Saturday, August 04, 2007

Saturday Afternoon At Two Markets

This morning we went to a fleamarket ("marche aux puces" - market of fleas!) at Porte de Clignancourt. I remember being here years ago - I still wear a scarf I bought then. Today it was quite hot and everywhere we turned they seemed to be blaring G-Unit. At first, it was all fake Bathing Ape and G-Star as far as the eye could see. I did find a few vintage stalls but they've got nothing on Kensington Market. As for the rest of the place, it was like someone took a picked-over Value Village and shook it upside down. The things some people were trying to sell were just puzzling. Like, a towel laid out with 6 or 8 old cell phone chargers on it and a beat-up, empty biscuit tin. Seriously? But in a tiny corner stall, my aunt found the cutest pair of French designer pumps from the 60s, never worn. I guess that's why we do this!

Later, Les Mesdames were resting and I took a Velib (still love them!) to Chateau Rouge. It was so great. It's the African neighbourhood and everyone goes around wearing beautiful, bright fabrics, the women with sleeping babies strapped to their backs. In the little, dense street market on Dejean, women sell killer costume jewelry (massive cocktail rings for 5 euro, golden jaguar necklace and bracelet sets for 25 euro) and men aggressively hawk fake Gucci sunglasses. I was slightly overwhelmed. Think fast! Everything is surrounded by rows of fresh produce and fish on ice. The people selling those are less impatient.

Ok question: I know when a vendor comes up to me yelling "Ceintures! Ceintures!" that he just wants to make a sale but I've always wondered whether I'm being rude when I ignore Parisian men who speak to me. I mean, Canadian men do NOT talk to you (like, ever). I used to gripe about that, but if the alternative is every creepy older man trying out "Ni hao," "Konichiwa," and "Hello" (almost always in that order, never "Bonjour") I'll take an order of good ol' Canadan no-eye-contact any day. Does that mean I'm a weird snob? I've grappled with this every time. I don't have to entertain these guys do I? Am I flouting some masculin/feminin flirtation and cultural enjoyment that Parisians derive from some coquettish back and forth? Today a man loudly said to me, "HELLO" and I just ignored him. We quietly walked in tandem along a traffic-free street and it felt awkward (obviously!) because there wasn't a hustle and bustle to disappear into. A smile is fine. I smile or nod back. But a convo? No thanks. No woman ever comes up to me to say "Ni hao" so I think it's pretty safe to say that these older dudes aren't just being friendly and they should bugger off. If I've never had anyone say "Excusez-moi" I think I can safely assume that no one is stopping me for directions. What does a Parisian girl say back? I need to make a friend, fast.


Anonymous Jasmin said...

Ignore the jerkfaces!
In Toronto, I tell them to 'f*ck off and die,' but that's not safe to do in a strange city.
i guess it's not particularly safe here either, but it's worth the risk.

4:18 PM  

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