Saturday, July 07, 2012
Belgium as it comes
I am not a posting person, but considering the sadness with which my friends bade me farewell (or adieu) I feel obligated to report some of the circumstances of my new life on the old continent. First, our gravest suspicions were absolutely true: the local people do speak a foreign language. They refer to it as fronce, which raises a suspicion that they consider it French. If so, they are mistaken. Surely a person like me who can fluently read francais and has spent his entire live listening to light French pop would be able to understand more than three words in a half-hour monologue containing an explanation of how to operate a local public washer. I suspect they speak a dialect of Swahili with, judging by the amount of hands' waving, some elements of Italian. Strangely enough, these Italian elements they use only in their conversations with me.
I have attempted to introduce Belgian people to the normal human language, a language that all people who hold the names of Madonna and Justin Bieber dear. Most of them defied my every effort. The only encouragement I had during these frustrating attempts is the knowledge, that somewhere to the north, in wild forests of Ghent and Antwerp there is another group of people whose language the local people would even less inclined to speak. So my situation is not so bad, after all I could have been a Fleming.
The language issue aside, the main difference between the Canadians and Belgians that I have spotted so far is that the Belgians refuse under any circumstances to smile and say hello to people they don't know. Unfortunately I am in a position of the ultimate person they don't know so I get no hellos at all. Had I not spent so much time in Canada being spoiled daily by the people I saw for the first and the last time of my life, I could have been fine, but I am not. This whole situation is exacerbated by the fact that when I do smile at them they tend to cross over to the other side of the street or to pretend to have discovered a sudden need to fumble for a branch or other heavy objects under their feet.
Finally this whole issue of food. It's plenty, cheap and tasty. I am surrounded by temptations and as you might know my new year determination has run thin in February. I gave in to gluttony completely and unreservedly. Yesterday I brought home five kinds of sausages that looked most inviting on the shelf in my local deli. When I came home I discovered that they all were pork. If I had a Rabbi, I would definitely had something to talk with him about.
The Belgian quirks notwithstanding, I have to admit that in terms of beauty the town I live in is unparallel by anything I have ever seen before. I am quite certain now that the bunch of prison architects that took over Canada are personae non gratae in Belgium. That's how I imagine Disneyland to be. So all in all, I miss Canada, but for now I am too busy with being enchanted and overwhelmed to really feel bad.
Best regards to all my friends in Canada,