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You can't believe how fast I ran to get a glimpse at this last eclipse of the millenium, as if my life depended on it, ta baba rabi ! Well maybe you, poor Anglo-American-Tunisians did not even know we were having such a feast out here in Europe, maybe you don't even know me because my page on the Harissa site is in French, well, come and check me out on my very neglected home page (I can't help it, since I got hosted by Jack, I just don't feel like updating my own page...but if I get the feeling something needs to be done, I'll do it, promise!).
Soooooooooooooooooooo (I am trying my best to convey some Tunisian-French accent in English...however, if my French is very
"tunisified" at times, I reckon...that my English is not! Still, soooooooooooooooooooooooo, before I give you my very personal report on the eclipse, I will serve you the kemia, if you still know
what that is, but a kemia accommodated at the Sushi-Sechuan fashion as my trip started by a week in Tokyo and three days in Shanghai. Well, for Tokyo, I'll make it short, the more I go there the less I like it...It is sort of too clean and disciplined for my Tunisian hereditary messy background...I prefer overcrowded China, it's sort of more Mediterranean!
So, despite the fact that Japanese don't stare at you the way the Chinese do, I can't help it, I feel at home in China...can you believe a Tunisian who might have been a Chinese in a previous life...? In any case, since you did not know why I was in Japan, 'cause you are illiterate in French...I'll make it even shorter than on my French page. I attended an applied linguistics congress because I happen to be a sociolinguist, thus I don't know where I apply as a linguist, but I am being told that's what I am...an applied linguist!
You did not get this, does not matter, just visit Shanghai if you get the chance, you'll just love it if you are a fan of NY and HK, because this city is just a cocktail of those two magic cities, except it is 10 times bigger...and if you really go there fast, you will be able to catch a glance of those traditional courtyards where 4 generations still live under one roof. That's fascinating ! But beware, the City is growing at an amazing rate, they might have been destroyed just by the time I finish typing this account. Just mark my word, Shanghai indefinitely a City of the 21st Millenium...so watch out...but since you Tunisian-Americans are all in business, you are just smiling 'cause you already know this bloody city by heart, having ordered all your Schmatess from there since the past 10 years...so I'll stop here the kemia, you are too business oriented, and I'll get to the fact...too bad, I still had to serve the Torchi and the spicy carrots...that'll teach you a lesson...Ha! But for those who don't know the place and assume that English is the lingua franca of the planet, I've got a great piece of news here, the hands talk, like your Tunisian family does when they get excited, well, that'll definitely be of a better use than English in China and Japan, so have a deep introspective trip into your family gestual history prior to making a trip there, that'll come handy!

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, in the plane bringing me back from Shanghai to Paris, I took the rare opportunity of the AIR FRANCE pilot not being on strike,quite exceptionally, to abuse of his presence by asking him where I should watch the Eclipse. Indeed, initially, I had thought about watching it from the City of Epernay, just because I fancied a bit of Champagne after all this sake. The pilot told me that in fact the weather forecast was rather mitigated for the region of Epernay and that at the time of the Eclipse, the only bit of clear sky would be in the Normandy Region, over the city of Etretat....So, having arrived at 5 p.m. in Paris, had dinner with the friend who was supposed to accompany me but preferred to be ill instead, thus not in a state to travel at 3:00 a.m....and I went there like a big girl on my own, despite Jack's doubts about a Tunisian woman being able to breath without the protective presence of a male...you know this old story and the fish and the bicycle....
Soooooooo, I taped my impressions but since all you hear is : WOW, that's fabulous, gorgeous, wonderful...in short, it's worth nothing, and the best is to summarize my experience as follows:

1) I have booked myself on the next charters to attend the next eclipse until and included the next one taking place over Europe in 81 years. Since I won't quite be 120, I figured I might as well...
2) I now know that 99% is nothing and that 100% is fabulous. You just cannot imagine ! Just as I mention it I feel all shaky. It's magic, it's sublime, there is just no word to accurately describe this sudden night at noon the cold, slight at first but quite chilly during the total eclipse... and being on the cliffs overlooking the sea  makes it even more sensational, trust me! and when after two minutes during which you are able to look at the sun without those creepy special glasses, the sun finally comes back, the feeling of relief, of joy is unparalleled by any other sensation, it's just unique.
3) No matter what, people are just stupid: from 11 to 12:30, they watch the progression of the moon over the sun disk, and as soon as the total eclipse is over, they just leave the place, as if the regression which is just as fascinating, as a matter of fact, did not count. They paid for the way up, not the way down.So they leave, and good riddance!
Anyhow, I was in a nice spot, with crazy people like me who started playing darbuka...so we were even happier as we got to be fewer (but on MY cliff, we were never more than a handful anyhow, we watched the big crowds from the other cliffs, but were content with our little private spot (how did I get there? by accident I guessed, I parked on a nice gentleman's lawn because he preferred my little twingo to the prospect of 4 wheels drive parking on it...so I watched it from where I could..
4) the only thing which saved these crazy Normans from my screaming because of their terrible signposting (can you imagine, in these stupid villages, they don't think about signposting the next village...they should come see how we, in Geneva, signpost the most remote Savoy rat hole and how the Savoy places signpost Geneva, would teach them a lesson. So, the only thing that saved those bastards who made me lose a good two hours, despite the beauty of their region, is the butcher's at La Sauvagère where I parked my car, because this charming lady allowed me to wee in her bathroom....and it was high time for it!!!!! At 9 a.m. having left the highway civilized world around 6:30!!!!
5) taping people is much more fun than taking pictures of them. Thus my poor family has to hear the detailed account of my adventure, whether they like it or not!
So, that will be it for the moment...but following the Tunisian habit of never leaving after having said goodbye (in sort the contrary of the French leave) let me announce you:

A- that you can say mabrouk to me for having a husband (yes, you can already say mabrouk for the husband, this way you are relieved from having to have to marry me, I am much better in picture than real life), and also for this artist of a  husband (the sculptor Romy) to be the first Jew to make a monument for China, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, Hamsa on him !
B- that Raoul Journo will be in Geneva on October 28...I won't tell you more, just mark down the date in your agendas ...
C- that further to my own homepage and to being hosted by Jack, my brother Pierre has also added a sociolinguistic section on his own site at  http://www.multimania.com/masliah/free.html
D- that my cousin Charly, at odd days oblivious of his mother side
Tunisian origins and self-proclaimed Algerian (as if fathers counted...) has a really neat page: http://www.multimania.com/elgherabli/  
Since you, anglophone, are down to earth let me give you a good reason to check him out: Master Charly happens to be a travel
agent...specialized in Israel travels...to give you an idea what a great professional he is: last time I asked him how to manage to be paid to reside at the Tel-Aviv Hilton in July, the kind answer was...that the benches facing it were free of charge and a really pleasure by cool Israeli nights....!

Talk to you soon on D.Romy@caramail.com!

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