Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 39 from Sceaux

I am back, it has taken a lot of personal energy to get to the point where I can write again. Getting "life" set up in France is a challenge, near the top, according to my more experienced ex-pat colleagues.

The Internet alone took a full month to get installed, with service quality that could only make the Keystone Kops look like they were organized and knew what they were doing. The coup-de-grace was the final setup of the TV service (Internet/TV combined like in the States). The help desk is telling me that my TV service will not be available for 4 more days, and I am trying to tell them the login screen is up. He gave me a new password (they had deleted my original one), and was insisting that what I saw was irrelevant because my service would not be available for 4 more days. I entered the password while we were talking, muted the TV, and was browsing the channels while I verified with the help(less) desk that my TV would not work for another four days. I never told them any different.

I have only done a little travel thus far, to Southampton, Barcelona, and the southwest of France, Pau, near the Pyrenees Mountains. A local of Pau told me April was the worst month of the year for people living in Pau, as they spend most of the month mentally and emotionally conflicted: do they drive an hour to the Pyrenees for the last bit of snow-skiing, or do they drive an hour south to the beaches of the Mediterranean for the first rays of summer sun. Yeah, tough month, that April.

I did finally manage to get all my services arranged (my company hires a locator agent service to help ex-pats find a place to live and setup utilities), I have my mobile phone service now on SFR through the company, and was able to unlock my trusty G1 Android and use the SIM card from SFR. When I go to the States, I can just pop in my T-Mobile SIM and be good to go. I have a routine of shopping places (for food, as hunter-gatherer, and have only done electronic shopping beyond that).

The team with whom I work is great, and I am fortunate to be here as part of the team that will define a 10 year plan for our segment. We are a good mix of older lions like myself who have seen and done a lot, and a bunch of younger lions eager take the segment into a new future. Work is stimulating again.

Pam arrived on June 6, a.k.a. D-Day, but no, I have not been to Normandy -- yet. She approved the apartment in Sceaux, deciding I had made a good choice. She really likes it here, as Sceaux, though known locally for an air of sophistication, is much like a small French village, and has an old traditional market street which they converted to a pedestrian-only area. It is by far our favorite place to go. We actually ate lunch at one of the cafes, outdoors of course, and understand why the cafes are so small: at 33 euros (nearly $40 USD) for two lunches, few can afford to go out to eat and therefore the number of customers they see is relatively small. The food was outstanding, but honestly, not 40 bucks outstanding. Nonetheless, browsing the market with its many shops and enticing smells is a good past-time when in Sceaux.

We got invited to the home of a young couple to watch France's opening match in the World Cup, our first social event sense being here. There was one other couple present, nearer to our age, and we are having both couples over today for an early 4th of July dinner. We're basically feeding them sloppy joes, 'tater salad, and watermelon -- good ol' American summertime food.

A bientot!