Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dumb Dog

On Strike Day last week (Thursday 18th) I decided to work from home. We have a rather flashy new system which allows distance training, so I can be in Paris and my student can be in Grenoble or Nepal, and it doesn't make any difference. It was a great opportunity to spend a day testing it out and things were running smoothly until I mistakenly put my foot outside my front door.

I'd been invited to a meeting not far away, so I decided to be cunning and use my own bike to get there, instead of taking a Vélib, which I'd heard would be far too in demand for anyone to be able to get their hands on one. So, I wheeled out my Décathlon powder blue bike and got it outside the cellar, locked the cellar, and then realised it had a flat tyre. No problem, I thought, I'll chance a Vélib, and still be on time.

What I hadn't factored into my timing was the dog attack.

Walking along the street near my apartment towards our local Vélib station, I was enjoying the fresh breeze and the bright sunshine when I saw an extremely mangy looking waist-high dog a few metres in the distance, held on a leash by a slightly less mangy-looking owner, but nevertheless urinating all over the pavement (the dog, not the owner, although I wouldn't have put it past him).

I continued walking along and considered that the pavement was wide enough for a grumpy old man, a scruffy dog and myself. Obviously I was mistaken because just as I passed the dog it went crazy and yelped in anger, somehow managing to engage my (fake-leather-clad) arm between its slobbery jaws.

I screamed like a little girl and yanked my arm away from the dog. Thankfully no damage was done and my jacket, limbs and circulation remained intact. I was shaken nonetheless, and quite surprised to hear the dog's owner yelling, "What do you expect if you walk like that, approaching a dog from behind...?"

Now, he may have a point that dogs shouldn't be surprised, especially when eating, but to say that his mutt's attack on me was my own fault is nothing short of ridiculous. I tried to reply intelligently through my heart palpitations and tears, but all I managed was, "I expect nothing at all, Monsieur, when I walk in the street, especially not be attacked by a dog for no reason, sob..."

Later that evening I would think of several much more effective rebuttals, but in the moment that's all I could manage.

I finally got to the Vélib station and took out a bike, only to find that it too had a flat tyre. It was this that pushed me over the edge and I called my boss in floods of tears explaining what had happened. His main reply was, "What just happened?!" and reassured me that they would wait until I could arrive.

Finally I managed to get another bike, pedal to the meeting and arrive just five minutes late. Thank goodness for the lovely promenade plantée.

A friend said to me today that I should have called the police or at least reported the dog incident, but I am not hurt, so I thought it wasn't necessary, but then she asked what if it had been a child? Of course she's right, so I'm going to report it.

Rather an eventful day all in all. I just hope the strikes are well and truly over now or I'm going to have to invest in a puncture kit.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Swing low

Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home!
Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home!
I looked over Jordan and what did I see,
Coming for to carry me home?
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

If you get there before I do,
Comin' for to carry me home,
Tell all my friends I'm comin' too,
Comin' for to carry me home.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spinning Around

It's never easy trying to decide what to do when the parent wagon rolls into town, especially with grandmother in tow. Obviously walking is pretty restricted as grandmother is now 86, so in the no-no category you also have to add dancing, climbing, being in crowds, cobblestones, dark interiors (eyesight problems), so rather a large portion of improvising is required.

It is nice to spend time with family of course, and we did have a rather pleasant weekend in the sunshine. We managed to improvise with a red bus tour, a bateau mouche and another red bus tour; the highlight of which, for me, was seeing the Tongan rugby team licking ice-creams dejectedly near the Eiffel Tower the day after losing to England.

We enjoyed two rather tasty dinners at Au Chein Qui Fume and La Tourelle. The second one, being near to my apartment, I always consider as basic with nothing particularly special to offer. On Sunday evening I couldn't have been more wrong. They brought out plates of mouth-watering, melt in your mouth steak, crispy gratin dauphinois and beautifully cooked cod. The dinner at the smoking dog was good too, but for almost twice the price... but that's Châtelet as opposed to Vincennes.

I had wanted to go to the new aquarium in Trocadéro, but the interior would probably have been too dark for my gran. Fair enough, we have to consider everyone but I think my mum would have loved it. That will have to be a feature of one of G's future Parisian weekends.

We did manage a mother-daughter bonding moment after dinner on Saturday. With my dad and his mum safely ensconced in a taxi back to the Citadines, my mum and I headed down the rue de rivoli towards Concorde. For the first time in the weekend we walked briskly; laughing and chatting all the way to the big wheel. The view was stunning, so stunning that I was in fact a little stunned and spent the first (painfully slow) rotation with my hands glued to the central pole, praying that the tiny metal half-cage we were in would withstand the wind (or what actually was a rather pleasant evening breeze, but everything is yanked out of perspective at a height of 50m). By the second rotation I was fine, and the delighted grin on my mum's face made me relax and enjoy the rest of the trip. Sometimes it really is nice to be a tourist again.

So now it is back to the grindstone once more, with the nights drawing in and G still spending Monday to Friday in Chablis. Maybe I'll pop out again for another spin on the wheel...