Sunday, 19 July 2009

Bienvenue en Paris on Bastille Day - 14 July

Monday the 13th I left the UK again, this part of the trip now by train or boat, started off with the intention to first go to Southern France, Le grand Bal d'Europen, one week of dancing and camping near Lyon before heading back to Eastern Europe via Germany.

Just shortly before leaving I somehow felt increasingly uncomfortable with idea of the dance, the masses, yeah even the camping ... rather confusing and unsettling. I was looking forward to the dancing and french charme for so long - as a matter of fact, the only part of my travel where all the train tickets were booked in advance -in the end somehow the timing didnt seem right. When I was describing my unsettling feeling to a friend, saying "I'd rather do something else, maybe spend some time at the sea, read and catch up with some writing", he simply and apathetically replied: "Well, then why dont you?"...hmm, true! Until then I felt pretty stuck, going up the walls feeling urged to make quick decisions, it simply took someone else to ask me that question of "well what else would you prefer doing? or why not change plans?" to see the horizon behind the clouds again, to open up new possibilities, yeah why not change plans? So I decided to first see my friend Brian in Paris as planned and then look for a place at the sea side instead.

Somehow good timing as I got to arrive the night before the grand Bastille Day, with grandiose celebrations, fireworks and bands playing on the streets. It was great to see that a nation possibly could come together at one day of celebrations, where the streets in the centre of its capital are blocked and everyone, old and young gathering at various places like the Place du Bastille to meet, to dance, to celebrate. I was wondering if there is anything comparable in Germany? Couldn't think of anything. Couldn't quite think of anything in any of the countries I have lived in, except for the very orange Queens Day in the Netherlands which always is quite spectacular. In these moments like these of beautiful european atmosphere of a warm and still very light summer night I just love being in Europe, a few hours south, west or east and you'll find a new rich culture, sometimes language, and its rhythms, traditions and celebrations. Exquisite.

Being in another big Metropole, Paris is also always good for hilarious surprises, like this very hairy Mama, chatting to the police.

Very hairy in Paris from mokoflip on Vimeo.

The next day, the news mentioned that 137 cars were burned in the country over night. I don't get the whole care burning tradition that seems to be a very french thing. The other interesting cultural encounter, the massive parade that day which was also broadcasted on TV. There were state guests, from neighbouring countries and the "Chief Guest of Honour" of this years parade, the Indian Prime Minister of India, Mr. Singh.

As a matter of fact even the Indian armed forces "as a significant landmark in their history" led the massive Bastille Day military parade, - the first time that they were marching on a republic day or a national day of a country.

I couldn't help but sense the taste of Imperialism from when it was still prestigious to have numerous colonies and impose your divine culture to the rest of the world. There were military parades, horses shows, thousands of flags and more french tricolore in the sky from military planes flying over the Champs Elysee. I was wondering how Mr Singh must have felt seeing all the pompos show that day.

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