Pile of stones with coffe cup on top

Déjà presque décembre

Another week has gone by in a blink and December is almost upon us!

This week I went to Paris to work in a café called le Cairn, close to the Eiffel Tower. When I looked at the website I was sure, I’d heard the word before. I just couldn’t place it. It’s not menhir, it’s not henge. Then I visited the café to work and voilà. It’s the same in French as in English apparently.

Pile of stones with coffe cup on top

When a nearby building site took out the jackhammer, I packed up and rewarded myself with a little Pokemon Go. I wandered to my usual spot at the north west corner, where there are three Pokéstops usually with active lures. In between catching Pokémon I looked up at the little pond and saw yet another heron. In the middle of Paris, right next to the Eiffel Tower. I’ve mentioned before how much these birds amaze me. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed, so I could share my delight and amazement. But everyone was intently looking into their phone, playing Pokémon. So I just enjoyed the moment and took a photo of a far away away heron.

heron at the eiffel tower

I went back to the city center, to catch a train home.

My day of unexpected delights didn’t end there. Next to Centre Pompidou I saw a Mongolian throat singing band playing horse hair violins. I didn’t dare film them, though I would have loved to share the music with my dad, who gets a kick out of good buskers. I did take a photo though.

Mongolian Band playing and singing overtone at Centre Pompidou

On Thursday I went to my French grammar class. One of my colleagues would have liked to join a conversation class, but since they are all full, our teacher instead suggested to spend some minutes of our grammar class talking every week.

She started off with a conversation about politics, because it was the week of the presidential primaries of the conservative and center parties of France. I think my colleague wasn’t thrilled about the development. She didn’t seem to be interested in politics much. Our teacher wanted to get us to talk about our countries presidential elections and asked me, what it’s like in Austria.

I think she only asked if we elect our president directly or indirecty. Instead of an answer I gave a summary of this year’s 4 past and future election (attempt)s. She praised me, because I used so much election specific vocabulary. And I was proud. Until I realised why I know all these words. I looked them all up to explain how fucked up the whole process was in Austria this year.

I learned something very interesting about the French voting process, however: They don’t have ballots with all the candidates in which you punch a hole or which you mark with a cross. They have individual papers for each candidate. Every voter takes all of the little papers, disappears behind a curtain and only puts one of the papers inside the envelope. The other candidate’s papers are discarded, or you put them in your pocket to discard at home. Our teacher claimed it invalidates the vote if you write on the ballot. At least that does away with the magic ink conspiracy theories, I guess.

After class I helped another colleague with her computer. It had gotten terribly slow and I said I’d have a look. Only after I had offered it occurred to me to ask about the language of her operating system. She assured me it wasn’t Cantonese, but French. Azerty keyboard layout is very confusing. I might be able to get used to swapped A, Z, and Q but having the M on the wrong row makes it completely impossible.

Looking at her machine I also found out that my computer vocabulary is non-existent in French. There are a few words I have in my passive vocabulary, like ecran and clavier, but I didn’t recognise start/reboot (re/demarrer) and was confused by gerer (manage), supprimer (delete) and éteindre (turn off).

As a thank you gift I got a little bag containing sesame honey sweets. They tasted delicious and exactly like the only sweets we got when we were kids and my parents didn’t let us have much sugar. I still know the name of the shop (a Reformhaus) where we got them and everything!

vacuum coffee makerMy favourite café is gearing up for Christmas shopping and has a very fancy new coffee maker in the window. The owner explained that this type of machine used to be a traditional wedding gift in the 1950s. She said that the brewing method is a mix of the Italian stove top espresso machines, the French press and the drip. The water goes into the bottom glass. The burner heats the water which is then forced into the upper container where it brews for a while and then is pushed down again through the filter when it cools off.

After some googling I think it’s a vaccuum coffee maker. The wikipedia article contains photos and a thorough explanation of the process. (And I wouldn’t expect anything less). So far I haven’t found out anything about its role as a traditional wedding gift but I’ve mostly read German and English sources so far, because the French results took me to Cafés you can hire to celebrate your wedding.

I still prefer my warm milk with only a drop of coffee. I probably could drink it with instant coffee and wouldn’t notice. But I love the look of the coffee maker. Very elegant!

 

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