Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Paris diary

This is taken from my own diary. Some has been modified. Much has been censored, for various reasons. I apologise if the word "censored" looks annoying, but I don't have any other choice.

Saturday, 2/6/2012
I don't often take risk, but when I do, I do things that might have disastrous consequences. Here I am, in Paris, with no citizenship, no land, no ID. My mom and I travelled from Kristiansand to Amsterdam, then to Paris, without a valid passport. Our travel documents expired at the end of April. As a matter of fact we applied for new ones in March, or maybe the end of February, but now in June they still haven't finished. Believe me, there's nothing like Norwegian bureaucracy, nothing like their slowness, laziness and rigidity.
The woman at Kjevik airport said to us that our travel documents had no value and could be torn off and thrown into the waste basket, and it wasn't her responsibility if we hadn't got new ones, yet, if we wanted, she could send us off at our own risk- we had to decide. And we decided to go. So here we are, in Paris. The most exciting moment was when waiting at Amsterdam, we had to discuss whether to give them the boarding cards without the travel documents, or to show them the travel documents as everybody did, in hope that they wouldn't notice. And of course, they overlooked. The woman was so careless she didn't even realise that my name in the boarding card didn't match my name in the travel document (because of the order).
You know what I thought? I thought, it would be nice, hilarious and could be written into a book, if we got stuck like Tom Hanks did in "The terminal"!
As both my mom and I have many friends in Paris, we stay at Mr H's house, 1 of my mom's friends, who is like her brother. At the moment, we're at the house of his friends. They're talking, discussing politics in the dining room, I'm in another room, writing. I'm glad that they didn't recognise me, probably haven't heard of JAN (Mr H didn't say exactly, but briefly mentioned, but apparently to them it didn't ring a bell). The whole time I remained silent and focused on eating, sometimes made a polite (and stupid?) smile, then went out to take some photos and now am here. Glad that they leave me alone, in peace, so that I don't have to take part in their discussion, or listen to them. Vietnamese people basically talk about the same things whenever meeting each other. As long as, 1, they have at least 1 mutual friend who introduces them to each other, and 2, they both know democratisation is necessary for our country, then no matter who they are and where they live and what they do for a living and tons of other things, they talk about the same things, since that's the only bond that ties them together. Such talks bore me to death. How monotonous they are!
But of course, I understand. As we live abroad and, once in a while, travel to other countries, as we see more and understand more, we feel sadder for our country, for our land, and whereas we have the right to forget everything and concentrate on other, more important, things, we can't. And besides, being outside, what can we do, anyway? To talk about it is the only thing we can do.
10.15 pm. Insult of the day: the man, when giving me some pills for my stomachache, asked whether I could read Vietnamese, and with politeness and honest concern, said if not I could my mom to help. I said softly it was no problem, trying not to laugh.

Sunday, 3/6/2012
I don't know how long my mom and I have been queueing. An hour, maybe? My feet hurt, my legs were in pain, but in the line I wasn't very bored, when observing people around me. Some looked very interesting. Moreover, it's worth it. Musée d'Orsay is, as introduced, indeed 1 of the places you must visit when coming to Paris. Magnificent, the ceiling looks magnificent. Now, the 3rd time in Paris I no longer exclaim (in my head) "Oh my goodness I can't believe I'm in Paris!", and I know this city is dirty and smelly and at times a bit chaotic, but I love it nevertheless and want to be here, want to live here, want to be a Parisian. The 3rd time, Paris still has much to admire, and continues to amaze me, and charm me.
This time, the trip seems more like coming home than travelling. Not exaggerating, here I feel more like home.
Paris Paris Paris.
I can't die. I can't die. I know I can't die. La vie en rose. So many, many places on earth I need to set foot on. How can I die, when I've just lived a short, unfulfilled, unremarkable life? I must go on living, whatever happens I must fight and hold onto life.
Gauguin, Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Degas, Felix Vallotton, Denis, Paul Signac... Some of the paintings here are mesmerisingly beautiful. Such masterpieces.

