Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shattered Myth

A lot of Dhaval's colleagues from India and here in Marseille warned us about the French attitude. People are rude, unfriendly and not helpful, they told us. Most of them are surprised when we relay our encounters. Since the day we've arrived, I haven't faced a single incident where I was left to feel helpless. But had you met the person I crossed paths with today, you'd have thought for this myth to be true!

I had to take a bus to go meet someone. I got on and swiped my card against the machine for it to charge me my fare. I had recharged it a while ago and thought it'll have enough money. But it didn't. Since I didn't know what to do, I asked the driver if he could give me a ticket. An irritated, unfriendly face looked at me, said something in French and started driving. So I show him a 5 euro note hoping he'll understand. He ignored me and continued driving. And I got myself a free ride because I didn't care enough to pay my fare!

I was done with my errand sooner than I thought and walked to the bus stop in the hopes that I didn't have to get on the same bus that'd be on its way back by now. It was a cold, rainy afternoon and the task for which I come hadn't gone very well. I imagined the worst case the most, the driver will not understand me and will throw me out of the bus for travelling free twice!!

The bus arrived and it WAS the same driver! There was a moment of hesitation. I almost didn't get on. The driver saw me waiting and, I think, almost didn't open the door to let people in. But I was prepared. I showed him a 2 euro coin rather aggressively. I think he got the message because he charged me this time. And I got home safe and sound.

I am pretty sure had I understood what he had said the first time, or had I muttered something in French or had he smiled, he would have gotten a fare out of me. But then, not knowing everything every time does make for some funny moments!


Sharjes said...

haha! you couldn't have got a free ride in India, even if you knew the language!

The Yellow Wall said...

But, if the bus is too crowded for the conductor to notice, and you get on from the door at the back and stay there...then perhaps..! :D (talking from experience of travelling as young student in crowded buses. Although, I must add that I NEVER traveled for free. :) )

Sharjes said...

True. Sometimes the conductor misses you completely.