Monday, October 4, 2010

Hear Me, O Remover Of Obstacles

While casting about for a picture of Ganesha to put on that last post, my eye was caught by...well, I couldn't remember. So a little later in the day I went to the Wikipedia entry on him to see if I could find it again. I hadn't expected so much detail, but it's a great read. I put that picture there because it was a pop-cultural take on the god, because I like the idea of an elephant with a mouse sidekick (although that's not quite what it is, according to the article), and because a guy I used to know, your average Welsh-Methodist/Russian-Jewish atheist, was, unexpectedly, a devotee. And, just as one makes puja (approximately like praying) to Lakshmi for money, Ganesha is the remover of obstacles.

And boy, do I have obstacles these days! First, I'm behind in my rent and the landlord showed up and loudly informed me that I have until October 15 to pay it all or I had to move on October 30. He had some guy standing there with him as a witness. Unfortunately, that's not how it works, and I suspect he's banking on my being a stupid American. But I know that the deadline is there because it's absolutely illegal to evict anyone in France between November 1 and March 15. At any rate, I'm working hard to raise the rent, a friend has started a Facebook group to help out, and there are other avenues open to get this solved.

But even if he gets every last dime I owe him before the deadine, there are obstacles. He's put the building up for sale, and that means the new owners have the right to evict us all, no offense intended, just get out. It makes renovation easier, and charging more for the newly-renovated place easier. The big problem with this is that on the date when the eviction moratorium is up, I should be in Austin for the 25th anniversary of SXSW. But the magic of the internet got me this apartment, and I believe that it'll get me my next one -- that and word of mouth. And I know the town a lot better now, so I can look with more leisure.

Of course, there are obstacles there, too. Landlords get suspicious when they hear about me. My age (why aren't I retired on a nice fat pension?), my nationality (warmongering, French-hating assholes), and the fact that I work for myself (aiee! Who would ever want to do that?) are all against me. To make up for all of that, I may be asked to put up to a year's rent in escrow. Perfectly legal, and they do it all the time.

So: exciting times, as the old Chinese curse has it. But wait! There's more!

I got a notice from my old nemesis France Telecom Orange asking me to pay up on overdue bills or they're going to terminate my service. But, as I noted months ago, I don't have service with them; I have it with France's most incompetent but most economically alluring telecom, Free. And when I went through this way back in July, they were supposed to have notified Orange that their services were no longer needed. Sure, I had to pay Orange €78 to get turned back on; that's just standard extortion. But part of what I pay Free for is to take care of things like that. So after getting off the phone with the nice guy from Orange (their English-language help line is magnificent) I tried to find a way to tell Free they'd screwed up again. There is no way to contact them by e-mail. None. You have to call or engage in what the French call tchat (to distinguish it from the word for cat, which is fair). I'm hopeless on the telephone, and probably just as bad at tchat. But I have to act fast or get turned off again.

The bottom line, though, is that living here is worth it. If, that is, you can find time to do it while dealing with the obstacles.

I'll be back tomorrow with an actual food post, promise.


  1. Ouch and tsk-tsk on using Wikipedia for ANYTHING, but may Ganesha come through for you. Elephants can, after all, remove lots of obstacles.

  2. The bottom line, though, is that living here is worth it. Well, as long as you are happy with the trade-off, that's the essential, isn't it?


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