Monday, 4/6/2012
Sitting at Café des 2 moulins, or Amélie café.
To find it wasn't easy. Kinda funny how they still have some photos of Audrey Tautou here, after 11 years.
Today we went to Dali museum. An expensive but tiny museum in a place that was almost impossible to be found. I almost died when finally reaching it. But it's cool. On the way out I bought a watch with his moustache being the hour and minute hands, and an ant being the second hand.
Thinking of watching again, if not the whole, then some scenes of "Midnight in Paris".
Afterwards we went to Palais de Tokyo. Irrespective of its name, it doesn't have much to do with Japan, and is a museum of contemporary art, right next to the museum of modern art we visited last time coming to Paris. I'm afraid, my brain doesn't quite catch up with anything contemporary. Well it depends, of course. I do like many contemporary artists, but at times, forgive me for my ignorance and close-mindedness, I don't get why and how something can be called an artwork.
Quite randomly, I asked some people about a well-known pro-democracy activist. They seemed to dislike him. I don't know. To be truthful it's not uncommon that Vietnamese pro-democracy activists, instead of shaking hands and working together for the common good, tend to fight each other, speak ill of each other and spread dirty rumours. I don't know. 1 thing I notice, though, is that a friend of mine, a fan of this man and perhaps a member of his organisation, in a sense regards him as a Saint and his book as some kind of Bible. This friend is similar to the author of "Son of Hamas", who simply left 1 group for another. He doesn't realise that, when considering himself the new Vietnamese person, freer and more independent and more tolerant and luckier than the Vietnamese with old thoughts, the old generations, the sheep, the parrot generations, he's a conformist nevertheless, since when he thinks he thinks, he actually repeats and obeys and follows and conforms, and in the end, isn't freer or more independent than anybody in thought and in action. I of course know that the organisation has its system of views and ideas and paths and solutions, and members and supporters are apparently those who agree with this system, and thus speak and act in line with this system, but still, much of what comes out of his mouth in fact comes out of his idol's head. This is sad in its self-contradiction.
I'm glad that in quite many things I don't agree with my mom or my uncle T.
But then again, maybe I just don't understand. That friend of mine is politically active and strong-willed and will be more promising. After all, I, if not an artist, am an art lover, and a person like me just floats about, dislikes standing in 1 group and speaking 1 voice and repeating some authorities. My favourite writers and many famous ones, I don't remember them being members of anything or representing an organisation or anything but their own conscience and humanity as a whole.

Tuesday, 5/6/2012
At La Défense shopping mall.
This trip has 2 saddening things. 1, I'm not rich enough to buy all I like. 2, I can't always take photos. To be forbidden to take photos at most museums is 1 thing, it's unfortunate that very often, I see some stylish/ attractive/ (sometimes, effortlessly) interesting-looking persons I want to capture but don't dare to, since some people, I know, tend to react in an (unnecessarily) impassioned way.
Because of the matter of money, I think of a man from Bangladesh that I know. A very stingy man. He's like other stingy people, who work very hard to earn lots of money but never enjoy spending it even for their own pleasure. In the long run they might be considered wiser, for they can have money for cars and driving lessons and licences (you should know these things are extremely and ridiculously expensive in Norway), which my family won't be able to afford in a very long time. But in the short run, they wear old, worn-out, sometimes 2nd-hand clothes, go to Rema 1000, eat little and eat monotonous, boring, not-tasty meals (for survival rather than enjoyment), never travel or spend on anything "luxurious" such as going to the cinema... The Bangladeshi man I know is an example. My mom and I used to rent his house. He never bothered to take care of his stairs. Everything in his house was small and old and cheap-looking. Furniture was generally old and apparently didn't cost much. The fridge and the stove couldn't be tinier. In the bathroom he used a tiny lightbulb that didn't give much light so that it wouldn't require much electricity. Normally, that man likes to take advantage of everybody whenever possible, and in appearance, looks rather poor, not simple and casual but poor, with very old, several-year-old shoes and a worn-out vest, even though he owns several houses. I don't even bother to envy him of his money. You can't imagine how I detested that selfish, abominable, stingy, hypocritical, mean moron. But now I don't really care. He has money but never really lives and never enjoys life. Each kroner he pays is like a stab into his heart, and this will always and forever be his curse. He will suffer, because of himself alone, because of the burden he carries on his back.
To waste more than to earn isn't good, of course, but the other extremity isn't good, either. Life is short. You don't bring money with you down to your tomb.
11 pm. Have just gone out with sis P and bro DN. 1st we went to the area of Japanese and Korean people (isn't it funny how they sort of live in the same area, whereas the Chinese and the Vietnamese sort of live together in district 13?), then we had dinner at Le Lotus, talked and afterwards went to the dormitory of international students in Paris. Amazingly splendid. Right away, I wanted to be there, to study there, to stay there. Have you ever felt that way? It was like the 1st time I went to LHP school- right away, there was a strong urge to be in such a place, such an environment.
Some images remaining in my mind after the evening: a group of smelly, dirty teenagers that sis P and bro DN said to be pickpocketers, who laughed and talked and danced and did many crazy things in order to divert people's attention to them so that their friends could stole the money; a beggar sitting on the ground, wearing a nón lá...
It has been fun. Bro DN told me things I hadn't known before. To be honest, he astounded me. In real life he's completely different from the impression he made on me on the internet. Different, in a positive way. But how different, let me keep it for my own.

