My Zonta Club
back in Sanibel/Captiva, Florida,
has a relatively new but highly effective anti-trafficking initiative to
fight against modern slavery. Since
we’ve been involved in that effort, I see news about human trafficking
everywhere. Here’s a tabloid cover
from England. See our Zonta San-Cap web site at www.zontasancap.com
Here is that
nice dog again (see the Paris
Journal from 2002), still tending the antiques shop on Avenue Emile
Zola. Right above this shop is the
apartment of my friend Caroline’s cousin (small world!). Caroline, by the way, is a VERY talented
artist. See her web site at http://www.kithoisington.com/ . She’ll be in France later this year.
The Eiffel Tower
often pops into view when you turn the corner in Paris.
Back in Paris now, I find little
time for writing in the Journal. After
all, the Tour de France has started, we
are cat-sitting, and we have had such good weather that walking, playing with
the cat, and watching the Tour takes up much of the day.
But today it is
raining, and so we have an update.
Niko is the
cat. She’s owned by a lucky American
family from California who have a 3-year job
assignment in Paris. Their apartment is near ours. Right now, the family is vacationing in Provence for a week
and a half. We met via the Paris
Journal a couple years ago, when I wrote about a fire in the neighborhood and
our neighbors read my journal and realized then that we are neighbors. They signed
my guestbook, and we became friends.
is complaining about the Paris “canicule” that
occurred while we were away in England. Let me tell you all here and now – the heat
experienced in Paris
in late-June was NOTHING like the heat wave of August 2003. The 2003 temps were more than ten degrees
hotter (Fahrenheit). The late June
temps were only in the upper 80s and maybe very low 90s. The REAL problem with heat occurs when the
temperature outside is higher than normal body temperature. You don’t know what a heat wave really can
do until you experience high temps of 104 F day after day, and nights that
don’t cool down below 80. That is what
happened in 2003. When heat is that
high, there is no way for the body to cool down. And with the heat and sunlight, the auto
exhaust is cooked up into nasty, bad ozone, which is very harmful to one’s
I really don’t
want to hear people complaining about temperatures of 89 or 90 F in Paris. Get over it. Send a check to your favorite environmental
group to fight against global warming.
Complaining does no good.
Checkwriting does some good.
Cynthia says I
should write about another scourge:
theft. Pickpockets are still
here in Paris,
although there seem to be fewer of them since Nicolas Sarkozy has implemented
his double-edged sword program of enforcing immigration laws and at the same
time promoting what we Americans call affirmative action quotas for
hiring. Gone are the little Pakistani
men selling little Eiffel
Tower souvenirs and
getting arrested for picking the pockets of their customers. We no longer see them sleeping on the grass
near and in the Champ de Mars.
pockets are still up to their old tricks, however. Our Hawaii
friends and journal readers (check out their journal here) had a
couple near-pick-pocket/purse-snatching experiences which they successfully
thwarted. Cynthia’s son’s friend who
is traveling in France
now was not so fortunate. Her purse
was stolen. So here is my unsolicited
The pickpockets work
especially on the métro lines going from the train stations -- and in
particular, line 4 from the Gare du Nord. They are most active when the
métros and train from the airport are most crowded.
Because we had two suitcases, a briefcase, a bag, and a large handbag when we
came back from England,
we chose not to take the much quicker and cheaper métro from Gare du
Nord. We took a taxi instead, partly because it was easier with all
that luggage, but also because when one is tending all that luggage it is
easier for the pickpockets to get to you.
I don't even carry a handbag while roaming about Paris at all. A purse snatcher can
throw you to the ground when attempting to snatch your purse. You could break a bone, or even your head,
on the pavement. A handbag isn’t worth
I have a small billfold,
with only drivers’ license, two credit cards, a small amount of cash, and my
apartment key. The billfold is on a 10-inch keychain and either pinned
inside my jeans pocket or (if I don't have pockets) stuffed into my bra with
the chain wrapped around a bra strap. No shopkeeper has ever thought it
strange when I take my billfold out of my bra. They know about this
I recommend this no-handbag method to anyone who can pull it off.
Handbags aren't as necessary as we think. Running one's fingers through
one's hair can substitute for carrying a hairbrush. And with no
handbag, the hands are free to carry a camera and take photos. Having a
camera in hand also discourages some criminals from approaching, I think.
I don't want to give the impression that I think Paris is crime-ridden, but it is a big city
and there are desperate people here.
Tom has yet another trick. He carries two billfolds. One has his
drivers’ license and two credit cards (passports always stay locked up in the
apartment, until we leave the country). The other billfold, in a
different pocket, contains some cash (but never more than 90 euros).
And if you catch a
pickpocket in the act, let him go. Tom
held onto one a few years ago and the pickpocket broke Tom’s arm, hit him on
the head with his head (a soccer maneuver, I’m told), and left him on the
pavement, bleeding from a broken lip and swollen from a concussion.
Tell your kids traveling in France
to be extra cautious when in the middle of a crowd. It isn't just
tourists who are targeted. Real French people get ripped off, too.