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I realised last night – dozing uncomfortably under rather dramatic circumstances, in the midst of a thunderstorm lightening the sky and with the wind making slamming windows and shutters throughout the street, and not to mention the pool of sweat from the perpetual heat wave as well as my untimely cold – that it’s about high time I write about what I’m actually doing here.
One of my first blog posts in the autumn was on Le Square and the after-school socialisation among children and parents. Then came the grey and cold winter and street-life almost disappeared. Since then, I’ve returned several times to the seasonal changes and how social and communicative Parisians become as the temperature rises. Now summer is head on. The heat wave is said to reach its peak today, with 34-35 degrees in Paris. I’m staying at home during the day, trying to get on with at least one of the several blog posts that have been simmering in the back of my heads – and bothering my conscience – for a long time. Many of the neighbours across the courtyard have already left for holidays. The rest have their windows wide open like I have, and let various sounds mix between the houses. From my desk, I see the elderly lady get more visits from caretakers than usual, as the French authorities want to avoid the disaster from three years back when 15000 people, mostly elderly, died as a result of the extreme heat wave hitting Europe. Yesterday, some West African women – dressed in even more elegant dresses than usual, so I guess they had some kind of party or celebration – discussed and argued for hours somewhere in the yard. (Someone from a nearby window, who obviously understood their language, called one of them a sarkozyst on one occasion (apparently a summer hit invective – I also heard it in the park a few days ago)).
Clearly this sunny Sunday is not made for sitting at home writing blog posts (nor is my head today, I notice as I try to express myself in English…), so I’ll just be very brief before I head off to my “office” in the shade of a tree in Parc Floral (Vincennes). (It’s a beautiful park in itself, and every Saturday and Sunday there are excellent and free jazz concerts there all summer, which makes it a perfect place for sitting down with a notebook and reflect on the last days’ events).
But before I go, I just have to share this video I just came across (as usual via Paris.Indymedia). Someone had already told me to check out the young rapeuse Keny Arkana from Marseille; - and her La Rage du Peuple (now with English subtitles!) is certainly great indeed. This video, with its' lyrics and aesthetics capture so much of what’s going on in France (and the world) at the moment. I know this sounds a bit strange, exotic and perhaps even slightly ridiculous to Norwegian readers (oh, please someone, tell me that I’m mistaken... ), but I’m not getting the least surprised when someone is starting to talk about la revolution mondiale (global revolution). But that’s it for today, now I’m off to the park with my notebook, to do some writing on the previous nights’ discussions on, amongst other things, the rage of the people.
The summer heat has come to Paris. For some days no, it’s been so hot in the afternoon that the boulevards are almost empty. Only in the shade under the trees are there a few pedestrians strolling slowly. However the Jehovah’s Witness people with their Watchtower are as usual in place by the metro Père Lachaise: A black man and a blonde woman, both decently dressed – in shirt and trousers, blouse and skirt – as usual with these missionaries. Metro Père Lachaise is about as far as I get up the deserted boulevard. This is not the time to be outside. Only some sweaty tourists defy the climatic condition and walk in the sun. I return home, and wait a couple of hours in front of my laptop, with all the windows wide open, mixing the music from my trashy little ghetto blaster with voices and other people’s music in the courtyard. (All these open windows facing the yard are great now during the Championship; the neighbourhood is reverberating when the right team scores – which unfortunately for the moment is not France…).
Blonde and blue-eyed as I am, I’m not treated as an immigrant here. I often think of my privileged position and how much better I’m treated than many of the locals. While the kids in Clichy-sous-Bois, and elsewhere, are asked for identity papers up to four times daily, I’ve never ever been asked for mine. That’s really lucky, because it’s actually obligatory to carry an id card here, and I always forget mine…
I couldn’t believe my ears when I head a sociologist saying on a seminar a while ago that the car burning and riot delinquency going on regularly in this country is apolitical. According to him, these riots had neither symbols nor slogans. I can agree that “fuck Sarko” isn’t the most creative slogan you can come up with, but it’s still sort of a slogan. And if the CRS riot police is not a symbol of a certain securitarian policy, well, then, what is? The same goes for the republican schools that were set fire to in the autumn. (I shall agree that it’s not that easy to find the symbolic content in the act of burning your neighbour’s car).