The Frenchmen Who Are Not Impressed
“Being French and being stupid is incompatible” one of the Frenchmen declared to me one day and it’s a phrase we fought over on a daily basis. After reading this post, I will let you decide whether you agree with the French or with yours truly.
But first, allow me to introduce you to the Frenchmen. There are three, well…there are two Frenchmen and a Belgian but the Belgian gets clumped in with the French because he speaks French and without him they couldn’t be the three musketeers. So….we have The Belgian, Our Favorite and Sir France as the main characters in my story of France and all that is French. I suppose their names tell you enough about them that you will need to know for my post, The Belgian is…Belgian (50 points if you didn’t see that coming), he has been doing a law internship in Delhi and can even hold a conversation with me in Hindi. Our Favorite has been dubbed that because after a few days it became very obvious to us which Frenchmen we derived the most pleasure from. Although Our Favorite wasn’t one to speak too much, when he did speak we enjoyed every bit of his heavily accented words. Sir France has been called that mostly because he appeared to be the one most intent on not being French, but by doing that came across as all the more French to me. Our Favorite and Sir France (I actually call him this to his face) have been friends for quite some time and are in Delhi for the next six months doing some sort of sports management thing and have some project they’ll be working on which I’d tell you more about if I had enough information to piece together a sentence or two…but I don’t. Instead I have made a list of things that I will go through so you can get a glimpse of living in a hostel room with Buttmunch, the three Frenchmen and whoever was passing by.
On Names and Knowing Each Others Names:
When meeting someone, it’s essential that you shake hands and say your name…which we did, but Buttmunch seemed to be the only one who knew the names (correctly) of everyone. I could get the first half of Sir France’s name and was tempted it fill in the rest with French sounding throaty noises but I figured he might catch on and so I mostly avoided using names for the first few days. I thought I knew the name of Our Favorite..but I’d find myself calling him “Etihad” which is close-ish to his name and is also the name of the airlines from Abu Dhabi I used to fly home…luckily I never called him an Middle Eastern carrier to his face. The Belgian’s name was easy enough (it wasn’t a difficult European one) but it took me a day or so to register.
At first, I felt terrible about butchering names and felt like an ignorant buffoon…until I realized none of them knew my name either. The Belgian even went as far as giving me a name (that he actually uses on me), the christening of me went something like this:
The Belgian: what’s your name again?
Me: you don’t know?
The Belgian: no
Me: You won’t remember my name…just pick a name and I’ll respond to it.
The Belgian: mmm…okay….you look like…a…Jasmi…naaaa….
The Belgian: yes, you look a Jasmina
Me: Is that because I’m brown and so you think I look like Jasmine from Aladdin?
The Belgian: (SMILES REAL BIG and does not deny the source of my new name)
Even Buttmuch wasn’t free from all the name faux pas going around, I’m pretty sure I corrected them every single time they called her “Angelina” (An-jzu-lee-na with their accent) but my corrections seemed to fall on deaf ears.Somehow, after living together for two weeks…we all know each others names. It’s quite the accomplishment.
French Amounts of Energy:
The French, are not a very lively bunch, they are, as Buttmunch puts it “comatose”. I believe they would wake up (anytime after noon, 11 on really early days) and spend the bulk of the day lying around in their boxers each with their computer on their chest, balanced on knees or laid down next to them like a lover. This is a position that the three of them would maintain for hours. On some days, Buttmunch and I would leave to work and upon returning hours and hours later we would always find the Frenchmen in position, computer at hand, lazy mode at full throttle. We asked them what they all did on their computers all day…The Belgian said he had “important things to do”…which would mean that he’d watch the highlights from the match that was on the previous night, Our Favorite said that he would be on “face” (that’s facebook to the rest of us), and Sir France would mostly play poker (I glanced at his screen and witnessed 8 games of online poker happening at once). I believe they also read blogs and other random things….I still don’t know how poker, football highlights and reading filled up their entire day. They’ve told me they’ll read my blog too (I’m SO excited to hear their response to this!).
