Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The very last Pot au feu 

After many unpleasant surprises, this time the bank balance cheered me up. The Bank Mediator had done his job and my own bank had reimbursed the unfair commissions. A nice amount had dropped into my account. This kind of thing doesn’t happen every day. We decided to celebrate this and go to a restaurant. We haven’t been dining out for a long time now and Laura was exited. We headed to a small restaurant not far from home, famous of their pot au feu. We had passed many times by the window and looked at the happy customers inside. We have glanced at the menu dreaming to go there one day. We sat by the window, happy to now be those lucky ones inside. We had just taken a sip of our aperitifs when we heard an angry man’s voice from the kitchen followed by woman’s plaintive voice. We thought an unhappy love affair was taking place in the kitchen. 
   Small Parisian restaurants are often run by a couple; a husband cooking and the wife serving tables. After a while we saw our waitress running down the street. A few minutes later we saw her heading to the kitchen’s back door with salad leaves in her hands. We hoped that the marital problems wouldn’t spoil the cooking.

Some other clients had just sat down, when a man in a black suit, carrying an attaché case entered the restaurant. He was followed by two gorillas. They headed directly to the kitchen, and we heard violent shouting and arguing. When our waitress came out from the kitchen she had fallen mascara all over her cheeks. She said pot au feu was on its way but the oven had just broken and they couldn’t make the day’s entrée which was hot croutons de chèvre. With a smile she proposed salad instead and poured me one more Kir for free. Even Laura got another orange juice. The baguette à l’ancienne was freshly baked and Laura couldn’t help taking a fourth piece of bread. I advised her to leave some place for the salad and main course. When I glanced out the window, my eyes caught the two gorillas. They carried something metallic and heavy to a van parked on the other side of the street. I realized it was an oven. So far so good. Pot a feu is cooked on a stove, so no oven was needed. It would be ready before the bailiff came back, in case he would like to take the oven as well.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In pyjamas in the corridor

It was around eleven p.m. when my mobile phone rang. It was Jee Eun Kim who urgently needed my help.
-          Take a taxi immediately. Once on your way call me back so that I can give you the correct address, Jee Eun Kim said.
-          Look, Madam, I am sorry but I don’t have any cash to take a taxi and I can’t use my credit card either. I’m below my balance, I objected.
-          Well, then I’ll send you the car, she said.
Twenty minutes later I was sitting in the Jaguar. The driver was listening to some Sri Lankan music and sang along now and then while driving. He was seemingly used to takeing the car out of the garage in the middle of the night every time Jee Eun Kim called. We were heading to rue du Bac where Jee Eun Kim’s young nephew had moved from South Korea two days ago. I was already used to my boss’s young relatives, all from rich families, who stayed regularly in Paris and needed all kinds of practical help. They seldom spoke any other language than Korean and were all on their way to be movie stars or fashion designers. All alone in Paris without family support, they became vulnerable and easy targets for crooks and pickpockets. This one was called Jo Soon Sook and he was in Paris in order to study at some expensive international university where you don’t need any French or even English skills, and of which the diplomas won’t give way to any serious job in France but are exotic souvenirs once back at home.

   When we arrived at the chic property an adolescent looking young man in pajamas was arguing half in English half in Korean with a locksmith. To compensate the missing common language they gestured wildly towards the apartment’s locked door. The unscrupulous locksmith was requesting no less than several thousand euros for unlocking the door with his bump key. It is a common habit in this industry to take advantage of a panicked foreigner’s delicate situation. However, it is illegal and can be reported. I got involved and finally managed, by threatening the locksmith, to bargain the price down to five hundred euros. I was curious to learn how the young man ended up in pajamas in the corridor. He explained something confusing about bad dreams. To make sure he wouldn’t do anything stupid, I accompanied him into the apartment. Whereas most foreign students live in a seven square meters rat hole on the sixth floor with no lift, this fils à papa had not less than two hundred square meters for himself only! And all the space was nicely decorated.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Chairs broke in AirBnB appartment

When searching an AirBnB appartment in Paris area one can find more than 10 000 proposals. My best fried Kate, an american, works in AirBnB and makes tourist check-ins and check-outs  in five different luxurous appartments. She called me to tell me about the accident that happened to her previous customers, a Dutch couple who rented the Quai Montebello apartment for a romantic week-end. The apartment is located in a three hundred year-old building with exposed beams and decorated in medieval style to attract tourists. The showstopper is a gothic style mahogany wooden dining table with throne like chairs at both ends. The replica chairs possess a high arched back with a curved, pointed top and ornate cutouts. Kate is convinced that the apartment is always fully-booked because of this impressive dining set. Anyhow, the young Dutch couple had ordered a nice dinner from a French caterer, which they enjoyed in candlelight. The night was cold and they had put the electric heater on next to the dining table. Each sitting on their throne like a queen and a king they could only hear a slight creaking before they both found themselves sitting on the floor. Fallen down like in the French revolution. Both chairs had broken into pieces. Kate told me they had already been broken before and the owner’s cousin had repaired them with superglue. The Dutch couple were not overweight but both were very tall. Close to the electric heater, the glue started to melt and the chairs couldn’t carry the heavy holidaymakers any more. 

Kate had already pointed out many times how hard it is to keep all the furniture intact as well as the kitchen and bathroom equipment running because most of the tourists are used to modern buildings with more up to date installations. They don’t flush the toilet with the same delicate touch the French do. Once pushed down by a barbarian it is broken. Foreigners can’t stand a dripping faucet either. They over tighten it until it turns all the way around. This is added to the fact that, the Greek owner is more willing to gain money than spend it on maintenance. According to Kate she gets mad about any repair request.