At HEC Paris, mvlti svnt vocati, pavci vero electi!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What a break...what an experience I am having!

I did tell you spring break was coming soon but I just had not expected it to come and go (going!) so quickly! Last Friday, we had our last exam for the term, in Statistics, and when it finished at mid-day, one could see the relief on a lot of faces - we had just finished Core 1, the toughest phase as we are told! Hurray! The exam was definitely not set to be finished in two hours and, except for a few, nobody finished all the questions. Luckily, the last two questions, which most of us missed, were only worth 3 points. And so we promised not to talk about it again and hit the K-fet, the place where we get cheap beer and pizzas on campus. We spent the afternoon drinking and consuming tonnes of snacks and pizza slices though I restricted myself to just a pint or two as I was driving to see the property we were buying later on in the evening. I will come to this later but once I had dropped off my son and left the car with my wife, I took the metro to meet up with a classmate from New Zealand and hit the bars of Paris. A fellow classmate had organised an 'end-of-semester' dinner and so there we went. Fast forward four hours and I find myself drunkenly dancing on a bench of a stage in Cafe Oz, where fellow batchmates from the September intake had also arrived to celebrate somebody's B'Day. It was a great night out, a great way to say goodbye to Core 1, and welcome the break.

On Saturday, some old amis of my wife came over for lunch and, as always, I had time for a nap between formage and coffee! ;-) After a seemingly endless run of delightful courses, we decided to go for a walk and discover a new place in Jouy. Hidden away in the forest, not too far from our house, we found a lake and a children's play area and so the evening was spent loitering on the edges of the lake. About this time, for some unknown reason, I decided to give Ubuntu (Oo-bun-too), a free Linux based Operating System, a go and spent the Sunday installing it on my laptop. On Wikipedia, Ubuntu is defined as, "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity" or "I am what I am because of what we all are". Such a great thought! But guess what, while I was busy learning the steps of making Ubuntu recognise the Wanadoo wireless network we have, our neighbour, an alumnus of the HEC MBA program, came over to say someone had entered their property and stolen his laptop! I mean, where did all these 'universal bond' and "I am what I am because of what we all are" go? Pretty ironical, I thought! Alongwith the laptop, he has lost hundreds of photos of his new born daughter, who is currently in Brazil with her mum - and I can really relate to him in terms of how I would feel if I lost all of my son's early-stage photos.

On Lundi, a former industry colleague of mine from the UK, came over for lunch (she came to run the Paris marathon!) and, as she has been adventurous enough to start a B&B chain beginning in Morocco in Africa, I also invited a Moroccan classmate of mine and a Canadian friend with heritage in Sierra Leone. So, over a bottle of champagne and plenty of pizza slices in the green and pleasant settings of our house (imagine birds chirping in the background), we talked about life, work, challenges, and generally just chilled out. Later on in the afternoon, after my friends had left, I headed for the estate agent where we finally signed the papers needed to buy an apartment! So, we are now the proud owners of a biggish apartment that needs new wiring, a new bathroom, a new kitchen, new wallpapers, and the good old wooden floor needs a good scrub! God bless us for being so confident that we can turn this property around! To keep things moving, I have drawn the first floorplan of the apartment and it looks great! On paper, at least! The strength is in being able to imagine that this will come true someday and keep going. A good friend recently asked me how I manage to cope with all of life's hurdles and still stay so cheerful. My answer was that, every morning, I promise myself I will be happy. As they say, "those who wish to sing always find a song". Metaphorically speaking, of course, as singing is not one of my skills! :-)

And today...well, what can I say. I finally found out what French bureaucracy means. Last week or about 10 days ago, we were told that I should either be able to renew my Titre de Sejour (TdS) application receipt or have my TdS today. And, I need this to be able to leave France (for London tomorrow) and come back. But, when I got to the Prefecture, I was told that they had run out of tickets for the day and I was there well before they opened! A colleague from HEC had also arrived for his work permit and went back home very disappointed and with some very flowery words describing the system. Anyway, returning to my situation, I explained in whatever French I know that I was told I could collect my TdS and I need it to go to London tomorrow but they refused to heed. I asked for an extension and that too they refused. I was just banging my head against a big wall of human flesh! I kept trying and eventually the guards came and the cops (actually they came for someone else but had me worried for a sec) and even sought the help of my wife via phone. Nothing worked and, frustrated, I came back home. You see, one cannot leave France with the receipt of the first Carte de Sejour application, and enter back (a lot of posts on the web say this is possible but I believe this is meant mostly for citizens from countries with which France has an agreement for short-term visa-free travel; an Indian friend is having to apply for another short-term visa to be able to return). After I got home, I continued pestering the prefecture and haggled, very gently and nicely (if there is such a thing), seeking an explanation for why I was told it could be done/collected and why I could not this morning. Finally, I spoke to a gentleman who understood my situation (I explained that I can't miss my company meeting), checked the system thoroughly and said the computer system said the TdS was ready but it was not physically available in the Prefecture - voila! Great, but that does not solve my problem...donc I requested him for a letter so that I could use it to re-enter France on Thursday. He agreed but still insisted it was up to the immigration officers to decide whether to let me in or not - I said fine and we agreed to rendezvous in the afternoon at the Prefecture for me to collect the letter. I get there and, guess what, the lady at the counter recognises my name in one shot and says my TdS is ready! I mean, WHAT! I am really happy that it is ready but WHAT! She said they could not find it this morning! Ahem...nevermind, I now have my TdS and I am happily going to London tomorrow and should hopefully be allowed back into the country. You will know in the next blog! What an experience!

Amongst all these, if you have been visiting my blog regularly, you ask what happened to the potty training part. Well, I am trying but the boy thinks the potty is some kind of toy that he can play with in the bath. He just doesn't realise that it is for kaka and not a toy. I guess he is still growing up and, someday, I will succeed...or so, I hope.

The Forest

The saddle shaped mini-lake

The floor plan

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  • congrats on the "new" place! and yes, your secrets are safe with me :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:34 pm  

  • Hahaha...merci! I think I know who you are. :-)

    By Blogger Vagabond, at 7:55 pm  

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