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Jerome Parisse

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Member Since: May, 2010

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Blogs by Jerome Parisse

A kiss or three
6/6/2010 2:58:44 AM
Iím learning Cantonese. Yes, youíve read right, Iíve decided to learn a language that most people deem to be among the hardest to learn. Why? I do spend a lot of time in Hong Kong for a start. And Iíve always been a lover of languages. I know, English is widely spoken in the Island City, even if slightly less these days with the increasing number of Chinese migrants from the mainland who speak only Mandarin. The grammar is not too hard though, itís more the pronunciation and the seven (or nine, according to some linguists) tones that prove to be a challenge. Anyway, I asked my tutor about greetings last week, and she didnít know what to say. In Cantonese, thereís a word for good morning (Jouhsan) and a word for Gíday or Nice to meet you (Neih hou). To be sure to understand how to use them properly, I asked her what you said to a taxi driver. She stopped to think. After a few seconds of intense reflection, she admitted that you donít greet taxi drivers in Hong Kong: you just tell them where you want to go, and thatís that! None of these silly formalities. Then she added in all seriousness, ďThereís too many people in Hong Kong, you canít waste your time saying Hi to everyone.Ē I had to laugh, but the Hong Kong greeting etiquette took me many years back, when I was growing up in France.

Every morning, at school, we had to follow the same routine: Boys shook hands (of friends and students from the same class) and kissed girls on the cheek (discrimination, discrimination!). Girls didnít shake hands, they simply kissed everybody, whether boys or girls. Needless to say, it took a long time to do the rounds, and I didnít like it. To tell the truth, it took forever. You also had to be smart and find ways to avoid kissing girls you didnít like or who had a cold on a particular day, or who you simply wanted to ignore. All in all, it was a big kissing, hand-shaking fest every morning, and the same thing would happen again at the time of parting, after class. Did I mention it wasnít one kiss, but two kisses? One on each cheek, for balance. Thatís because I grew up in North Eastern France. In other regions, they do it three times - a lucky cheek gets two kisses and the other one only one. Itís important to start with the right cheek or you end up nose to nose (the way Eskimos greet, according to my mum). It was easy at school, because everybody came from the same area and kissed exactly the same number of times. But when you met someone for the first time, you didnít know where they were from and how many kisses you were supposed to give: one, two, or three (very rarely have I seen four). The result being that more often than not ,you ended up thrusting your head forward stupidly, only to meet empty air as the other person pulled their head back. It made for comic situations, to say the least.

Now I live in Australia, and things are different of course. Not too much kissing, but a lot of hugging, which suits me fine. Often a general wave to the audience will be enough. Thereís still a bit of kissing of course Ė people you know well Ė a quick peck on the cheek or on the lips. It took me a while to get used to the kiss on the lips. In France, people squirm at the idea of kissing friends on the lips. How unhygienic! The famous French kiss is for lovers, and is much more complex anyway. My French friends and family believe we Australians are quite cold. Without kissing and skin to skin contact, the world is not worth living, according to them. I canít help thinking that a good hug, heart to heart, body to body, is in fact much warmer than a quick peck with no body contact, but youíre not going to change their minds. I visit my parents in France every year, in July or August. And every time I brace myself: after a year of not seeing each other (other than on Skype of course) all I get is two light kisses, one on each cheek. I tried to tell them, only to be met by blank facesÖ After spending twelve years on the other side of the world, I know where I belongÖ



