Wednesday, April 13, 2011


37. There's nothing like waking up to 93 emails.

"Brussels rains, rains, rains and rains," I had written to my Aussie friends before going to sleep. When I woke up, I did not get to know whether Australia, too, was raining. Instead, over the 93 (and even more later) emails, I learnt about transgenders, homosexuals, and how "Sexuality is a state of mind."

I'm going to fit back to my Aussie life just fine.

38. "No, I will not blog about badminton. Yes, it is possible to lose by that much. No, I will not play it again."

39. "I have a question for you," I tell her. "Et J'ai une question pour toi!", she says. 

This is how my conversations with Cécile, the department's secretary, usually go: I speak English, she replies in French. More often than not, we understand each other. I would ask if I could have some stationery, and, respecting my French knowledge, she would stick to the short and sweet "Oui!", only occasionally venturing to the higher level of "Bien sûr!" Today, I have a more complicated problem than a lack of stationery. 

There appears to be a certain tax on accommodation (or something) that the Regional Ministry (or someone) requires me to pay, because I had a roof over my head in 2010. I am a little vague on this, because all the information sent to me was in French. I have emailed to tell them that I do not earn a taxable income, so homeless or not, I am not paying this tax on accommodation (or something). After sending my email, written in English, I received a letter. The official-looking letter was of course in French, though, the pink-highlighted parts on the letter have made it look slightly less official. These pink-highlighted parts seem to indicate that I either pay or prove that I don't have a taxable income. Now, were he here, my Philosophy-majored ex would tell me to inform the Regional Ministry (or someone), that it is a lot easier to prove something exists than to prove it doesn't. But, he is not here, and, for most of our relationship I never did what he told me to anyway, so I am in Cécile's office asking for her advice. 

Which comes in French.

So, I do what I do when people speak to me in a different language: I fill out the blank. "Tu vois..." Cécile is pointing at the first pink bit. In my head, what she says is translated to, "You see, I was aiming at the deer, and then, out of nowhere, *bang*, my husband shot it." "Je crois que..." Cécile is pointing at the second pink bit. "I believe that it is not legal for one's husband to shoot one's deer..." There are quite a few pink bits, so I have the almost complete story about her hunting trip by the time she looks at me suspiciously, as if I were off to somewhere else. With an air of resignation, she says, "Je vais le faire pour toi." 

That's all the French I need to understand.

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