Customer Service in France

ImageEvery tourist in France has been, one time or another, snooted by the famously snooty restaurant waiters or attendants in France. I came across this delightful comic called ‘Raymond Calbuth’ and I just had to have this particular strip put up of Monsieur Raymond Calbuth, a retired man in his late 50’s, never stepped a foot out of his country or even neighborhood, but who has the wildest imagination for adventure. Even stepping into Mc Donalds is a mysterious gastronomic adventure for him.

The thing what tickled me most was the stoic face of the Mc Donald server. Of course,  M. Calbuth does make a silly impression of himself while ordering for burgers and fries, but the stoic face of the waiter carries the expression of one who’s seen it all and nothing can faze him. Really hilarious! I will translate each strip out to expose what M Calbuth has to say..


M Calbuth orders what he wants to the waiter : ‘Well, boy, I’ve consulted the menu. So, for entrée, I would like a cheese hambourgeois (many senior French have difficulty pronouncing hamburger), followed by a grand Mc bourgeois, drenched well in the Sauce Ketchup.

Image‘As garnish, I would like match-stick potatoes, then a milk shake flavoured with strawberry. What would you recommend as accompaniment to the meats? Ok, a good quality of this fizzy black drink… which I would like to have a taste of first. ‘ (he’s ordering coca cola)

Image‘ Hmm, Well, it doesn’t have a certain taste.. Is it of the year 1987? A good year for the Coca. It thrills the palate, is lively, …’ (He goes on into a lively description of the coke as though it’s a wine of a quality year).

ImageCalbuth : ‘Haha! Did you see the face of that boy? I just gave such a blow to the ideologie of fast food, and to the American imperialism! Haha, Calbuth, you are a hard one!’

Living in France for a while, I’ve come to understand that as much as the French love their own food, and particularly look down upon American junk food, they go weak-kneed for hamburgers. (Remember Inspector Cluseau from the Pink Panther?) Mac Donalds are found in surprising plentifuls all over the country, even in remote villages. And almost every Mc Donalds is almost always crowded, something that one couldn’t say for all others French restaurants.

Speaking of French customer service, here’s another delightful excerpt I found in an excellent book called ‘Merde Actually’ written by Stephen Clarke.

‘French waiters are professionals, I realized, and too many of their customers are so damn amateurish.

For a professional waiter, dealing with amateur customers is like a tennis pro who never gets the ball knocked back to him. Of course he could content himself serving ace after ace, but where’s the fun in that? Good waiters enjoy the game, they like an opponent with style.

They send over a brisk request to order, the customer returns with a crisply hit choice from the menu, the waiter meets it at the net and crashes in a volley about wine, which the client can only lob back in the form of a plea for advice. The waiter smashes home the vin du mois and the point is won. There are similarly tight exchanges about dessert and coffee and everyone gets a good workout.

But what if a customer doesn’t even understand the whole concept of the serve? What is this round, bouncy thing that is being hit towards me, the tennis virgin wonders, and what should I do with it? It’s no wonder the waiters occasionally get frustrated and overcharge amateurs for wasting their time.

Hang on a minute, I thought, what’s going on here? Someone get me a mirror. i think I’m mutating into a French waiter!’


My artwork on bathroom tubes

ImageSomehow, my husband and I weren’t too joyful in having plain white functional tubes running up in the bathroom, in full view. My husband proposed the idea of having cabinets over them to hide them, and I was quite OK with the idea.

The cabinets somehow never came and I was itching to take out my paintbrushes and make some kind of art over them. I was a bit nervous when I first started out, because I would be using up a lot of my time for them, and I wanted the end result to look good. Plus it’s been a while I took out my paintbrushes!

The height of the bathroom is 3 meters and the tubes run almost that length. However, my artwork is confined to only one meter, that is, the part of the tubes seen from the first ledge upwards. Here is a series of photographs so you can see and perhaps enjoy the transition, from the boring white tubes to something I can look at every morning and go hmmm… 🙂

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage    By the way, I got inspiration for the house above the orange tree from this particular house in my neighborhood.


ImageImageImage   I must say I did not start this project knowing exactly that I wanted to draw. If I did, then the enormity of the project would have made me keep putting it off. I completed this painting in about a month. That long because it also included a few days of me going out of the country. I tackled the ideas one at a time. I knew from the start that I wanted the thinner tubes to be surrounded by vines. I had no idea what to do for the bigger tube. Something fancy, yet homely.

I wanted a little child to be drawn, and I wanted it to be a girl. I had to think about her posture, whether she should face me, what dress she should wear etc. The orange tree was done easily. But it was challenging for me to vision what could be above the orange tree. Husband suggested I continue the orange tree all the way up just like the vines. The idea couldn’t hold true with me because of course orange trees aren’t like vines, they are just big bushy compact things. Would I draw fields and then the sky above and then maybe an aeroplane flying? I got my inspiration while walking around my neighborhood and seeing this lovely house with French windows and slated tile roof and that little attic window. The idea of the weather vane came from the church in our neighborhood.

Here’s a pic of my good friend’s daughters who I couldn’t resist including in the post because I felt their charm of being just little girls fit quite well with my painting.


Ribbon Embroidery part 4

Image Here’s yet another ribbon embroidery that I finished yesterday. It took me 4 days to make it ( well, if I didn’t get distracted by all the things that a usual day brings, I guess I could finish it in a day!). I took this photo in the evening light hence the orangish hue of the photo.

ImageMy husband found a strong twig and fitted it in a hole on this wall and I was able to have my hoop balanced on it. Doesn’t it look nice with the ancient wall around it? 🙂 When I’d decided to make the project, I hunted for an appropriate short saying or quote. I like to combine my art or craft work with a few inspiring words and I thought this line was both apt for my project and in a sense, lovely.

ImageThis is the first time I used beads in my embroidery and I think it looks quite nice. I’ve used it to denote fruits in this embroidery. Except for the writing, which I stitched using 2 different coloured thread strands, I used even the trunk of the tree using ribbons. I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures!