This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
May 1968 in Paris
May 1968 was a period of civil unrest in France, particularly in Paris, the capital.
After months of conflicts between students and authorities in one university in Nanterre near Paris, the problems escalated at the beginning of May and resulted in big demonstrations. The trade unions called for a general strike, and France was almost completely paralyzed for several weeks.
It is Forbidden to Forbid: one of slogans in May 68
As I was still going to Lycée Saint-Louis, who is in the Latin Quarter where many demonstrations took place, I was a witness to this events.
May 68 demonstration
In the competition for École Polytechnique there were several tests in math, physics, chemistry, French, English. There was also a test of "artistic drawing" (dessin d'art). The subject of this test was to draw a baluster was known several months in advance. It had been proposed by my drawing teacher in Lycée Saint-Louis, and I had been drawing it for months. So, I was quite confident that i would do a decent job, although I am not good at drawing.
Because of all the strikes during the month of May 1968, public transportation was quite perturbed. I had to take a bus, then the subway. Near the bus stop, there were a café with a oinball machine, that I like to play. I forgot the time and I miss the first bus playing the pinball machine. When I finally arrived at the place for the drawing test, I was seven minutes late. The regulation was that nobody was admitted in the room after the test was started, so I was unable to take the test. And, because I had not taken the test, I was no longer qualified for the competition: I would not be admitted to the École Polytechnique.
I was desperate, because I thought I had a good chance. I wanted to try again the next year.
Mu father, Paul, represented to me that my goal was to become a Navy officer, and I could do that going to École Navale. Of course, I knew that, but I still wanted to know if I could be admitted to the École Polytechnique.
I asked counsel to various people and I reluctantly agreed with my father. I could have sabotaged the competition to École Navale, but I would not have been proud of myself.
Continue to Part 22
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