Thursday, November 21, 2013

France Day 8: Metro As Psychic Melting Pot

As an avid people watcher, riding the Paris metro provides an endless source of material for my inquisitive eye.The melting pot of ethnicities, hair styles, clothes, age ranges, body types, facial expressions, shopping bags, umbrellas and shoe wear all form a melange of eye candy as interesting as an exhibition at a museum -- life as art.

Each person's presentation to their exterior world makes a distinct statement, conscious or otherwise. An intuitive person, I am inexorably drawn to look deeply into a person's eyes, check their body language, make note of other oddities that might reveal clues to their nature and how they evolved to become their expression of now.

Although the metro provides the ideal environment for such scrutiny, not unlike a jungle for birdwatchers, the main problem is that people are not birds or other forest animals. If you stare at them, it will evoke a response not particularly inviting, simply because that penetrating look is an invasion of their psychic space. And invaders beware of cornered humans in small seats huddled together while trying to maintain a sliver of daylight; touching would be tantamount to a transmission of energy between two foreign bodies that might trip the circuit breaker and cause a short.

So as I sit among the huddled masses, I am forced to do something terribly unnatural for me -- look down or look away with the same dull, glum look as everyone else. A prisoner dare not look a captor in the eyes, so this human being sits like a defeated, beaten dead one, pretending to be so while casting furtive glances at the humans before they know that someone is watching.

The French seem to have a rather keen sense of awareness so it is near impossible not to be observed observing. Thus, a game of hide and seek continues until "the other" moves out of the car at a metro stop or it is my time to flee the large buffet of human consciousness.

On a good day, one may find an empty seat to gaze upon, and in the time honored tradition of savoir-faire, at least the seats seem happy to exude a burst of colorized contentment.

Paris Metro seat

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