Sunday, May 02, 2010

What muguet reminds me of

1 May = labor day = the day people offer muguet (lily of the valley) to each other. As for me, muguet reminds me of my first job ever in France.

After attending one year of French classes at the University of Nantes and another year taking all kind of government French classes for foreigners, I had hard time finding a job that matched my qualification simply because I didn't speak and write good French. I was desperate and would accept any kind of job that would give me salary. I went to temporarily agencies and they told me I needed to have experience to apply for factory or cleaning post. When I heard that people are hiring for the muguet season, I rushed to register and was hired on the spot.

I remember waking up at 5am to be able to catch the company bus at 6am. We started work at 6.45am. We have to bend the whole day picking up muguets and tied them with rubberbent. At one point I felt like going back to the 18 century being the black slave working in the cotton field. Most of the seasonal workers are either black, Hispanic or Asian and white workers were the minority. The field belongs to white bosses who hired white watchdogs to supervise us. We were not allowed to talk nor rest. The watchdogs yelled at us with comments like "you are not paid to chit-chat here", "you are not paid to sit down here". Interesting enough, most of the foreigners didn't dare to talk back, but some local white students fought back by saying "Don't I have the right to sit down after bending the whole day?".

We were divided in many groups, some picking the muguets and some picking the green leaves. The employer hired local women for packaging who worked inside the factory. From time to time a watchdog would approach some people to go help in the factory. Everyone liked to work inside the factory as they didn't need to be exposed under the sun and bend down. Sometimes the work finished at 2pm and those who got chosen would continue to work until 4pm in the factory. People who had to leave at 2pm were disappointed as people seemed to want to work longer to earn more money. I was working in the factory for several days and it was indeed a lot more comfortable compared to working outside. We were treated nicely in an air conditional room.

I hurt myself the first day which leaves me a permanent scar on my wrist. Well, the muguet is separated by alley and were covered by glasses. The allies were very narrow and we were bending down back to back. When a fat lady got up she bumped into me and pushed me onto the glasses. Blood running out from my wrist and a woman helped me stop the bleeding. I didn't pay much attention to it instead I insisted on continue working. I only went to the doctor one week after and it was too late. The scar remains and it itches from time to time especially when I breastfeed.

Well, the muguet didn't bring me luck even though it is supposed to be a porte-bonheur (a bringer of happiness and luck).


  1. Hi Bee Ean, I saw your blog few days ago. Gosh at last I found a Malaysian in Bretagne. Love to read all those info from ur blog. Keep it up. Regards from Rennes, Jay

  2. Hi, I work in Rennes, let me know if you want to meet up.

  3. Cool.. me doing French course at Rennes 2. We could meet up sometimes. Just text me at Jay. Bonne soiree..

  4. Hi Bee Ean,

    I'm also a Malaysian, married to a French guy. I found your site very useful when I was looking for info on how to get all the paperwork done in Malaysia for a marriage in France. Now my husband and I are thinking of moving to France and I have some questions I would love to ask you. Do you mind if I email you some questions? If that's ok, I am at .... Terima Kasih!

  5. Uzair,
    Please leave me your email so we could find out where to meet. Is Rennes 2 at Beaulieu? I work in the longchamps area close to SFR.

    I have sent you an email.

  6. My e-mail: Universite Rennes 2 at Villejean Station (Metro)

  7. Hi Bee, don't know if you remembered me since I last commented on your website about a year ago. We're both from the same town (well I'm from Port Klang, near St Anne's).

    I had a glance at your other website which was really helpful and insightful (although I couldn't open the webpage normally, I had to 'download' the page, is this normal?)and you mentioned something about the Certificat de Coutume, which is something that I need for PACs that my boyfriend and I are planning to get in KL. I've read online that a few Malaysians have trouble getting this Cert because it seems that Malaysian Govt doesn't recognise PACs so basically this cert doesn't exist? However I googled and found through another site where there's this Single Status Letter which I can get in Putrajaya. Are they both the same paper ? Certificat de Coutume / Single Status Letter? Bises a Aelig, such a pretty baby.

    Merci d'avance!

  8. Hi Popo,

    Sorry the other website was hacked that's why it is having some problems.

    No, Certificat de coutume is different from certificat de celibataire. It is a piece of paper issued by the Malaysian government indicating that the Malaysian laws agree with the French laws on the marriage issue. Example, that Malaysia respects France practicing monogamy eventhough Malaysia herself practices polygamy.

    Certificat de celibataire is another piece of paper that is required for pacs or marriage in France to ensure that you have never married before since France doesn't accept polygamy.

    I would advise you to write or call directly to the Embassy in Paris, I listed the email address in the other website.

    Good luck

  9. Hi Popo,

    I was the one replying you but I login as my husband. :-)

    Do not hesitate if you have other questions.

  10. Hi Bee,

    Just so you know, I had a nice time eating Bak Kut Teh (ta pau-ed from Port Klang!) y'day for lunch. Miam!

    We're still living in KL so I don't know if it make any sense at all to contact the Malaysian Embassy in Paris when we're living in KL. I've also come across a few websites where some Malaysians were refused to be given the C.Coutume because they were told by the Malaysian Embassy that Malaysia do not recognise the PACs agreement.

    So you can imagine my situation here. I don't even know if the officials at Putrayjaya will even know what a Certificat de Coutume (Affidavit of Law in English it seems!) is. And the lady you mentioned on your other website, Ms. Lopez from the French Embassy, is she easy to deal with?

    Thanks again! Popo.

  11. Wow bah kut teh, I will eat it kuat kuat when I go home next year.

    Yeah it is true that it doesn't make sense to go through the Embassy since you are living in France. You could still write to the woman in the Embassy, maybe she can direct you to the right department in Malaysia. What I did was that I sent something (don't remember what was it, will find out) to the Embassy and they then sent the certificat de coutume to my in laws place. So, worst come to worst if only the Embassy issues this cert, you can ask them to send it to your in laws place and then let your in laws send to you in Malaysia.

    Ms Lopez is quite easy to deal with. She replied my questions through email.

    You know you don't have to tell them it is for PACS, you could say it is for your marriage, as far as I know these are the same docs required for marriage. If you want I can send you a scan version of the both certs, just give me your email address.

    Hope this helps.

  12. yes please send me the two documents, so you think that I can get the Certificat de Coutume (how would i tell that to the malaysian govt aiyo) and the Certificat de Celibat by saying that I'm getting 'married'? I'll try and see if it works!

    my email address is : paulynn _ lim (at) yahoo (dot) fr

    Yeah, I'm eating as much food as I can before it's too late, can't say much about my widening hips though haha! Don't worry, when I'm in France (my boyfriend is from Vendee, only an hour from Nantes) I'll make sure to help a fellow Klangian by bringing some good stuffs! Thanks again for your help, je te tiendrai au courant des que j'ai des (bonnes) news! bisous et merci encore!

  13. Hi Popo,

    I am wanting to apply for a PACS with my partner and I am in Malaysia. Was wondering any luck on getting the certificat de celibat and certificat de coutume?
    Your help is much appreciated!
    I'm cracking my head trying to figure it out.

    Thanks!! :)