Friday, October 22, 2010

blocked in France

So the strikes over the retirement reform have been escalating. Protesters have blocked the gas supply, so most of the gas stations have run dry (though supposedly the police have finally broken the blockade), have been blocking the public transportation, the train stations, and even bridges and streets so that people can't get to work without taking some huge one-hour detour; everyone's debating whether high school students have the right to strike, students are blocking universities in every city, due to which I have had only 20% of my classes this week.


The literature, language and "human sciences" university in Limoges...

greve montage

Sure, I must look like a huge dork taking pictures of the stacked furniture sculptures and the anti-reform propaganda, but I wasn't the only one... basically anyone who isn't French is shocked.

greve police vs manifestants

And of course in all of the biggest cities (Paris, Lyon, Marseilles), the special armored police have been sent in, and violence was thus provoked.
According to one of my professors, these revolts are not really about the reform. Most French people interviewed on the streets say they are willing to work longer to ensure the survival of their retirement system. This is a revolt more against Sarkozy, who promised so much during the elections, promises of increased purchasing power, more jobs, wealth, to feed into the liberal market system; and who, when the financial crisis came and unemployment got worse, turned around, denounced and blamed the liberal market for the current situation. Sarkozy who passed this new un-negotiated law (which has some wrinkles to iron out...), and whose only response to the outcry is to send more police.
I'm really glad my professor said this, because I want to understand the French, not just grow irritated with and lose respect for them. To not just think that French people don't like working... which is what a lot of foreigners are starting to think.
And this is the way it always goes, though it hasn't gone this far for almost three years, because France's unions aren't joined and are weak and ignored by the government, because France has never had any system to negotiate and discuss these things with the people, who understandably becomes outraged when laws are passed and huge decisions are made without any vote or public voice. None of which is very democratic when you think about it... I wish Americans would rise up against things like that.

In any case, it is a huge mess. And no one is handling it correctly. It seems like no one knows how. It's extra unfortunate because All Saint's week-long vacation has just started, and the train company is on strike, and everyone is running out of fuel. Bonnes vacances! If I can swing it, I will go to Paris for a few days and visit a few friends, and then next weekend go with Antoine to his parents' place.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

encore une semaine

A good week in Limoges.

week montage
Cathedral of Limoges, flea market quarter, meat festival of "petits ventres," the festival of short film in Limoges, and the Lido movie theater where the festival took place over the last two weeks, a tiny panorama of the apartment, the park at night, and yet another picture of yet another strike against the retirement reform.

This week was a good week because I actually started spending time with friends outside of school, and because I went out, and got inspired by amazing short independent films, and had fun, and ate great great food, and was impressed that the French high school youth actually lifted itself to get politically concerned and involved (even though at the moment they are rising for a lesser cause...); I hope that when the time comes that they need to oppose themselves to something more significant, they will. At the same time, they are rising up against the image and stereotypes of the youth that is engraved in French the society and education system.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

modern punk

On campus in Limoges


I love the army-style jacket, the folk-sy dress and the red stockings to go with it, and both of their purses were a really lovely leather; and of course, the hair. There are plenty of small details that this silly digital camera can't capture, like the whispy curling long hair on the sides, and the slightly longer hair in the back. Such a severe cut with such feminine faces and clothes is just awesome, and I was thinking on the bus that if I was courageous and single enough, I could do the same.

I'd love to do more "street style" entries... Merci encore aux filles!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

polar weekend

This was a weekend of fun and bustling activity, and yet relaxation and boredom; of beautiful warm weather to start, and chilling rain to end; of happiness, and yet dissatisfaction; of productivity, and yet far niente.

Gourmet market, where we bought delicious goat cheese rolled in spices and figs filled with fois gras, amazing. Then to a bar with some friends, where they have beer made by the house, the best in Limoges. The brunette has an interesting coffee taste to it. Almost makes me like beer... almost. Come Sunday, we went to a flea market, however flea markets in France are like their French vintage stores: they are much too aware of the popularity and novelty of what they're selling, so they jack up the price, a lot, which definitely takes away a large aspect that you find in American flea markets. No finding amazing cheap treasures...If I had a lot of money I would have been infinitely pleased with a large vintage bird cage to use as a jewelry stand, a beautiful 50s-era lamp in leather, classic elegant french iron garden furniture...


Limoges has been growing on me little by little, surprisingly. If you look hard enough, there are actually lots of things to do.

I discovered the panorama function of Antoine's camera, haaa. It's fun. I messed up the third frame so my head is missing, but I guess I kind of like it that way.

After the bar we invited the friends over to our place, and it was fun, they stayed a few hours and everyone was talking and joking and speaking in French and trying to understand each other. When decent company leaves, I hate that large empty feeling. The affects of human interaction are interesting...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

French stuff



Pictures from our picnic we had today with two friends, out by a lake outside of Limoges.

Russian is mighty difficult so far, we're learning how to "properly" write the alphabet and it is as constraining and demanding as having to learn how to write as a Kindergartner. I have been putting off going to the health care office and the prefecture; lately I don't feel as if I can stand the bureaucratic mess.

I finished reading Creezy and now the boring empty moments of my life seem that much more empty; it was basically like a vacuum, and all that was left in the end was: "this is what the modern being has come to: soulless and cold like steel"

It was written in the 60s, so what more can you really expect.

There were manifestations and strikes yesterday, yet again, against the reform of the retirement system.

In the afternoon, no buses, no moving traffic as people streamed through the streets, banging on steel poles and shouting and chanting with signs about no future. Lucky them, they chose the first warm day in one month to strike. In any case, France will still be the country with the lowest retirement age. Oh, and this is right in front of our apartment, more or less. Take a gander.

Later that evening, Antoine and I went out to a Basque (describing the south-west region of France that borders Spain) restaurant with the same two friends with whom we picnic-ed. It was possibly the best restaurant that I have been to in France yet; the food was delicious and beautifully and meticulously displayed, the service was - for once! - great (they refilled our water pitcher without us having to cry for it, prompt, professional, polite). They even served us little sausages and marinated mussels as appetizers,  bread, and after-dinner coffee, all complimentary. They also had great sangria, just like Spain.


Oh, and all for so cheap. The restaurant filled up fast as soon as we entered in, filling the place with a warm and festive ambiance. Of course it's popular.


The Basque region resembles Spanish culture; the food, the people, the traditions. Hence the bullfighting mural... Also an area of conflict, as there are people on both the French and Spanish sides of that border who refuse to give up their dialect and speak the "national languages" of their countries, and lute for independence. There is still the occasional car bombing, illegal arms deal in this region, always involving some independence terrorist group. Just goes to show you, terrorists aren't always Arabic. Jee-gads! They can be European, or even... American.