Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Everyday life

One Sunday I met my friend Ashley and we decided to visit the Paris Plage - the beach that is constructed along the banks of the Seine during the summer. We met at Chatelet, one of the most central metro stops, and walked down to the river. Monoprix, one of the French supermarkets, had set up a temporary kiosk where we bought some lunch before walking along the beach to find somewhere to sit. We spent rather an uncomfortable hour or so sitting, crushed into a tiny piece of free space, with children throwing sand all around us and parents shouting at said children. We left and got the metro to the Louvre where there are acres of lush green grass with very few people. We spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the sunlight before the others came to join us and we went for dinner at a Cuban restaurant.

There is a distinct holiday feel about living in Paris and before long I found that I was haemorrhaging money. No internet and the fact that it is so easy to traverse the city meant we were meeting up almost every night either for dinner, cocktails or an ice cream by the river. This, coupled with the extortionate price of food and the cost of going out properly at the weekend, meant that before long my new French Carte Bleue had been well and truly blocked. It transpired that there is a limit of 150€ that can be withdrawn from a cash point in any given week. Exceed that limit and the card will be refused. However, one can still make purchases with it in shops provided there are funds available. I have managed to get my limit increased to 300€ which surely must be enough for the moment.

When I moved into my apartment my computer picked up as many as 15 available Wi-Fi networks. Every last one was security protected so I went about the task of leaving notes for my neighbours to ask if anyone wanted to share their password – ‘mot de passe’ – in exchange for some money each month. The Muslim woman who lives opposite me explained that she didn’t have the internet but that she would like some extra channels for her television so we could do a deal where we set up a package and she took the television channels and I took the internet. I explained that would be perfect but that she would have to set it up and I pay her each month. After a visit to the internet shop, several conversations I barely understood and an extortionate bill on my English iPhone for data charges, there is a direct debit set up in my name, no internet as yet and no money from the Muslim woman. Perfect. It is rescheduled to be installed this week but I’m not holding out much hope.

After a month or so of living in Paris I was in need of a haircut so I tentatively paid a visit to the hairdresser just down the road from my apartment. The place was empty except for the proprietor and one customer whose hair he was blow drying. The owner was a large man who looked rather Italian if anything. He had long grey hair which looked as though it had been styled carefully that morning and was wearing a long white shirt, reminiscent of an artist’s smock, black trousers and little French loafers. I asked him if he spoke English because the thought of describing a hair style in French was simply too much of a challenge at that point. He said he didn’t but explained that it wouldn’t be necessary and immediately swept me over to the sink where he started to violently wash my hair with his sausage like fingers. Next, we had a brief interaction at the mirror, where I did my best to explain to him what I wanted and he half listened before proceeding to chop away feverishly. He knocked my head about, shaved the back and sides, snipped furiously at the top and was finished within around five minutes. I had another neck breaking rinse by the sink, parted with 18 euros and was outside, blinking in the sunlight, before I’d even had time to assess the damage. I went home and reluctantly looked in the mirror but was relieved to find that, really, it wasn’t too terrible and after a bit of tweaking and a few snips of my own here and there, I was relatively happy with the result.


  1. Haha!! I can't believe you re-cut your hair!! Surely, it can't have been that bad?
    Anyway, keep the blogs comming :)

  2. you're a very odd person but i miss you a lot.