Sunday, January 26, 2003

Tout d'abord, j'ai trouve' que mon Francais n'est pas aussi mauvais que j'avais autrefois cru.

This sentence, to a native French speaker, may prove itself to be utterly incorrect. However, it does accurately represent my conclusion after attending this excellent class. (BTW, what I wrote, or intended to say, was: "First of all, I found that my French was not as bad as I had thought.")

Did I ever mention that I spent my fifteenth summer (1971) in Phnomh Penh, Cambodia? That's where I learned French.

Quite the experience, je dois dire (I must say). The city was surrounded much of the time by the Khmer Rouge. We had no TV, just a few books (primarily cookbooks), no telephone, and my three brothers and I had nothing much with which to entertain ourselves--although I did have some fun conducting 'chemistry experiments' with U.S. Army K-rations. My parents were desperate to find something for us to do (think about it: they had four irascible children, ages 9-14, in the house--in the middle of a raging South Asian war).

My father then came up with the brilliant idea of sending me to 'une Francaise de Provence' to study French. Halfway through "Le Petit Prince," I caught on. After a few weeks, I was dreaming in French.

Re: my brothers. One was sent after a few weeks to an English missionary school in the Himalayas. The other two continued to pitch rotten eggs at the Soviet embassy residence, situated katty corner to our house. Note that this was not done out of patriotism. Au contraire, it was the somewhat unusual 'treatment' for a very particular form of ennui.

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