Friday, August 8, 2008

Paris diaries

This has been an exhausting trip. Walking all day, visiting all kinds of places from Palaces, churches and monuments to grave yards and museums. I had a chance to visit Princess Leila Pahlavi's grave today. She was the late Shah of Iran's daughter and committed suicide in London and were later buried here in Passy cemetery in Paris. There were a few compatriots who have come from different places to pay respect to the Shah's beautiful daughter. It was quiet sad to see a young woman buried far from her home. I also had the opportunity to talk with my fellow blogger Azarmehr. As I said, I have been touring Paris for the past few days and today is basically the last day here. I'll be heading to the beaches of Normandy where Operation Overlord took place and allied forces started liberating Europe from that part of France back in 1944.

One thing that has really caught my attention here is the quasi police state in Paris. From armed guards patrolling the streets and several undercover/plain clothed detectives and agents who keep a watchful eye on the people to cops walking the streets, it is very surprising to me. And today, the entire block where the Chinese embassy is located was cordoned off to the public and detours established for cars and pedestrians. I'd never seen so many police and anti-riot security forces in my life except probably in Iran or Turkey. Every 100 meters, crowd control police could be seen ready to take on the possible rioters. Especially police were present wherever the "Free Tibet" protesters went around. Although the size of Tibetan protesters was really small. I guess "the right to free assembly" doesn't mean much in France. Photography was banned so this is the only photo I could take of police cars going after the Tibet guys in front of "Ecole Militaire" near the Eiffel tower..
The other thing, I was told, is the difference between the culture of work in North and South of Europe. In Holland, UK, Germany and most Nordic countries there's no such thing as 35 hour work per week. They can work as many hours as they would like to and they have a 40-45 hour work per week system that is very close to what we have in Canada or the US. So, I assume, it is a French or probably Italian thing that has been attributed to entire Europe. Although French have a very large claim over this silly European Union and see it in their own selfish interest to enlarge this malfunctioning union. Whatever this is, Europe is one large pot of its own. And the Dutch friends of mine whom I talked to were seriously determined to combat the influence of radical Islam in Europe. They know better than any one else what can happen to their old continent if these people take over.

Hey, who said American tourists are nuts. Well, I don't really know why some Europeans like to hate American tourists. You say Americans are loud? Rude? Fat? Disrespecting the laws? Well, I doubt that. Thus far the most rude, disrespectful, messy, law breaking and loud group of people I have come across were mostly Spanish or Italians. No offense, but this is the fact. In Louvre, the only group of tourists taking pictures with flashes on were either Italians or Spanish. I've not come across one American tourist that breaks the law or drives like a maniac. I think in terms of respecting the laws of host countries, Americans and indeed Canadians can claim the 1st rank among others. I really don't know, these Italian tourists are hilarious. I know, I was being politically incorrect but that's what it is. I can't cover the truth with PC shit. Can I?

Ah, for The Doors' fans... this last photo is Jim Morrison's grave in Pere Lachaise cemetery.


Anonymous said...

I think most Americans try to be polite in other countries.

Au revoir, Paris.

:- )

Unknown said...

Thank you for an insightful story. I am enchanted by the photo of Princess Pahlavi's grave. I must express complete ignorance in that I do not know who she is, or was. What a beautiful woman she was.

I wonder if you might share a little about her with me. She interests me greatly.


Bahramerad said...

35 hours work per week was an old rule in France only and was repelled by President Sarkozi when he became president.
French police have always carried guns and submachine guns as part of their street petrol's.
French police do inspect peoples identity cards in the subway and in the streets.
That is because people in continental Europe as a whole — can have access to all kinds of fire arms in very easily and do — specially most criminals carry guns — let alone the crazy terrorists which europe and France in particular have had a long experience of.
There are also millions of illegal immigrants roaming around Europe — which has no internal boarders anymore — and as places like Paris are a magnet for them and millions of other tourists, it is prudent for the authorities to keep a watchful eye on what is going on.
I am afraid you know very little about Europeans and the European union.
Suffice to say that — friendship and a union od 27 different counties and people is not an easy job but a very vital and commendable effort.
Overall they are succeeding in achieving harmony and bringing wealth and development to those parts of Europe that were poor and underdeveloped only a few years ago — e.g. Portugal, and Eastern countries-formally known as 'Iron curtain' countries.
Furthermore you cannot find the spirit of how Europe or its people is by a spending a few days here and there and visiting the tourist sites.
Europe and Europeans will always remain an enigma to those living in Canada or USA.
Better you do not come over here anymore or express uneducated comments about it.
Ps. I am not writing this comment because you asked my to take your name off my mailing list. It is just in reply to what I read on your blog regarding your observations as a tourist in Europe.

Anonymous said...

thank you winston for your great article and picture of our beloved Princeess leila Pahlavi whom i remmeber seeing her in Niavaran palace in tehran when she was 3 years old running to his beloved late majesty what a beautifull lady she was, god bless her soul and heart, thanks winston very sincerlly Tirdad Gharib.