The world is attracted to Paris, the city of light, but if you stay to live the shadow beneath her reveals itself to you eventually…at least it has to me. Through my daily struggle in Paris, I began to realize what possessed me to title this blog as ‘the third red apple.’ An initial hint is in the pages available in English and French, but little did I know that it was just a beginning.
With the departure of the Asian chef, the
last ounce of conscious left the restaurant. New replacement chefs, there were a few of
them as not one lasted long under Mme. Empathy’s management, they would all set
the ventilator at the maximum strength convinced that a due insulation had been
applied. Of course, it would not occur
to Mme. Empathy to correct their error.
So I was exposed to both the high and low frequency noise, the latter
which rocked my wall and furniture.
While the high frequency noise would offend our hearing, the low
frequency noise would penetrate our skin and grab our internal organs to shake
it relentlessly. The shaking furniture
showed me what was happening inside me.
Ironically, it was a French researcher who
first discovered the damage of low frequency noise, yet it is the citizens of
other nations, Germany for one, that are protected by the regulations. While the human ears eventually would get
used to the high frequency noise, the low frequency noise would be accumulated inside
our system and the symptoms would appear after months, making it difficult to pinpoint
the cause. In my case I was exposed to
the intense level that I developed the symptoms after only 2 months: insomnia,
dizziness, stiff shoulder and neck muscle and finally numbness of hands that I
frequently started to drop things. All the
articles on low frequency noise suffers’ syndrome say it would lead to depression and
a few years later…suicide. Thus its
alternative name is ‘Silent Killer.’ I
booked a room elsewhere to escape after the two months period was up. (Please, read the part 25 that explains the
importance of two months)
It seemed forever, but it was finally two
days away from the two months expiry date.
I had submitted the noise diary, the hours and the level, to my
lawyer. By this time, my sense had
weaken so much that even church bells could punch me in between my lungs. In fact any noise could jerk my body. There was no rest inside my brain…and yet it
happened. The shrieking drilling
noise penetrated my floor from the restaurant.
Mme. Empathy had decided to install a giant electric appliance for which
she did not receive permission from the authority. I thought it had been a hell, but the rock
bottom was yet to come.
Mme. Empathy was being confronted by her chef. ‘Madame, you lied to me. I only agreed to install the extracting
ventilation directly on the ceiling because you assured me that the ceiling had been
insulated.’ Mme. Empathy replied with a
smile ‘but it is! I cannot do any more insulation than this.’ He did not quite
believe her because this chef did not abuse the extractor to his credit. Any chef would know the hell I was being put
through upstairs. At least the other chefs I had the chance to consult was aghast.
I was incessantly hit by relentless
vibration that my hands started to shake regularly. My lungs and my necks felt oppressed that I desperately needed to leave
the apartment. However, I had to go back
and record everything for at least one month.
The police would only come and measure the noise level only after I have
suffered and got affected by it. My
lawyers needed time to gather all the necessary documents and the tribunal in
France required HEAPS. Many times I had
to grit my teeth to prevent myself from vomiting. Every time the extractor stopped I would drop down on the floor like a puppet
with a string that got snapped. At least 10 hours of this every day and all the muscles around my neck and my shoulder became stiff as rock.
Mme. Empathy was annoyed that her mood was
ruined by being reminded of me. I knew
she was more angry than sorry because I had run into her one morning. She looked at me like a trouble maker whom
she had every right to be indignant with.
She tried to get the chef to agree with her by saying, ‘that Asian woman
is exaggerating to deceive money out of us.
It can’t be that bad if she is staying.
Asians can breed in any kind of conditions, can’t they?’ Mme. Empathy did not realize that the chef,
whom she had hired in order to ride on the Asian cuisine wave in Paris, did not
reply. Shortly afterwards, the Asian chef quit
the restaurant. This I heard from the other chef who would
also quit the restaurant later.
Some readers may suspect as Mrs. Empathy
did that I may be suing the restaurant for money. The compensation for noise nuisance is
amazingly small in France. My lawyer
warned me that the legal fees would be easily be tenfold of the compensation
price. However, Mme. Empathy is right in believing herself
not to be a racist. She does not indeed
see the colour of people’s skin. In fact
she does not see human beings in anybody, otherwise she would have paid more attention on the facial expression of the Asian chef she addressed. There are cases when even racism feels more
humane. To be continued.
Mr. Pillar, the lawyer, had defended many restaurants, but not vice versa. ‘Generally, the restaurants in Paris observe the regulations and it is the Syndics that do not want a restaurant in their residential building. However, this is clearly an exceptional case. In all my years of practicing laws in France, I have never seen this extent of malignant breach of regulations as in your case.’ Even his partner lawyer nodded because Mr. Pillar uncovered many other wrong doings by Mme. Empathy which I was not yet aware of. I have travelled all way from Japan to be sunk by a pirate. According to Mr. Pride, I had it coming because…of what?
