Having been in Japan, the Earthly Paradise (true, a slightly shaky paradise), for to weeks, the landing on reality turned out extremely brutal. I found myself in Lognes, a Parisian suburbs which has the attractiveness of any Parisian suburb (that is to say very limited), to take an exam to enter a prestigious State-run institution.
Much to my despair, the hotel was out in nowhere. The following morning, I realized that there were other people staying, for there was a girl at the breakfast table. She was bent on her studies and did not emit the slightest sign that she was alive. When she had finished eating, she went straight back to her room, probably in case I would start a conversation. A second girl appeared, much friendlier than the first one, and we headed to the centrex together. The mood was kind of strange, people kept checking their watches while waiting for the doors to open and hardly talking to each other. It seemed very like a huge funeral prior to which nobody checked the ending time. The untalkative girl of earlier was here, in a bakery without any delicacies inside. The exams supervisors were a really strange bunch, an old hag presiding over them. This one had the annoying habit to check ALL the headers of ALL the pages of ALL the answer sheets before letting people go.
During my exam-free time, I had been able to understand how curious this place was. Let’s call it the Curious Village, although I fear that even Professor Layton himself would be unable to solve the issues here. In the Curious Village, feeding oneself is a real struggle – I had a poor excuse for a steak at lunch at the local RU, but it cost me 10 euros! Shops are as scarce as people, the only supermarket being Chinese, with Chinese food inside and labels in Chinese. Buses don’t run, and even when they do, they don’t pick you up at the bus stop. I wondered whether this was their idea of a joke, but I was in no laughing mood when I had to walk the 3 kilometers back under the punishing heat. The following morning, the hag announced that they would delay the exam because of ‘transportation problems’. You bet! There’s no transportation AT ALL! Add to this that the hag never really bothered starting on time. I hurried to the RER after writing my last line, and I could finally say good riddance to the Curious Village.