz game" that happens at 9pm. As soon as I walked in, Vanessa (the short girl that she is) bounces up and points across the table..."He's Israeli!!" Hahaha it was SO funny. She's already scoping the Jewish guys for me. I look and see, yep, a very Jewish looking guy. It was so loud that I didn't talk to him until later. His name is Amir, but he's not Sephardi. His family is actually from Russia, France, Poland, and...Romania! He was born in Israel but is taking two years after the army to work for El Al at the Charles de Gualle airport. He's one of those "scary" interrogators!! No, but he's really not scary at all. Got his number, too, and maybe we'll hang out sometime, and especially when my Israeli friend Ziv comes to visit, Feb 11.


Tuesday: Negocia class at 9am, bright and early on the other side of town (Porte de Champerret metro). I didn't know how I would stand sitting in a 3 hour class. But gosh, like magic, I won't have to! The professor, an Indian lady whose last name is Takhar (Danielle's last name is Tahar!), decided that a 72-person class is just too big. So she divided us into two groups: 9am-10:30am, and 10:30am-12:00pm. I'm in the first group because it was alphabetical. BUT it's only 1.5 hours long instead of 3!!! AMAZING! How she can legally do this is beyond me. Maybe she'll teach a lot of material and go faster than usual. Right off the bat she had us choose partners for an oral presentation that is worth 40% of our grade. And the presentations start next week, she said. WOW. This is FRENCH! No wasting time when it comes to education...Monty is my partner. I met her at orientation, her and Laura. They're super nice. But, her English isn't the best. Hopefully it's individual grades, not same for both of us. We are going to compare articles on U.S. - Mexico economic tension. Monty is going to study abroad in Mexico, that's why. She loves Spanish and speaks it very well.

Two more class on Tuesday: International Finance and French. The professor for finc has a PhD, but speaks very slowly in English, and thus it's hard for me to focus :-( But, he has very thourough PowerPoints, where I can copy notes.

I gave my monument presentation in French class after Daniela, because we went to the Sacre Coeur/Moulin Rouge together. At the end, I showed a quick, funny video I took of the Argentinian guys and of us. They were saying, "Ou est le Moulin Rouge?" I taught them to say that. I means "Where is the Moulin Rouge?" Then we all said, AQUI! Meaning, HERE! :-)

And this morning, I was very sick. Called in to say I wouldn't be coming to business french. Thank goodness no other classes and no internship! I'm drinking LOTS AND LOTS of tea and vitamins.

A bientot!


Posté par parischica 06:26 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

Negocia, Jenny's Bday, Nation

sunny 5 °C

Friday morning/afternoon was orientation at Negocia, the business school where I am taking Global Marketing on Tuesdays at (groan) 9:30AM. It takes about 45 minutes to get there. I take Line 4 (Alesia), switch at Reumer-Sebastopol to Line 3 and get off at Porte de Champerret. The building is really slick looking. Everything was quite disorganized when we got there (typically French? :-) ) but every was very nice to us. Not only were there IES students at the orientation, but there were also students from Mexico, Dominican Rep, Sweden, and England. There were two women who welcomed us and talked about the school. One was called Emanuelle (and Russian last name). She looked about 45 years old. I found out later that she was born in France (!) and that half of her family was Italian and half Russian. Pretty interesting that her parents made it over that early.


The school "restaurant" was fantastic!! Plenty of vegetarian options for me. They even had cheese and yogurts and desserts. And it was super cheap because the government subsidizes. I paid less than 4 Euro! I'm very happy about this lunch option. After lunch, some French students were supposed to take us on a tour around the building. That didn't happen, so we improvised and had a couple of our new French girlfriends (who were sitting with us and talking to us during orientation) lead us. The hallways smelled a bit funky, but the classrooms were pretty nice. And you could even see the Eiffel Tower from one side of the building!

Negocia is located in the 17th arrondissement; so is a large Jewish area. I even scoped out a kosher Chinese restaurant (I can't remember if I mentioned this), which I'm super excited about! I wanted to check it out after orientation (we were done by 1pm) but it was way too cold outside to get lost looking for the place. In general, it's awesome to "get lost" in Paris (in the good areas where there are lots of people, of course). That was you stumble upon cool places! So instead, I went home to get ready for Chabbat.

I stayed indoors the whole of Chabbat - it was waaaay too cold to walk outside. And it was STILL overcast. I hadn't seen the sun in what seemed like a week! Brigette, a relative of Danielle's, came over again for Chabbat lunch (she was over the past two times, too). It seems this is routine. She's really nice. She's about 30 and works as a mailwoman. She wanted to take me out this Sunday, but I got back to her too late and she made plans to visit the mother of friend, who has cancer. Which is a mitzvah, to be sure. Brigette asked me what I was interested in for next week, and I said I'd love to go see the Comedie Francaise, or just some funny comedy in the city. She said she would look. The Comedie is expensive, which is why we might not go there.