Speaking of response…they are not very responsive. During the day when the Frenchmen are posted at their stations (aka boxer clad, computer screens glowing on their faces) they are not very sociable. Buttmunch and I tried everything….e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. to get their attention and for the most part it’d fail. I’m not going to bother listing all the various things we tried because we’d be half embarrassed and you wouldn’t believe us anyways. Suffice to say, during the day not much conversing or intelligible interactions occurred.
Eventually the rumblings of their tummies would force them to admit that they needed to get out of bed (maybe even put some clothes on) and engage in the very difficult task of ordering food. I believe they enjoyed Indian Food enough to order that fairly often…but they are also known for ordering french fries….from McDonalds…..and getting it DELIVERED (just let that one sink in okay?).
After eating, they might find their way to the TV to watch which ever football game was on (which might coincide with drinks and dinner), but after a happy buzz or semi state of drunkenness was achieved they often went about enjoying the night life of Delhi.
Drunk at Best:
Now, I make it sound like they were a bunch of boring imps (no idea why you’d think that)…but…usually around the post dinner beers, pre-Delhi night life beers and few moments before passing out into a happy stupor…the Frenchmen came ALIVE!! *inset dramatic lightning bolts and thunder* ALIVE I SAY! ALIIIIIIIIVE!!! With the help of our dear friend beer or on occasion vodka, the Frenchmen seemed to possess personalities and I’d even go as far as saying that they liked us! With booze in hand and a cigarette dangling from their lips, we’d have conversations and joke around and laugh and genuinely enjoy the company of each other. It was rather pleasant and I always enjoyed myself. When drunk, Sir France’s French got frenchier (nope. that’s not a word), The Belgian really wanted to speak in Hindi with me…and Our Favorite TALKED and is quite funny.
Sounding French, Indian and sounding French-Indian:
More than once, Sir France came to me and said “Aye zu naught hev a verhe strung French akh-cent no?” (“I do not have a very strong French accent no?”). I’d blink a few times wondering how to put it…and I’d mostly end up imitating him hoping he’d take note of how well I put on a French accent. My response would incur him to say “yah, bit kompared to ze ader French, mai akh-cent iz naught szo strung” (“Yeah, but compared to the other French, my accent is not so strong”). More blank stares and blinks from me.
The only thing that beat their French accent was possibly them putting on an American accent. Most of their imitations were limited to “oh my god” but still said “eeeehhu maaai gaaaaaad” and then they’d mock the way that Buttmunch and I enjoy drawing out syllables to emphasize words (“eeeehu mai gaaad…he iz sooooooo cuuuuuuuuuute”). I have to admit, I didn’t realize how long we drew out the “awwwwwe” in “awesome” or the “aaaaa” in “adorable”…their imitation of us – totally entertaining, I don’t know that they were as entertained by us.
The BEST however, without a doubt, is a French man doing an Indian accent…which is still obviously French. I couldn’t even try to describe it….my mission is to somehow get a recording of it and find a way of making it public. I promise. It’ll be worth the wait.
Conversations About Being French:
Of the three, I got to know Sir France the best. When we first met I was under the impression that he didn’t even notice I was in the room (which was quite a feat seeing as there were 4 of us in the room at that point) but as the hours and day worn on, we found ourselves getting to know each other quite well. After the first few awkward days has passed (and all three boys were totally comfortable in hanging out in their underwear all day), Sir France would take to coming over to my bunk bed for visits (part of this probably had to do with the fact that my bed is closest to the AC). We’d end up talking about all sorts of things, but possibly one of my favorite things to talk about was him being French. He talked about how I enjoyed him more because he was French, and although I couldn’t say it was true I couldn’t deny it either (I’d probably have enjoyed him just as much had he been German or Swedish or even Australian). He also said that I loved his accent, and although the accent itself was not new to my ears…having it at such a close range was fun and I loved learning new phrases from him. My French has now expanded from phrases like “where is the pool” (thank you FOTC) and “baguette” to “You are funny”…. someone buy me a ticket to Paris already. Anyways, Sir France was also under the impression that I would fall in love with him within a month of us hanging out – a notion that made me laugh, when I asked why he would respond with “becauz aye em nice end smart and funni no?”. All statements that are true (I still question the “smart”… besides having a great grasp of geography and several languages nothing he said or did suggested a large amount of intelligence), but not nearly enough to win my heart. This just made me conclude that the French are also incredibly modest 🙂
“Eef you dzu naught faind zes funni, I kannought ‘elp you” (in English “if you do not find this funny, I cannot help you” – I don’t know that we were the ones in need of help…) is the opening line that Sir France gave us before showing us a 3rd youtube video that he claimed was TRULY UTTERLY HILARIOUS! In the late night heat we figured meh…what the heck, sure….and our agreeable nature led us to watch a video of a guy in a white jumpsuit with a jason (?..the horror movie thing) mask walk into a home depot looking place…pick up a chainsaw and strut around…were you waiting for the funny bit? Yeah. I was too.
