Posted by: r.m. | November 25, 2008

Geneva snippets

I’m stealing time between meetings to write these few words.

This city – this village, actually – is very much like any other place: full of sweet surprises, and little idiosyncrasies.

Everything is in French.  I get on a bus heading somewhere – and I look out the window for an open restaurant.  I see one, and remembering what my dear brother said about swiss restaurants being open for only one hour for lunch, I immediately get off the bus – or, to be fair, I stand up, press the red button by the bus door, and wait patiently for the bus to stop at its scheduled stop, and then walk back to the restaurant.

At the restaurant, when I ask the waitress (in my splendidly perfect French ;-), if she speaks English and she says “non,” and when I look at the menu, and realize everything is only in French, and then I look around me, and everyone has already finished eating, I just point at one item and take my chances.

But, I digress.

Here’s my point: in such a French-dominated city/village, there is one sign in English. and only in English.

The stop sign. Why is the stop sign only in English? Why not in sign language?

here are some sweet moments. moments in which a smile is shared.

– being lost. obviously so :-). then being approached by a stranger (in this case – a good looking white British man) who speaks to me directly in English and offers the very assistance I want.

– being surrounded by French and then having someone (in this case a 50-something Tunisian or Moroccan man who had previously helped me with my bag) look me in the eye and say ‘tesslamee’ in Arabic


Yesterday, I walk up to a man at the bus-stop to ask for directions.
“S’il vous plait,” I say, “vous parlez d’anglais?”
He looks at me and smiles
“btehkee 3arabee?”


okay, i have to get back to the meeting



  1. beautiful snipets. especially those about your linguistic encounters. made me smile. and i needed to smile today. so wonderfully rania. 🙂

  2. LOL 🙂 what you said really made me laugh. By the way, the same thing happened with me when i was in France. Although i was french educated, but well, with no enough practice for more than 4 years, you’ll forget the language. Neway have a nice trip Dr. Rania.

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