Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn
Our building is in chaos. There are new electrical meters being installed. The hallways are full of dust and men and the sound of drills and shouting. Walls have been opened up. On Monday all the power was off all day which meant no electricity no telephone no internet and no heat. This is the third day. Today the men are supposed to be here installing new meters in this apartment. Everyone has been given an appointment. Our appointment was for 9 am but they have not arrived. We cannot leave.
Schools and universities are on winter break. The restaurants are empty. The sales are over. People keep repeating that the entire city has gone skiing. That everyone has left the city for one place or another. I am not sure if this is simply a yearly myth. The city seems plenty full to me. Maybe the city has indeed emptied out and it is the suburbs and the countryside that have poured in. There are children everywhere. There are great clumps of teenagers everywhere. They are rushing up and down the steps of the metro and gathering on every corner. There are small children in prams and walking with their grandparents and there are great straggling family groups. There is chaos in all directions. It is not the orderly rush and scramble of many people doing their daily city activities. All is now a disorderly mess of people who do not seem to mind where they are going because they are now here and this is enough. Great lines stretch out at the entrance of every museum and historical site. It is a good time to avoid many places.
I was on a No. 76 bus yesterday and at one stop the bus filled up with 14 or 15 young black women each with a tiny baby. Some of the babies were in tummy slings and some were in prams. The women were all enormous. They were dressed in beautiful flowing clothes in bright colours with patterned head-dressings. They filled the entire front of the bus in a particular way. There was a stately calm about them. But also because of all the colours and patterns there was a busy buzz about them. The babies were all quiet. One skinny white blonde woman with sharp features and an angry face complained and sneered about the crowd of black women and their babies. She kept her tirade going loudly and without cease. No one joined in with her but no one could ignore her. I was glad when she descended from the bus. I got off before the group so I have no idea where they were going. I wondered if all the mothers and babies were on their way to a baby clinic. Or maybe they were on their way home from a clinic.
It is now 11 am and the men have not arrived yet. Their vehicles are not parked out front. The little white stool which they left in the hall on Monday is still in position.