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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Matches & Q-Tips

Bâtonnetts et Allumettes
There are times when one has to choose. 
      I'd been several places throughout the preceding weeks and been unable to find a couple of items on the grocery list—matches, and Q-Tips. Keep in mind that there are a couple of different kinds of grocery stores here. The small corner grocery/convenience stores are making room for bigger super stores (think Walmart, Home Depot & J.C. Penny combined).
      I'm sure the matches had just been alluding me even in the big stores like CORA but the Q-Tips were genuinely not to be found. One afternoon I bundled up and made a vow not to return to the apartment without both items and set out in high spirits on my quest. To the people in the neighborhood I'm known as, "l'homme au chapeau" (the man in the hat). I'm sure "qui gesticule" is also added after any such outing.
      Following a lead from the cashier at another store, I found the bâtonnetts coton at the local Pharmacie. I was on my way to another of the local grocery stores for the allumettes when I passed the local Tabac. The Tabac is the surest place to find phone cards to recharge the minutes on your cell phone, as well as tobacco, hence the name. It occurred to me that I had passed the one place most likely to carry matches hundreds of times, in dozens of locations, without connecting the dots. Sure enough, they not only had matches, but several kinds and sizes. Since I wanted to light scented candles with them I decided on les grands (the big ones), and returned home a conquering hero. 
      Here is where the choice comes in. When living in another culture there is a tendency to compare things to the way they were done "back home," usually in a negative way. The other choice is to genuinely decide to live the new normal. I recommend the latter. It will fill your days with minor victories to celebrate, and lighten your steps on the way home with your Q-tips. —Russell

1 comment:

  1. merveilleuse histoire Monsieur Barr :o)
    from the cooleys>