Nihongo in Paris

Because it’s started raining most every day now, I’ve been taking Métro and bus rather than walking the 15 minutes back from the RER station. I stepped into the Line 4 Métro at Denfert-Rochereau on the way home today, and three tawny white-looking kids were talking animatedly in Japanese, and they didn’t look remotely as if they had any Japanese ancestry.

I looked at them a little and then turned back around, because my seat (the folding kind) was facing away from them: I didn’t want to look too interested. Besides, I don’t speak Japanese. They kept talking, especially the younger girl, and their mom tried to quiet them down: ‘Ça suffit!’ A few seconds of silence – no, more like one second – and the little girl and her brother started talking again with the silliness that only little kids know how to do.

I turned slightly in their direction and said, ‘wakarimasen’, since I really didn’t understand any of what they were saying, and the little girl burst into a babble of laughter that lasted until the next station, where they got off.

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