Wednesday, June 19, 2013

the real Paris

"Just be careful going up there," I was told right before taking the metro to Porte de Clignancourt, the northern most stop on line 4.

I was running late, by 30 minutes. I hadn't realized the travel time would take as long as it had.  Each time I looked up from my watch, I noticed the demographics in the metro car had changed yet again. Once the doors opened at the final stop, I rushed into the station and over to our planned meeting spot. Before I got there, though, I saw Rinaldo and Daniel.

"Oh good! You guys haven't left me yet," I sighed. "So where is everyone else?"

"Well, Yanick is with his new boyfriend and Anna isn't here yet," Rinaldo explained.

"New boyfriend?"

"Yeah, he's in looooove, because although they just met, they can't stop talking."

I rolled my eyes and went up to the street where Yanick was.

"In this area, 17 people can live in a single apartment like that one right there," Rimsa pointed out to him.

Rimsa was 'the new boyfriend'.  He had accompanied his girlfriend on her way work and met Yanick on his way back to the metro to return home.

"He used to live in this area," Yanick informed me, "so he'll show us around that market Anna wanted us to go to."

As if on cue, Anna arrived...  Rinaldo and Daniel in tow.

The group naturally broke into pairs as we walked to the street market, with Rimsa by my side.

"This is the real Paris," he explained. "Most of the items at the market are stolen goods."

A few illegal immigrants walked in our path. They held out phone cards, sunglasses and the likes, pressuring us to purchase something. Rimsa smiled at them all and politely declined.

After crossing a street, he went on.

"See, on the left? Cocaine dealers." They sat, bunched together, against an iron gate.  "And there. Just in front of us. They're gambling."  A few people huddled around a cocktail table which had been turned into a street-side casino.

We walked a little further and crossed another street. A few stands into the market, Anna turned to me.

"This is not was I was expecting," she bemoaned. "I thought it was going to be more like Portobello Market in Notting Hill."

It was anything but. Instead it was a Made-In-China mecca. Each item looked as though it would break after the first use. But we walked around it all, since it was our only reason for venturing north.

At the last stand Daniel stopped to buy a 10 Euro memory card for his camera.

"They said you can test it to see if it works," Rimsa translated.

It didn't.

Instead of trying another card, Daniel asked for his money back. The vendor shoved the 10 Euro note Daniel had given him into one pocket, and from another pulled out a different bill - a transaction which occurred after I had walked away.

I turned back around to see Daniel holding the bill in the air, towards the sun. He and Anna were inspecting every last inch while asking Rimsa if he knew what fake money looked like. Apparently, it looks a lot like the one Daniel held in his hand.

"It's not like it really matters though," Rimsa told Daniel after a real 10 Euro bill was returned to him, "you could have gone into any of the shops around here and they would have accepted it."


ReL said...

That's so crazy! What a great story though :) You tell them so well!

Patti said...

A little scary, that part of Paris.