Sunday, August 14, 2011

With Pleasure!

Toulouse is a very happy place.  It’s in the south, so it’s sunny and warm.  When you enter a service establishment and ask for help, your answer is “avec plaisir!” (“With pleasure!”)

At least that is what Cathy, my host, told me.  But I can’t help but believe her, because everyone I saw in Toulouse looked happy.  Even the buildings were happy, including the parking garage in town.  You step out of your car, and notice that classical music is being piped in.  The pleasant scent of perfume is wafting through the air.  The pavement is freshly painted with stripes of Toulouse’s signature color, a lilac-y/fuchsia-y color of pinkish purple.  Maybe there is a specific name for it?  (Wikipedia says Toulouse is called “The Pink City” because of its brick architecture.)

My nephew, Myles, hosted an exchange student from Toulouse a few months ago.  When Maxime found out that I would be coming to France, he invited me to his home.  I must say it was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had.  The quiet beauty of the countryside.  The happy faces of him, his mother, his grandmother, and all the relatives that showed up for dinner just because I was there.  The amazing, delicious 4-hour meal that was presented “with pleasure,” from the preparation, to the setting of the table, to the serving of each splendid course. The teasing and joking (mostly in French) between the very close parents, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  The 21-year old cousin who sat by me and did much translating, who kept saying things like, “Here in France, we enjoy the good things of life.  Great food and wine, and time at the table with people we love.”

After an enjoyable French breakfast, I gave a little house concert, playing some of my "classically" composed pieces and some of the jazz I was bringing to Monteton.  Maxime, in turn, played a lovely piano piece by a living French composer (I don't remember the name, but when I find out I will let you know.)  When the mother and grandmother dropped me off in Monteton (a 2-hour drive) I was torn.  I couldn’t wait to see my DJSS friends.  But I had to say good-bye to two amazing women who I had become attached to in a very short time.

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