Home for Christmas

I’m back home, in Paris, for Christmas week. It’s the 1st time I come home since I left for Japan 2 years ago (I had an 18 hour stopover once in early 2006 on my way to a business trip in Czech Republic but it doesn’t really count).

It really feels strange to be back in the motherland. First there’s the obvious culture shock: I wasn’t even off the plane when the pilot announces over the PA system that there are abandoned luggage near our gate’s conveyor and we’d have to wait 15-20min for the police to “secure the premises”…

where's the bomb squad?

So we were 35min early, no biggy still 20min ahead of schedule when this hurdle clears up. We’re finally let off the plane, but then right before getting to immigration, a security gate blocks us for no obvious reasons. Again we wait, 15 minutes, no information from any airport staff, and when finally we’re let through I check the time and it’s exactly the time we were supposed to land. I guess it would’ve looked bad on the record to let people out early.

Anyways, enough with tales of the great efficiency of Paris’ Charles de Gaulles international airport. Worse than that for me is walking on the streets of Paris or taking the Metro and listening to all the meaningless conversations around me. It irritates me to unfathomable levels.

I can’t help it: living in Japan, you develop a superhuman capacity to spot your own language from great distances (kind of like Spiderman’s danger detection spider-sense). But when I’m back home, this ability backlashes and I go into sensory-overload, unable to tune-out or ignore the dullest dribbles of conversations in my vicinity.

It’s hell on earth, and I find myself seeking the soothing sound of Japanese tourists’ high-pitched 「すてき!!!」 and other exclamations in front of Notre-Dame…