It’s been two months since I’ve been living in Paris. The people are great, the metro station as depressing as ever, the Eiffel Towel shining bright like a diamond, the weather as unstable as pms-ing females and the town as multi-ethnic as my family history.
Among all the things that I would love to talk about, one thing stands higher than the others:
Here’s a little list of what I am used to hear:
“Do you have cheese in Mauritius?”
“Do you have electricity?”
“Wait, you have drinkable water?”
(When a friend forgot my last name) “Well, it’s not my fault, Miss Rikoulélé”
“Here, give me a common Mauritian name” – “Aurelie?” – “Really? No give me a real african one”
“Whoa, I love your accent”
“Not cool man, you’re saying this because she’s black.”
“Do you have famous brands’ shops?”
“Do you have crepes in Mauritius?”
“Is there TV there?”
“There must be a huge density of people for such a small space”
“We all know you love bananas and coconuts”
“Here, come, do a belly dance”
“Oh, it’s not that I don’t like your french, but “cocasse” and “quitter les affaires en haut” are things that we used to say two centuries back. But I think it’s nice!”
“Do you listen to this type of music in Mauritius?” (A Stromaé song playing)
“Here, sing me a creole song.”
“Do you have nutella there?”
“Doesn’t Mauritius belong to France?”
“Do you live only by sugarcane and pineapples?”
“Do you eat on banana leaves?”
“Do you travel only by bicycles?”
Most of these were said with a humourous undertone, and it was from friends, so there were no mean intentions. However, the mere fact that those were even said shows an underlying similar thought somewhere in their subconcious mind.
On the other side I feel obliged to clear out stereotypes on the French life.
1. Frenchies do not smell. Not those who shower anyway.
2. Not EVERYONE dresses as a fashion model.
3. They are not rude. If you’re nice to them, they won’t be rude to you.
4. I’ve been having dinner with a bunch of french students every night for two months now and I haven’t had a glimpse of snails or frogs in my plate.
5. They rant probably as much as my neighbour back in Mauritius.
6. Wine is not their main beverage.
7. They do like wearing black.
8. Most of them aren’t racist, they just like making racist jokes.
9. The only people I’ve seen wearing berets are japanese tourists.
10. Their notion of partying isn’t limited to wine, cheese and kissing. There are crazy parties where they crash the metro as well. Haven’t had the chance to do one of those though.
11. On the escalator everyone stands on the right to leave those in a hurry to climb the escalator on the left.
12. They eat their cereals with cold milk. Cold milk.
13. They have sweet and salty butter.
14. It’s perfectly normal that one day it is 6 degrees and the next day it gets to 18 degrees.
15. Young people are really active in politics, as compared to Mauritius, where we don’t give much of a f.
16. It’s perfectly normal to see homeless people distributing cards with their name and situation written on them. In French AND English s’il vous plait.
17. “Une plume” is called “stylo” and “Un plumier” is called “Trousse”. Whenever you say “plume” they think of a feather and whenever it’s “plumier” they think of a wooden box dating to five decades back.
18. They always eat cheese after dinner and never at breakfast.
19. Young people always use the expression “Trop stylé”
It’s always funny to debug all of these little stereotypes and seeing reality for what it is. I think we all see foreigners as some sort of aliens and whenever there’s ignorance, we tend to fill this void with some ideas spread by unrealistic and grotesque movies or rumours.
Ah la vie!