Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Stephen Clarke - "A year in the merde"

Visiting a foreign country and living and working in a foreign country are not one and the same thing. At first glance, living in a foreign country seems a Bohemian experience. It is. But it’s not only that. Some of the aspects of living abroad seem sometimes to be small scenes of an absurdist play. Somewhere in the book, Stephen Clarke mentions that no rights are available in an institution's waiting room. I could not agree more given the experiences I had in my country of origin, but also in other two countries.
“A year in the merde” is a simple and funny story about a British man’s cultural shock when moving to Paris, accepting an interesting job. Out of the many things that took him aback, I must admit that I share his consternation regarding the way French people make somebody’s acquaintance by exchanging kisses on both cheeks. That is a lot of personal space to offer, at first sight, to a stranger! Especially, when they are saved (the kisses) for family and friends. True, the French aren’t the only ones that do this. Spanish people have the same manner of making somebody’s acquaintance, too. Hum, would it be the case of a forgotten courtesy rule?! Well, if there is an explanation for it, unfortunately, it is not unveiled within the book.
The moments when the main character speaks with French people and their difficulties regarding English vocabulary and pronunciation are transcribed into English, making it impossible not to laugh. 

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