jeudi, janvier 29, 2009


Strike! Apparently, there’s a general strike going on today in France to protest the government’s handling of the economic crisis (among other things; the French go on strike for almost anything). It wasn’t clear how much of the transit network would be working, since Sarkozy’s attempt to pass “minimum service” laws during strikes never amounted to anything. In the end, it wasn’t so bad, and the strike was surprisingly festive—like a labour-oriented Techno Parade.

I took a vélib bike, which was a bit difficult to find, since everyone else had apparently had the same idea. Nonetheless, once I found a bike that wasn’t broken, I headed towards work.

My usual route to work passes through Bastille (I still can’t believe that I do that by bike twice a day), where the strike march was going to start later that day. There was very little traffic on the plaza, and the place was already looking like an outdoor music festival. The three main workers’ unions and the Socialist Party all had their pavilions set up on the main square, along with bright floating balloons with their logos and upbeat music.

On the way home later that night, all of the streets leading to and from Bastille were closed to traffic. This was actually kind of nice, since I was able to bike along the streets unperturbed by cars. However, once I got to Bastille proper, it was an endless mess of humanity. To their credit, the organizers had put a cluster of youth workers at the borders of the crowd to intercept cyclists and give them instructions on how to go around the crowd. In a country that answers bureaucratic disarray with more bureaucracy, this was surprisingly efficient and well-planned.

Anyway, as I was circling the crowd to get to my street, I noticed that the organizers had also arranged for food stands, music floats, bathrooms and crowd control. If you just changed the dress and age-range of the crowd, this could’ve been last September’s Techno-Parade.

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