Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Wandering the Streets of Paris

I had to read up on all the various ways one can get scammed in Paris. I realized that Asian culture had not prepared me for the particulars of actually getting ripped off in Paris. I felt better about it after reading through all the various types of scams. The petition signing, the bracelet scam, the art scam, etc. etc. etc. Paris, it seems was full of a variety of different types of scams.

The first morning I spent at a place with a brunch menu and decent coffee and I wrote. It felt very French, even though the writing was for work, not pleasure, and it was work that I had taken on to do things like pay for a vacation. To force myself away from work, I had not taken my computer charger with me and as the a battery waned I took it as a cue to walk around the neighborhood.

From the roof, it was interesting to watch the glow of the streets and the hum of the rhythm of they city below me. On foot it was just as interesting. A strange blend of history and modern. Unbeknownst to me Montmartre is in the middle of the red light district in France. Why this should have surprised me is beyond me, but of course it did for some reason. So in and out I wondered, peaking into French sex shops and taking pictures of the odd variety of buildings that littered the streets of the city as I walked back and forth between later stops for wine. Somehow it was exactly perfect from drinking wine on the train as I traveled in, to writing, to then touring. There was the lingering unease but it felt glorious.

My single mission, after discovering that I would need to discover places to take my American Express was to find a place to get tweezers. I have no idea how I managed to go on a one week trip without them, but somehow I had and I felt as if I was going to die from it. I walked up and down the streets until I found a drug store that reminded me rather a lot of something I might find in Korea, and eventually I walked up and using a lot of pantomime explained what I needed as best I could. The ladies pointed me down the street and tried to explain at the next shop.

So down the street I went and into the next shop. Which was connected to the next shop. Which was connected to the next shop. The street markets at Seomuyn Shijang came to mind, the 1,000 year old market in Daegu that was like my second home for the better part of 10 years. I ran in and out of interconnected stores dodging dark looking gypsy men who kept following me on and off. Several times I was approached by dark men with their phones speaking French. All I could do was violently shake my head and go into another shop, another store, and try to lose them.

Perhaps at some point I should have thought to fear for my personal safety, but I figure at the end of the day if I really must, I can make a hell of a commotion and being able to lift most people off the floor (thanks to the power-lifting) can't hurt my cause. It never came to that, but I did have to make an effort to make sure I wasn't being followed back to my hotel later.

I did, however, in the end find the object of my desire, a tweezer rack at the bottom of some store very far away from where I started. I bought five pairs before working my way back through the maze I had gotten lost in, towards my room, to the bottle of wine I had picked up in earlier travels, to watch the sun set for the first night in Paris from my roof.

Ennui and exhilaration were the flavors that night when I finally managed to go to sleep.

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