Family / Community

The private sphere also finds its share in social-issues

Coincidences? Globality!

What happened last October 30 overawed me. Was it a desirable coincidence? Was it pure luck? Was it the work of what my Polish student calls an “angel” (a word she uses when a fortunate situation passes my way)? Whereas, my French friend said: “C’est magique”. I have no way to test these suppositions, so I have decided to share this story with you; you might have ideas about it too.

I was scheduled to be interviewed by the co-founder of the podcast “Qui a peur du feminisme” (Who is scared of feminism) at 7 pm. At 6:25, I got a text from a former student’s daughter saying they had left something outside our apartment door. When I opened the door, they had gone.

I put the paper bag under my desk and resumed practising my pronunciation of French words that I was likely to use during the interview. (Though I live in France, I hardly use this tricky language). The interview was on Zoom; at 6:50, I started to have a mixed feeling of anxiousness and boredom. So, I opened the bag and was surprisingly glad to see a beautifully wrapped t-shirt with the phrase “Excuse my French”. I put this t-shirt on right away, just on time for the interview. How appropriate for the occasion!

My former student’s family saw this t-shirt while shopping in Metz and thought of me. They decided to go out of their way to drop it in my place. Only my husband knew that I would be interviewed that evening, and he didn’t tell them.

ジュ・テーム

French words Je t'aime (meaning I love you) written in flashy yellow on the sidewalk in the streets of Luxembourg

歩道のJe t'aimeという落書き。ルクセンブルク駅から自宅近くまで、5〜6メートルごとにジュ・テームと書いてある。警察署の前にもあった。好きな子の目につくように、小学生が書いたのだろうか。Je t'aimeの最終目的地は、近所の小学・中学校だろうか。

小室圭さんが「私は眞子さんを愛しています」と公然とおっしゃった。

そう「私はあなたを愛している」という「両性の合意」以外に、婚姻の自由に必要なものはない。日本女性がエージェンシーを持ち自由に生きようとすると、かなり極端に社会からはみ出てしまう、というようなことをDavid Muraが(おそらくTurning Japanese)に書いていたのを思い出した。日本を離れたプリンセスも、その例だと思う。

Kindness

Last month, I requested information from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research (known here as CEDIES). I was surprised to receive a response at 11 in the evening, just when I was about to switch off my phone. At first, I thought it was a scam or something, but it was the help I needed. Hence, I thanked the male sender and added, “I hope you’ll receive a trophy for working very late”. He answered, “Thank you for your kind words. We have been receiving many enquiries due to our move to online application and sometimes there’s a bug in the system, so I have to work longer”.

Was he only doing his job, or he is a naturally kind and helpful person? His kindness was evident in our email exchanges afterwards.

Two weeks later, I received an email from an EU public servant at 9:08 PM on a Sunday. I thanked him for the list I requested and said, “You deserve a gold medal for working on a Sunday evening?” He wrote back explaining that he would have meetings all day on Monday and didn’t want me to be inconvenienced for not having it.

Another kind and considerate public servant! Has work ethic, mentality, or behaviour been impacted by the COVID pandemic or teleworking? I hope this doesn’t jeopardise their personal relationships.

Le Salon Jaune de Bruxelles

  • Bird and Cat side by side and staring in the. same direction with the Cat giving a leg up to the Bird (an original design by Yuri-san)
  • Dog posing (an original design by Yuri-san)

Ce sac en coton biologique (30 x 40 cm) a été conçu par Yuri, une des filles de mon amie Ako. Yuri est prometteuse. Ako est une artiste, une amie des animaux et une coiffeuse à Bruxelles. Ako est une femme d'action, avec une attitude “on peut le faire!”. Ce sac est né de l'amour familial. Si vous passez à Bruxelles, n'hésitez pas à vous arrêter au salon de coiffure pour une coupe de cheveux ou une discussion !