Wednesday, 6/6/2012
Feel ecstatically happy. Have just got a haircut and am very pleased with it. I said I wanted my hair black again, but about the hairstyle I gave them my head and told them to do whatever they wanted. To be honest the service in Norway, at least, in Kristiansand, is bad. Service is 1 of the few things at which Saigon is better, a lot better, than Kristiansand. Anyway, the girl here at 1st dyed, and then washed my hair and massaged my head, painstakingly, carefully, thoroughly, skilfully and meticulously, as though it were a passion, an art.
When coming back to Kristiansand I'll have to find new salons. After some certain events (about which I don't want to write here) I don't want to come back to the places I have often come to.

Thursday, 7/6/2012
When I got back to Mr H's place last night it was 1 am. I went out with bro HN, ate dinner and went to the cinema. Watched "The avengers", since there was nothing else. Trivial as predicted, a hodgepodge with a bunch of unrelated superheroes against Loki and his army in a horribly destructive battle. I think, 1 of the biggest problems of having a bunch of superheroes together is that it's hard to know who's actually stronger (and why). Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo, the ones I don't like, are better here than I thought. About the characters I'm pretty neutral, perhaps my favourite is Iron Man, a quite colourful character.
Whilst going with bro HN I met again the French guy my mom had asked for direction a few days earlier. Isn't it strange to meet someone twice in a strange place within merely a few days? My mom asked how I remembered and recognised him. "Because he's handsome." What else?
Today we went to Mitterand library, the biggest one in France and also the biggest one in Europe. The external architecture isn't very attractive, but the library consists of 4 buildings and I believe any book can be found here.
Saw a Jewish guy and [censored].

Friday, 8/6/2012

Saturday, 9/6/2012
At Disneyland. I've long surpassed the age to be lunatically excited about Disneyland, but it's lovely. Everything here looks like I've entered the world of fairytales, of fantasies, of dreams.

In short:
1/ In this post I didn't write everything I'd done during the week in Paris. And, as you can see, I didn't write down all of my thoughts and feelings. 
2/ I did take photos, which will be published sooner or later. The sad part is, I couldn't take photos of the interesting-looking people and couldn't take photos of any of the hot French guys passing by. "French guys are seeeeexy" definitely isn't a myth, I apologise for not being able to give some proof. Let me cherish their faces in my memory, my fantasy, my dreams. 
3/ A guy asked me, as I'd visited Paris 3 times, which of the trips was my favourite and which made the strongest impression on me. I'd say, it's impossible to say. As already written, this time I didn't exclaim in amazement and ecstasy "Oh my gosh I can't believe I'm in Paris!!!" and didn't photograph everything I saw. But I still love Paris, or perhaps even more, and feel even more certain that some day, I'll live in this city. And this time, there was a sense of familiarity, odd as it might sound, and I apologise if it offends anybody, but I feel more like home in Paris even than where I'm living now. 

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