Saturday night, a bunch of us girls went to Boulogne (a nice Parisian suburb, though to me it still looked like the city) to celebrate Jenny's birthday at a Thai place. I got there late because of Chabbat, so I had a dessert instead. Then, we went to the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) to find a bar/club. Everything was pricey, so we finally settled on a cool looking club with disco lights. We did well to do this, for half an hour later, there was a looong line outside of people waiting to get into the club; so popular, it was!

The waiters had mardi gras-like masks to denote that they work at the club. It was packed! I loved that the drinks were served with a sparkler. Very cool. Good drinks, expensive, and unfortunately, weak. Tasted almost like juice. Very good juice. I got a cool cocktail that was a 2-in-1. Meaning, a cocktail on the bottom, separated by a piece of lime, and a different cocktail on the top. Neat! We went to dance - nothing like dancing with a group of girls :-) Came back to find that a waiter accidentally spilled Jenny's left-over drink on her and my coats. My white sweater, which I had taken off because of the heat, got the brunt of it, as well as my new French hat. Thank G-d I washed these two and the drink came off. But I'm taking my black coat to the cleaners tomorrow. Would I come back to that club? It's awfully cool, and Happy Hour is cheap, but...I'm not sure anymore hahaha! I wouldn't feel safe leaving my stuff.


Today, Sunday...
Laundry, done. Cooking vegetables, done. Researching the company where I will have my interview for an internship tomorrow, 3/4 done. It's called TemptingPlaces, and it's an online website that allows people to reserve amazing, luxurious hotel rooms anywhere in the world. A TP crew goes out and finds these places, these unique, magical, luxe places, writes about them, photographs them, and then allows fabulously rich people to take advantage of them. Unfortunately, I won't be working with these crews. They want me for my English so that I could write and translate things from afar - Paris. But hey, maybe I'll get a free night's stay at one of the hotels from them for my hard work. After all, internships in France are not paid ;-)

Then, I went to scope out a gourmet kosher patisserie with Sreya. It was located at Nation, last stop on line 6. Transferred from my line 4 at Denfert and then went all the way to Nation. Most of the trip was above-ground, and it was beautiful to go over the Seine and see the Sacre Coeur in the distance. We ended up going to 3 patisseries - Franck Souffan, Charles Traiteur, and Nani. CT was the best. BEAUTIFUL petits gateaux (little cakes) and other pastries...couldn't look away. Since we went to FS first, we got a few things from there. Sreya, a framboise/mousse petit gateau (respberry mousse) and me a chocolate/vanille mousse petit gateau, a croissant (first one in Paris!!) and a few macarons (framboise!). The man working there was super nice. He gave us a few other macarons to try and gave me a calender from the local synagogue. I also picked up an invitation by his cash register to a Mileva Malka (meal after Chabbat that is a custom for some people) soiree for women this next Chabbat. Maybe I can get some of my new Jewish girlfriends (Genia, Sarah, and Jaime) to come with me.


Sreya and I walked around a bit, took some photos...There's a pretty statue at Nation as well as two columns. Danielle later told me that in the olden times, this used to be one of the gateways into the then-walled city of Paris. The two columns are left as a reminder. Then, Sreya went back home and I went to the Marais. Remember the skirt and shirt that I had to give back at the modest shop Pour Mes Filles? I went back to try to spend the 50Euro that I had as credit. I found a blue flowery, flowy dress. I always wanted a dress, and this one was pretty nice and was 39Euro. That means 11Euro more to go. They had cute "t-shirts," as they called them, which were like a one-color shirt with 3 brass buttons on the shoulders, from each side. It's like a step up from the shells that I wear (undershirts - black/white). But the largest size they carried didn't fit me...I complained that French girls are smaller than American girls ;-)


The way home was interesting. I was at the metro stop Montparnasse-Bienvenue on my line (4) when the train decided not to leave the station. Then we heard the dreaded words over the intercom: Mesdames et Messieurs, il y a un colis suspect a Vavin, et il n'aura pas des metros de Chatelet a Porte d'Orleans...or roughly that. Basically, suspect baggage left at the Vavin station, which was the next stop. And that means close down about 8 stops. Whooo. I call Danielle. She tells me to get on bus 28, which stops right outside the station. I walk out. And there it is. The Tour Montparnasse - Paris's Sears Tower. I can't wait to go up there at night and gaze at the city. Well, the bus didn't stop outside Montparnasse. One of the girls waiting for it started walking, and I followed, thinking she'd go to the next stop. She didn't. Kept walking and walking. I started feeling like a creaper. So I asked her where she was going. She said bus 68, on the other side of the marche (open-air market) that were walking through. I said I'd follow because I didn't know the bus routes. Worked out well, in the end. Got to be like a real French person who knows the bus routes, and not a tourist who uses the metro maps.


