Saturday, February 06, 2016

The New Normal

Somewhere in the 11th. 

We skipped our usual November trip to Paris in 2015.  We ended up eating in the Bastille - very near where the horrific events at the Bataclan and the cafes happened. It was heartbreaking to walk by the cafe and see the flowers and cards piled up in front of the barricades.

I remember the terrorist attacks of the 80s that resulted in lots of the measures that are just part of today's Paris - the gendarmes policing the streets, the clear garbage bags in public places and the tacit understanding that everyone needs to be vigilant in crowds.  I also remember queuing up in the French embassy in London to get a visa in order to visit France.  I was traveling by myself from London to Germany via Paris.  The hassle of having my bag searched everywhere I went along with the humidity and heat of August made it a no-brainer for me - I was going to Germany sooner than I had anticipated.

Paris in December felt different. It was quieter than usual.  The shops were emptier. The streets were not as hectic.  The shopkeepers we talked to said that the bombings scared Parisians from going out. Acts of violence have a long tail.  It is not just the sharp shock of the event, but how it plays out - in the media and in our psyches.

Do we feel safe? Can things be the same? Is this the new normal?

The new normal is not something I ever expected to have to experience.

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