If i’m feeling lazy on a particular Sunday in Australia, when I want bread from the shops but don’t feel like getting dressed, I’m going out anyway. I’ll wear thongs, pyjama pants and my favourite band T-shirt, that ratty one I’ve had since a teenager, with all the holes and stains, but still rocks. I never see people dressed like that in Paris, wearing their beloved worst. Almost all my travel clothes are sporting holes from wear-and-tear in Asia, and my converse, stained orange from Cambodian dust have the soles falling out, but I love those clothes anyway. Besides the homeless guys on the streets, i’ve never seen a Parisian wearing anything from the ‘forgotten’ section of their wardrobe.
Even kids from the suburbs, plastered insanely head to toe with Adidas logos and black and white stripes are all designer. Jeff and I invented a game in Amsterdam, as we sipped a beer at a cold roadside bar and watched the crowd walk by; Jogging or dealing. Guess if a person blanketed in Adidas tracksuit gear was a jogger or…well, the name is self explanatory. In the suburbs of Paris, this game is harder than it seems!
I once saw a lady with one of those shopping bags with the handle and wheels, made of fur. I like the glasses in vogue here, rounded Harry Potter spectacles, translucent and coloured fluoro red, green, yellow. My favourite, however, is a dog I saw wearing a leather jacket.
On the metro
Rush hour on the Paris metro is a free-for-all. To stand on a platform and watch the flow of commuters fill the platform, empty into the next train, and repeat the process two minutes later is like watching the blood pump through Paris’s great beating heart. People pack like sardines onto the carriages during rush hour, their faces and hands pressed absurdly against the window.
Station announcements warn of pickpockets and though I’ve never seen one before, Cindy has told me stories of metro theft. Cindy’s friend Romain once was riding the metro, looked to his watch to check the time, only to catch a thieving kid in the act trying, ninja-like, to undo the strap and make off with the prize. Everyone understood when he explain why he yelled at a kid on the metro.
At times, a carriage of passengers reading or talking amongst themselves will be treated (or plagued) to an announcement from another passenger, with a microphone, amplifier and battery crudely duct-taped to a small trolley. These are the unofficial metro musicians, and their instruments vary from slick and polished brass three-pieces, electric violin, frenetic accordion polka, bizarre plastic kazoo/keyboard contraption, even one lady who bravely stood up and sang a capella. Donations if you think they’ve brightened your commute; avoid eye contact if they polluted the silence of your carriage, and you’ve had to put your iPod in to cover another badly sung version of Champs Élysées.