Mr. Pillar was curious as to why I chose to stay. Very legitimate question. I thought of this tenant next door who recently left. The landlord simply washed his hands off on this unsuspecting Chinese girl. It was much cheaper for this landlord than hiring a lawyer to fight Mr. Pride. This is Paris where there would be no shortage of tenants from overseas. I tried to warn this Chinese girl, but she had already signed a long term lease.
My Mme. Landlord, on the other hand, was no such a coward. She offered to reimburse me the deposit and offered a free lodging at her other house until I found another. Mme. Landlord would not lend out her apartment to anyone until this problem with the restaurant was solved. She chose to fight solo despite her cancer. This impressed me immensely. There had been 4 landlords in Paris before her and three of them had exploited their tenants. Mind like Mme. Landlord is clearly rare to find in this dangerously beautiful Paris. So this was it. I chose to stay because I wished to learn from this respectable French lady. I may still lose and leave after spending a rather large sum of money on lawsuits, but at the end of the day, I liked Mme. Landlord.
Mr. Pillar nodded. ‘The restaurant owner needs to receive the registered mail from the tribunal so that the stop we shall put on their restaurant permit will become valid. You must not let on anything to raise their suspicion lest the restaurant refuse to receive it. I am very sorry but you are going to have to stay in your apartment all day all night to record all hours and volumes of the noise the restaurant emits.’
This was going to cost my health on many levels. To be continued.
Mme. Landlord was on the phone. ‘Mais, Non!’
She repeated in utter exasperation.
Mr. Pride had called her to demand access to his roof through her
apartment’s window where I rent, so his workers could install a sky roof on his
restaurant. Mme. Empathy believed that
the lack of a sky roof was the reason her restaurant was sparsely occupied. You would think that good food with honest
price is the keys to more customers, but not Mme. Empathy, our lady with substance. So here he was, Mr. Pride, demanding that I complied
his request. He knew I was suffering insomnia
and was weakened. Mme. Landlord defended me, ‘You and Mme.
Empathy keeps installing electric appliances that make loud noise all night long,
which keep my tenant up every night. I have
told you this many times!’
Mr. Pride interrupted Mme. Landlord with a
scoff. ‘Your tenant chose to live above a restaurant. Where does she get off complaining?’
Mme. Landlord corrected him, ‘I too live above a restaurant in the other building,
but the restaurant owner there is causing no problems. Why can’t you do the right thing and pay for
the insulation? You are a wealthy man with
many business, Mr. Pride!’ But alas, he kept demanding that ‘this Asian
woman should stop feeling sick and open her door to the tradesmen.’ He was relentless even after Mme. Landlord
pleaded him to let her keep her doctor’s appointment for her cancer. He kept demanding for nearly two hours until
she finally dropped the telephone receiver from exhaustion. I am not so naive as to judge him for putting his profit above the
health of the others. But I was stupefied when he demanded respect. Yes, ‘respect.’ Was there another meaning to this word that I
did not know of? Mme. Landlord said to him
that ‘respect must be given mutually’ but of course, it fell on deaf ears.
Two days later, a secretary showed me into
an office full of books. Probably the
most unpragmatic decision of mine had been made by Mr. Pride. A lawyer named Mr. Pillar greeted me
quietly. To be continued. にほんブログ村
Without women tenants’ participation, I had
to make a case for the nuisance of the restaurant by myself. Mme. Landlord could not help me with this
because she did not reside in the building herself. For my complaint to be accepted by the police
I had to live in inhabitable apartments to record all the activities by the
restaurant that were making it inhabitable.
It should not have to be this hard, but I moved into my kitchen aka my
living room and bedroom for some times to come.
The smug laughter of the restaurant
staff was heard too that I quickly pushed ear plugs into my ears. However, the noise pierced even those ear plugs that I dreaded the long hours of ventilation hell from the restaurant
below. According to Mme. Empathy and her
staff, I should just parish.
However, before long Mme. Empathy’s the
restaurant started to go quiet during the dinner hours. Mme. Empathy’s reputation had preceded her that no respectable locals would dine there. Winter was
coming and terror attacks in Paris had stopped the flow of tourists. The empty looking restaurant suffered a stark
contrast with the other restaurants nearby that were filled with the locals and
the expats. Mme. Empathy had designed it
so that there would be a lot of dining seats, which left very little space for
kitchen. The crammed kitchen must have inconvenienced
the chefs. Those sparsely occupied seats
in a large dining area enhanced the emptiness of the restaurant. All this was visible from the street. ‘A
good restaurant would pick up after a few weeks in Paris,’ said Mme.
Landlord. The restaurant was not an instant success.
