In the last couple of months we have had three dégâts des eaux, and the ceiling, the front hall and the bathroom and several walls all need to be repainted.
The guy who came to do the estimate was handsome and very dark-skinned, but not African. He was all business and climbed up on my highest ladder in three places. "Sometimes I have to get up on rooftops," he said. He stuck a little device into the ceiling in the three spots, and told me that my ceiling was "100 % humide" in two rooms and would have to dry for at least three or four months before it could be painted.
"You are American?" he said after a while.
"Yes, and where is your family originally from?" I said. I knew he was French from his attitude and accent.
"My family is from Sri Lanka. It used to be called Ceylon," he said (and I figured out afterwards from his name that he was from the Tamil minority there).
"Can you still speak the language?" I asked.
"Oh yes," he said, as he continued to measure the size of the rooms with a laser meter. "It is very important to remember where you come from. But it is also important" -- and he held up one finger at me-- "to integrate, Madame. Which some do not do.
"We must always remember that France welcomed us."