Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tuesday morning, Paris

Coming down the steps of the Daumesnil stop on metro line 6, I see there’s a rush hour crowd at the quay, and when the train pulls in, it’s pretty full already. No hope of me getting on that one, so I let the one crowd elbow its way off the train and through the other crowd waiting to get on without striving either way myself.
An asian woman fighting her way onto the train loses a shoe. She looks behind her, sad, and dejectedly steps off the train. Her place is snapped up before she’s left it.
Once the train leaves, she leans over and sees her shoe, pale pink, fallen between the rail and the wall. It’s about three feet down to go get it. Too far to reach. Have to jump down onto the tracks, which nobody will do. Next train in 3 minutes. She hobbles in a slow circle, not willing to touch her clean stockinged foot to the ground.
And who could blame her ? It’s filthy in here.
She’ll have to put it down eventually. She’s shoeless for the morning, whether she limps home for alternative footwear, or being a visitor like me has to wait for the shops to open to buy shoes.
The next train is here, and we all leave her behind, undecided.
The 6 is one of my favorite metro lines because it travels largely on an elevated railway (Daumesnil notwithstanding). I love being able to look into people’s windows as we go by. We pass the Bercy sports arena. This is a pyramid covered with lawn, with several terraces. The sides are at about 60°, nice and green. That’s apparently actual grass, not astroturf, neatly trimmed.
They must water it with some kind of mist or drip system, because there aren’t even any trenches eroded where water collects at random and runs downhill.
How do they mow it ??
Each section of lawn is 20-30 feet tall, and like I said closer to vertical than level.
Ah, here’s a guy on the middle terrace hanging a modified lawnmower over the side by a long cord. He walks back and forth, letting out a little more slack each time. Must have some arms ! He can’t even properly see what he’s doing, because leaning over far enough he’d fall over the edge. Maybe he has a partner I can’t see, signaling More here to the left! Too low !

I get to the Institut Curie with half an hour to relax over a good coffee (the stuff at the hotel was nasty), and then it’s a full-day meeting, which we don’t even finish before people have to run for their trains. Including me.

1 comment:

steven said...

i feel better about cutting my grass now. it's way easier than what those poor dudes have. steven