Travel Notes

  • Arrival: Plane is 2 hour late. A dozen obnoxious sunburnt thirty-something, straight from Club Med Pataya, manage to ward 200 people off the whole luggage area thanks to their skillful use of carts and an utter disregard for basic courtesy. Oblivious to the sign reading “Information” hanging over his head, counter guy basically laughs in my face when I show up to ask where bus #305 departs. Finally sends me in the opposite direction. Welcome to France.
  • Caffeine consumption for last 3 days before turning in paper: Regain Black (3 bottles), Black Black chewing gums (2 packs), Red Bull Extra (1 can), Pure Arabica ground coffee (approx. 2 gallons).
  • Monkeys: Of course, aforementioned caffeine dosage made it somewhat difficult to sleep, even after report was finally completed. You wouldn’t believe the sort of useful stuff you learn, watching French TV at 4 in the morning. Did you know that, when you put a baboon in front of a large mirror, said baboon will never tire of attacking or threatening its own reflection, whereas the only other primate, beside Man, able to finally realize it is standing in front of itself, are chimpanzees. These critters are so smart, it’s crazy! Never will I call the POTUS, “chimpy”, ever again: that’s just mean to our brother chimpanzees.
  • Schoolmates from way back then are all finished or finishing with their studies. Most of them have embarked on lucrative careers in finances abroad. Some are getting married. A frightening number has already started investing in real estate. All in all makes me feel like I’m growing old backwards.
  • Picnic: The monastic life ended just in time for a delicious picnic organized by a bunch of French bloggers, blessed by one of the last few days of sunny Parisian weather for the year, and amidst the gorgeous setting of the Parc Floral de Paris. The oddities of my own internal clock, conjugated with the counterblow of two months of frenetic studies suddenly screeching to a halt, made for a rather contemplative, slightly sleepy and altogether not very talkative dr Dave, but it was nice to see the sun again after all this time.
  • Partying did take place. Maybe it was jetlag kicking in, or maybe my body had learnt to metabolize caffeine on its own by then, but I finally regained enough energy for a couple long evenings, busy arguing over world domination plots, drinking champagne and checking out the mind-blowing view of the city from Pierre’s terrace (technically the highest appartement within the limits of Paris, and definitely showing). Some much-needed comforting that Parisian life can be more than grey skies and malcontent cab drivers.
  • Language: Pierre noted that my French was substantially better this time around. Granted, “better” here, is the difference between a masterfully trained foreign spy and an authentic native, but Pierre’s notorious anal-retentiveness toward the French language gives extra importance to such compliment. I hang it on spending my entire month in French textbooks and going additional lengths to stay immersed in the language, so as to avoid some of the distracting back-and-forth that usually goes in my head when I try tackling a Math question in French. It’s a sad reality that, no matter how fluent a language, you will lose it if not practicing daily. Conclusion being that I ought to do something to keep things going in that direction, especially if I’ll be residing there in three months. Expect a special announcement very soon.
  • Airport: I now officially hate Paris CDG airport with a passion. I might even contemplate running over a few employees with my cart, next time I’m there. On the other hand: props to the lovely Cathay Pacific airline employee who did her best to get me on next-day’s flight back, at no cost, and even though they were in no way responsible for the retarded information counter agent who sent me to the wrong terminal on the other side of the airport (a grand total of 80 minutes to get there, realize his mistake and rush back to the correct one: enough to miss my plane).
  • Home sweet home. It’s good to be back in Tokyo. Three more month to come to terms with it and prepare psychologically to move to Paris for a more substantial duration.


  1. If I were half as proficient in English as you are in French, I would … I don’t know what I would do/be but it would be nice.
    It was great seeing you again, let’s add the finishing touches to our world domination plots in december!

  2. Ugh. CDG is horrible in terms of navigating through it! The signage is horrible – when we were there last, we heard some AIRPORT EMPLOYEES complaining about the signage. I mean, it took my wife and I, two trained architects, about 10 minutes to figure out that the way the maps are colored, the figure-ground relationships that are prevalent in most maps are REVERSED. And, when taking the RER into CDG, nowhere does it tell you that there are two CDG RER stations, or where to get off for your particular destination/airline. Welcome back to Tokyo!

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