I'm lousy at hobbies. I get bored of things remarkably quickly and have an attention span of a puppy. Over the years, I have accumulated a vast collection of musical instruments, sporting equipment and foreign language dictionaries, all of which now call the space under my bed home.
This week, I add French to the list of things I will try once in the hope of achieving longevity but probably won't. What possessed me to sign up to a 10-week course alludes me as I stare at my assigned homework for the week, willing it to conjugate itself. Actually, I do remember the logic behind this idea. Four years ago, I spent about three days in Paris while backpacking through Europe. After being spoilt by friends and locals in Germany, Italy, England and Crete, my friend Kat and I found ourselves friend-less and French-less in Paris, left to fend for ourselves. We were ignored when we spoke English and our measly attempts at 'Bonjour' and 'oui' did not fool anyone into believing we actually knew what we were talking about. After leaving Paris, I joined the ranks of many non-French speakers in denouncing Paris as a city of inhospitable souls who grunt a lot.
It's taken me four years, but I'm finally ready to give Paris another chance. Like with any break-up, it takes time and distance to allow one to reflect back on the relationship, to forgive the wrong-doings of the past and to take personal responsibility for our actions. Which brings us back to my French conjuguation homework. I am taking French classes so as to demonstrate to the French the changes I have made within myself and to prove that I am willing to make an effort in the relationship. At the very least, I will learn to say, 'I'm sorry. My French is not very good but I'm trying,' and 'I'm not English, I'm from Australia.'
I will report back on my progress. So far, I can say, 'Je m'appelle Biheng. Je suis Australienne. J'aime le vin.' Which translates to, 'My name is Biheng. I am Australian. I like wine.' With a shoddy accent.