Chez Soi

Adventures of a Year Abroad

So, How’s It Going?


Starting the week, my personal commitment was, ‘I will only eat one croissant a week.’ Then, “have just a few croissants a week.” But that, too, turned out to be too much restraint. There is no self-discipline I can muster strong enough to withstand the amazing local croissants and baguettes just a block away. Plus, kiddo has become enthusiastic about going and getting what he calls “the happiness”. Paris is going to work out FINE, people. Caloric, yes. But, also, fine.


It took a bit to “get settled”. We rented a fully furnished apartment. So I thought settling in would involve the complex act of … unpacking bags, and BOOM, done. But we kept figuring out things we needed… from umbrellas, to hangers. Now that seems inconsequential, yes? But as we went (again, and again…. and again) to the markets to find stuff, I got crazy tired of this move. (like whiny, complaining, irritated kind of crazy tired.) At some point it seemed ludicrous because we’ve been doing this nonstop for about 6 months and I thought we were done, already.  We stood in front of the dishwashing soap section of Monoprix trying to figure out something. Curt knew the translation for the word salt–> sel. When you don’t know the language, figuring this stuff out is like studying hieroglyphics. When you see three letters in a row that make the word, you get so excited. Whoohoo. But there were no boxes marked dishwashing Sel. But some boxes had sel as part of their description so I then figured out it must be called something else. Like an informal word or something. So, 20 minutes later, we figured it out. But OMG. This turns every errand of 20 items into a mind-boggling, 2 hour-long, and sometimes herculean task. (Have I complained enough???!! Okay, let’s move on…). The boys got me to go for a walk just to remind me … that, you know…We Now Live in Paris. Sooo… GET OVER IT. (which, by the way, worked).


Recommendations of this week:

–       To drink: A Manhattan scotch blend that is ridiculously good. Found at LMDW. Seriously. If you come to Paris, go here. Tell Stanislaus that Nilofer sent you. You can thank me later. And you will.

–       To do: Kiddo fell in love with chess all over again. He is whomp*ing*ly good. If you are into chess, go meet up with the “old” guys in Luxembourg Gardens.

–       Plan: Bastille Day in Paris (July 14th) is a crazy-amazing celebration. They turn buildings into flags and stuff. Come one day. In every neighborhood, you are invited to go to the local firehouse for “open house”, to dance the night away.

–       To eat: La Cremerie (9 Rue des 4 Vents, 75006 Paris). Bistro that serves ! 10 dishes and matches wines to what you eat. I had the duck and OH my my.

–       To read: In the NYT, there was a great OpEd on value of learning language. Kiddo and I just did four days of class. More on that next week. But the bottom line is “je nes comprende pas” now rolls off my tongue. 😉

Author: nilofermerchant

Strategist. Passionate about igniting cultures of innovation. HBR Writer, O'Reilly Author (published January 2010) of The New How, and former CEO of Rubicon.

3 thoughts on “So, How’s It Going?

  1. A great start to the new life. I can say we had a similar fun grocery shopping.
    (“What do you think this is?” “I dunno, get it.”)

    I hope you find your own favorite cafe and discover some new essential places for us other wannabe-Parisiennes. 🙂

  2. Don’t hesitate to ask me for some translations if there’s some items you can’t figure out!
    I was for the Bastille in Paris when I was a little boy. I still remember it quite well as it was awesome!

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