Sunday, December 6, 2009

Things to see in St-Marcellin

If ever you imagined that the only thing to be seen at St-Marcellin is their famous cheese, then the information I'm about to reveal will surely surprise you. First, there's an exotic intersection in the middle of the town.

There wasn't much light, and my photo is not very good. Besides, I was making an effort to avoid being run over by vehicles on the busy road where I was standing to take the photo. In the foreground, on a landscaped island at the center of the intersection, you can just make out the presence of a makeshift sun-shelter, erected with wooden poles, with a straw roof. Beneath it, there's an elegant wicker garden chair. If you didn't mind the busy traffic, you could sit there in the cool shade and contemplate the flowers and the shrub planted by council gardeners.

The façade behind the oasis is interesting. The owner of a flat on an upper floor has stuck her collection of toy animals out in the cool air, giving them an opportunity to gaze down upon the oasis and the road traffic. Here are closeup views:

The first time I discovered this balcony zoo, a month or so ago, there was a huge felt gorilla in the left-hand group, but he probably got blown away in a recent tempest and crushed by a truck.

The black and white cow in the right-hand window reminds me of a trivial anecdote yesterday at the local supermarket. A little girl, jumping around alongside her mother, was carrying a huge gray felt cow in her arms. At the place where you weigh your fruit and vegetables, the child had decided to place her animal upside-down on the scales, and she pressed randomly on a button that informed her immediately of the weight of her cow, and the animal's price if it had been a bag of tomatoes. Seeing me waiting for the scales, the child glanced up at me with a cheeky grin, as if to say: "Why shouldn't I weigh my cow?" I said to her, in a serious tone of voice: "Give me a carton of milk and a kilo of beef, please." The puzzled expression on the little girl's face suggested that she was analyzing my request. Her mother, on the other hand, must have thought it was a great joke, for she burst out laughing.

Back in the domain of sights to see at St-Marcellin, there's an affair that has amused me for ages. You can well imagine a businessman with a fleet of utility vehicles who decides to publicize his activities through an Internet website. Well, in St-Marcellin, there's a young entrepreneur who's handling his affairs the other way round. He has built an Internet site, designed to display small ads, and he uses his fleet of stationary vehicles to publicize his website.

When I say "fleet", I'm exaggerating a little, since he only seems to have a pair of little yellow vans, which are parked constantly at strategic spots in the town.

The fellow often turns up at the weekly market in St-Marcellin, where he has a small stand that publicizes his website... which is rather dull. [Click the photos to visit it.] He even has a scrapbook with photos of pages in his website.

Long ago, somebody asked me: "William, we want to sell our house through the Internet. Do they have a phone number, or maybe an office in the city? How much do they charge, roughly, for a house-for-sale ad?" Readers will have understood that, in this person's questions, her use of the word "they" represented the staff of the mythical company that owns and operates the Internet. At the time, I wasn't quite sure how to reply. Today, if she were to ask me the same questions, I would tell her that the ideal way of moving into the vast new Internet world is to go along to the St-Marcellin market on a Saturday morning and browse through the scrapbook of the fellow with the two yellow vans.

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