The previous videos he showed us of men mocking the Olympics (maybe?) by punching hanging slabs of meat in supermarket and snatching soda from people before dumping it on their heads in a run by didn’t seem that hilarious either… I think Buttmunch and I mostly enjoyed how much the Frenchmen enjoyed it because the video itself seemed…. odd.
For Buttmunch’s version of the story please read: http://globalbumblebuzz.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/clearly-the-french-are-strange-late-night-bumblings/ (as a matter of fact, you should read her blog over mine because she writes better and picks the best stories to tell!)
Training the Frenchmen:
If I haven’t mentioned this already, Delhi is absurdly hot. I have no idea how people live here. Lucky for us, our room has AC (even then sometimes I find myself sitting in sticky pools of my own sweat). The room is medium sized and so if the door leading to the outside world or the door to the bathroom is left ajar, all of our nice cool air escapes and the room turns into a sauna. This is something that most people would notice within the first day or two…this is a fact that totally escaped the Frenchmen. At first Buttmunch and I would say “close the door please”…we soon (after tiring of how long the phrase was) resorted to “DOOR!!!”…not that that worked. We even attempted to positive reinforcement (“If you close the door you’ll be our favorite Frenchmen!”) We threatened them with cruel and unusual forms of torture…which they turned on us into kinky things we weren’t exactly into. Two weeks and I have no idea how many reminders to close the door….we found a method that worked. Bribery. The Belgian had some information he wanted (regarding a fellow woman residing at the hostel) he went as far as saying “Jasmina…you be my spy”…which I was not willing to do….but…the information he wanted somehow came my way (with no effort on my part) and so I decided to use this to my benefit. I told him that I would tell him what he wanted to know provided they did the following: 1) be nice to us 2)always close the doors 3)did their dishes.
What do you know….it worked 🙂 Too bad I only figured out this effective method the day before they were leaving..might have been able to avoid hours of sweating.
I have to admit, in attempting to make my blog more entertaining I’ve totally skipped out on how these men are actually somewhat intelligent and talented, at the very least they can laugh at themselves and digest us openly mocking them and even throw back a good retort once in a while. I want to share something with you that will show off some of their talent that I never would have seen coming. Before you go to the link and listen to their creation, I should give you the background story as it was given to me.
If I understood properly, Our Favorite, Sir France and another friend of theirs (who is in a band and I think is the one who made the video) found themselves alone and drunk on the streets the day before Christmas. This inspired a drunken song that they managed to record and put on youtube. I have to admit, it’s really catchy and I really do like it….(Sir France is the lead singer and I believe Our Favorite does some of the background/side vocals). What I’ve managed to catch of the lyrics is something like this: “My mother is a bitch. Every girl is like my mother. My father is a jerk. Every boy is like my father. But I like you.” I also love how the French accent is quite obvious, if I try to sing this song out loud (and trust me I have) it just doesn’t sound right unless I sing “mai mazeur is a beetch” 😀
The Frenchmen moved out today to a fancy schpancy apartment that is apparently better than a hostel. Sitting on my bed typing this, I glace across the room to the bed that used to belong to Sir France and I miss the lanky body curled up on the too small bed and I want to hear the occasional rustle of Our Favorite and I miss the snarky comments from The Belgian. Although the room is alarmingly cleaner, it also feels empty and dare I say….I miss the Frenchmen.