Sunday, March 23, 2014

" on the train "

sunday, march 23

Well, dear Reader,
there are times where reporters have to be courageous and slam themselves into hazardous means of transportation.

So, on the day when Parisians and french went to " le bureau de vote"  which is just " the polling station"  but honestly  bureau de vote sounds more mysterious, though polls are pretty mysterious in themselves,  so on that day, the courageous Reporter decided to hop on the train to the southwest of france to meet her friend who lives there in a decrepit house.

Most trains in france are TGVs,  which are known to uncultured americans as the bullet train.

And when they tactlessly talk of the bullet train to the french, the french lift their eyebrows, which they  have in quantity due to the southern genetics, and they say, affronted,  "  Le train boulette ? Mais ca n'existe pas ! "   or " The train bullet ? But that doesn't exist ! "  and they are really upset.

You will notice the use of 'But' at the beginning of a sentence, which is a typical french use.

So for the french the bullet train, of course, doesn't exist, people on the other side of the pond just have to learn the word TGV, which is so clear in itself as in " Train a Grande Vitesse," which is of course Train with Great Speed.

And it looks like that,  just in case you never saw a Train with Great Speed.

Looks a bit like a fish, anyway the french think a lot of their Train with Great Speed.

So Reader, you would think the Reporter would embark on a beautiful TGV/TGS well "  He bien, pas du tout "   or as we simply say,
"Well, not at all "

Anyway, the Reporter's goal was to arrive in Brives, which is in the middle of france, a city built with grey stones, and fortunately quite quiet after 7 pm.  Brives is about the level of Bordeaux's latitude,
but is snugged all inside the middle of  france,  surrounded by thick woods, meadows, some cattle, wild boars and  truffles.  Few people ever go to Brives.

So the only train to get there, has to stop first in four different cities before reaching the quintessential city of Brives. And you must take a Corail train,  because  no TGV/TGS will ever go there. It takes about 4 hours and a half,  which would be roughly  about 2 hours in a TGV/TGS.

People inside that train to Brives are like real people, but from the 50s. They are older people, they have large baskets with ammunitions of food in case the train would break, they read newspapers which are a day old or two, or three,  and grand-children who are sent off with their grand-parents to the country to be  " au bon air."  [ in the fresh air ]

 It is a step in a time capsule.

This is what  the train to Brives looks like :

So the Reporter who balks at nothing,  stepped into the time capsule train,  and this is what she saw.

First, in her aristocratic caste compartment,  [ she was travelling  "premiere classe"  for a change, which is simply on a Corail train like " business class,"]   there were two grandparents who, obviously lived in the country,  and had come to pick up their grandchildren [ 6 and 8 ] from their Paris overworked devoted parents,  to take them for a few days in the  fresh air.

So the parents, just before the train departed, had stepped up there inside the train to  make sure the grand parents had all the medicine bags, and the cookies bags, and the children mini i pads, and the doting parents were looking anxiously at all the surrounding  business class travelers  to see how the next four hours would be faring for their fragile children.

Then the parents hopped off the train with a deeply worried air on them.

Then the train departed.

A few hundreds yards away from the  Gare d'Austerlitz,  the grand parents turned to the two children and said,  "  Ok,  fermez vos i pads maintenant, plus de jeux electroniques jusqu'a 6 heures du soir."
 which simply means in french, " OK, shut off your  i pads now, no more electronic games till 6 pm." It was 2 pm. Which roughly meant the 4 hours of train  were off electronics, whatsoever.

And when you think of it, considering how slow the Corail trains move,  we were  now about barely 5 miles away from the worried doting parents. And, they were worried about  us, the other travelers,   reacting surreptitiously to their fragile brood.

The thing is, the  french children closed their i pads, started to look out the window, drew lots of ugly drawings, ate the cookies the grand parents had brought, chatted eagerly but in very muted voices the rest of the four hours, and each time when told to say " merci"  [ thank you ] and " s'il vous plait "  [ please ] they immediately complied with wide eyes and contentment.

They brushed past in the aisle, whispering "  Excusez-moi"  [ " I am sorry "] going to the restroom every thirteen minutes. In one word, or more, they enjoyed themselves hugely.

The Reporter thought that the very worried Parisian parents of fragile children had no idea how well this was all faring.

So the Reporter, while ogling the grandparents with enormous absorption,  could work all she wanted on her own i pad.

And when, by the end of the day, after the 6 pm of the electronic time shut off,  she was close to the decrepit house of her dear friend in the south west, it looked like that :

And Wait,   dear Reader !
Her friend does look a little like Mr. de Winter a bit,  and the gate of the house is not without some small accent of Manderley.

To morrow the Reporter will post a pic of the gate,  and you shall see what the gate, there, looks like.

Be prepared.

With all love,

the Frog

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