May 6th, 2009 06th

2

Exiting the Metrpolitain

There’s a lot of things that can be said about living in Paris, and there are quite a few people that have illustrated the glamor of this city over the years. There’s also no doubt that the metro is vital aspect in the Parisian culture. Entering the underground is accessing a world of its own, with its history and charm. That one thing I noticed recently, however, is that the best part of the metro is not going in, it’s actually exiting the Metropolitain.

It’s something that’s very difficult to describe. And no matter how good someone is at any given language, I would like to think that coming out of the metro in Paris is something that can only be lived and experienced. It’s this amazing rush that seems to comes out of nowhere and hits you: you’re in Paris, and this is beautiful. You’re probably still daydreaming about whatever it is you starting thinking about when you entered (and in many cases, triggered by something you’ve seen during your travel), but the moment your back at the street, it all just disappears to make way for a much bigger sensation.

The architecture of the buildings, the lights of the shops, the cafes with terraces, the people walking by….it is all condensed in an instant, and it’s over-whelming. It’s what makes this city enchanting, charming, and attractive in every way. It’s something that only the people here could understand, and the people on the outside are missing out on. It’s magical and could make your day.

Perhaps it’s one of those things that you get used to, or lose interest in over time, but I feel warm knowing that everyone who’s passed through the second city of love, has shared this experience with me.

April 30th, 2009 30th

1

A Culture Underground

My good friend Ruth Pimentel, who’s been very active in participating in this blog and giving me her full support, has sent me a very interesting article titled “Un recorrido cultural por el ‘métropolitain’ de París” (a cultural track via the Paris metro) that talks about the underground from a cultural/artistic perspective. As you might have noticed, the article’s in Spanish, but even if you don’t understand the language, you can probably get the gist of it all via a web page translator.

It gives a historical background and then talks about the different stations, each boasting a different artistic statement, as if a world of its own. It actually reveals how the culture of the city and its habitants (residents and visitors included), is directly tied to the system underground. Which is why I had made the post earlier this week about using the metro as an indication of whether or not you at “home” in Paris.

You can come to the French capital and not visit the louvre (which I am yet to visit, by the way), but you cannot consider yourself to have seen anything in Paris, without experiencing the metropolitain,

Muchas gracias, chiquilla! Nos vemos cuando vengas!

April 27th, 2009 27th

5

Back Home, In Paris

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!