Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No, don't say Happy New Year now!

When my carpooler dropped me off this evening I pre wished him "Happy New Year" since we would only see each other after the New Year. He told me:"no, you shouldn't say that, you should say bonnes fêtes (happy holidays). You only wish someone Happy New Year after the 31 December."

I felt so upset as I was feeling like a foul again. Since last week I had ended most of my emails with "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2009". Nobody at work was telling me that it was not appropriate to do it this way, they might be laughing at me at my back?

This probably only applies to certain French but hubby confirmed that people don't say Happy New Year before the New Year. However, you can say Merry Christmas before Christmas. So, for everyone who have visited this blog, come back in January and I will wish you all Happy New Year 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The bastard road

While looking at a check we got over the Christmas, I exposed in laugh and yelled at hubby:"Look, this bank is located on the Bastard street!"

I quickly check on the internet and found a wine shop "Nicolas Rennes Le Bastard". You can go to the link here and check out their interactive map to find out where the Bastard street is, if you are interested.

Can't believe people actually named a road with this kind of name.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Scallop fishing 2

Hubby went for scallop fishing again and within two days, he has gotten 18. Of course it couldn't be compared to those experts who filled the quota of 30 scallops per person per day, but for a newbie he was doing well.

Look at this scallop, it seems like it is angry and trying to raise high to defend itself! On the other hand, I like her "hair", I would like to call it a she as it seems to me that she is wearing a hat. :-)

According to hubby scallop fishing is fun, for me scallop eating is fun, but preparing them is actually a tedious process.

It was sunny and the scenery was gorgeous, with the diving equipment they didn't feel the cold, so it is actually an ideal activity during winter.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scallop fishing

It is winter. These guys are going diving. Crazy. The result? They got some scallops, and oysters, and they are going again. Well I'm happy to be waiting and get my portion of scallop, an add on to the Christmas feast. :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Appraisal system - it happens again

When I was at form 6, my school organized a 5k run event. In my school, only form 6 has girl students, so we were like 150 females running for the top 10 places. Despite being the third one to pass the arrival line, I was not called up on the stage to receive the trophy. Everyone who knew me were surprised, they thought I had been disqualified. The fact was, the girl who recorded the top winners didn't have her glasses that day. Coincidentally the fourth one who arrived was also from my house (with purple house shirt), she thought we were the same person, thus listing the fourth winner as the third one and subsequently I got eliminated from the list and everyone behind me got upgraded a place. I was very upset as I was waiting for the glory moment on the stage, receiving the trophy from our handsome headmaster. Realizing the mistake, the organizers wanted to make another trophy for me, but I had lost my interest. It was about the moment, not the trophy.

The same situation happened when I was in my MBA class. Each year before the commencement day, a professor would dress in her gown and announcing and distributing a certificate to graduating students who managed to get first class on their grade. I was waiting for the proud moment. Surprisingly, I was not on her list. Later the secretary told me that they had forgotten me as some of my classes were taken outside of this main campus. I was disappointed.

Recently I experienced this injustice moment once again. I was at our class gathering and some classmates mentioned about the ranking on our grade transcript. They laughed about it as someone who has higher grade were ranked lower than others. One guy was noted as "unrankable" as he didn't take the full exam. I was confused as there was no ranking on my transcript. When I got home, I checked my transcript and I saw some number and thought I was ranked 21 out of 23 students. I couldn't believe it. Hubby just laughed it off and said grade was not important. I agreed. But I have always thought that we should give credit where it is due. Also, I couldn't be sure if I won't need this transcript to apply for another courses in the future in case I move to another country and ranked 21 out of 23 is simply unacceptable. So I wrote to the school secretary. And guess what? She replied and said indeed I should be ranked number one in the class and she didn't know why it didn't appear on my transcript. She didn't know whether it is still possible to change it. Seems like luck is not on my side, again.

Hubby couldn't understand what is to be upset about. From his reaction, I realized that we grew up in a completely different environment and education system. Since primary school, I was given grade and ranking. You would be praised if you are able to be on the top three of the class and you would receive present from the school in front of everyone. Your achievements are to be shared with everyone else. During graduation ceremony, those who got first class are going to receive the certificate first then followed by second class and third class.

The appraisal system just work differently here. No gift if you are number 1 in class. No graduation ceremony. No competition within classmates and peers. I don't know which system is better, but I do prefer to have some praises from time to time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dynamite found at Printemps

5 dynamites were found at the famous Printemps department store today in Paris. They were tied together but without a detonator. The store has to close in the morning and only reopened in the afternoon. According to a report this store attracts 100,000 shoppers per day, that means literally exorbitant loses on sales, especially during the peak season right before Christmas. A French media said they received a letter said to be from a revolutionary group from Afghanistan, urging France to withdraw its troops from the Afghanistan before February next year.

