Indiana Daily Student

Column: People watching in Paris

The Paris Metro is a train line that functions both underground and above ground. The line is similar to train systems in the United States.
The Paris Metro is a train line that functions both underground and above ground. The line is similar to train systems in the United States.

Any major city offers quality people watching.
 
But in order to see the greatest array of characters, you have to take public
transportation.
 
In Paris, it’s the Métro. The train line functions both underground as well as above ground, similar to train systems in major cities in the United States.
 
As much as I love how efficient the metro is, and how I can get to any part of Paris without a car, the people watching is by far my favorite part.

But here’s the catch: you can’t make eye contact with people in Paris.

While it’s common to smile at someone in the U.S., even if that person is a stranger, it is simply not part of the culture in Paris. If by mistake you do end up making excessive eye contact with someone, be prepared to have a potential stalker.

Eye contact is a way to express interest in a stranger, so unless you are ready to mingle, it’s highly recommended you stare at your feet while on the metro.

The first time I rode the metro, I was staring at people constantly.

Public transportation pulls people from every part of the city, as well as the suburbs, into one collective space. It provides a great sampling of Paris’ diversity.

Of course, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was one of the few lost foreigners who hadn’t received the keep-your-eyes-to-yourself memo.

Now, I stick to reading or listening to music as I slyly sneak a peak at the people around me every now and then.

Even after adapting a more Parisian approach to riding the metro, I have witnessed an accordion player accompanied by a young boy singing gibberish, a Spanish couple singing “Stand by Me,” a woman running out of the train to relieve herself right on the platform as well as people spreading political propaganda.

So, although it is in your best interest to keep to yourself while riding the metro, it certainly doesn’t take away from the characters you are sure to run into.

— anukumar@indiana.edu

Follow columnist Anu Kumar on Twitter @AnuKumar23.

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