Thursday, September 22, 2005

Just another commute

After 3 weeks of school for the whole family, we have settled into a routine.

We start with the usual morning exercises in cajoling, wheedling and force feeding our children what we believe are necessary nutrients against their equally firmly held beliefs that they should be allowed to eat normal breakfast food like pain au chocolat.

Next we all grab our respective backpacks and metro passes and hit the road. The streets are mobbed with harried but proud parents and adorable kids, many of them dressed in painter’s smocks like they are off to Picasso’s atelier for a quick painting before school.

We walk a block and pop down into the world’s greatest subway – trains come every two minutes on all the main lines (provided that the myriad minor deities in the French transportation unions are feeling appeased that day). Four stops later we pop up again at the Trocadero station and get a heart-stopping view of the Eiffel Tower across the river.

Something about the light makes the walk brilliant up the rue lubeck to the children’s school. Along the way we meet the united nations of parents attending eurocole, each with more or less enthusiastic children in tow.

We get to the school door and attempt to exchange urbane pleasantries with the staff, but I fear that our barbaric accents and very loose grasp of French grammar translates all of our remarks into something that sounds more like, “heap um good weather, huh dude?”

With a mixed feelings of humiliation and triumph (one of the advantages of being clueless together in French is that neither of us can tell how bad we sound) we set of for our school, the grandly named Institut de Langue Francaise. Our walk takes us up the Champs Elysee towards the Arc de Triumph.

So there we are, sauntering but trying hard not to gawk, cruising up a seriously nice street, turning off on rue Balzac, just to get our literary reference for the morning. A few blocks later and we are at the ILF, ready for another four hours of screaming neurons and fraying synapses as we try to force fit another word for “vacuum cleaner” into a slot that was only built to hold one entry.