Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, August 12, 2011


There have been books written about Paris of course, and songs sung and movies made too, lots of them, so there is little point in rabbiting on about how it sort of eats into the corner's of one's psyche other than to note that we are yet to find the sort of Parisian whose reputation for arrogance and ferocity in defence of all things related to their way of life and speaking their mother tongue is legendary.

While checking the schedule at the station before changing trains we were ambushed by a man in a hurry, on his way to we know not where, but he had heard us speaking English and was determined to help despite our abundant lack of helplessness. He cross-examined us as to our intentions, walked us briskly to the ticket window, exclaimed loudly in angst when it was closed, pushed us across to the ticket machine and before we could object had inserted his own credit card, scrolling through screens at stroboscopic pace while simultaneously punching buttons, and telling us which platform we needed. In less than a flash he had thrust the tickets into our hands and began to race off in the direction from which he had come still shouting instructions.

I chased after him and pushed a note into his hand to cover the cost of the tickets, and thanked him as I trotted alongside.

Welcome to Paris.

As we sat that evening with Jayne and Peter in the twilight in the courtyard of an Italian Restaurant run by an Indian Family who spoke perfect English, surrounded by a community comprising predominantly Algerians, the world suddenly seemed impossibly small.


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