Jaune
Viaductstraat 33
1050 Ixelles, Belgium

0475 40 59 46

The Salon Jaune in Brussels

  • Bird and Cat side by side and staring in the. same direction with the Cat giving a leg up to the Bird (an original design by Yuri-san)
  • Dog posing (an original design by Yuri-san)

This organic cotton bag (30 x 40 cm) is designed by Yuri, a daughter of my friend Ako. Yuri shows promise. Ako is an artist, animal lover, and hairdresser in Brussels. Ako is an action woman, with a can-do attitude. This bag was born out of family love. If you happen to be in Brussels, please stop by the salon for a haircut or for a chat!

Jaune
Viaductstraat 33
1050 Ixelles, Belgium

0475 40 59 46

ゆめのバッグ

Bird and Cat side by side and staring in the same direction with the Cat giving a leg up to the Bird (an original design by Yuri-san)

ベルリン、パリ、ニューヨーク、シカゴ、東京、バーリ、プラハ、ルクセンブルク。

髪を切ってもらうのも、旅の楽しみのひとつだ。ウインドウから覗いて、ここは良さそうだと思うと、3回くらいぐるぐると美容院のまわりを回って確かめる。そのような直感は、まず外れることはない。

イタリアのバーリでは、居合わせたお客さんたちがわざわざ通訳してくれた。「あなたは本当に幸運ね。ここのオーナーはマエストロなのよ」と言われた。窓越しに見えるマダムもなじみ客らしい。満足気に髪をさわりながら、仕事中の彼に「人生の歓を尽くす」感のあいさつを送って行った。気に入った髪型って、それくらい心を波打たせるものですね。

この頃、私はもっぱらブリュッセルの Akoさんに髪を切ってもらっている。マラケッシュで詐欺もどきに会ったことを、アコさんに話したら「お金って、そんなことしてもらうものじゃない」ときっぱりとおっしゃった。彼女の明快さ。プロフェッショナリズム。3匹の犬と安らぎ。交遊。そういうアコさんが好きで、折々通っている。

。。。下につづく

What’s behind a name?

I facilitate an English roundtable in Luxembourg every Friday, and we discuss professional, social and personal-interest topics. Last month, it was about names; one of the participants mentioned a girl initially called Nutella, a popular hazelnut chocolate spread. I checked it out and came across a Guardian’s article about a couple from Valenciennes in northern France who registered their daughter Nutella (source seen on 04/052021). The registrar alerted the local prosecutor, who referred the case to a family court judge. The court ruled that Nutella is a commercial brand and such a name was against the girl’s interests as it would cause “mockery or disobliging remarks”. The couple had to rename her Ella, which means a pleasant young woman.

According to Ms Catharine Smith (source seen 04/05/21), an Egyptian father, Jamal Ibrahim, named his daughter “Facebook” to honour the social media site’s role in Egypt’s revolution. Ms Smith quoted this from TechCrunch newspaper: “A young man in his twenties wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of 25th of January have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl “Facebook”.

In Marcio’s Italian family, all the children’s names start with the letter M. According to Marie-Pierre, her name’s male version is Pierre-Marie. The Arabic name Shadi means happiness. Do names reflect an individual’s personality? There are studies that show names make a difference in professional, social and financial standing.

アキラ

eXtinction Rebellion Luxembourg

ボクの名前はアキラ。クロサワのアキラです。9ヶ月です。生まれはベルギー、種はアメリカン・アキタ、飼主はドイツ人です。ルクセンブルクに住んでいます。パパは「アキ」と呼びます。おとなしいので、ワンとも吠えませんが。ボクは元気玉です。

今日は友人宅に来ました。あまりの嬉しさに、横断歩道の真ん中でうんち(馬ほどの)をしてしまいました。が、パパがきれいにしてくれました。それから皆で森に行きました。やたらとヒトの匂いをかぐのは、失礼な田舎犬だと注意されました。秋田犬は寒いのが好きだと言って、大の大人が男二人で、ボクを噴水の中に入れようとしたのでムッとしましたが。サチエが止めてくれました。

このうちには植物がいっぱいあるので、体温調整ができて気持ちいいです。ちょうど目の高さに、お米をといだ水が陶器に入っていたので、(花にあげようととっといたのよ〜)それをいっぱい飲みました。真水より美味しいかったです。肉屋ワグナーのソーセージを食べて、チーズも舐めました。また遊びにこよう〜。(写真では見づらいですが。アキラのお腹の模様と色相は、墨絵のように美しい)

