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Archive for November, 2009

Laundry

There are five kids hanging out at the laundromat, and not waiting for clothes to dry.

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gypsies

This morning I got up extra early for work. I was the only project manager available to monitor the global client request email account for about 2 hours. We have +50 clients. So I couldn’t be late.

The job terrifies me. A single refresh of my Lotus Notes could mean that the next 5 hours of my life are sucked away from me – frantically calling linguists for a 10,000-word rush translation due in one hour. The source would be some obscure language, say Kirundi, to Farsi. How many Burundians or Persians do you know? And out of the 3 Burundians you happen to know, how many of them can translate Farsi or speak it?

I walk to work every morning (most mornings) and take more or less the same way. Google maps says the walk is approximately 3.1 kilometers – downhill on my way to the office and uphill on the retour. Jim showed me a new path yesterday and I think it’s my new favorite way. Rue Lemercier. Anyway, I was nearly to work: passed Place de Clichy, St. Lazare, the Grand Boulevard and was almost to La Madeleine church when I saw the “Je pourrais etre votre grandmere” gypsy and her younger, but haggled all the same counterpart. I pass them everyday, but this morning was different. I caught them before they had gone to work begging, feigning illness or stealing. They were writing out their signs for the day on cardboard stacked up next to a green trash bin. I saw one of the signs: ETRE HUMAIN. There they were writing on rotting cardboard – misspelled words, bad grammar, misplaced accent marks, with a dried out marker.

I didn’t slow my pace for very long as I passed by, just long enough to read their signs. I made it to the office with time to spare. Grabbed a coffee and got to work. Only one new translation request came in – English to Dutch.

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Brunch might bring to mind a slow Sunday afternoon sipping on a Bloody Marys and eating Eggs Benedict; or maybe tucking into a pile of hot cakes covered in butter and maple syrup. At Coquelicot brunch doesn’t fit that mold – they take the French approach – a table covered with baskets heaped with crusty golden baguette and served with individually wrapped servings of unpasteurized AOC butter and locally produced honeys and jams. Coquelicot is a boulangerie-pâtisserie that also serves brunch and small lunches. The lines out the door were witness to their delicious staples – bread.

When we arrived the greeting was less than convivial. The dining room upstairs had been reserved for a private party, so that meant we were to fend for ourselves for the 4 interior 2-top tables or grab a seat as it opened up outside. We were meeting 4 other friends, so we opted for the outside sidewalk tables – grabbed three empty tables once they became available and lined them up. Lucky us, right? Sitting outside is a 1st choice – on a nice day, but on a windy, cold day the interior dining room would have been ideal. They did, however, have a single, under-performing overhead heater. It didn’t work, but it looked good. Good thing more than one of us came extra-prepared with scarves. The company was great. We were two Americans, three Turks and an Italian. Our conversation was peppered with English, French and Turkish.

Ordering wasn’t easy. The waiter – who looked about 18 years old – was in a mass confusion when his hand-held computer wasn’t reading the same thing we told him. Some of us ordered eggs, some eggs and bacon – and we all had brioche and baguette in abundance. I had an oeuf à la coque (soft-boiled egg) with 4 perfectly sized pieces of baguette served beside it- just right for dipping in the gooey egg yolk. A feast for the eyes! The brioche was chewy and the mie (crumb) matched my egg yolks – toasted to perfection. We ate it with raspberry or apricot jam; I had mine nature. We had to ask more than once for the honey. Glad we did. It was a sugar rush produced by fancy bees in the South of France. The baguettes were sliced lengthwise, perfect for dipping into our piping-hot bowls of coffee or hot chocolate. This is a typical way you could have your morning cup a joe in la France. It’s also perfect for warming up cold hands.

We spent about 2 hours in all sitting outside. There wasn’t a single boring moment – a gang of trumpet-wielding gypsies even passed by in song. When I couldn’t feel from below my knees, it was time to go. Paying the bill was easy. At the register, we told the server what each of us had and paid separately.

Mmm.

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early in the morning

this is where i begin my search.

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