Thursday, February 17, 2011

Women of the Orient in Paris

Musée D'Orsay! I am not allowed to take pictures inside but I couldn't help it with my non-flash iphone.

I am a fan of Manet

My phone here sucks. There are times that I can't answer incoming calls and it makes me mad! I used to have an iphone for my cell phone in Canada and I miss its easy access to the internet so badly! The reason why I switched is because I was worried that I would be pickpocketed and I didn't want to worry about losing my iphone though it is an older model. A good friend got me a phone for free but I don't want to lose that one either because it currently holds my Saudi cell chip. Yes, I have 3 phones with me and I choose the worst to carry around. Maybe I'll stomp on it when I am done with it!! :) 

 I am falling for the Seine!


Musée Quai Branly is a great museum in Paris! They had a special exhibition on the 'Women of the Orient'

 This is Lebanese :)

 They had old Arabic movies playing on one of the TVs

Who knew that embroidery actually was practiced by our ancestors before North America made it a hobby. Mom, I think you will like this:

This is a little about the book they were exhibiting...
Yes, we had to show our appreciation for their work.. We are women of the Orient!! :-)

Just the other night I walked passed some nice windows...

It was a beautiful street in Paris full of some great jewelery and other fineries.

Till the next,

A woman of the Orient in Paris

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The French know how to eat

I was invited to a lunch with my colleagues yesterday. It was a little celebration for my birthday and I really enjoyed the time together. From this picture you can see that I also enjoyed the dessert! I remember also stating that 'the French know how to eat' by which they all responded with smiles and light laughs. I can imagine that they thought: 'Of course we know how to eat!' assuming they took it literally and didn't understand my way of expressing my appreciation for their cuisine. They could have also thought: 'Of course French food is good, we don't allow junk into our mouths!'- not that they would think other cuisine is junk, just that French take much care into the pleasures of life that it wouldn't make sense to simply eat out of  boredom. Whatever the case, I don't think they could relate to my appreciation since they are used to this quality. But again, I don't mean to say cuisine that is not French is low in quality. All I have realized during my month and a half in Paris is that the French make every bite count. I hope I can learn from them.

Till the next,


Friday, February 11, 2011

Vous me manquez...

I love to reflect. If I could sum up my childhood experience into the activities I was most consistent and determined at, it would be (1) making my parents proud and (2) writing in journals/diaries/sketchbooks/computer files. A sudden need to organize my life, an emotion I needed to express, worries that bogged me down, splurges of need to create art all gave me reason to run to the secret place I kept my thoughts to write what so bothered me. So it was really expected that I take notes as I discover the experience of living in Paris (Another Friday at the Louvre tonight!). I didn't think about writing a blog until, a good friend and mentor of mine suggested it to me from his experience in Kenya. Nik shared with me his blog which I would like to share here:

One of his entries inspires me to write today's; what I miss about my life in Canada...

  1. Sitting in a great-looking office that has yet to be improved for ventilation, I wish I was cold right now. I know I will regret this later, but I do miss the cold weather that pinches my cheeks and makes them red. Mostly, I miss the snow just because it really made a steel city look like a calm and serene place just before those noisy snow trucks passed by. It is cold in Paris but right now sitting in the office after work hours, I am hot!
  2. GO, HSR, TTC! I miss you!! Do you know how complicated the metro system is here in Paris?? If GO was here, I could figure out a way to go to versaille on my own! I could probably get to parts of France quite easily. It seems so complicated here- maybe that's because of the language which leads me to my next point.
  3. L'anglais me manque! I miss the language I can speak in without having to translate in my head. I miss being able to express myself to a stranger on the street- not that I would in Hamilton... I just miss that I could communicate if I wanted to- we'll see where two and a half more months gets me.
  4. My apartment in Hamilton was small compared to others, but relative to my small studio here, it was HUGE! I miss the space I had when I wanted to go to the kitchen. Oh, and I miss kitchens. I have an electric oven-top, small fridge and small counter oven on a table- that is the kitchen here! I also think quite often of the bed I had in Canada. Do you know how nerve-racking it is to wake up in the morning and have to climb down a ladder to get ready for work?
  5. I miss my cat.. He is happy from what I hear with his new owner, but I loved how he would sit right next to my head when I watched TV with his paw outstretched on to my shoulder. :-)
  6. I no longer have internet at my fingertips. Yes, I am at the computer right now and am going to post this on the internet, but I don't have internet on my phone or at home. It is not easy! McDonald's is my best friend here because he let's me use his Wi-Fi. How did the generations before smart phones survive? 
  7. Ambitious City Toastmasters!!!! I miss the club so much. Their support and determination always gave me strength at public speaking and leadership. 
  8. McMaster University... the maroon, white, and gold, don't forget me!
  9. I miss my friends.. I made some of my closest friends during my years in Canada.
  10. Finally, and quite dearly, I miss the All Saints of North America Orthodox Church in Hamilton. They were the spiritual family I spent most Sundays with. I hope you are doing well!
There are more.. lots more. The more you spend in a country, the more you will miss it.. What do you think?