It seems like nowadays people could just easily place explosive stuffs in any places and create chaos and economic lose to the targeted country. I'm sure not 100% of the shop patrons will dare to go back to the shop in the immediate future. Some tourists might even avoid Paris all in all. It will be heart broken if one day these terrorists manage to get down the Eiffel Tower. If the trend keeps going we might foresee a third world war. Just my two cents.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Last weekend I invited my coworker over to visit Nantes. She is an expatriate and will be staying in France for two months. Most of the time she is in Rennes so it would be nice to visit around. At the end of the visit, she concluded that Nantes is more beautiful than Rennes and most of her friends feel the same (from the photos she posted online). Well, I don't know whether Nantes is prettier but her visit has made me realized that Nantes is indeed a scenic city. I regret so much that I didn't make my own family visit this city due to their hectic schedule.

One of her comments was that Nantes has so many places to walk around. True, this ancient mansion is just 5 minutes walk from my apartment.

Another ancient building, or should we call it a castle?

The architecture of the Brittany castle.

This park is situated just across the street of our apartment complex.

Since 2007 the walking elephant has become an attraction in Nantes. It was a beautiful day so this elephant was out for a walk.

I love his eyes, so "lifely".

The "Passage Pommeraye" is well decorated and is filled with Christmas spirit.

The tranquil Erdre river, quoted by the French king François I as the most beautiful river in France.

Nantes downtown is lit up with colorful lighting. It was crowded with people hunting for Christmas gifts or simply going out for a walk.

The Christmas market. It could not be compared to the Christmas market in Alsace, and I was disappointed that they didn't have hot apple juice. Most of the stuffs here are expensive so I was never keen to buy anything here.

Nantes is indeed beautiful isn't it?

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's freezing

It is freaking cold in the morning and night these days. This morning it was under 1 Celsius. When I arrived at the parking lot, cars parked outdoor were all covered with a layer of ice.

In this kind of weather I can't even wear my new boots, afraid to fall down with the high heels.

I'm so eager for the vacation in Malaysia and that winter will be over soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tell me I'm not stupid

The conversation after the incident:

Me:"Tell me I'm not stupid".
Hubby:"...hesitating... you are not stupid" He obliged.


Well, this afternoon I broke another car tire. I just broke one exactly three months ago. Same thing, I was driving a friend back to his office. The road was narrow in my standard so when a car coming towards me from the other direction, I moved slightly right and the tire hit the side barrier. I keep telling my friend that it should be ok but it was not. When we arrived at his office we heard the air leaking out from the tire. I simply hate these stone barriers. I was driving at 40km/h and this "kiss" on the barrier will cost me 350 euros, again. Remember in France you will need to change both tires even if you only damage one?

This was not the end of a bad day. My friend had a hard time changing the tire so we had to call the insurance company. Luckily he was there to handle everything. I left the car at his office parking lot and walked back to my office. The insurance sent someone to change the tire later.

In the evening I got the key from the friend and was preparing to drive home. When I put on the key, the engine won't start. The back tires symbol kept blinking on the car screen. I tried again and the car just won't start. I had no choice but to call the insurance company again. After several transfer my phone credit ran off and I still didn't know whether they will send someone over or not. Luckily hubby called at this point and took thing over. Since the battery light was on I thought the car was running out of battery. It was raining and dark, I didn't have courage to ask for help as everyone seemed so eager to go home. I finally spotted a man at the entrance so I went to ask him for help. He apologized and said he didn't have a car, plus if my car is running with diesel, recharging my battery will decharging other's battery.

1 hour 20 minutes later a mechanic arrived with his towing car. His first try to start the car failed. Miraculously, he succeeded at the second try. And you know what was the problem? ---- The car was parked on first gear, that was why it was not starting.

I felt so stupid.

But you know what? Why would people park on the first gear anyway on a flat parking lot? Beside the car responded so differently, in Malaysia it would have moved forward at first gear, but this one just act like the battery is dead. Man, this is definitely killing my festive mood.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Going for shopping again

Last week experience was fantastic so I'm continuing my shopping activity today. Beside a list of Christmas presents to buy for family members, I also received more sponsorship from the grandmothers for my birthday. So will be busy buying things for myself as well.

To top it off, the sun is shining high in Nantes, a perfect day to go out and spend money. :-)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The exchange

I was at the in laws' over the weekend and as usual we slept in the guest room, which is now turning into a "Chinese" theme room. The wall is red, the bed is red, the window is red, the cloth stand is red.

Then I saw this. My FIL has finally finished his master piece art work. All the Chinese style symbols were gifts from my parents when they came visit last summer.

Let just say, 5 years ago when I had not appeared in my French family's life, they didn't use as much red and certainly would not have a room full of Chinese stuffs. Now they do. This is the power of exchange I guess.