Back Home, In Paris

April 27, 2009

I’m back from Gran Canaria, and even though I knew this has been home to me, I wasn’t sure what would be the things I would do or feel that would leed me to think so. So I paid attention and realized that the Paris metro is probably the best indicator of whether or not you are at “home”.

One of my best friends, Waleed Fateem, once told me that when you’re in the Egyptian army, you take so much crap until you reach a point when you become a soldier. That’s when nothing matters to you, nothing scares you, and no thoughts are strong enough to penetrate you and trigger feelings such as fear, nervousness or exhaustion. That was very inspirational. Not that coming to Paris is in ANY WAY related to joining the Egyptian army, but here too, you reach a point when you’re no longer a visiter – you’re a habitant, and this is your home.

The following are the traits that come to mind:

  • You jump over the entrance bar leading to the metro to avoid paying an “airport supplement” (it’s almost 8 Euros, can you believe it?). More importantly, you’re not bothered to look around you when you’re doing so, because you’re confident of yourself. In fact, people will look at you and say “this guys is from around here”
  • You know where exactly to stand so that the door opens right in front of you, and you get into the wagon before others do (hence a higher possibility of finding a seat). Moreover, when you arrive at your station, you find yourself right in front of your exit
  • When you swipe your card (assuming you have a pass – because buying tickets is for out-of-towners), you don’t even pay attention – you know exactly where to go and don’t hesitate for a second
  • You never look at a map, and if you do, you’re usually too embarrassed and worried someone might see you
  • When there are various options as to where you can sit down, or stand up, you know how to calculate it so that you’re comfortable, but you don’t have to go through too many obstacles to reach the door when you need too

There’s probably a few more. But I would say that those are the kind of actions you would be taking when you reach the point of considering Paris home. This reminds me of the days of Madrid – such beauty!

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5 Responses to “Back Home, In Paris”

  1. Nile Delta says:

    awalan it sounds like the Egyptian metro, and I think people probably look at you while jummping the bar to save the 8 Euros and think to themselves “oh, he’s arab..”, and deep down inside, envy your behavior, but would never for a second, think of doing it themselves!


  2. taha says:

    it becomes home too when you start showing people around. when the visitor doesn’t need to look at a map or figure out how to get from one place to the next – because you’re there, and you know the place, you live there, it’s home.

    wondering if you will try to catch a Paris Saint-Germain game while you’re there?

    watched the man utd v tottenham game last weekend with a friend Cy and he mentioned that he’s started a blog you should check out. Especially the post ronaldo v fabregas. (http://www.footsmoke.com)

    big game tomorrow!

  3. Ruth says:

    Nile Delta: La’. I’ve lived in Paris and I’ve seen people jumping the bar a thousand times. Not just arabs.

    Taha: I agree with you: you also feel at home when you start showing people around (and others will realize too!).

    Except from jumping the bar, the behaviour in the metro is exactly the same in Madrid, and in any other big city, I guess.

    Tarek, be carefull with the Police. The fine used to be up to 20 euros 4 years ago… And they can annoy you quite a lot if they want to be unfriendly.



  4. Nora Shalaby says:

    Wow, I’m impressed that you’ve caught on to Parisian behavior so quickly……I’m sure it’ll make your experience there a lot more meaningful.

    bas, khaly balak min al-shorta al-faransiya al-wiskha deh!

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