This week in Paris

Monday, Bus 47, between Censier and Gobelins: The woman in the wheel chair. Her left leg was amputated above the knee, her old clothes much too big and the beige woolen bonnet meant I could not tell her age. Her worldly belongings were in three plastic bags hanging off the the back of the wheel chair. Two of the bags caught my eye because of the bright blue and the bright yellow which clashed with the Gray of an early Spring day. The homeless woman used her two hands and one foot to try to advance but was making little headway. Pedestrians passed by without notice. Where was this homeless amputee going? Where did she come from?

Tuesday, Quick fast-food, Tolbiac: I had made the mistake of stopping for a cheeseburger and fries. I was sick and vomited for three hours. A heavy set, greasy and smelly, woman sat nursing an empty cup of coffee. Obviously, a cast away from our comfortable civilization. I tried to sit outside nose distance from her. Another woman, between 55 and 60, dressed in clean clothes which she tried to press but with summer shoes much too light for the season and very badly worn, asked me in a barely audible voice if I had finished with my fries and if she could eat them. I said ‘yes’. I felt ashamed. “Sometimes it is hard,” she said. I got up and left.

Thursday, Tolbiac: The man, maybe 35, wore a black leather jacket and blue jeans. He turned and looked around to make sure nobody in the bustling street was watching him before he bent over and picked up a half-smoked cigarette from the sidewalk. He did not see me watching. I felt as if I had invaded his dignity which he obviously wanted to preserve as badly as he wanted to smoke.

This week I saw thousands of Tunisians arrive in the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa fleeing freedom in their country and hoping to take advantage of Europe’s welfare states which now seem unable to take care of their own.

I watched rich countries spend billions of dollars destroying Libya.