#20 Bokete

Today we will take a look at some of my favourite pictures and captions from Bokete, a Japanese app where users propose some random pictures and invite other users to caption them into, in my opinion, the most ridiculous and funniest things. It showcases my favourite sides of Japanese humour, the シュールness (shu-ru, meaning surreal) and the バカ ness (baka, meaning stupid). In Japanese, there’s a word called 吹く (fuku) which refers to something like “to burst out laughing when drinking, so spraying your mouthful of drink everywhere.” Below are the Bokete pics that made me do just that.

Translation: “Hmm, I wonder if the cement has dried?♪”

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Translation: “WHY DIDN’T YOU TURN OFF THE BURGLAR ALARM!!!”

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Translation: “You asleep~?” “Nah, still awake.”

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Translation:
Question: What’s a useless feature that comes with the newest model of Roomba?
Answer: Making an annoyed “tsk” sound every time it hits something.

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Translation:
Pilot: “ARGHHHH!! My Chupa Chups!!!”

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Translation:
Doctor: We’re going one more round!
Nurse: Yes, doctor!

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Title of a book: “My father is a _______. (Fill in the blank)”
→ “My father is a just too tired.” with an illustration of him standing in front of a train…. lol sorry not sorry for laughing

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Translation: What do you mean by “Hot Dog”?

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Translation: Hahahahaha hahahaha

#19 Some Food-related Habits in France

Documenting some French habits that seem strange to a mere Malaysian like me:

①Using a Scotch-brite sponge to wash dishes AND wipe down tabletops and counters

You know what a Scotch-brite sponge is right? It’s the sponge with a yellow soft sponge side and the other is the harder, dark green side. So, before I came to France I’ve always used this sponge to wash my dishes; the yellow side for plates and things that can be easily cleaned and the green side for harder scrubs. But over here, they use this same sponge to wash the dishes AND wipe the table after each meal. I have to say, it’s quite efficient as the sponge absorbs most of the liquids on the table easily but it still makes me kinda queasy to think that the same sponge is used to clean the table AND the cutleries which I put into my MOUTH. But I just try not to think about it. When in Rome, I guess.

②Not snacking between meals

I think this is definitely the reason why most French girls are slim. You may think it’s all about discipline and self-control but French people have a leg up because they were taught to do this from a young age. You’re always hungry right before mealtimes, and during each meal, you can eat to your heart’s content, but no snacking. I try to practise this but always fail due to my slack schedule and tendency to grab something sweet during my mid afternoon slump.

③Eating chocolate with sliced brioche like this:

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④Plucking flowers off trees on the side of the road and adding them into pancakes

These are acacia flowers plucked from the sides of the road by le bf. It’s his mum’s recipe and apparently it’s a legit thing to do and people cook it like this all over Italy. By the way, the flowers were not mashed up or anything, you fried them whole so you could taste each delicious flower petal. They kind of smell like jasmine to me.

⑤Eating cakes with a spoon

Over here, you eat every kind of cake / tart / dessert with a spoon. I find that instinctively weird for several reasons: Spoons sometimes scoop up too much sauce than intended, spoons lack the grip that I need to hold on to my piece of dessert, spoons require you to taste the bottom of the spoon every time you put a spoonful in your mouth hence affecting the experience, when you cut a bite with a spoon you leave a curve. Therefore, in conclusion, forks are the much better option. I found out through conversations with friends that they use spoons in the US too, but forks triumph in Asian countries.

⑥Stacking plates on top of one another when eating

I’m not even talking about saucers here. So when you eat a meal in a French home, when you’re done with the main course, your plate with whatever leftovers stay on the table, and your dessert plate goes ON TOP of the main dish plate, and you eat your dessert like that. Bravo, it makes the bottom of your plates dirty and now you gotta clean the other side, too. But I have to say that most of the time their main dish plates are usually not dirty because they use their bread as a sponge to “clean” up all the remaining sauces on the plate, leaving a sparkling one.

