Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Paris Syndrome

I know it hasn't been long since my last post and last time it was a bittersweet goodbye to London and a welcome back to Paris but I was excited. After what happened on Thursday evening I have been left with a taste of the less pleasant side of Paris that is not all beautiful museums and old streets. Paris is very well known for pickpockets and thieves, especially on the metro so you are always warned to be careful, and I thought I was, but as I was walking up the steps out of the metro station Palais Royal, on my way home from class, I had just put my headphones in and put my phone in my pocket when some pathetic excuse for a human had the audacity to steal my phone out of my pocket off my headphones. Obviously, I noticed as soon as the music in my headphones stopped and I turned around, assuming my phone had just fallen out of my pocket, but clearly this cretin had already disappeared with my phone.

Losing, or having your phone taken kinda makes you feel like you are missing a limb because the first thing I went to do was call my phone company to cancel my phone, but clearly, I couldn't do that. Then I wanted to look up the nearest police station to report it, couldn't do that either. I won't bore you with the minute details of the events of the rest of that night, but in short, I went to 4 different police stations, two of which were closed and the last one refused to help me. I was shaking from being so shocked at what had happened and this French policewoman shouted at me and slammed the door in my face, refusing to help on the basis that they didn't want to because they were understaffed. I quote 'if your phone is stolen now it will still be stolen in the morning'. I was shocked at her attitude, yes I know this happens every day, and yes I know the likelihood of them finding my phone is zero, but still, let's keep up the pretence that the police actually are in some control of this.
After the stress of Thursday evening, it was all I could do from getting back on the Eurostar and getting out of here, my illusion of Paris was broken. I came back to my flat and had a comfort cheese toastie with the cheddar I brought back from the UK and seriously re-considered why I am actually here, why am I putting myself through this.

Now, a couple of days later and a bit of distance and perspective, I'm kicking myself for putting my phone in my pocket in the first place, and I do now realise it is not the end of the world, I have insurance for a reason and I can get a new phone, the awful pit in my stomach from being a victim of theft is slowly fading and I'll forget about it soon enough.

However, what this has done is shatter the illusion of Paris that I think I was stuck in. Going on about the beauty of the city is all well and good, but in reality that doesn't mean much. In reality, this city is loud and noisy and dirty and full of people looking out for themselves. Sometimes there is a glimmer of hope when you meet people who go out of their way to help, but ultimately they are few are far between. Just one example of this is the amount of visible homeless people in Paris, yes, the homeless are in London too, I might be wrong, but I feel like this is something we care about in the UK, and something we want to change - if I ever see anyone selling a big issue I always buy it, I always want to help, but in Paris I don't get that same feeling, and that breaks my heart. There is so much inequality here, the homeless, undocumented migrants, the vivid racism, problems that every city suffers from the world over, but I don't feel like anyone really cares here.
I'm not branding Paris and saying it's all bad and I hate it here, that's not true, but the romance period has worn off now, and I'm left with the brutality of the city which in some ways makes me more aware of what I've got to do, but also means I'm pretty sure I couldn't come back here on holiday.

The Paris Syndrome is supposedly a real condition, and while I don't suffer from this, I understand the premise because once all the hype has died down of the first few weeks, what you are left with is a place that is pretty much like everywhere else.

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

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