Traveling on a TGV to a site meeting in Nancy, my profession as an interior architect has taken me to all corners of France. Today, using my 3G card, my iPad remains connected, and I am writing this article, whilst checking my emails and surfing the web.
I used to travel to Nancy when we installed the first Sephora shops in France.
It was a different age, the ‘Trans European Express,’ took four hours to do the journey, and we smoked our cigarettes in the dining car, whilst the waiter served us croissant and hot coffee, and, those who wished, got to eat specially fried eggs.
On the way back we smoked our cigars in the same dining car, now on its way back from Luxembourg and we drank our ‘Pousse Cafe,’ arriving back into the Gare de L’Est for around ten in the evening.
Today’s TGV does the journey in less than two hours!
The next day, we would have the site meeting minutes typed up as a band to be sent by telex and then the longer version of the site minutes would be posted by surface mail, before the end of the week, arriving to their destination, hopefully, by the first post on the Monday morning.
Drawings were prepared on tracing paper, plans copied on the ammonia plan copiers and were duly folded and sent by the post, or the contractors could order a set from the ‘Tireur des plans.’
The plans I need for today’s meetings are on my cloud, I can read and send off the PDF versions and, if necessary, can iChat or Skype my colleagues or clients, to discuss.
The telex machine was replaced by the Telefax machine and meant we could send A4 documents around the world. Our Minitel made us the envy of our English colleagues and my half car boot full of equipment enabled me to telephone from my car almost anywhere in the Paris region.
The Minitel carried on and we added a Burroughs computer with its chain paper computer, to do our accounts, and then the Apple ii computer made forecasting on spreadsheets a controllable method of reporting? The Apple gave way to the Mac, Burroughs disappeared and life changed. Newton became iPad and here I am, real using I even have WiFi on my train! Living in France continues to stimulate me, maybe because I still feel its foreign.
Even after a third of a century there are still things that impress me, and maybe it’s this TGV and its punctual high speed travel to my destination, with its power plug, WiFi and its high speed, dependable and good value for money.