Early this morning, drinking tea on the balcony, I saw something beautiful.
Here in Paris the streets are cleaned every morning. A slow moving municipal vehicle sends a high pressure jet of water onto the pavements, like a mini water cannon, hosing away the dirt of the previous day in preparation for another day’s manic city life.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of the African women I wrote about yesterday. She was walking backwards, away from her patch on the intersection, slowly retreating from the water, waiting for the guy manning the vehicle to do his job and pass on to the next street.
Shyly, gently, with the smallest gesture, she waved to him, I guess returning his gesture of early morning greeting – one street worker to another.
Suddenly, she wasn’t a prostitute. She was a young girl, guardedly polite, well-mannered, brought up to show respect to others. She could have been a school-girl waving to the bus driver. It made my heart flip – for us all.
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha
I am spending a little while in Paris, as will be apparent from the continental looking rooftops. From the balcony of the building where I have been lucky enough to find a summer let, I can look up at the sky and down at the busy streets five floors below.
The studio flat I’m staying in is bang in the middle, it turns out, of the red light district. For centuries this part of Paris has been the place men come to find prostitutes and there is quite a range. An elderly, kind-looking lady in her doorway, her face pulled by surgery into a strange sort of smile, her cannonball breasts barely covered by a skimpy top; Vietnamese women in ones and twos sauntering up and down the boulevard and frighteningly young, beautiful African women pacing their patch of pavement in the side streets, engaging or batting away the men who approach.
I guess they can tell pretty quickly who’s just up for a chat, who’s there to hassle them and who’s likely to make them some money. I have no idea who controls them, who is, to use the Parisian slang, their ‘mackerel’.
Truly, everything is for sale.
I’ve been thinking for a very long time about how our world is organised in terms of money, resources, power and ownership. Continue reading