It' s the small things about a place that remind you that you're a foreigner.
So many things are the same no matter where you go. We all laugh and cry and eat and sleep and drink and love and learn. But.
Heads don't tilt the same no matter where you go.
I have always liked books. My book budget is ridiculous given my ridiculously low earnings. I reread 3 of Jane Austin's books for the millionth time this summer. And I enjoyed them as much as the first time. But going to book stores isn't as fun here as it is at home.
No cafés inside book stores, no couches, no magazines, no lounging. But most of all, it's the way you have to tilt your head here. Think about how you tilt your head to look at book titles on the spine of a book. You have to tilt it to the right. Titles read from top to bottom. Wouldn't you think that kind of thing would be universal? Well, it's not. In France, titles read from bottom to top, so you have to tilt your head to the left. Go ahead, give it a try. Not just a quick tilt. Stand up, imagine you're looking at a big shelf of books and you have to stand that way for a while. Head tilted to the left. Not very comfortable is it? Or perhaps my discomfort in this position has more to do with my inflexibility when it comes to books and the selling of than my neck.
This is a very literary country. Books are a big deal here. Prices are set and book stores are not allowed to sell them at any other price. Unless they're in the clearance bin and that can only happen after a fixed amount of time after the publishing date. A HUGE deal is made about the literary prizes, Prix Goncourt and the like, and every Monsieur Untel knows who the winners are every year. There are used book stores, but not as widely developed as at home and frankly, they buy books for silly sums. 10 cents a book kind of thing.
Then there's the whole book cover thing. As I mentioned in yesterday's comments in response to Eric, the French are crap when it comes to marketing. And their books are perfect evidence of that. Millions of books are sold here with NOTHING on the front or back cover other than the name of the author, title of the book, and publisher. They make sure you can't judge a book by its cover.
I should be able to see the merit of all these differences. But I can't.
See, I told you I was inflexible.