Frenchman accosted by scary man with big black moustache in Sydney:
We always have so much fun with Hanis, Audrey and Leslye, and to think this whole chain of events started just because I love speaking French and Dutchy had heard some people speaking French outside the hotel in Sydney. The way Hanis tells the story is hysterical. I will try to incorporate both his and our version.
I had dashed upstairs to get my cardigan because January evenings can be cool. We were celebrating our Silver Anniversary with a few days in Sydney before taking a Princess Cruise to the South Pacific. I came back down and Dutchy said, “You just missed some French people.” Disappointed, we set out for an evening of karaoke.
Hanis tells it like this: They were in Sydney when a scary man with a big black moustache accosts them with “Do you speak French?” He replied, a bit intimidated, “Yes, and you?” Of course Dutchy replied “No” which temporarily confused him until Dutchy added, “But my wife loves speaking French.” “Where is she?” “She’s not here.” Thus ended the strange interlude until…
Hours later, when we were heading back to the hotel,Dutchy exclaimed, “There they are! I recognise the hat. See that little guy with the good-looking girl?” “What guy? What girl? What on earth are you talking about?” “The French couple I mentioned earlier, from outside the hotel.” I had been trying to improve my French conversational skills with a course at Box Hill TAFE the previous year, as one of the stops would be New Caledonia, so excitedly I ran over to the alleged couple with a “Bonjour, Bonjour!”
Hanis was taken aback and as he tells it, he was now being attacked by a strange, crazy woman shouting French at him, while Audrey was wondering why this woman knew they were French in the first place.
As it transpired, we learned that Hanis spoke barely any English, but Audrey had a good handle on the language. Since I liked speaking French this was not a problem. We chatted for a while, and because we mentioned we were going to Paris later in the year, Hanis kindly gave us his mobile there, because he had found the Australians very friendly and generous and he would like to return some of that generosity.
To market, to market:
Feeling a little seedy that Saturday, we nevertheless took a tram to the markets, where the others were buying a few fruit and vegies, but I managed to find something else. It was a silvery grey bag to sling over my shoulder with the potential to hold a small laptop or Ipad, as we have realised the one we brought is too large and heavy for travelling.
Later it was necessary to have an afternoon nap, as we were going out to dinner later.
An Algerian Experience:
Though not a strict Muslim, some of Hanis’ family are. We were invited to dinner, which was to be served after sundown as it was still Ramadan. They live in a high-rise housing commission building which is in a rough area, but once inside the apartment it could have been a swish suburb. The contrast was remarkable, as here was a nicely-furnished and cared-for large apartment.
A man and woman arrived, and we were introduced to Lies, Hanis’ brother. We assumed the lady was his wife, as he was helping with the two cute children, only to later find we had assumed wrong, as she was their sister! Their respective partners were at home.
Dinner at Hanis’ mother’s house, or as we say with French grammar, at the house of the mother of Hanis, was delicious. His sister Yasmina and his mother had been cooking all day in preparation for our visit, despite the fact they couldn’t eat or taste the food during daylight hours. Never mind, it was still delicious. Years of cooking these foods stood by them.
Little triangles called “brick” contained melted cheese and were very tasty. I could have just had those with salad for dinner, but there was more to come. There were others with a seasoned meat filling. Couscous with slow-cooked lamb and vegetables were yummy too, and to personalise the taste there was extra chilli sauce, and even a couple of separate green chillies, which Dutchy loved. You can always add heat, but it’s difficult to take it away, so this suited everyone.
We adjourned to the lounge, where I sat on a fabulous zebra-striped couch and felt very exotic. There we had some after-dinner delicacies and sweetened mint tea, before departing to Le Bar Artistique, for a drink at their local hangout in Grenoble, where Hanis is friends with the owner.
American TV couple!!??
Imagine being compared with an American TV couple! Apparently Hanis’ mother thought that’s what we looked like, with my blonde hair, Dutchy’s moustache and, dare I say, being reasonably attractive. I loved every second of my celebrity, as you can envisage!
I guess being blonde is less usual in France, and although Dutchy is not so tall by Australian standards, at about 5 foot 10, there are many short Frenchman, which makes him appear taller.
Of course, we did wonder which couple they were thinking of: The Brady Bunch? The Munsters? It later appeared they were thinking of some of the soaps, which I didn’t mind, as they are usually rather gorgeous. Let me live in my little dreamworld for a while, please.