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You will {not} find Normal here. Is Normal where you are?

Normal is not here. Normal is where you are.

What? That makes no sense, right?

But that’s what I heard and yes, my good neighbour, I heard it correctly.

It was Tuesday. We were in Paris, France.

I got up early and while I was sitting in the breakfast area of our hotel, the lovely boutique hotel Villa Pantheon, having a coffee waiting for my wife. I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two couples at another table. That comment was what caught my attention and it was just the tip of the iceberg.

Yeah, I know, but I just can’t help myself.

We are now in Montferrat in the south of France. We started the first leg of our trip with a couple of days in central Paris. On Tuesday afternoon we flew to Nice, rented a car and got on the road. It has been an interesting trip so far, somewhat surreal. It took a bit of time to get acclimatized to the time zone, the language and the roads. I think we spent a day literally dazed and confused and on Wednesday we drove around in circles a hundred times trying to find our way back to Montferrat after dark.

Normal is not here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not any normal that we are used to anyway.

Normal is driving a standard shift mini Renault on roads that have no more straight sections than a Parisian goddess.

Normal is seeing a Mastiff walk down the middle of the street in front of your car as you wait for it to turn left on the next side street. That’s considered traffic in Montferrat. Where was he going?

Normal is going to the town square and buying locally grown vegetables and fresh meat out of the back of a food truck.

Normal is feeling like you fit in because everyone is so friendly even if you can’t speak their language.

There really is no value in going back to the moaning that I listened to on Tuesday morning other than to say that I was astounded that people go on vacation and then expect things to be the same as they are at home. You are in another country for heaven’s sake!

Embrace the local normal.

That should really go for anywhere you are shouldn’t it?

 

 

 

 

About this Author: Ralph Dopping (195 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday: www.designdialog.ca


46 comments
JudyDunn
JudyDunn

Hey Ralph,

 

I've been mired in Tech Hell here—iMac exploded and am having to start all over, except for the important stuff like my book manuscript, which was backed up. So, the south of France, huh? That is lovely. My warped opinion of "normal" is being somewhere where I am completely out of my element (language, culture, etc.) Somehow I like that feeling.

 

Your Renault brings back fond memories: my very first car was a Renault my dad bought for me when I was 16. It had a town horn and a country horn! You guys sound like you are having a great time.   : )

Jeevanjacobjohn
Jeevanjacobjohn

Aside from all this, what's normality, Ralph?

 

Is there anything actually normal in this world? (Maybe, in our perceived reality there is).

 

Oh, normality.

 

(It is hard to define, isn't it?).

 

The society wants you to conform. And when you don't, they call you abnormal, a freak, don't they? (well, at least they will look you in other eyes?

 

But, then who cares what others think, right?

 

Then again, sometimes we have to care :D).

 

Now back to your example,

 

I partly agree with you, we should embrace the local normal (but, there are many situations in which we shouldn't conform, in which we should act differently).

 

Not for our own sake.

 

Not for the society.

 

Maybe for someone else ;)

 

Ah, one example that comes to my mind is when someone forgets their own life and tries to save a stranger (Well, there aren't many people in this world who would do that nowadays. At first, it would be seen as a stupid act. If he does manage to save the stranger, then he would be perceived as a hero - well, congratulated for his bravery. If he does save them and doesn't make it (well, sacrificing his own life), he would be portrayed as both stupid and brave.

 

And at the end, if he doesn't manage to save the life of stranger (Well, some people will congratulate him for trying. Others will criticize him. But, none of these people will be willing to be that person - who tried to save someone else's life. They hadn't try to save the life).

 

Oh, all complex.

 

What a world we live in!

KDillabough
KDillabough

Late to the party here, but that's "normal" right, haha! Your trip sounds amazing. I just wandered over from Barbara's post about her trip to Tuscany  http://late-bloomers.net/how-to-prolong-your-summer/

Between the two of you, I've got wanderlust now! Enjoy the remainder of your trip. The snow will soon be coming to our neck of the woods:( Cheers! Kaarina

bdorman264
bdorman264

And everybody thinks they are Formula 1 drivers in the south of France.....even the bus drivers.......:).

 

I loved my south of France trip; I didn't expect it to be like my normal, nor did I want it to be. After two days I was speaking like a native....kind of........well, not really but I tried.....

 

The more you can go with the flow, the more you will enjoy yourself. That's a fact Jack.........oh wait, your Ralph..........sorry.

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

The fun part of traveling is submerging into other cultures... It would be boring otherwise.

 

 

AnneReuss
AnneReuss

Spoken like a true adventurer. No matter where we are, even around home, we need to explore. Exploring is normal! Have fun. :) 

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

Thanks Ralph! I've never really felt that normal is where I am. I tend to usher in the abnormal, if my family is to be believed.  Hope you and J have a blast!

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

It sort of misses the point of travel to want it to be like home. The South of France is amazing -- enjoy your new normal!

BetsyKCross
BetsyKCross

What fun! It's not fun travelling with people who aren't flexible enough to see the fun in the adventure! Glad you are enjoying yourself.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Thanks for dropping in  @JudyDunn I saw that you had some Apple issues via Mr. Dorman's place. Good to see that you are back in play. So, I have to ask, how is the book coming? I hope well. I am looking forward to doing a book review for you.

 

We are having a blast here but a;as like all good things it must come to an end. We are coming back home tomorrow, Saturday, and just in time it seems (there has been a little ribbing about the length of the vacation). Appreciate you taking the time to drop in. Look out for Episode 2 of the Studio today......:-)

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Hajra   @Late_Bloomers Oui! We do deserve it and so do you even if you are baking. And since you are can you make us some scones? 

