The inscrutable power of Eish

7 Oct

cantona-shrug

The Monsieur recently had much cause to sigh with that local answer to the French shrug, the all mighty Eish. How did it get here…?  The Monsieur had just realised how long it’s been since the last time we bumped into each other right here. Sorry for you. He was outchea living. But sorry for me, I wasn’t on here sharing. Now you have to enjoy things like its 1999, again. So really… Eish. It is not an answer, an excuse or remotely adequate… but that’s all you are getting. You are used to so much better anyway, so let’s get back to that French shrug… I didn’t just put it there.

You may not see it but the Motswana on the street has quite a bit in common with the Frenchman on the street – or any other person on the street anywhere for that matter. However, if you have never experienced the French shrug in full cringe with all the facial accoutrements you are not living. First of all that someone can say so much with one gesture, admittedly one with much put into it, can’t be explained adequately here – but go with me a moment, we like things so let’s see where we end up.

After landing in Paris one time and presenting credentials to the officials was where the shrug first made its appearance. The scene was a bit tense, perhaps it was an unwarranted bit of stereotyping that the Monsieur did not quite appreciate coming from an immigration official. Point is there were forces at play much greater than he… but it wasn’t the Monsieur’s concern at that moment. Here The Monsieur was anticipating Paris and instead there was gruff resistance brought on by an African passport. The immigration official must have been struggling with the fact that when the Schengen visa says yes, no amount of prejudice formed against that passport shall prosper.

Of course the green light was granted, and in a spirit of bygones the Monsieur asked a friendly enough question… something like, ‘where should I start taking in Paris this morning?’ the response…? It must have started under the desk where the man was sitting, because all there was to see was a crumpling of the body… or something akin to a deep inhale of breath countered by a contraction of the shoulders inwards. The motion appeared to swallow the neck and the incline of the head to the left suggested it was a motion to arrest this development. That was not all, the facial features also had their transformation. The corners of the mouth turning down into a resolute downwards facing bracket, while the eyes elevated upwards with a vacant look many a drug addict might recognise.

A metaphorical cold wind blew that hot summer morning. It didn’t help that as Monsieur progressed from Immigration, to Baggage claim, to Customs and finally to Arrivals the #GTFOH was trending heavily. It seemed many more French officials seemed intent on making Monsieur’s arrival to Paris as unpleasant as possible. The message was received loud and clear and since the Monsieur doesn’t like to impose, he left the airport to get to the travel agent, to then get the next flight out of Paris – It was back in the day when you couldn’t reroute your escape via smart phone. The one thing that stuck was the emotional sledge hammer of that French shrug – the utter wall of indifference it threw up was arresting, it takes the wind right out of your sails. You couldn’t even disrespect that.

So anyway back to the motherland, the here and now… you know that defeat you feel at that little window of a government office, or any other office actually, when you are trying to get a little help, instead you meet the word Eish… before the sentence even starts… That is what I am talking about. Just be happy the Monsieur is back. Eish.

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