⑦Placing bread on the table instead of on a plate

And get crumbs all over! At home, I try not to get crumbs or anything to drip outside of my plate but here, you can party all over that surface. And after every meal at my home it does always look like a party happened but it’s OK because then we use our Scotch-Brite to absorb and wipe them up.

 

 

#18 Animals acting like animals

So today’s post will be about some of my fun experiences meeting animals in their (almost) real habitat, in nature! All my life I’ve been a city girl and any knowledge of animals were from books, movies, domestic pets or stray animals, and zoos. I remember going to the zoo in Ueno, Tokyo and associating animals to movie characters like “Omg those are the move-it move-its” when referring to lemurs, “Looks just like in Tarzan!” when referring to a gorilla, “Nemo and Dory” when looking at clownfish and.. dory?, etc. To  be honest, the episodes with animals  in France documented below have been, for lack of a better expression, extremely eye-opening for me.

■Iris The Household Cat

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I will start with the most familiar animal: the cat. To be more specific, her name is Iris, the cat of E’s mother. It’s a a bit embarrassing to say this (or is it?) but I have never seen a cat climb a tree before… hahah! I’ve seen cats in comics climb trees and getting stuck that the firemen have to come rescue them, etc. but in real life?? NO! So here I am posing in front of this epic scene (to me) worthy of a picture of me standing in front of it grinning like a proud tourist. Don’t worry, she didn’t pounce on me after the picture was taken although she looks as if she is going to.

■Horses

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I’ve seen many stationary horses in my life (at the zoo, farms, and tourist spots) but I’ve never seen horses running so majestically as if they were in a Degas painting. These horses were at an equestrian club next to the forest with plenty of space for them to run and frolic. They were running round and round the compound so many times it warmed my heart. These are some lucky horses.

■Swans (and some ducks)

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Before this, when you tell me “Black Swan” the thing that would come to mind would be the thriller starring Natalie Portman (in fact that’s what Google seems to be pulling up, too) but in the past four months I’ve seen a total of FOUR black swans! There are two famous ones in the park at Vizille (40 mins south of Grenoble) and here in this photograph are the black swans belonging to Park Bueno Retiro in Madrid. To quote Alexis, they look like “villain pokemons” and yes I agree but I still think they look cool. Also check out how the gang of ducks are coming to chill with them in formation.

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There are also plenty of normal swans in the Isere and Drac rivers here in Grenoble. Here is one dipping his head into the water to catch, I want to say, worms?? But it’s funny how his butt sticks out every time he does it. Reminds me of Donald Duck. See, it’s hard to stop with the cartoon references.

■Chickens 

Chickens lay eggs. Every person above kindergarten age knows that fact. But how many of us city kids have actually SEEN a fresh chicken egg?? I know I haven’t!! Here is a video documenting us collecting the ova of E’s mum’s chickens she rears in her backyard. And by the way, eggs like these do not become baby chicks (so we are not in fact killing could-be baby chicks) because they are unfertilised i.e., because these chickens did not have sex with a rooster. It’s strange but now when I eat chicken eggs, I feel more grateful to chickens and Mother Nature for allowing chickens to have their periods.

■Lizards

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City lizards are kinda icky but tolerable. But this  country lizard (can you spot it?) was so cute. It’s called a “lézard vert” (green lizard) and it has a tinge of blue near its neck. We were chilling by the lake and he popped out his head to stare at us (about 2m) away and just continued to stare. He was either greeting us or cursing us for trespassing on his territory in frequencies inaudible to us mere humans.

■Dogs

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Here is a dog swimming in the lake to pick up a stick his owner threw. Just like in the comics / cartoons!!! Country dogs are blessed; I even saw one digging around for moles (I have yet to see one) at the park the other day. Dogs digging and getting dirty, like real dogs! Lol

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And here’s my personal favourite. A relative’s pet dog Africa cornered poor E at his grandpa’s pond. Dog: “Why don’t you love me?!”