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More Blogs by Jerome Parisse
• Body Swap Interview and Yunnan Trip... - Thursday, March 10, 2011
• The Corrections - Wednesday, March 09, 2011
• Buried - Wednesday, March 09, 2011
• Black Swan - Monday, March 07, 2011
• Educating Rita - Sunday, February 27, 2011
• Bidrman, by Mo hayder - Sunday, February 27, 2011
• The Insomnia of Stars - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
• If I Stay, by Gayle Forman - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
• Blacklands by Belinda bauer - Wednesday, February 16, 2011
• Where is Marc Levy's respect for his readers? - Saturday, February 12, 2011
• The Wings of Leo Spencer at $10 only! - Wednesday, February 09, 2011
• Boracay, twenty years later - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Hereafter - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Gone (Mo Hayder) - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Free e-books until 6 February! - Monday, January 31, 2011
• Two Brothers - Sunday, January 30, 2011
• Miserere - Saturday, January 29, 2011
• Shanghai - Saturday, January 22, 2011
• 3 e-books for free until 6 January! - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• A Spot of Bother - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• Sarah's Key - Wednesday, January 19, 2011
• The Tree - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• Norwegian Wood - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• The American - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• Eat Pray Love - Saturday, January 08, 2011
• 50 literature ideas you really need to know, by John Sutherland - Saturday, January 08, 2011
• Aftershock - Thursday, January 06, 2011
• Room by Emma Donoghue - Tuesday, January 04, 2011
• Harry Potter and the Deahtly Hallows - Friday, December 17, 2010
• The art of happiness - Thursday, December 16, 2010
• The Scold's Bridle by Minette Walters - Wednesday, December 15, 2010
• Worst film ever? - Sunday, December 12, 2010
• Trailer for BODY SWAP - Friday, December 10, 2010
• Hong Kong Murders - Monday, December 06, 2010
• The kids are all right - Monday, December 06, 2010
• The Killing Fields - My Father's Guests - Tuesday, November 30, 2010
• Interview on Body Swap and publishing on Kindle by David Wisehart - Friday, November 26, 2010
• The Animated Version of the Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival - Monday, November 22, 2010
• What is it about Japan? - Saturday, November 13, 2010
• The Ice House - Sunday, November 07, 2010
• Body Swap - Wednesday, November 03, 2010
• Taipei: the city that reads... - Tuesday, November 02, 2010
• Free royalty-free music - Monday, October 25, 2010
• Trailer for THE WINGS OF LEO SPENCER - Saturday, October 23, 2010
• Reference Material for Learning Chinese - Saturday, October 23, 2010
• The worldís first text message adventure romance with the other side! - Wednesday, October 20, 2010
• Grease.... or a failed English test - Monday, October 18, 2010
• The jungle temples of Angkor, Cambodia - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
• A little lower than the angels - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
• 61 Hours by Lee Child - Friday, October 01, 2010
• The obsessions of Amelie Nothomb - Monday, September 27, 2010
• Kaohsiung, the friendly city - Sunday, September 26, 2010
• A concise history of Hong Kong - Tuesday, September 21, 2010
• Nicaragua, twenty years on... - Monday, September 20, 2010
• We all make mistakes, don't we? - Saturday, September 18, 2010
• Serena - Thursday, September 16, 2010
• Early works: Coben takes us for a ride - Tuesday, September 14, 2010
• Tokyo / The Devil of Nanking - Sunday, September 12, 2010
• Young and bold - Saturday, September 11, 2010
• Gay marriage anyone? - Thursday, September 09, 2010
• iPad anyone? - Wednesday, September 08, 2010
• Online book promotion: The French strike again! - Tuesday, September 07, 2010
• Blood Canticle - Monday, September 06, 2010
• More Vampires! Breaking Dawn and The Passage - Sunday, September 05, 2010
• Blackwood Farm - Wednesday, August 04, 2010
• Animal Kingdom - Wednesday, August 04, 2010
• Breath - Sunday, August 01, 2010
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• According to Kit - Friday, July 23, 2010
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• It's all about words... - Monday, July 19, 2010
• Deed to Death - Friday, July 16, 2010
• The Art of Flying - Thursday, July 15, 2010
• A Gate a the Stairs - Wednesday, July 14, 2010
• Twitter: the art of (non) conversation? - Sunday, July 11, 2010
• City of Thieves - Saturday, July 10, 2010
• Gravity and Drift - Thursday, July 08, 2010
• Who says nobody is reading any more? - Wednesday, July 07, 2010
• Watercolours: the travelling artist - Wednesday, July 07, 2010
• Release of "My Sister's Choice" - Monday, July 05, 2010
• Eclipse: the movie vs the book - Saturday, July 03, 2010
• Three chocolate croissants, please! - Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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• Jackhammering, sniffles and gum chewing - Tuesday, June 22, 2010
• New Moon, Stephenie Meyer again - Monday, June 21, 2010
• Reilly: The case for literary fiction - Wednesday, June 16, 2010
• TWILIGHT - Tuesday, June 15, 2010
• Bedroom Farce - Wednesday, June 09, 2010
• Writing for the deaf and the hearing - Monday, June 07, 2010
•  A kiss or three - Sunday, June 06, 2010  
• Is - Wednesday, June 02, 2010
• A prolific writer - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
• Angels are the new vampires! - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
• The ebook epiphany! - Sunday, May 30, 2010
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