I've had the opportunity to travel a fair amount this year but I haven't yet managed to sort through all the photos, ponder over my journal entries, or even try cooking some of the tasty dishes I tried along the way. With moving around so much and with most of our stuff in storage, it is hard not to feel a bit scattered. So this is a first in a series of posts that details some of my observations and thoughts from this last year of travel. I thought I'd start with Paris.
Parisians might think this next statement bold. Or even absurd. But Paris sometimes feels a whole lot like India. Big city India. Not like New York or D.C. but more like Bombay or New Delhi. I think it serendipitous that my husband and I spent so much time in India before our move to Paris - "good training", as we like to say in India.
A few observations -
Let's start with the greve. Within two weeks of being in town, there were people protesting on the streets. I had only ever read about French strikes in the newspaper and watched reports on the news. But this time I stood in the middle of the rue and watched hundreds of people protesting. In India, we like to protest a lot as well. We have morchas for everything from Bt brinjal to movies about child brides. Effigies are set on fire and cinemas are torched. Liberty.
What about all the merde? Parisian sidewalks are full of dog poop. Some stretches more than others. I've seen several posters encouraging pet owners to pick up after their dogs, and I hear there's a new law, but there is still a healthy amount of dog poop waiting to be stepped on. Especially by the unsuspecting new-to-town-ers. Just so you know, I haven't stepped in any yet. My 'training' in India has paid off. In Bombay we had to deal with not just dog poop, but big cow patties. And yes, sometimes human poop too. Moving on..
People like to walk straight into you on the sidewalks in Paris. Sometimes they are unarmed, but other times they come armed with prams carrying little children, fabric carts carrying groceries, or parapluies waiting to take out an eyeball or two. They just don't step aside.
A couple of weekends ago, there was a hand scribbled note in the elevator up to our temporary apartment. It was written in French but we read it and chuckled. It went something like this "...no heat, the lifts don't work, expensive parking, and now, no water...", and then it said that the apartment's management sucked. We felt bad for the person who wrote it. We unlocked the door to our apartment only to realise that there was NO running water in our flat as well. Not in the loo, not in the kitchen, not anywhere. It was Saturday afternoon. The problem was not fixed till 4:00 PM on Monday. Wow, that even beats our experience in India!
What? No, I'm not complaining. Just saying - I feel right at home. Shopkeepers seem like they don't really want to sell you anything, no one smiles at you (initially, anyway), and women wear their hair long. Meme en Inde. I've fallen in love with Paris - with all it's cliched beauty and it's not-so-chic side.