"Happy new year!" I said when I went to the little grocery store around the corner for the first time since I got back to Paris. You are supposed to say "Bonne année!" to everyone you are seeing for the first time since the new year.
"Happy new year," said Mohammed. "How are things in the U.S. right now? Is the economy getting any better?"
"It seems to be improving," I said. "For example, the builders I know have work again. Two years ago they had nothing."
"Things are bad in France," he said, "but at least it's not as bad as in Italy or Spain." He tilted his head at one of his employees. "His brother just came here from Spain. There's no work there any more."
Then he told me how he had gone boar-hunting in Morocco, in the Atlas mountains. I was surprised. "Boars in Morocco? But can people there eat them? Aren't they Muslims?"
"They're delicious!" Mohammed said. "But I hunt with French people."