Deux mois, plus ou moin

Yes, I’m delinquent, but not much has happened. Except . . .

Renoir, Père et Fils

I probably talked about this on Facebook, here’s the blog version.

One of the attractions of living here is that Paris is 3 hours and 20 minutes away by TGV. Gare St. Roch in Montpellier is the main downtown train station, and Grand Central for the Trams, so easy to get to and from. I took a morning train that left a bit after 9h00, arriving in Paris a bit before 13h00. Note to self: Some trains are made up of two, which means that you might be sent to wait on a part of the platform that’s not yet occupied by a train coach. Patience.

I checked into the hotel right at the Gare de Lyon, and grabbed a taxi to the Musée d’Orsay, aka my favorite museum in Paris. Which was putting on a special exhibition combining work by Auguste-Pierre Renoir, painter and sculptor, and his son Jean Renoir, ceramicist and filmmaker. They shared themes, and models, and artistic sensibilities. Jean’s mother was his father’s favorite model. Jean’s nurse/governess, Gabriel, appears in dozens of his paintings. Pierre’s final favorite model became Jean’s wife, and star actress, for awhile. The swing scene in Partie de campagne was prefigured by a similar scene by Jean’s father. And so on. Wonderful exhibition, covering seven galleries, including film clips, paintings, newspaper clippings, and commentary, plus more films displayed on a large screen at one end of the main hall of the Musée.

Yes, I picked up the exhibition catalog, a habit I intend to develop. And a few postcards and bookmarks. And the catalog for another exhibit, just finishing elsewhere in Paris, Comédies Musicales. Remind me to revisit what I found interesting about the juxtapositions in that book, in the context of Michel Legrand’s passing at the same time.

Thursday, the day I visited, is the late night at the d’Orsay, so I made my way back to the hotel after 20h, and woke early Friday for breakfast before grabbing the TGV back to Montpellier. Along with an enjoyable and educational visit, I demonstrated to myself the viability of taking the fast train for a day in Paris.

Adventures in bureaucracy

Navigating any bureaucracy is easier if you understand the paper trail that the bureaucrat requires. It’s the deviations from the expected path that make it difficult, the “but my case is special” approach. In the world of software development, historically there have been two approaches: There’s waterfall, which assumes that one can plan a project completely from the start, and it should follow a predictable path. What’s required in one stage is provided by a preceding stage. Then there’s agile, which is the path of exceptions. Agile acknowledges that things change over time: Technology changes, requirements change, lessons are learned, adaptations are made.

Bureaucracies are waterfalls. Deviations are not accommodated. Exceptions are not accepted.

So: One’s visa application should fit neatly into one of the predefined buckets. Learn how to conform to that bucket and one’s path is smooth. Expect an exception, expect delays. For one applying for a long-stay visa, one must obtain said visa before requesting a change of residence certificate. It’s easy if one takes it in the right order. On arrival in France, one sends the OFII form that was part of the visa process in to OFII with a photocopy of one’s passport, visa, and entry stamp. No entry stamp, and three months later one receives an acknowledgement from French bureaucracy that one’s application has been received, but is missing one thing: The visa with that entry stamp. Without which, one does not complete the process of entering the country with said long-stay visa. Without which — here comes the waterfall !!! — one’s application to join the French health system after three months residence is held up until one provides the copy of the passport, plus visa, plus entry stamp, plus OFII stamp. And a process that nominally takes three months instead runs five-plus months.

That’s where I am: Met with the nice folks at OFII a week ago today, got their lovely stamp in my passport, sent a copy of that along with copies of everything else I had already submitted to CPAM (the health system folks) last Friday.

. . . and now waiting patiently for the next waterfall.

As Van Morrison sang, “You don’t pull no punches, and you don’t push the river.”