It is funny that today I was speaking about how 'Tu me manques' (You I miss) is different in French than in English with my colleagues at work. After thinking about it, I like the French approach better.  <<I miss you so much that I will put 'you' before 'me'.>>

Friends, family, and Canada, I miss......

Till the next,


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Learning a language

Language takes time.. It isn't just about learning the words and repeating them. You must be immersed in an environment that only supports the use of that language. I have been blessed to get this opportunity here in Paris. After a month of immersion, i can say that I know enough of French but not enough to be dangerous.. :-)

I often compare the child's learning curve to that of an adult. The fearlessness; the ability for a child to not let obstacles, such as petty fear, get in the way of a down-hill skiing experience as it did for me. The determination; children don't really take it personally if someone corrects them as long as it is in the right approach, whereas I, among other adults, will refrain from speaking the language to 'save face'. A language mistake of a child is considered cute and even potential for winning $100,000 on America's Funniest Home videos if captured by tape. I don't think I have the same opportunity when I say huile (or oil) as *weee* instead of  *weel*. And then of course, there's the idea that the child is learning his first language as opposed to an adult who is usually learning a second or third. We do have a challenge in that we are so accustomed to and trained by a mother tongue that it would make it nearly impossible to correctly pronounce the words of another language.

Then there's the whole process of language translation that happens in one's head. Have you ever asked someone who knows more than one language, what language they think in? It is always interesting to me how a person can start life thinking in one language and then change it within their lifetimes! It is also interesting to consider what language one thinks in when he or she is speaking in a language he or she doesn't usually think in. Pay attention to your thoughts when you are talking in a language that you don't usually think in. In French, I think in English and actively translate to French- that's why I bore everyone here when I speak in French! You can see it in their expressions. In Arabic, I actually don't think in English except when I want to remember a word in Arabic. I have more observing to do so that I understand what happens further.

Whatever the case, this is how I understand the development of a second or third language in an environment that allows you to immerse yourself in:

1- Basic understanding of the French language- the minimum just to survive
2- Understanding a discussion in French
3- A conversation in French of daily topics- a conversation in French about the weather for example
4- You have a dream in French!! I am excited for this one!!
5- You curse absent-mindedly in French
6- A conversation in French of more technical topics- the ability to express ideas more effectively
7- Joining in a discussion where you actively and comfortably participate
8- Wanting to express yourself in English but can't because you only know the French word you want to use..
9- You unconsciously THINK in French!!

It probably takes varying durations to get from one level to the next but I would imagine that this is the basic framework of development.Where can you say you are fluent?

It takes time to learn a language and call yourself fluent so good luck with the patience. My learnings thus far? Be fearless and be determined! You WILL make mistakes, but is'nt that how you learn??

Till the next,


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ZEINA's Visit Jan 27th to Feb 3rd

I miss her already...

Can you spot the difference?
You can see the light of the metro near the stairway


Where Did We Go?











What Did We Eat? 

I really enjoyed Zeina's visit as you can tell from the pictures.  
I miss you, Zeina!

Till the next,