 

Hayra, you are absolutely right! Normal is what you are used to and the more you experieince other normals the more you are used to many more things and they become part of your normal too! That's one thing i love, love, love about blogging. I go to meet you, barbara and so many other great folks. Cheers!

rdopping
rdopping moderator

Thanks for dropping by  @Jeevanjacobjohn You are one interesting and thoughtful guy. You really took the idea of this post and ran with it, huh?

 

What I have to say is that I live for myself and I act the way that makes me comfortable and not what others expect me to be or what a culture may expect. Having said that I deeply respect other cultures and while ingrained in them tend to try their way of doing things. Why not? I might actually learn something about the world that way.

 

Always appreciate your depp thoughts! Here's a site you may find interesting.....http://www.deepthoughtsbyjackhandey.com/today.asp (just a little joke to brighten your day, my friend)

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @KDillabough There is no late in social. Ha! Yep, stopped by Barbara's site myself. Tuscany is beautiful. I went through there in December 1990 (can you believe that?) so her post was a nice reminder. The snow can take its time and besides we have one of the best months coming in Canada; October! Love that! Thanks fro stopping by. 

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @timbo1973 Switzerland is like that right @Late_Bloomers ? Hey, i lived in Zurich for 18 months back in 1989 and even though it was a long, long time ago I still have some images of that time rattling around in this old bean.

 

I also gew up driving stick and transitioned to the North American automatic. I think we have automatics so we can text and email while we are driving. The driving experience is so much fun here in France. Curvy roads, responsive engines and the desire to make the car perform for you. It's very exciting!

 

Thanks for stopping by Tim. Great to have you by here. I see you are doing well with your blog. Right on!

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @bdorman264 I am sure @thejackb would appreciate that as well. Going with the flow.

 

We are going with the flow alright. When I feel like I am driving like a bat outta hell and some guy in a van passes me on the inclide of a hairpin turn it tells me I have a lot to learn about driving. Hello!

 

The wine is flowing. That's a fact. And so is the cheese if you leave it on the counter too long, that is. This one of the best trips I have ever been on. Here's to someone elses normal. It's pretty damn good.

 

As always, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the rest of your week.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @thejoshuawilner He dropped his butt down on the porch of the first house. When we walked by after parking the car he was asleep. I suppose it was a long trip. Thanks for stopping by.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Mark_Harai Ahhh, yes, and as bloggers submerging ourselves in the "culture" of other blogs may also be a fitting analogy. Thanks for stopping in. Appreciated.

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 Totally agree @AnneReuss Exploring is the fun part of any trip. The fun is when you discover something new or someone new. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your day!

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Adam | Customer Experience Adam, thanks so much for stopping by here. Appreciate your time and your comment. We are certainly enjoying our time here. We have indeed ticked a few things off the bucket list; the Louvre being one. Cheers Adam!

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @BetsyKCross Betsy darling. How are you? I hope you are well. I see that you are starting to visit your favourite places again and I appreciate you stopping in here. I always enjoy your point of view. Thank you so much and yes we are having a blast. France is such a beautiful country. Hope to engage with you again soon. Bonjour, madam!

Late_Bloomers
Late_Bloomers

 @rdopping  @Hajra  If I could bake my own money I'd be more than happy! I bake for pleasure and making other people drool ... Scones coming up in a minute! Do you wish some clotted cream and strawberry jam with it?

 

And I am happy blogging because I got to meet you, Hajra and an amazing crowd of people, all of them less than normal. Three cheers!

Latest blog post: How To Prolong Your Summer

Jeevanjacobjohn
Jeevanjacobjohn

Thanks, Ralph :D @rdopping Yes, of course ;)

 

Of course, we all should, right? But, we should also be careful enough not adapt (Sometimes, change is necessary, right?). Take for instance: We have to change at least some of our life style when we get married, don't we?

 

The problem comes in where we draw the line (some people don't care at all, while others care too much about expectations of others). Both of them are bad, aren't they?

 

Thanks, Ralph ;)

KDillabough
KDillabough

 @rdopping Totally agree! October's the fab month. Our anniversary is October 21st: 34 years married this year, 39 together. (did I just say that out loud?)

Late_Bloomers
Late_Bloomers

 @rdopping  @timbo1973 Reading Tim's comment I have wanted to invite him to my house ... not such a good idea at the moment, the state of chaos it is in! Thanks, Tim, for loving the place!

 

I think going anywhere and mixing with local people is the best way to get to know a country. And you should hear some Swiss complaining about the litter in the streets on weekends in downtown Basel.

 

And I drive an automatic, Tim, after years of stick driving and I love it, no texting or emailing while driving, I hate it anyway.

Latest blog post: How To Prolong Your Summer

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @Jeevanjacobjohn I suppose it depends on who you are. My wife and I still have our individuality but we are married so we are in tune with each other's feelings and idiosyncrasies. A bit off topic but relevant all the same. Have a great day, sir.

KDillabough
KDillabough

 @rdopping 3 glorious years is glorious! And 34 is opal? I've never known what any year was, in terms of its significance. I think my first year was tupperware, haha! Opal huh? A trip to Australia to pick it myself perhaps? Just kidding. It will probably be low key as a amp up for something for the 35th:) Cheers! Kaarina

rdopping
rdopping moderator

 @KDillabough You did! I actually heard it! :-)

 

Ours is Oct 16 and it's been 3 glorious years (yes, darling, we started very late).

 

Well, Happy Anniversary in advance and please be sure to remind us all. Opal for you. Interesting. Got any ideas?

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