You forget how many little peculiarities go into making a culture what it is. They way someone orders in a restaurant, the way they get someone’s attention, stand in a queue, express mild exasperation or amusement, etc. Walking around Paris yesterday I was noticing once again all the little habits that make the French French, but also that which makes the Parisian Parisian. I realized how easy it is to stand out in a culture where the most subtle of actions are performed slightly differently. There was a time living here when I had really mastered them, and not a single person would ever suspect that I was foreign. It was all a great game to me, trying to see how long I could fool people into believing that I was from here. But after so many years away, it is obvious to anyone now that I am once again a foreigner, and it makes people behave slightly differently in your presence, despite themselves. This is just human nature. I think it would be fun to come back and spend a couple of months here to brush up on my language skills and relearn some of the cultural tics. And to stuff my face with croissants and pastry, which, let’s be honest, no one in the world can do as well as the French.
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