December 17, 2011
by Kunal Modi in Paris, France
A night in France. We just got off the ferry at Calais, France from Dover,UK. I was driving and started looking for signs to Paris. For the first time I realized l was in France when the signs read ‘sortie’, ‘rappel’. Myself nor my teammates know French. “Driving through non english speaking contries is going to be tough without a GPS.”, I mummered to myself. But again, most countries on our route are non english speaking. Soon I saw a sign for ‘Paris 347km’, followed the road and thoughts came to rest. I was relieved I could follow the sign. An hour into France the fuel tank altered for more diesel. It read “airre de something something”. But the food, fuel and parking signs are universal everywhere. I drive towards a gas station and try to figure out the process. Again all instructions on the pump are in French. I see convenient store cum gas station right across. I walk up to the window and the lady greets in French. I replied “Hi”. I pointed to fuel and handed 60 Euros. I pumped in gas and we are all set. I realized I could pump in another 40 Euros worth of gas. I run up to the desk and give the lady 40 Euros. Then she starts saying something pointing to the pump but I insist on she giving me a receipt for the money. Again she says something and I only say “Receipt, please”. Of all the words she was speaking, word “Pistol” or “Piston” fell on my hears. I looked back where she was pointing and realized she wanted me to reset the pump so that the machine proceeds to print the receipt. I come back after doing that and she hands over me the receipt. As I walked back towards the Ambulance, I reminded myself Language is always a medium for communication, it can never act as a barrier.