A different look at Winter

Winter has announced it's arrival & France is preparing their tractors of salt for this weekend's forecast of heavy snow. It's raining again today in our region. The other day, we were lightly sprinkled by snow & it does not normally snow in this part of France. Yesterday, the sun decided to grace our day but the vicious mistral (the northwest wind that can blow until 90km/h on a normal day) stings every pore of our skin. After 4 winters, I still cannot manage this morose & depressing season.

As the cold spells begun, France is likewise anticipating the thousands of SDF- sans domicile fixe - the homeless people on the streets. Winter is not only a white christmas or that ski holiday & snowman. It is not only wicked to people like me who have heaters or fireplaces to come home to, it is especially spiteful to the people who does not have a home to keep warm. I have to admit that I was at first surprised to see homeless beggars sleeping in the metros of Paris - poverty is universal & it is unimaginable during this season.

In 2004, there are 200,000 homeless people of which 20,000 are children, comprising of people without papers, family problems & employment difficulties. Every winter, hundreds of them die due to the cold with an average age of 47. They die not only of cold & hunger but also of despair. Naturally, we would think that we are always responsible for wherever we are but with our society today, not only the challenges & hardships, but likewise of despair & depression, it is so easy to find oneself in the streets. To be stable & secured these days has reached a new level - it is a generation where everything is disposable.

More & more people recognize it's significance that last year, there were 4 million people served by the "Restaurant de Coeur (restaurant of the heart)." It was founded by a famous comedian, Coluche, who had an ambition to open a restaurant to serve 2 to 3 thousand plates per day, for free. The restaurant is serving every winter for 20 years now. There are other numerous associations with different objectives such as "The Collectif - Les Morts de la Rue," a group of associations who gives dignity to deceased homeless people a proper funeral. The "Secours Catholiques" & the "Solidarité Français" to name a few more.

Winter has it's vicious side. He is nasty to me because he stings me that it's so difficult to go out. He is vicious to a world where his stings & pinches cost a life of surviving hunger & despair. It is in winter when we are reminded of the exisitence of this reality - it can happen to anybody, more & more with our world of today - and the numbers are rising.

But snow is still beautiful - when everything is all white & fresh, you can actually breathe in nature & exhale with so much gratitude.

My Big Bucks Driving
Why didn't I have my Philippine driving license exchanged when I had the chance?

I have been religiously going to my driving school everyday at 5pm for 2 hours since September. On monday, I am having my written test where these past few days didn't make me as confident as I was 2 weeks ago. My mock exam results has been going down to 10 mistakes but still averaging at around 6/7 - you are allowed up to only 5 mistakes to pass the written exam. I feel I am ready but terrified to flunk the exam. In short, I am freakingly stressed out. But I have to go for it & my procrastination cost me a lot already.

Then I now have 5 hours of driving on which my instructor thinks I am not yet ready for a driving exam. She actually told me I will need around 10 hours - there goes my 10 years of driving in the freaky streets of Manila. When it is true that the rules here are completely different, you have to be as square as the French. It is just frustrating to realize that my actual driving experience & habits might be the culprit of not having that French driving permit on the first try - and you would think that's the easy part since I already have 10 years of driving in my pocket!

The dilemma now is the price to pay for my negligence when I had the chance to just exchange my Philippine driving permit & my procrastinating for 3 years. Driving schools here are so expensive & there's even no other way to go around it - my driving to freedom & independency here in France is getting bleaker by the day & by the cent - yesterday, all 6 students of my school flunked the driving exam - am I even in a good school where I will be paying 600 - 700€?! That's already a round trip ticket to Manila!

Not only that, France has new rules for the driving exam by February. Aside from the 20 minute scrutinizing of your driving, there's a 15 minute mechanic test where you'll have to be familiar with your car's engine & you will have to change a flat tire. Not only am I feeling abd about how expensive it is & getting so frustrated with my driving, I also now have to run against time - oh, screw it, I am totally screwed anyway.

