martedì, dicembre 08, 2015

Making peace with Paris

Well, the first day we visited Paris, on our way to the apartment we'd rented, a young fella in the RER who was getting out at the same stop as us opened the door and then waited for me - encumbered with backpack and boy-in-stroller - to exit. "Do I know him? Does he want something?" I asked myself, and quickly corrected myself enough to muster a merci, and get a je vous en prie, or some such, before we both continued our days.

This is what living in Oz and then Germany for years has done to me - made it totally baffling when people are polite. When people have a fucking modicum, a bare goddamn minimum, of superfluous social grace. In a sense I'm not complaining because I know what chivalry is tied to in Latin culture, and I have a very intimate acquaintance with the chauvinistic flip side of courtliness, and the excellent gender relations devoid of all that in Germany is part of what made me decide to live here. But it was like a fucking holiday to go back to France, even to its rudest, nastiest, smelliest city, and have people have some fucking manners.

It was pretty awesome to be back in Paris - just straightforwardly awesome this time. It made me feel old, in a good way - that city doesn't change, I have changed a lot since my time living there, and I approve of the respective not-changes and changes. Magically the weather was good, and the food on offer fit in beautifully with my end-of-first-trimester urges - mostly avocado, steak and salmon. The food was soooooo good. And I did it justice.

I didn't notice any real change of habits or paranoia in people's behaviour after what happened three weeks ago - just more security, more cops and more guns. The local people who brought up the attacks with us asked us if we were scared, as tourists, but only seemed sad themselves. The bars and restaurants were all crowded. I don't know about the tourist destinations; the weather was too good to go inside anywhere and that wasn't what our visiting friend from Australia wanted to see. We did take her to see the crazy glass ceiling at Printemps, and the shopping district was absolutely crawling with people, as you'd expect at this time of year.

Paris to France is like New York to the US, since Muslims became the white man's boogeyman. People in Paris aren't the ones who are going to go extra paranoid about foreigners and Muslims now that this has happened, and Charlie Hebdo has happened, and more things will happen because France is a fucked up place with a fucked up, filthy history (did you notice how many of the killers were of Algerian descent? So let's go bomb Syria obvs, that's the problem here) and with a ghettoized present. Even though all those things happened and will happen in Paris.

It's the yokels, the dummies, the poor people without prospects or much to threaten in the provinces. They'll bring the FN in, while people in Paris go on having to suffer both through living in Paris - a lovely place to visit but, let's face it, a bit of a shithole - and the violence attendant on living in Paris and the ever-increasing conflict attendant on living in a place like Paris while the fascist side of French culture is becoming wholly ascendant.

We had a fucking top notch weekend, is my point, but I'm sad. 

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