I start my 4th week living in Bxl. After nearly 4 years spent in Berlin, I –secretely- expected Belgian people to be like the Germans: silent, handsome and
guilty serious. Well, in a sense, they are.
“-Prune. Post. Please.
– Do you have any idea of topic?
No clue. Of course! But it’s a surprise. ”
I just landed. In the city and in the heart of European institutions. Still in a kind of "urban jet-lag", I remain shell-shocked by Brussels and its inhabitants.
The city is sooo confusing: it feels like in the South but geographically you are in the deep North. The
slowness coolness of the service in cafés and the panorama of rubbish in the streets make you think you are in Naples. Indeed there are bins all through the city, but those are “recycled bins” and classified. That shows a Scandinavian ecological conscience AND a let's ay, a Greek conception of city planning.
My compatriots always used to think of Belgium as a kind of “sous-(f) France”. We are awful. Odious. Sorry, simply French. Because the country is so small and so close to our own territory, we come here as “colonizator”, like in a ‘terra conquista’. Mistake. Bad mistake.
First of all, Belgian people have an amazing sense of precision. Yesterday, in a restaurant, I paid my “entrecote”, 18 euros 72 cents. They could propose a bill of 18 or 19 euros. No, no: it was 18 euros and 72 cents.
On the other hand, public transports can be quite approximative: in the subway, it is not unusual to wait 30 minutes, though the info panel indicates an “imminent” arrival of the train.
Freshly arrived in the first bar, I ordered a “demi”. The waiter looked at me and said, deeply grumpy, that “here, the ‘demi’ doesn’t exist. Except if you want to have a pint.” I was so desperated that I ended up with a “glass” of Chilean wine.
And you have to face it : nothing works here. I mean, nothing works as we, French people, are expecting it to work. And the similarity of the language only adds to our confusion. We feel at home. But we are not. Even if the locals say “bonjour” et ‘je te dis quoi”, Belgium remains exotic. There is nothing to buy except chocolate.
Instead of mocking our neighbours, bashing the Parisians –and the French- should also become a European tradition. And not only the other way round.
Just take a look at THE viral video spread all over Facebook last week. “Ce que disent les parisiens” by MylittleParis: http://www.mylittleparis.com/ce-que-disent-les-parisiens.html