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Entries about terror

Pray for Paris

November 13, 2015

As by now everyone knows, Paris was assaulted last night by cowards who murdered and maimed innocent people. As an American who lives a train ride from NYC and watched that city change forever, I know there are no words to say today that will make sense or make anyone feel better. But Parisians are tough birds, like New Yorkers. They are out this morning doing their Saturday chores in my neighborhood, which is not a touristic part of the city. They are not hiding in their homes and cowering in fear. If they do, the terrorists win. The mood is somber, but determined.
Everywhere I've gone during the past month I've been here, people have spoken about their concerns over ISIS and world events. The conversations didn't prevent what happened, of course, but at least people here don't pretend everything around them is fine when it clearly is not.
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Posted by teethetrav 04:48 Archived in France Tagged paris terror Comments (1)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 14: Ex-pats, Moose Milk, & George Bush

Paris is an international city, much like New York. It's hard to find a native New Yorker in Manhattan and the same is somewhat true in Paris. I was invited by an American woman I met on a recent trip to Cuba to a Canadian levee to celebrate the New Year. She and her husband, who is Canadian, hosted the gathering at their apartment in Paris where they have lived for almost two years. The levee is a New Year tradition in Canada, he explained. So is slogging down some Moose Milk. Moose Milk is similar to eggnog. Neither have any eggs, both are milk-based and doused liberally with alcohol. In the case of Moose Milk (at least this version of it, there were at least three types of alcohol I saw being sloshed into the punch bowl: kahlua, Bailey's, and whiskey. No moose is harmed in the making of this drink.

The apartment has a corner view and a wrap-around terrace. On one side, there was a view of Notre Dame which is across the street. From the other terrace there is a view of the Seine (and a GIANT Coca Cola sign, but nothing is perfect).

The group of around 40 ex-pats were mostly American, but there was a couple from New Zealand, a woman who immigrated from India and works as a translator, and a couple from Argentina. The couple from New Zealand has lived here in Paris for thirty years. I also met three people from my home state of NJ and a woman from Pennsylvania. She left the US the day George Bush got re-elected and hasn't been back since. Which reminded me that the day he was re-elected I landed in Rome. On my taxi ride from the airport my driver asked me if I was American. Since Iraq was smoldering at the time and Americans were not beloved in Europe, I hesitated before I admitted I was. He turned and looked at me over his shoulder and said, "What is wrong with your people? Have they lost their minds electing this man again?" I had no appropriate response.

The conversations at the levee were lively and diverse. There was talk about the current terror situation in France, naturally, and of the disharmony world-wide. But there was also talk about food and travel; two of my favorite topics. I was encouraged to go to Sweden, particularly Stockholm in spring or summer. I was warned not to go in winter if I crave daylight since it is fleeting. Apparently, things there are so bad that there are huts scattered throughout the streets. Inside, you can sit on benches under lamps that simulate sunshine for those people, like me, who fall into seasonal slumps due to lack of daylight.

But terror is never far away in Paris. When I entered the apartment, there had been fifty or so Ukrainian protestors across the street. By the time I left, thirty huge police vans were sitting out front, sirens and lights blasting. The protesters were gone. I don't know if they were arrested or just fled. Since the attack at Charlie Hebdo, every time you hear sirens, people stop and look around. It reminds me of New York after 9/11. For a long, long time we all stopped and watched planes as they flew overhead. A plane over NYC was never going to be just a plane ever again.

Posted by teethetrav 01:20 Archived in France Tagged stockholm paris france sweden iraq 9/11 terror charlie_hebdo canadian_levee moose_milk ex-pats_in_paris george_bush Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 2: Terror and Sales

By now you have heard about the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday January 7, 2015. I was out and about on my first full day in Paris. You see, Paris has two sales periods per year; one in summer and one starting--you guessed it--January 7. I did not plan my trip around this, but as luck would have it I am here for the sales, les soldes.

I am not an avid shopper, but I have coveted a Louis Vuitton forever and made my way on two metros to the Champs-Elysees to visit Louis. Turns out, Louis never goes on sale. You wouldn't know that from the amount of people in the store and the voluminous number of products flying off the shelves. A bag that I liked was actually out of stock! But one that l loved was right there calling me. It is brand new and has the traditional monogram but a salmon-colored trim and lining, a removable shoulder strap as well as two chic handles. The price? Well, you know what they say: if you have to ask...Since Louis never goes on sale, I will consider this purchase while I am here. The dollar has been growing stronger, so I'll wait it out while I decide.

I walked the Champs along with a massive number of tourists and Parisians searching for bargains. And bargains there are. Everything (except Louis) is 50 to 70% off. Monoprix, H & M, Promod, Zara, everything is on sale and people were out. I window shopped and bought one warm sweater for 12euros (did I mention it's freezing?). I walked towards the Tuileries and watched as workers removed hundreds of wooden structures that had housed the recent Christmas market. At one point, a large parade of police cars went by but no one seemed concerned or like anything out of the ordinary was happening. Eventually, I asked a security guard where the entrance to the Concorde Metro was and he told me. He didn't seem concerned either.

By the time I got back to my apartment at around 3, my mailbox was filled with concerned emails from my family asking if I was alright. I had no idea what they were talking about. I read a link about the attack my son sent me and I turned on the news. Twelve people were dead. Murdered over a cartoon while Paris shopped the sales.

By late afternoon and evening protesters were out in droves wearing "Je suis Charlie" ('I am Charlie) signs. The French refuse to stay in and be afraid. Good for them. Tomorrow I will be out and about. Otherwise, terror wins.

Posted by teethetrav 07:40 Archived in France Tagged paris france charlie terror je_suis_charlie hebdo i_am-charlie Comments (0)

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