Aquarius 15° (February 5)
Paris, Day Thirteen of Sixty. The day started off a bit tense. S. noticed that our train tickets back don’t go from Santa Lucia. I am summoned downstairs and she’s obviously upset and trying to communicate with the desk clerk who is, on the other extreme, making everything seem like not at all a big deal. He said Mama Mia several times in a condescending way while not understanding S.’s questions about whether the train actually originates at Santa Lucia and at what time. He and thus she decides that it does looking at the train schedule I am not convinced. We finish packing and have breakfast with Lars and Jax and she isn’t at all well. Apparently we poisoned her and it had nothing to do with all the gins they drank and the fact he took a bottle of wine up to the room and promptly fell asleep—ha! Anyway I feel bad she feels bad. We have a lovely last few moments with them and it was so nice of them to get up and dressed and everything (when I know they are going back to bed). We decided to splurge on a Riva taxi and we get picked up at the hotel and led down a small alley to wear the boat awaits, passing the most perfect pink house. The ride is exceptional and it only takes ten minutes as opposed to the water bus which takes a half hour. We get there and of course our train does not originate at this station. S. is incredulous. I am aware that this train listed going to Milan and the one going from the Mestre station are just one digit off being the same number train. So she and the clerk thought it was the same train. No harm no foul we will buy cheapo tickets for a euro and a half each to get to Mestre which is ten minutes away. And we’ll still have fifty minutes to spare. Still she is incredulous. I am trying to ignore this. We get to Mestre and the train isn’t posted—yet. And then it finally is and we are seated in first class and on our way. Soon, much to S.’s delight, we realize that this isn’t the same path we took coming, which was quite ugly and industrial. This journey takes us passed lake Garda—which S. has always wanted to see (and plans to visit)—and we are now in Milan and switch stations there as well, as we did on the journey to Venice. Soon we are on the TGV on which nobody ever checked our ticket, not once, the whole way to Paris. And even when we got to Modane, nobody checked my passport!
I was standing in the café car when we stopped at the frontier. The barman shut his shutters and jumped outside to smoke, presumably. A tall thin man holding just a plastic bag got on the train and went straight for the toilet. There was already a smelly young guy installed in one of the booths of the café car who had been stopped by one of the train staff, a sort of chef du train, and ushered out of first class—I overhead the chef du train say that he didn’t have a ticket. I got freaked out by the guy in the bathroom and headed back to my seat. On the way I saw the team of border control agents checking everyone’s passports, pretty aggressively at that. As I passed one I said in English hoping to be understood—you should check on the guy in the bathroom, not understanding the irony of the situation that would soon ensue. I got back to our seats and S. said that she had been grilled by these agents, as many were, that they checked every page of her passport. I told her about the guy in the bathroom and that I said something to an agent in passing but that the agent just stared at me for a second and I wasn’t sure he even understood me. S. said and I agreed that I should go back and say it again with feeling. As I retraced my steps toward the café car I could see the team of agents swarming on someone, sort of corralling him, and I got a glimpse of a hand holding that same plastic bag. He was being ushered off the train along with the smellier guy that was already stationed in the café car booth. I took up my position at the standing table in the café car and back came the barman and I told him what happened and he had the opposite reaction to what I would have expected. He said he hates these people. I asked did he mean the agents and he did. He said they are so unnecessarily mean to these people who are refugees. And this same thing happens every day. They say things like “where is the black” and other racist remarks and (get this) the mainly white customers laugh. They grilled a black man who had a ticket and all the necessary papers for hours he tells me. They are just awful. So I say, well, I passed them twice back and forth and never once did any of this team even ask to see my passport. That’s how white I am, apparently. I felt awful that I would have tipped them off to the guy in the bathroom but le barman assured me they would have found him anyway.
I need to write to Jax and Lars and tell them what a fantastic time we had and thank them. I will do that in the next couple of days. We got a taxi back pretty easily after the first driver told us he wouldn’t take us to Rambuteau (I guess it wasn’t far enough to make it worth the fare?—who knows). We take the next one and that’s fine. We come up to the flat, newly cleaned, and I completely unpack before we descend for a bite. S. isn’t hungry and doesn’t want to go. I say I’ll go on my own. She seems not to trust this—maybe because I already had a bunch of train wine as I always do in the end. So she comes with me “if it’s going to be short” which I intend it to be. I have some more wine and a weird burger and she eats all the French fries which I’m never all that interested in. The maître d’ is this woman and she’s very fun and funny and has a great laugh. The young Asian guy who always wears a jaunty scarf was there and of course recognized me. The food isn’t great but it is a fun place to be. I’m glad it’s in the building as it is. I feel safe having it just downstairs. We are on the second floor supposedly only it is, in American terms, on the fourth floor. Things are already about to start happening.
To view the original Sabian Symbol themed 2015 Cosmic Blague corresponding to this day: Flashback! The degree pointof the Sabian Symbol will be one degree higher than the one listed for today. The Blague portrays the starting degree of for this day ( 0°, for instance), as I typically post in the morning, while the Sabian number corresponds to the end point (1°) of that same 0°-1° period. There are 360 degrees spread over 365 or 6 days per year—so they near but not exactly correlate.
Typos happen. I don’t have a proofreader. And I like to just write, post and go!
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