Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wed 4 May - Half Time

I've reached the half way stage. 18 months in Belgium and still standing. Living abroad really is rather cool. I'd recommend it to anyone. And it shows you that you don't have to be living in the cultural capital of the world to enjoy yourself. Yes, there's very little to do in Mons, but I'm really not complaining. I have my Grand Place, my friends, my European excursions, and the never ending journey that is learning a foreign language.

I can pretty much make myself understood in most scenarios now, but the comprehension part is still lagging behind. Sometimes I find myself understanding very little, other times I understand loads.

My view of Belgians hasn't really altered much: fun, friendly, helpful, down to earth, but the most unreliable people I've ever met. I do also think that there's something quite anarchical about this place. And I'm not just referring to the obvious government-less bit. I think laws and rules here are simply things passed for the sake of looking busy, as opposed to things to be followed. The police don't ever seem to be concerned by the dangerous and speeding drivers (often one and the same), or the drunks who piss in the middle of the street, or the guys who wander around smoking weed, or the people who hold up traffic whilst they unload furniture from their house on a main road.

These are just tiny snippets. It's not easy to describe, but when you live here, you really do get a sense of living somewhere where you could probably get away with doing most things. Not much seems to bother Belgians. They seem more than happy to live their lives at a plodding, almost comastose, pace. In that sense, what better place not to form a government.

(I should say that from now on, and in fact on most occasions, when I speak, and have been speaking, about Belgium and Belgians, I am referring to Wallonia and Walloons. From the moment I set foot in Flanders, and to this very day, I regard Flanders and the Flemings as a totally different country, with different people. And because I live in Mons, and most of my experiences come from Wallonia, this is the Belgium I'm talking about.)

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