That Day I Got Attacked

So much for feeling relatively safe in my neighbourhood despite its “charms”…

I was walking home from the metro station, and was very close to my house. I felt someone behind me, but he crossed the street to his friend. They talked for a moment, and then split off. I remember thinking it was very suspicious, but I was so close to home, and they were on the other side of the street, so I let it go.

I was looking at my phone when I felt that someone was following me very close. I turned to see what they wanted, and I discovered it was the taller one of the kids, and by kid I mean older teenager. As I was turning, he sprayed something into my left eye. I distinctly remember seeing the white stream of it hitting my eye. The dispenser was only inches from my face as he was standing directly next to me. At first I thought it was spray paint, and I clutched my eye in pain. The look on his face was a bit of shock, or maybe that was me projecting my emotions onto him. I wondered if he would go for my phone, but he didn’t. He turned and walked calmly away. Then I noticed there was no colour, and all of my exposed skin and lungs started to burn. I was confused, but then I got angry. I wanted to confront him. He was about 15 feet away when I started screaming at him. He turned to look and then started to run. There were people around, but they just watched. I started running after him, but I could barely see. I was worried about going blind, and that my house keys would fall out of my pocket and I wouldn’t be able to find them. He booked it down the street, and I decided my health was more important than revenge. I crossed the street, clutching my eye in pain. I didn’t know if I should go to a doctor. I didn’t know how I would even find one, or how I could explain what happened since my French is still very low level. I was in complete distress. I somehow made it into the apartment and no one was there. I ran into the bathroom and washed my face, but the water didn’t help. I tried to wash out my eyes, especially the left one that got directly hit, but the water increased the burning. It was horrendous timing. I had to pack and then head to the airport for my trip to London within the hour. I changed my clothes to get the stench off, and everywhere my skin had been exposed to the substance was bright red. And it burned. I don’t know exactly what he sprayed on me.

I warned my housemates via text what had happened and to be extra careful in the neighbourhood. They went to the police in the arrondisment that they were currently in but the police refused to help. Over the phone she told me to take some eyewash stuff that she had and use that to wash out my eyes. Whatever it was helped quite a bit. She ordered me a taxi to go to the airport because I was at this point terrified to take the metro. They eventually filled out a form online for the police, and on Wednesday I will go in and make a statement. The worst thing about the whole thing, is that I don’t remember exactly what they look like, so if I see them again, I will be completely oblivious. Apparently the son of someone else in our building was attacked by, we are supposing, the same guys but in a larger group. It is really distressing to know about the cruelty in the world, and even more so to experience it first hand.

But I must count my blessings. I am not permanently injured. I am not dead. I was not robbed.

 

Protest or Art?

I’m living in the 18th arrondisment in Paris. It’s definitely not the best neighbourhood, but not the worst either. The streets generally smell like piss despite there being FREE public toilets set up for use. There are at least two tent cities within 5 blocks of my house that I’ve noticed. There is garbage everywhere, stations of contraband laid out on blankets, and the hum of young men selling Marlboro cigarettes outside the metro station and by the park. Men greatly outnumber the women, at least in public. I’ve passed by many restaurants that are full, and not one woman inside. I pass 20-30 men on the street before I pass a woman. It doesn’t bother me so much as concerns me. I don’t feel unsafe, but I wonder why the other women aren’t dining in those places or walking along the streets. Perhaps they know something I don’t.

Since I’ve decided to drop school, and to be quite frank, now that I have a SIM card for my phone, I’ve been going on lots of long walks with three intentions: to get exercise, to see more of Paris, and admittedly, to hatch eggs in Pokemon Go. The latter actually helps me see things I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, as stops and gyms are at “landmarks” more or less. On these walks I’ve begun to notice a startling trend: vehicles being tagged.

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This was the first one I noticed just outside of Paris on my walk along the canal. Not long after, I discovered a car with the back half burned out. I was going to take a picture, but there was a group of tough-looking men standing by, and I didn’t want to risk anything. Now that I have seen them, I’ve been noticing them more often.

On my way back from a walk, just 2 blocks from my house I discovered this one:

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And on another night, I saw two vehicles tagged, just down the street from me, less than 1 minute away:

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I have never seen anything like this anywhere else I’ve been in the world.

I remember a few years ago, that during some protests, the French were burning vehicles, so I showed my housemate the pictures and asked her if it was part of an on-going protest. She said she’d never heard of it or seen anything like it before. Then again, she is new to this side of Paris.

The pictures I have posted are just a few examples. I’ve seen many more these past few days. I will have to do more research. But again I ask the question: are these examples of protest? Art? Or just the result of inconsiderate people having “fun” destroying others’ property?

Failing at Living Abroad

This is my second time living abroad this year. I spent 4 months earlier this year in London while studying. I loved the course I was taking, but it took a long time for London to grow on me.

Now I’m in Paris, taking yet another course, but unfortunately it’s not going as planned. I was supposed to be here for almost 9 months, which quickly got shortened to 4 months, which got shortened to 3 months, which now has me coming home in just over a month. (I dropped out of the program.) As much as I love Paris and where I’m staying, there are too many things not working out that it makes more sense for me to go home. That being said, my aim is to make the most out of being in Paris for the short time that I’m still here. This new focus I hope will have me blogging again.