Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ten ten ten

It's been a nice weekend, again. I was trying to work out just now how long I have actually been in Paris. I couldn't work out if it was two or three weeks; turns out it has only been 10 days. It feels like much longer.

So, my five day weekend (I only start full-time this coming week) has been blessed with amazing weather. Yesterday it was 27 degrees and I was walking around in a dress sans tights. I was actually getting burnt whilst sitting on the roof on Thursday afternoon. Let's see, on Friday I wandered over to the Parc Floral with my flatmate which was really nice. She invited me to a party in the evening, which was in one of the coolest apartments I've seen so far; all exposed piping, modern art and bright painted walls. I met a few other assistants and ULIP students there; unfortunately nearly all of my socialising so far has been in English, but I had a great time nonetheless. On Saturday I wandered around the floral park which was gorgeous in the autumn sunlight. I would taken so many photos but GAH! my camera has broken.

On Saturday night I met up with a fellow Warwick student, Sarah. I think blogging etiquette involves me linking to her (very interesting) blog; she is at, and posting a photo a day for her year in Paris. We had a few glasses of wine and a good chat before deciding we really wanted some crème brulée. Luckily she had her camera with her so I can post here at least one photo of the evening. Me with a creme brulee the size of my FACE.

Seriously, I couldn't even finish it. It was very nice though. After that, we tried to meet up with some fellow assistants who were on a night out on the Grands Boulevards, but it turned into a bit of a wild goose chase. After a drink with a few other assistants/random people I didn't know, we headed home. It was good to get out, nonetheless.

To borrow a topic from Sarah, one of the negative things about this city (aside from the dogshit on the streets and obscenely high price of coffee) is the amount of sexual harassment. I've been here 10 days and already been harassed more times than I can remember. This has involved being yelled at from moving cars, but mainly random guys on the metro and on the street just come up to me and hassle me for a bit. It is totally fucking annoying, and it always in happens the same way. Some guy will come up to me and say "Ca va?", which is just on the boundary of "interactions it is OK to have with strangers". So I can't win - if I reply politely, they take it as an invitation to start talking, which I obviously don't want. When I ignore them, they become aggressive.

Today on the metro some guy just asked me "Can I talk to you?" to which I replied simply "Non". He then asked me why not, and I was only saved further annoyance by the arrival of the next train. Had this been late at night, and were I on my own, I would have been genuinely scared about my safety. As it was, I felt pretty comfortable giving him my most pissed-off glare and dismissive "Non". Anyway.

This behaviour is not a desire to interact with a girl, and even if it was, their desire to do that does not trump my obvious desire to be left alone, not to mention my right to feel safe whilst walking around. The chances that a woman of 20 would respond positively to a creepy 50 year old introducing himself by saying "T'es belle" are non-existent, and if they were truly just trying their luck, they would back off as soon as I made I clear I didn't want to talk to them. I see it more as a petty display of arrogance from men who, knowing they can't have something, decide instead to try and destroy it. Destroy is too strong a word, of course, but there is an element of trying to bring me down, ruin my day, make my time in this city just a little bit less enjoyable - because I exist, am presumably desirable (without wishing to be conceited - this goes for any woman between the ages of 15 and 50) and won't interact with them.

They are kids who, not being able to build a sandcastle themselves, decide to kick down somebody else's. That's a bit of a tortured metaphor I know, but it's the best way I can think to describe it. Of course, the idea that random men in this city see me as part of the landscape, to be provoked as they see fit without any kind of consequence, is infuriating. It's also a display of social dominance - they can afford to annoy me without the slightest chance of a repercussion, when they wouldn't dream of doing the same with a man, unless perhaps one who looked particularly vulnerable. I think the men who do it are those who feel weak and powerless in some way, and who like reminding themselves that no matter how powerless they feel, there is always someone around them with less power (in certain situations). Or maybe they are just entitled arseholes. Oh well.

Oops, I was definitely going to keep the feminist theory separate from my Paris tales.

The rest of Paris is wonderful, though. Especially in this weather (autumn leaves falling with a background of bright blue sky; zero clouds but a cool breeze), I can't get over the beauty of the city. There is something aesthetically pleasing at every corner; a beautiful building with wrought iron balconies; a fountain; a boulangerie with glossy patisseries arranged like artwork in the window. I wish so much my camera hadn't broken, or I would be posting lots of photos on here as well. I intend to get it fixed as soon as possible, though.

Oh, last thing - I have an interview tomorrow with a company called Babyspeaking. As far as I can see, it's an English-language babysitting service that also offers some tutoring for older children. The pay is pretty good, and it seems like you can choose your hours, so if I get it, I can fit the job around working at the lycée as well.

Wish me luck!

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