Friday, June 14, 2013

US Embassy visit and a walk round Paris with Thomas the gentle giant, June 10 (Day 10)

The atmosphere waking up in Brussels was more quite and serene and the breakfast was definitely better than that of the last hostel, Vincent Van Gogh hostel was a serene and welcoming environment, with friendly staffs and has a Plaque outside that Vincent Van Gogh, the great and eccentric artist once working in this building. Well after breakfast my class assembled and went to the US embassy for an embassy visit, It brought Nostalgia about my visit to the US embassy in Nigeria where I got my students Visa, and the two experiences were on two different sides of a pole. We had someone talk to us from commercial service, the job he does, interaction with Belgians, understanding the business environment and understanding the structure and business ethics in Europe. He cracked a joke that was pretty descriptive of different culture and how they do business, the joke was “There was a panel that was set up to decide who got a contract, there was an American, a French, a Japanese and an Indian company bidding to get it. The panel decided to ask just one simple question, “what is 1+1” the Americans team came heard the question and answered it as fast as they could they bump fist and gave high fives on their way out, next came the French with the same question, the French man simply answered(with his French accent and nose up), this is beneath me, I can’t bring myself so low, I’m out of here. Next came the Japanese in a single file with the leader in front, took a bow and sat, asked the same question they looked like is this a trick, brought out their calculator, consulted with each other and delegated someone to give 2 as the answer. When the Indian was asked the same question, they looked under the table, behind the curtain and outside the room to be sure there was nobody trying to listen in on them and ask the panel, what do you want it to be? The second speaker was from the economic policies agency and spoke extensively on the macro-economic policies, exports, the EU economic policies and business plans and all, it was a good visit and there was a lot learnt. We came back to hostel and Dr V took the class to launch, I had Pita with beef, it was fye, came back had a one hour rest and then came Thomas, our tour guide, he stood tall at about 6’5” and seemed a bit on the shy side, six of us went with him on the walking tour, and with every step we saw the cool guy in him, he showed us some few land marks, took us to the peeing boy
(which he got a little touchy when i called it the pissing boy) the peeing girl, the best place to get chocolate and waffles and a bar in the Dungeon that had existed for over 300 yrs, it was a trip, with a variety of beers to choose from and he even paid for every drink we had, despite him just being a volunteer. He took us back to Drug Opera, where we had dinner and headed back to the hall. The week just began and I think I’m beginning to enjoy Brussels.