Masks Mia, Here We Go Again! - Worse Before Better

In March 2020, I thought the pandemic would be less threatening by August; it wasn’t so, and we had to cancel our summer holiday. In November, I was sure we could spend Christmas with our sons in England; it did not happen. In December, I thought 2021 would be pandemic-free due to the rolling out of vaccines in Europe and some countries; wrong! Then, came the British, South African and Brazilian variants. Here in France, the 6 PM – 6 AM curfew was not adequate to stop the infection figures from climbing; so, the Government decided to close its borders for non-EU travellers. It’s impossible for my Aussie friends to visit me, and it’s unlikely that I’ll be Down Under for my sister’s 60th birthday.

I used to associate relaxation with watching TV and movies, reading and browsing online. Currently, these are not enough to chill me out. With limited human interaction, I have incorporated routines that make me jump and sweat in front of my screen (either TV or computer) alone. These passive and active activities disconnect me from my teaching (which has shrunk significantly since March 2020) and house chores, which is known as psychological detachment.

Giving and Receiving

How was your holiday? Ours what unusual and unexpected. We planned to spend Christmas in London, where our first son lives. In mid-December, London was on tier/level 4 lockdown (residents were strictly housebound); therefore, we thought of taking the train or bus to Oxford where it was level 2 (restaurants and shops were opened). We would then meet up with our second son, who lives in Canley in the southwest of Coventry near Warwick University. It was a blessing in disguise that our flight was cancelled the night before our scheduled departure because the next day the British Government included Oxford on its tier 4 list. We would have been stuck in London quarantined in a low-budget hotel without the certainty of returning to France by the first week of January 2021. Instead, we had a virtual family Christmas party on the 25th with carols and quizzes.

We’re still in the period of giving and receiving gifts. So far, what have you given and/or received?

My husband is a football enthusiast and enjoys watching the English Premier and European League; a ticket to one of their matches would have been an easy choice. As sports were televised only due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was more realistic to accompany him in our attic and watch from our bedroom’s skylight the pigeons compete over grains and worms.

Sommes-nous vraiment prêts à retourner à notre routine ?

eXtinction Rebellion Luxembourg

Avant de retourner à la routine, des débats, discussions et autres examens publics sont nécessaires.

Il était près de 19h15. Nous nous promenions près du pont Adolphe, à mi-chemin entre la gare de Luxembourg et le centre-ville. Nous avons entendu les sirènes des véhicules d'urgence; au moins six camions de pompiers et ambulances se précipitaient vers la gare. Plus tard, nous apprenions qu'un incendie s'était déclaré dans notre voisinage. Toutes sortes d'équipes de professionnels ont agi rapidement pour stopper cet incendie à Luxembourg. Pendant ce temps, de nombreux incendies continuent à ravager l'Amazonie, au Brésil, au beau milieu de cette pandémie:

« la déforestation en Amazonie a atteint un niveau record depuis janvier. Cette déforestation est de 55% supérieure à celle de la même période de 2019. » (source: France Info)

La forêt pluviale amazonienne est populairement appelé le « poumon de la Terre ». Même si cette analogie est incorrecte, sa capacité d'absorption (entre 20 et 25% des émissions de dioxide de carbone planétaires) est loin d'être négligeable. Ironiquement, au même moment, nous subissons le coronavirus qui s'attaque principalement aux poumons. Peut-être, faut-il aussi y voir une métaphore ?

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Comment tenir bon durant le confinement ? Notre cas luxembourgeois (3)

Hyowon Chi - musicien professionnel vient jouer sur son balcon

6) Concerts aux balcons

Un jour mon compagnon m’a dit : « Peux-tu entendre de la musique ? Une flûte ». Je n’entendais rien. Mais il a insisté. Alors, je l’ai entendue faiblement et j’ai donc ouvert une fenêtre. Nous avons alors vu quelqu’un jouer de la flûte traversière sur le balcon d’un immeuble tout proche. C'était un voisin qui rétrospectivement s’est avéré être coréen. Par la suite, nous avons constaté que ce petit intermède musical arrivait tous les midis comme une pause dans notre longue journée de confinés en l’égayant d’un moment de réconfort et d’oubli du virus. « Notre » musicien se nomme Hyowon Chi et il est flûtiste professionnel.

