Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Walking through the Musee Massena, thinking random thoughts

[Written Aug 25, 2010]

Maybe I should learn Italian...

Over the past three days, I've been asked twice if I am Italian, both of those situations where I was confused and the other person sought a language they thought I would understand based on how I look. The first was in Monoprix, the second in the Musee Massena.

Do I look Italian? Apparently enough so to some people in Nice. Though in fairness probably some people thought I was Indian or a Moslem, but since I didn't need to talk to them didn't express that view.

I view the notion that I could look Italian as a positive though. I don't really think of myself as Indian except to talk about culinary heritage; just like I don't truly consider myself religious unless someone will only give me vegetarian food because I cite that I am a Hindu and vegetarianism is part of my sect's beliefs. (Another post for another time.) So the benefits of being somewhat a chameleon when it comes to supposed origin? If I'm ever in France again and speak Italian, there may be practically no chance that I'm viewed as a Moslem. Given the xenophobia towards Moslems in France, I view that outcome as desirable.

Of course, I probably should also learn French (but may be have it as the 'weaker' language compared to Italian!).

Anyway, as I write this I am touring the Musee Massena. I find it much harder to go through a museum when I do not understand the language, since I can not understand the explanations. I get to see the primary source with out the curator's story to inform me. But that's alight since even just viewing the primary source is a pleasure to me.

I love all the paintings and photographs of Nice through the ages in the museum, showing how it has grown.

On a random note, it's the 150th anniversary of the year Nice voted to join France. I saw a bulletin in the Musee Massena in French and probably Piedmontese Italian enjoining the citizens over the age of 21 to vote on the issue.

Another random note - for those people not familiar with Ticket, it's a prepaid voucher scheme run by Edenred, formerly a division of Accor, that was created for French companies to reward employees with free meals if those companies did not have their own commissaries for their employees (larger companies did, putting smaller companies at a disadvantage until Ticket was introduced for them). The beauty of Ticket, besides being tax-free compensation (and in a nation as heavily taxed as France, something tax-free does alleviate the pain a little) is that you can use it at any restaurant or grocery which accepts it as a form of payment. For instance, if I was taking my family out to dinner in Nice and happened to have a Ticket voucher, I could pay for part of our meal with the subsidy from the company. Or if I was buying from the Monoprix, I could do so with my Ticket voucher.

Of course, I would prefer much lower taxes over Ticket vouchers and French income tax any day. But if you notice all the places where a person can use Ticket, you realize what a cash cow running the Ticket network can be (all the float from the prepaid money earning interest for you while you wait for the customer to use the voucher; the interchange cut you get when the voucher is used; and how little capital you need tied up to run the business and grow it). Southeastern Asset Management has a good review of Edenred and Accor in their latest letter to investors. Personally, I think they're too aggressive regarding the value of Accor and maybe Edenred (but perhaps I am just being very cheap and choosy whereas they with their billions probably can't find investments that are cheap from the viewpoint of not only the growth but the current business being available for a song). Incidentally, Edenred did quite well in it's spinoff debut, with a rise of around 30% in the first day of trading. I might give more of an update on Edenred at another point.
Anyway, I thought the Musee Massena was a great way to spend an hour of my afternoon, especially since it was free. I'll have some pictures posted below later of the museum's exterior.

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