Monday, July 14, 2008

Third World Perspective (Part II)

Today is the French National Holiday, aka Bastille Day, and I've heard fireworks going off all throughout the place this weekend. Last night on the Champs Elysées I saw a few fireworks which looked nice with the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe. Tonight will be the real deal and I am most definitely going to be there.

For me, Bastille Day symbolizes people wanting change and unity and also freedom - freedom to express themselves and fight for what they want...Something we, who have freedom, should be grateful for as there are so many people all over who have no freedom, have no rights or who have what little rights they had taken away from them. Hell, there are many even in our own developed countries who get taken advantage of just because their rights are perceived to be less than others. I just read the New York Times article talking about Erik Camayd-Freixas' essay in which he shared what he witnessed as an interpreter for the persons arrested in the May 2008 raid of illegal workers in Postville, Iowa.

The fact that Dr. Camayd-Freixas felt compelled to write a 14-page essay to tell the story of the bad way in which the raid was handled tells a lot. That means that the events he witnessed had a deep effect on him. The details he describes in his essay are troubling as he points out the bad treatment of the workers and the unfair options presented to them. It's crazy that these poor workers will not be at least deported immediately back to their countries. No, they will have to do 5 months in jail. Then you have celebrities like Paris Hilton who drive recklesslesy and serve only 3 days of a 45 day jail sentence and, of course, do not have to worry about whether or not their families will have food to eat while they are in jail. Maybe it's just my third world perspective but to paraphrase George Orwell, ''All [ men] are created equal, but some [men] are more equal than others....''

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back to the Metro Grind

I found a place to move into a couple weeks ago. I officially moved in this past Sunday. This new place is on the other side of the Seine river from where I was before...north...instead of south. Not even close to being as nice as my old place in terms of amenities but I love my room and that is the main thing. Anyways, the fact that I am living north means that I am theoretically much further away from my workplace, which is at one of the southwest ports of Paris. In fact, the new place is two metros rides away from my workplace compared to a bus ride away. However, this apartment, unlike my previous one, is literally 30 seconds walk from the closest metro entrance so I already save 10 minutes walking to the metro. Plus, although the metro is usually quite crowded, so far it only takes me 45 minutes total to get to work, still half my commute time in Toronto and only slightly more than the 30 minutes total it took me before. Also, it takes about the same time to come home whereas with the bus it takes much longer than the 30 minutes to come back. Sometimes the bus used to take me an hour to get home because of traffic on the road, strike or something else.

Speaking of strike, yesterday they had a strike on one of the metro lines because one of the drivers of that line was injured. Last week, another line had another strike for another reason. The day before yesterday it was the trucks' turn to strike. I saw the trucks in motion, or should I say the oppposite, on their strike day. On a road near my workplace, a road leading to a highway entry, there must have been at least 15 big long trucks and trailers and all crawling and slowing down traffic. When they got to the light and the light was green they wouldn't budge for at least a minute after the light changed and the poor motorists behind were only blowing their horns in vain. Then when the trucks finally moved it was at a very slow pace. I could walk faster.

I've seen on TV where when trucks, taxis or whomever decide to strike, they block the highway and roads to the airport by slowing traffic to a crawl. Actually, I think another strike by yet another one of the metro lines will be happening in the next couple days. Now, I can understand when people want to strike for valid reasons but when they strike at the drop of a hat, like they do here, then their concerns start to become trivial to the average commuter.

Back to my topic of taking the that I am back to taking the metro daily I am back into the grind of things. Let me just say that besides having extra smelly people and other extra rare situations on the metro, NOTHING annoys me more than being close to, i.e. beside or in front of, a kissing couple on the subway. Nothing. Unfortunately, in Paris, that is a common thing and it is not like in Toronto where that type of behaviour is usually displayed by the young. Oh no. I've seen 40 year olds and middle age couples, plus the sugar daddy type couples (old man with young woman), as well as the young couples, basically any and every type of couple, all exhibiting, what in my opinion, is completely unecessary or extreme Public Displays of Affection (PDA). I'm of course not talking about the people who do a little peck once or maybe a quick kiss hello or goodbye. I am talking about the ones who get the urge to give a long passionate kiss or hell just get the urge to kiss their partner EVERY TWO MINUTES on their commute.

Maybe the variety of people I've seen on the metros here has to do with the fact that Paris is a tourist destination, some may even say a popular honeymoon place. But geez people would it killya to wait until you get off the damn train? Better yet, wait til you get out of the metro station. I see far too many people making out on the metro platforms here too. Nobody wants to see other people going at each other's throats every 2 seconds. AND WHEN I CAN'T ESCAPE when I am on the metro and it is crowded and I am frigging right in front of a kissing couple, oh how the irritation increases!