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Debates, discussions, news articles, cultural differences stories and everyday life blah blah.

Change A Life

Kiva: Loans That Change Lives

A while ago, I was visiting Gean’s blog when I noticed an intriguing banner: “Lend $25, change a life. Get $25 back and lend it again. Change another life.” I clicked on the banner and I was directed to Kiva. I learned that Kiva’s mission was to: “empower individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe". Read More »

You... Or You

Bilingual Signs in Ottawa

Every day I thank the language Gods for the invention of the pronoun “you” in English. No matter who you talk to, whether it’s your boss, your in-laws, a close friend or a perfect stranger, it’s a no-brainer: just say “you”. It’s not a given, you know. A lot of languages have two ways of saying “you”: French has “tu” and “vous”, much like Spanish has “tú” and “usted”, Portuguese has “tu” and “você” and Chinese has “你” and “您”. Read More »

French, English and Montréal

Sign promoting the use of French language in a mall in Montreal: "I like when retail employee talk to me in French. Thank you."

It’s only when I showed up at Starbucks that I realized I had no idea how to order in French. And ordering my coffee in English in Montreal would look back, wouldn’t it. But I needed coffee: this is a working weekend for me and I haven’t had much sleep the last few days. Read More »

The Invisibles


When I exited The Bay, he was standing here, playing the harmonica. I stood here for a minute, looking at him. I grabbed the camera which was slung over my shoulder and our eyes met briefly. He nodded, still playing. He first slowly turned on his side to show me the cat perched on his shoulders, safe from my camera’s peering eye. I smiled and waited. Eventually, he looked straight into my eyes. I snapped two pictures quickly, gave him a couple of bucks and walked away. Read More »

The Customer Is King

Stop Sign Crying

In France, the saying goes that “le client est roi”. But in fact, the customer is anything but a king: at best he is an idiot, a minor annoyance in your day. As this funny article on “How to play the French service game ... and win” explains: “The customer is king. But we all know what they did to their royal family. The guillotined head of Louis XVI bounced across the Place de la Concorde as a few thousand Parisians laughed at it”. Read More »

The Olympic Torch Relay In Ottawa (2/2)

Waiting For The Show

After shooting the torch relay, I decided to stay downtown and to have a look at the night festivities on Parliament Hill. By the time I got there, I learned from two ladies (pictured below) that they would only start after sunset... I wasn't going to sit on the cold waiting, like them, for a few hours. I headed to Chapters and grabbed a hot coffee. Read More »

The Oh-So-Sexy French Myth


I was absolutely unaware of our reputation abroad until I started traveling. Then, I realized that the French were said to have this little je ne sais quoi. In plain language: French were libertine, were doing it all the time, routinely had several mistresses and lovers and had a god-given talent for romance. Read More »