#16 The Massive Chartreuse & St. Eynard’s Closed Fort

 

The city of Grenoble is Y-shaped and is surrounded by four mountain ranges, of which three you can see from anywhere from within the city. Le Massif de la Chartreuse in the north, Belledonne in the east (it also forms a physical between France and Italy, so on the other side it’s known as Belladonna), Le Massif du Vercors in the west, and finally, Les Oisans in the southeast. Back in winter, I’ve gone skiing in three out of these three mountain ranges, and one spring weekend back in early April, we were just chilling when E suggested we go hiking up the Chartreuse. It’s just right behind our house (see map below, my house is the pink star) and quote, “I’m sure we can reach the top and get home within 3-4 hours.”

“3 to 4 hours? Sure!” I replied, getting excited looking at the sunny weather outside through the window.

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View of the Chartreuse from campus. “Sure, 3-4 hours is enough!”

So we left the house with some packed lunch (one banana, two pieces of bread, 4 small onigiris) and one small bottle of water each because, 3 to 4 hours only right? And there are vending machines or shops up there right?

■Almost 2 hours later…

After walking past a random chateau or house of a lord back in the old days, some artificial beehives, a nice park, a cute couple with their golden retriever <3, we came upon this magnificent patch of grass overlooking the whole east side of the city. Here’s my awkward auntie pose. Note that I was still energetic and excited for getting to the top of this rock mountain.

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So after lunch, we were like oh hey the view is already so great we must be near the top! But no, when I looked up the huge rock still looked so far and… unattainable. But E says, we’ll get there in 30 mins!

30 mins later, we are still climbing…

An hour later, still climbing…

Both thirsty and frustrated that the path just continued and we never seemed to get closer to the top,  we continued to push while looking forward to the promise of a nice soft drink and a panoramic view at the peak. Of course things got a bit tense between E and I because I was getting impatient and angry because we were taking so much longer than he had said. But he calmed me down by saying he would belanja me a drink when we get up there so I persevered. What other choice did I have lol.

■Let’s fast forward to two hours later = Four hours since we started

We made it to the top!! We were momentarily distracted by the awesome views. It didn’t let me down. So much higher and better than the view atop Bastille (another ancient fort in the middle of the city)!

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We were first greeted by a prison looking structure
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To the northeast, the weather was so clear we even saw Mont Blanc! It’s the tiny tiny white thing by the left side of the tree in the middle of the picture. Hehe well it was clearer with the naked eye.

 

And here’s Le Fort St. Eynard, located 1338m in altitude. Using my limited French, I figured out that this fort was constructed in 1879, after French lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian war, “to fortify French borders in order to prevent enemies from entering France through the Chartreuse mountain range.” Although occupied by troops for a certain period of time, the fort was never used in military battle because of its location far away from battle zones in both the First and Second World Wars.

All this history is good and nice, but for us living in 2016 on a hiking trip after climbing for 4 hours without enough water, at that moment we were really more interested in something to drink.

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BUT IT WAS CLOSED. It was only going to open in MAY. Well I was ok, I still had a precious sip of water in my bottle so I sipped on it to get ready for the looong hike down.

■Another 3 hours later…

We’re finally at altitude zero, and E was so desperate he almost drank from a water fountain clearly labelled “NON-POTABLE” in red but I had to pull him back. 10 minutes later, we finally saw a gas station and gulped down some of the best-tasting lemonade ever. And when we got home, we ordered some really greasy pizza because we earned it!

■P.S.

If you thought Chartreuse sounds familiar, yes, it’s the name of a French liqueur made from herbs by the monks living up in the mountain ranges. They sell it at all the supermarkets here. You see the green bottle on the top left of this really messy sushi dinner?↓ Yeap, that’s it. It aids digestion so French people sometimes take a shot of it after dinner. It’s an acquired taste, though, very herby and sweet and reminds some of mouthwash but I like it.

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