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By Caroline Wyatt BBC News, Paris The reality of Paris does not always live up to the dream A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as "Paris syndrome". That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations. The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown. Around a million Japanese travel to France every year. Shocking reality Many of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris - the cobbled streets, as seen in the film Amelie, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre. The reality can come as a shock. An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures. But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much. This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock. An encounter with a rude Parisian can be a shocking experience They were suffering from "Paris syndrome". It was a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, Professor Hiroaki Ota, who first identified the syndrome some 20 years ago. On average, up to 12 Japanese tourists a year fall victim to it, mainly women in their 30s with high expectations of what may be their first trip abroad. The Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock, and can help find hospital treatment for anyone in need. However, the only permanent cure is to go back to Japan - never to return
Lords of Trafalgar okay $7-million condo facelift MIKE BOONE, The Gazette Published: 7 hours ago A 93-per-cent approval rating is difficult to achieve on this side of the Great Wall. But that's the vote Norman Glouberman got to approve repairs at the Trafalgar condominiums. Fixing the walls and roof of the 70-year-old building on Côte des Neiges Rd. above Cedar Ave. is going to take three years and cost an estimated $7 million. Glouberman, who chairs the eight-member Trafalgar board of administrators, got the okay from residents in 53 of the building's 57 units. Four dissidents are suing to contest the project, but the overwhelming majority has carried the day and work began in May. "The first information session did not go well - $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," says Norman Glouberman, head of Trafalgar's board of administrators.View Larger Image View Larger Image "The first information session did not go well - $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," says Norman Glouberman, head of Trafalgar's board of administrators. There's scaffolding up the Côte des Neiges side of the three-tower complex. Pallets of bricks and mortar are stacked amid luxury sedans in the courtyard. After leaving the keys to my unluxurious car with the Trafalgar doorman yesterday, I rode the vintage elevator, with its sliding brass grate door, up to Glouberman's fourth-floor condo. He and his wife have a seven-room, 2,200-square-foot unit, and Glouberman's share of the repair bill will be $170,000. Even at this elevated socio-economic stratum, that's not chump change. And no one turned handsprings - probably ill-advised at their age, anyway; two of the condo owners are 90-somethings - when residents were told the Trafalgar needed a facelift. "Unlike apartments, in a condo arrangement everyone has a say," Glouberman said. "Normally, people don't say anything. But when there's money involved ..." The Trafalgar was built - by the grandfather of Montreal restoration architect Julia Gersovitz - as apartment units in 1933 for $1 million. That was serious money in the Dirty Thirties. "The sad part," Glouberman said, "is I've been told that during the 1970s, which was really tough times for real estate, the building was sold for $1 million." That was then. The Trafalgar is evaluated at $55 million. A 3,300-square-foot condo recently sold for $1.4 million. Glouberman has lived there nine years. There's been minimal turnover - about 20 per cent in that time. Who would move? It's a honey of a location on the slope of Mount Royal, with dazzling views of downtown. Glouberman, who's an architect, walks to his Ste. Catherine St. office. Even great buildings start to crumble. The Trafalgar underwent masonry repairs in 1995, but a three-year renovation project was stopped after one year because residents didn't want to spend money on repairs that were not deemed necessary. That was a mistake. "We knew there were minor problems with the masonry," Glouberman said, "but not major problems." Three years ago, the condo board commissioned a thorough study of what ought to be done. The leaky roof could be repaired for $1.5 million and the garage could be fixed for $750,000. "But $4 million to $5 million for the masonry was a big shock for everyone," Glouberman said. "The first information session did not go well." No one - not even a rich downtown condo owner - likes a $150,000 repair bill. But almost every property owner realizes home repair is a good investment - especially in a high-class building like the Trafalgar. Not that it's perfect. The elevator remembers only the floor number pressed by the first passenger to board. Rosemary's Baby vibe notwithstanding, that's the charm of the Trafalgar: a 93-year-old resident drives her car, and the elevator has Alzheimer's. [email protected]
I feel a bit nostalgic, last year in December I went to visit my home country for the first time since coming to Montréal. I was shocked the moment I entered the "International" Airport of Damascus, I knew right away I was in a different planet. I thought that my initial shock would pass away, but no, it went from one shock to another. When I left Syria I was 7 years old, and I remember barely anything from there, while being born in Aleppo (second largest city), I lived all my life in a small town (300k) by the name of Al Qamishly on the border with Turkey and near Iraq. That city became slowly invaded by poor and restless Kurds. Everyone was telling me that Damascus was beautiful, modern, etc... well I can tell you that after seeing what Damascus was all about, I was not so thrilled to see the smaller towns and villages. Oh well, here's the tale in pictures of a spoiled Montrealer in Syria: First signs of western influence, laughed my ass off:) It is believed there's something like 4000 mosque in Damascus alone... thats alot of highrises THis is the Parlimant of the Syrian Republic... I took the pic without being noticed by the secret service dudes near me in an unmarked white car:D A pedestrian only street, you can shop all you want My host, Roudain One of the most if not most important shopping streets in Damascus The almighty Ministry of Economy and Trade... aka Mafia ...err Club not Clup Steets in eternal old Damascus: In Montreal we call that a ruelle, but its almost ten time smaller... yes people do live here Notice the black exterior walls, they were white but because of the pollution they became black.... Satelite dishes paradise....... Notice the mountain in the background and the dark area at its bottom... the dark is in reality savage construction done everywhere without any control or restraint... sad, imagine the Mont-Royal like that... Commie blocks Thats inside a restaurant on top of the mountain, sadly its empty because no one goes out in "winter" The patio... Damascus at night from the mountain Day one is over, i will post more in the coming days...