Monday, June 29, 2009

Les Concierges

The word has its origin in Latin: conservus. The French dictionary defines it as: Someone who is an apprentice working for a master, and who will eventually become his own master. In the old French tradition, the concierges in France hotels have been men, certainly in Paris, while the concierges in apartment buildings, for example, have generally been women.

French people are always of two minds about the concierge in their own apartment buildings. They are busy bodies that know all of the gossip not only in their domains, but also from their neighborhoods. The concierge along with the letter carrier know who is who, and very often are quite intimate with what is going on in the private lives of the people they serve.

The men concierges in hotels are facilitators par excellence. Clients come in, want tickets to an event, a taxi, the name of good restaurant, babysitters, where to cash a check in the middle of the night, and a few other services which require une certaine discrétion! Maybe that is why only men need apply for the job. Though, that is not taking away the incredible discretion of a buildings’ concierge.

Because of the influx of immigrants from European countries, such as Portugal and Spain, the profession seems to have been taken over by these immigrants that is not surprising in that the buildings provide to these people a place to live and a salary, plus any tips they may receive from the tenants. This usually takes place for Christmas.

Affiliate Program: Promote Products

Affiliate Program: Promote Products

Affiliate Program: Promote Products

Affiliate Program: Promote Products

Affiliate Program: Promote Products

Affiliate Program: Promote Products

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Slim French women

Much has been made of the fact that many French women are not only très chic, but above all: Slim. Articles in the American MSM give all kinds of reasons that French women, in general, do not seem to gain weight and manage to maintain great figures. This in spite of, or, maybe because of the manner that French women pay much attention to their diets, to what they eat and to how much they eat.

This in addition to the fact that French women, certainly Parisian women, which after all is what most of us think of when we think about French women, have ignored the physical exercises that so many women here in this country practice, which would seem to indicate that something else is at work here.

French women eating habits seek to establish a balance that not only gives them the nutrition that is necessary but also keeps them from gaining those extra pounds that so many American women seem to accumulate. And French food as so many of us have heard of or know about is very, very rich. And yet, lots of French women remain slim!

And it is not only their eating habits that have a bearing upon the slimness, but also on a certain attitude about food. There is a certain discipline about food, its preparation, its freshness, its presentation that seeks to balance who they are and how to pursue what they want to get out of life. Many have argued that food for the French is also a very sensual and spiritual fact in their lives. The French just don’t eat to nourish the body, but also to enrich the soul and to feel good about who they are.

The French have invented croissants, soup a l’ognon, and Champagne, among the many pleasures for the table, but they have also have given birth to great writers, painters, musicians. Maybe the whole thing has to do with the French language. Though, things are changing a lot regarding how modern life is presently intruding upon their traditions.

French women seem to follow a logical attitude about what they eat and how they eat. For a French person, let alone a woman, the notion of grabbing a sandwich on the run, or to snack on sweets, or to plop themselves in front of the TV set and eat potato chips has not been part of who they are. It is not very chic.

However, a couple of days ago there was an article in the WP site that talks specifically about the changes taking place in France, or at least in Paris regarding the tradition of having a traditional long lunch; how lunch-stands have become more ubiquitous where sandwiches are dispensed to the crowds that are picking up the habit of eating at their desks and taking less time to spend around this midday meal. Something many French people still find difficult to deal with.

The “couch-potato” syndrome has not quite yet made heavy inroads in French culture. The French may eventually embrace it, though I would venture to suggest that at the moment it is not something that seems to have appetizing
attraction in French life.

A meal at home is a ritual that the French consider important in terms of who they are and also in terms of their healthy eating habits. Part of their savoir-faire. For the French, the pleasure of sitting around a table, discussing, eating and sharing the whole experience with friends and family are crucial to their ideas of well-being.

This is not to say that with all of the pressures of modern life that such traditions are not being challenged. But, in general, wanting to eat a well-balanced meal and in not excessive quantities, in a social setting, is also part of how they believe will enrich their way of life, and perhaps that is one element that helps French women remain slim.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Paris 1968

The events in Iran these past few days are sobering and sad. To see people been beaten by government militia with such viciousness and with complete disregard for human suffering is shocking and terrifying. We must all support the Iranian people seeking a better life for their culture, their society and their country.

France has had its violent protest within the last 40 or so years, but nowhere near the level of violence that we are now witnessing in Iran. Back in 1968, during the students’ May protest there was one participant that in many ways exemplified the character and the spirit of such revolt, and his name is: Daniel Cohn-Bendit. But was that a revolution? Some people argue that it was.

In many ways Cohn-Bendit became the bête noire for the government of then president Charles de Gaulle and of his prime minister: Pompidou. Cohn-Bendit was born in France of German-Jewish parents and at the time there were many people who were against him because though born in France, he had acquired German citizenship and the argument was that he wasn’t French. He was labeled: Dany Le Rouge, or Danny The Red.

As always in events such as today’s Iran there is a need to put a face on the movement. Neda Agah Soltan is now the face of 2009, Iran. For better or for worse, Cohn-Bendit did become the students’ movement face of May ’68, in Paris. So, the question is: Are things better in France when it comes to the situation of the students? And the answer appears to be more on the negative side.

There had been other protests since May ’68; in fact, many people argue that every spring French students protest, that they are unruly, spoiled, anarchists are heart. It’s a rather simplistic view; nevertheless, it is true that these students’ confrontations in France do happen in springtime.

The events of May ’68 did impact the world along with the invasion by Russia, and its Eastern European allies, of Czechoslovakia to put an end to the: Prague Spring. Czechoslovakia is now made up of two independent countries: The Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Regarding the present events in Iran, they will no doubt impact the world, probably in ways that we are not able to foresee. These things have unpredictable consequences just as the students’ revolt did in Paris, back in May of 1968.