Classes start tomorrow...I only have one, the Business French/Internship Seminar, which is a combined class, as I found out. I'm super happy about this because then I'm only taking 4 classes instead of 5, because it's 6 credits, instead of the usual 3! This way, maybe I won't be crazed over having an internship as well as taking classes. My interview tomorrow is at 5pm. Classes end at 10:30. Perfect. And, CouchSurfers tomorrow, again! Henry wanted to come along. Remember him? He and Jean Paul, the two Chinese guys I randomly met at the Raspail metro station and with whom I hung out (and video-d). Should be fun!

A bientot! (And sorry for the super long blog entry, since it's been 3 days :-) ) Oh, and it was sunny today, FINALLY!

Posté par parischica 12:03 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

Le Marais field trip, Fatima Bhutto

overcast 2 °C

Field trip with French class to the Marais! We went to Victor Hugo's house, which was splendid. During his epoque (era), the burgeois did not show off their wealth to the outside world. So, from the outside, you would not have known that Hugo had a lavish apartment with quite a few rooms, all decorated differently. He even had an Asian room, complete with china, lantern, tapestry, and paintings. When I asked a person working there where the cuisine (kitchen) and the salle de bains (bathroom) were, she said that the cuisine was tapestried-over, because it wasn't part of the lavish apartment that is shown to the public, and that Hugo didn't have a bathroom. He would just wash in a tub that was brought to his room. How did he brush his teeth, though? :-)


Then we went to the Hotel de Sully and the Hotel Cavarnaret, just to take a look at the beautiful architecture and interior decor. And then, off to lunch in the Jewish area - a falafel restaurant! Except that, since I could eat anything I wanted this time (don't have to go vegeterian), I went with Chawarma, which happened to be dinde (turkey) at this particular place. I think usually it's lamb (ugh) or beef. It was delicious, and topped off with mint leaf tea!


Restaurant: First_Days..ris_062.jpg

Marais: First_Days..ris_061.jpg

Then, we headed to Centre Beaubourg, also known as Centre Pompidou, the modern art museum. IES got us all tickets. As a group, we went up the 4 escalators to the roof, where there was an absolutely gorgeous view of Paris - Eiffel Tower, churches, Sacre Coeur, Montparnasse building...Then, Daniela, Sreya, and I, along with some other people in the group, decided to stay and see the museum, just to get it overwith. None of us were big fans of modern art, but we had to say that we had been in the museum while in Paris. I mostly accepted the Picasso, Matisse, and other similar paintings. Not the physical exhibitions, most of which were weird. Oh, and there was a room devoted to anything sex. Like a painting of two people very close up...I had to read the description to figure out what the heck the artist was thinking. She said that usually, people are both enthralled, and at the same time, disgusted, by images of sex. Interesting thought. Agreed.


After this, we parted ways, for the meantime. Daniela went to try to see her beloved Romanian sculptor's (Bolchius) exhibition, which was a separate building. Sreya went home to repose. And I went kosher shopping. More burekas (my friends love them) and some desserts. Earlier, I got a text message from Saidie inviting me to a book reading/discussion that she was going to. I told Daniela, Sreya, and Caroline about it, and they all wanted to go, too. So after going home for 20 minutes, I headed over to the "village voice bookshop" off the St. Germain-des-Pres metro stop. We all met up and headed over to the bookshop.

Packed. And small. Tiny chairs to sit on. I thought the owner of the store would lead a discussion on some recent book. Nope. Not at all. Up the stairs comes...Fatime Bhutto, granddaughter of prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and niece of assassinated Benazir Bhutto and daughter of assassinated Murtaza Bhutto. She's a poet and also wrote a memoir, "The Blood and the Sword." She was here at this bookshop to promote, finally, the French version. It was quite fantastic to hear her speak. I was able to catch on most of it, even though I haven't read the book nor really learned too much of the history. She's pro-democracy (thank goodness) and talked a lot about the cycle of corruption in Pakistan. And she didn't have a good relationship with her aunt Benazir, who even pressed charges against her and her brother (I don't know what for). I took a few photos and a 10 minute video, actually. I tried uploading it here and on facebook, but alas, no luck :-(


Tomorrow, I have orientation at my business school, Negocia, where I'll be taking a class. Bright and early - 9am.

A bientot!

Posté par parischica 14:23 Archivé dans France Commentaires (0)

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