What's the point of my complaining? Boys & girls, never put off what you can do today. Avoid procrastination & if ever, just in case, no regrets - who am I kidding, my life here sucks & nothing is going right.

I hate winter.


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. Hi Makis! how are you? hope you're doin ' fine. Hey! tagal na nong last time na nagkita tayo ano? hehe! it just remind me... look this photo: http://www.geocities.com/lucille4greg/friends.jpg
    Good luck to your driving exam! Hope me too can able to go to driving school soon... Bonne weekend!

  2. Lucille :Hi there! Grabe no, 4 years ago na ata yang picture na yan! I think we met on the theater & saw a tagalog film - thanks for that, it made me smile!!!

    I'm sure you'll have the time to get your driving permit - lakas lang ng loob din ang kailangan!!! Thanks Lucille!

  3. Makis, Tom and I would argue about the streetpeople here in Chicago, I would tell him I have no sympathy for them, there's no reason for them not to find work in the land of milk and honey. He says that it's different in places where there in is winter. Anyway, good luck in your driving!

  4. Hi Makis! we had our very first snow fall on Thanksgiving Day, not much, but it's pretty outside. I love the fresh fallen snow, but I hate the cold. =)

    goodluck on your driving! take care and enjoy the week! =)

  5. I like 4 seasons but there are disadvantages in each of these seasons especially during fall & winter. We have the higher risk to get sick because of the radical changes of temperature. In my case, have kids & my eldest is sick since Monday with a fever of 39.9. Anyway, I know he'll get better soon, bought all the prescribed medicines.

    Even one of the richesse country like France has this homeless people. At first, I can't believe it myself, I thought only poor countries has these homeless, it's sometimes indeed depressing. Otherwise in France they have all these associations who help and comfort these people, unfortunately I don't see in our own country!

    On the other hand, you will also see them begging for money to buy some food but they ended on buying an alcohol & get drunk. Some are protected by Mafias....It makes me think 2x before giving (sometimes).

    Anyhow, I think giving cents or euro is a nice geste anyway, it depends on them how they will spend it...food??? alcohol??? or cigarette???

    Have a nice day Makis! Nice post again, enjoyed reading it!

  6. been covered with snow since almost a week now. can't go out with bébé in tow..

    bon courage with your driving, yep, you should have exchanged it when you still can, i had my french license no sweat..but don't ask me to take the exam hehe..i'm sure i'll fail!

  7. Geri :What we feel & think about the subject of homeless people is a little difficult because we are what we make. But we'll never really know how & why they never got out of their holes.

    Ligaya :I agree that fresh fallen snow is beautiful - it's like the earth is so new!!!

    Haze :Hey, I hope your son will get better real soon. I really feel bad when kids get sick.

    I guess getting drunk is one way of keeping themselves warm during winter. I only give a little help through associations where you're almost sure they will eat.

    analyse :Hey welcome back, la nouvelle maman!!! Well, been crying over my not exchanging my license when I could have for 4 years now!!!

    Thanks guys for all your encouragements for my driving!! It's somehow a big deal for me!

  8. Attention: Makis aced her Code de la Route and is one step away from the Call of the Road!

    Congratulations Makis, I'm super proud of you!


  9. Hi, Makis... Good luck on your driving exam. In my opinion, not having the experience in driving in the Phils (except the motorbike)helped me learn driving here in the States just 'cause I have not developed bad driving habits that might get me confused and anxious. Kinda starting from square one. The downside was the cost of driving classes. Cheer up... and be safe.

  10. Kala :Thanks K! But I think I didn't ace the code, if we mean the same - hehehe!

    sistersalvation :I definitely agree with you that it will be easier if I didn't have any prior experience. I don't consider all my driving habits as bad though but it just doesn't fit the French rules (like in the absence of signs, it is priority to the right in intersections). Thanks so much!!!

  11. hey congratulations! watch out for makis on the road!!!