Five crazy Parisians

You never know what you’ll see when you hit the streets of Paris. From performers to beggars to local strange, there’s an endless supply of color. Everyone has a Paris story, I’m sure, involving the bizarre. So, definitely add yours to the comments below. I’ll kick the process off with five of my favorite crazy Parisians.

1. The “Bosnians”
If you’ve been to any major attractions in Paris, you’ve seen them. Clad in a flowing skirt and headscarf, the woman approaches you, asking, “Do you speak English?” Then, she unfolds an index card with a sob story about escaping from Bosnia. Reply to them in rapid French (even if your accent and vocabulary suck, as mine do), and they’ll give up easily. Early in the morning, you can see dozens of them gathered in front of Gare du Nord, as if there’s about to be a shift change. That’s the beauty of France: even the beggars seem to be unionized.

2. The Nursing Student and Bride
This is one person, actually. A young lady needed money for her upcoming honeymoon, so her fellow nursing students dressed her up and paraded her through the Latin Quarter. I just had to give her a few Euros, even if only for the performance. This was much more entertaining than the brides-to-be wearing sashes and giggling as they enter the porn shops on Eighth Ave in New York.


3. The Frightened American
When you’re lost, running late or have any other question, you rehearse in your head what you play to say – I do, at least – and unleash it on the most sympathetic-looking local while trying to sound like a pro. I found my target and cut loose. He looked scared and slowly pushed the cuff of his sleeve back to reveal his watch. The poor guy had hoped I was asking the time.

4. The Openly Intimate
Another young lady, to honor her favorite fairy tale writer, brought her bed onto Place des Abbesses in Montmartre. Like the writer, she wanted to “share her intimacy” (not in that way, sicko). You could kick off your shoes and hang out in bed with her for a while. Definitely strange, but it was an interesting concept.

5. The People Drawn to the Openly Intimate
Yeah, these drunks were real weirdoes. Unsurprisingly, Ms. Shared Intimacy packed up her bed and left by midnight.

Word for the Travel Wise (05/31/06)

Sarajevo is heating up as a tourist destination and for several reasons. For the moment I’ll focus on culture and events. After glancing over the tourism website for the city and country it is quite obvious the visitor will not bore easily considering the amount of activity to soak up and in. May marked a month of theater and those with departures set for June can count on a month full of Rock sounds. If you can afford to stay a while longer or hold off until July there is what looks to be an incredible music plus culture find in Sarajevo’s old Turkish quarter. Held during summer months the festival is titled Bascarsija Nights and offers folk dancing, opera, ballet, rock, poetry and love songs. Best thing about this particular festival is it is free of charge. So what’s the hold up? Doesn’t a summer in Sarajevo sound nice?

Today’s word is a Bosnian word used in Bosnia-Herzegovina:

putovanje – travel

For Bosnia-Herzegovina there are three official languages which include: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. All three are a lot alike where the language is referred to as Bosnian by Bosniaks in Bosnia-Herzegovina and referred to as Serbian and Croatian by Bosnian Serbs and Croats. (See Wikipedia.) There are a few cool places online to help get you started on the road to speaking like a Bosniak. If you’re unfamiliar with spoken Bosnian and pronunciation start with the BBC Languages Quick Fix guide where audio downloads are available for the very basics. Languages of the World has great background information and history on the lang with a few words peppered in on their webpage. Lastly, check out this Bosnian for travelers page where you can score an large amount of words, phrases and the answers to questions you’re bound to have for free and in one quick swoosh.