Selon Hyowon, au début de l’initiative, il était prévu de jouer en duo avec son amie Hélène (flûtiste à l'OPL) qui habite un autre immeuble juste à côté du nôtre. Tous les jours, de leur balcon respectif, ils auraient joué ensemble mais il s’est avéré impossible d'être synchronisés à cause de la distance. Nous aurions bien eu besoin d’un « petit » Seiji Ozawa dans notre voisinage. Alors, ils ont décidé de jouer tous les jours à midi à tour de rôle. C'est ainsi que leurs concerts de balcon ont commencé depuis le 19 mars quand il faisait encore assez froid.

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Comment tenir bon durant le confinement ? Notre cas luxembourgeois (2)

Résident permanent

2) DIY : Réparer et recycler les choses

Cet objet non identifié a été sauvé par mon compagnon des poubelles de notre immeuble d’où il essayait de s’échapper... je parle bien du petit alien et pas de mon compagnon… :-) Après une bonne séance de nettoyage pour les deux (douche et lavage à la main… je vous laisse deviner qui a pris l’option douche), le nouveau venu est resté assis dans le salon pendant quelques mois en attendant les pièces pour le réparer.

Dans l’intervalle, mon bricoleur a fini de recoudre son sac-à-dos (que le cordonnier refusait de réparer), en utilisant des outils qu’il n’avait encore jamais vus (achetés sur Internet à un prix très modeste : 25 euros) et en apprenant les techniques de couture du cuir grâce à des vidéos trouvées en-ligne. Le sac est à présent plus solide qu’il ne l’a jamais été.

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Dancing at home!

This is so cool! soooo Luxembourgish! This nice little song reminds us that we are not “separate islands,” but a part of the larger society! Solidarity!

「コロナウイルスは今やここに」「外に出ないで、家で踊りましょう」「2メール距離をおいて、手洗い励行」「病人、虚弱な人、お年寄り、そして彼らをケアする人たちのことを私は想ってますよ」という手作り感のある連帯のビデオです。ルクセンブルク社会が、一瞥できると思います。

Danzt doheem

Si soten : « O mei, de Virus ass elo hei
a Schutzmoossname gëtt et eng ganz Rei.
Beim Schwätze respektéiert zwee Meter Distanz
a wäsch deng Fanger sou oft s de kanns. »

Mediation and negotiation

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate".
- John F. Kennedy (35th US President)

Our current society is competitive, demanding and complex that conflict has become a part of modern day living. There are squabbles or disagreements among colleagues, neighbours, friends, family members, and even strangers. The common causes of office disaccord are work style differences, personality clashes, and sense of unfairness. Many complaints made to the Police concern noises, fences, trees, rubbish and stray pets that turn neighbours into foes.

According to www.unifiedlawyers.com, the world's divorce rate has increased by 251.8% since 1960. Nowadays, nearly half of marriages end up in divorce with Luxembourg topping the list (87%) followed by Spain (65%), France (55%), Russia (51%) and the USA (46%). India (1%) and Chile (3%) have the lowest rates. The most common reason given for divorce is incompatibility, which is nearly thrice that of infidelity. When marriage breaks down, in the majority of cases, those concerned knock non-hesitantly on lawyers' doors and rush to tribunals or courts.

The legal system is long and costly, whereas mediation and arbitration involve much less time and money; but why do many people opt for the former? Why don't they resolve conflict by mediation and negotiation?

In mediation, a neutral person helps disputants to come to a consensus on their own. Mediators allow conflicting parties to vent their feelings and expose their grievances, but they don't impose their solution. It's the conflicting parties that decide on the outcome of the negotiation. The mediators can help them come up with a resolution that is sustainable and nonbinding.

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