Sunday, 11 November 2018
The true horror stories in modern Paris part 67
I started looking for a new apartment, but suddenly Mme. Landlord sold the apartment I was living to one Italian couple. They were seeking investment properties and it suited them that a tenant (me) was already there. I had had enough of the restaurant from Hell, but one decisive factor was that I would not need to report the change of address to the French Government. In order to extend my visa, continuity was considered important. Besides I had already invested in insulation materials, I might as well stay.
I could not update my blog last week because of the pain in my wrist. It is healing slowly, but the pain returns whenever I stress it. But my mind was busy analyzing each harmonious character in my true horror stories in this modern Paris. Let me start with Mme. Landlord, the ruthless whipper of the weak while pretending to be their saviour. How does such a personality develop?
The clue may be in the fact that she was not a born Parisian. Every city has a hierarchy that consists of the in-crowds that were born with the non-coded priority over those who joined the city from elsewhere. Mme. Landlord often spoke proudly of her birthplace, but her eyes betrayed her words. She chose not to return to her birthplace which speaks the truth. The late joiners of the city struggle to secure their place unless blessed with a tolerable wealth or some kind of accomplishments. Did Mme. Landlord have any of them? A daughter from a decent family would not grow up to be a scavenger of garbage rooms. Her sense of hygiene did not revolt against bringing a discarded mattress (run over by mouses) into her bedroom. Then how would an ambitious woman with no advantages navigate herself in a city? How would she climb up the social ladder?
By pretending to possess what the rich and the successful are stereotyped to be lacking it. Empathy. No other virtue has been more abused because you can pretend to have it while regular accomplishment requires a lot of hard work or even financial expenses. Mme. Landlord boasted of her volunteer works, boasted of getting involved in many good causes. It left unpleasant aftertaste that she would demand recognition or gratitude each time, unlike my acquaintances in Japan who had kept quiet about their volunteer works until I accidentally found out. However, her tactics must have worked for Mme. Landlord because she managed to gain respect as a moral leader who became equal to the rich and the successful among the circle which she had insinuated herself into. But there was one person who was not fooled. Herself.
Not naturally empathetic nor generous, her life-long acting would naturally take its toll on her. She vented her frustration on the weak whose voice would not be heard. She was all smile to an aristocrat gentleman while writing slander about him in her emails to me. I have written in one of my updates about the night when I was made to move her bulky furniture. It was not an isolated episode, of course, and one day she made me move another piece of her bulky furniture during the daytime. She came along to give me instructions, so I would not damage her old furniture, which was not precious enough for her to pay the taxi fares for. What was the point of having migrants around if you could not use them for free labour?
A couple of French women were chatting on the street. I had to stop because there was no room on the narrow street of Paris. I was about to politely ask them to let me pass when Mme. Landlord hurled some abusive comments to the women. Even I could understand the part ‘people have lost manner to make space for others in Paris!’ The two women looked hurt more than offended and said something softly in French as they stepped aside. I felt compelled to apologize to the French women for the rude behavior of Mme. Landlord while she walked past them triumphantly.
Is she part of the elegant Parisian tapestry? I think not.