However, some food critic wrote a glowing
reviews on the restaurant. This was the
same writer who had praised Mme. Empathy’s previous restaurant that closed in
red figures. I do not intend to
discredit the review and the writer who was probably served a special dinner
made with better ingredients than the meals Mme. Empathy would normally serve
the ordinary clients. However, this is
one good example that Michelin Guide is still the one to be trusted, despite
all the criticism. The Michelin agents dine
‘incognito’ leaving no room for special treatments by the restaurant. I imagine the Michelin agents would refrain
from taking photos of the food while the food bloggers would snap away, a
tell-tell sign to alert the restaurants’ people. The worst case is the critics being chummy
with the managers.
Mme. Empathy was going to break more rules
and morals. To be continued.
Absurd decisions are not always made by
fools. A reasonably sane person can be
pushed into making one. I did not jump
right into employing a lawyer either. Besides,
Mme. Landlord did her best salvaging the unfair situation with a petition. She hoped that it would prompt the other
landlords, who do not reside in the building themselves, to get involved. A couple of my neighbors signed the petition
and Mme. Landlord entrusted me with the task of talking to girl tenants who had
also been annoyed by the noise from the restaurant. ‘I wanted them to close
that restaurant!’ she spattered. I
promised to return with Mme. Landlord’s signed petition.
I was startled when I saw a male figure in
the corridor near my door because I recognized the man to be a staff at the
restaurant when I went to see Mme. Empathy.
To my surprise, he smiled and greeted me a musical ‘Bonjour.’ He was convinced of his charm and melting smile,
except it froze me inside. I saw his
eyes were condescending, but at the same time with a purpose. Instead of going back to my room to get the
petition letter, I went pass by him to go out the building. As I passed by the restaurant I spotted
another figure inside: Mme. Empathy. She
had a half-smile as she looked at me.
Instinct told me that she may have sent the young man to me. Did they think that I would accept the horrible condition they subjected me for a piece of flirtation? What idiot would fall for that? Impossible!
Not really. When I later returned to the building, I saw
the young man from the restaurant and one of the girl tenant getting cozy. Or more precisely, the girl was giggling away, obviously smitten. The affection,
however, was not reciprocated judging from the coldness in the young man’s
eyes, but he was indulging her.
Needless to say, that I could not secure
the signatures of any girl tenants for the petition against the
restaurant. I could not believe that
those women could not see through the ploy of Mme. Empathy and her staff. Never again shall I blame men for falling for
honey pot traps. Women are no wiser. To
Mr. Pride raised an eyebrow on learning
that Mme. Landlord had reported his act of breach of trust to the Syndic. ‘That old hag is always interfering with my
business and yet the other landlords always follow her for doing the right
things. What do they know, those small
fishes?’ He was the largest shareholders
of the building thus had the power to fire the Syndic. Despite the claim of being the nation of equal
rights, France was severely polarized society, financially. The frequent strike that French workers are renowned
for was more like act of desperation rather than defiance. In the end the money wins out.
As they had expected, the Syndic refrained
from taking any actions against the restaurant.
The blow struck Mme. Landlord hard.
There was no way she could gather consent of the other landlords to hire
a lawyer against Mr. Pride in time.
Three weeks had already passed since the legal permit was granted to the
restaurant. Mme. Empathy was confident
that two months provisional limitation would pass without a hitch. Mr. Pride knew that Mme. Landlord, a retired
lady who had to pay an enormous medical bill for her cancer treatment could not
afford to come after him with a lawyer. I
could foresee the hell that would follow after the expiration date, not that it
was not already hell in my apartment.
The sight of all the deserted rooms above restaurants in Paris crossed
my mind. The victims of the financially polarized
However, I was from Japan, a nation of ‘nearly
all-middle income class.’ I am not a
rich person, but had a saving that I had meant to spend on learning French
culture. I was at the cross road: one
was to keep my saving and leave France; the other was to learn the French
culture in a hard but the most unusual manner.
To gather information I contacted a lawyer and found out there was one
exception to the rules. The person who
has been residing in the place before the problems started can launch an appeal
to the tribunal regardless of his or her legal status. This means, even a tenant like me can try stop
the establishment of the legality of the permit falsely granted to Mme.
After the successful opening party of the previous night Mme.
Empathy stood there glowing. However when
Mme. Landlord and I entered the restaurant Mme. Empathy looked at us as if we
Mme. Landlord politely explained the situation, but was
rudely interrupted. Mme. Empathy glared at me and spoke to me in
English to my surprise. She insisted that I did not hear anything.
If I did then it was me being oversensitive. She then turned to Mme.
Landlord and said in French ‘You should pay for the insulation, not me.’ Not knowing this, I naively begged Mme. Empathy
to at least refrain from using the dishwasher after midnight. She looked me straight in my eyes and said, ‘we
have no dishwasher.’ I could see one in the kitchen and pointed
at it. ‘Oh,
that is not it’. Without even once
flickering in eye. I realized that I was
dealing with a pathological liar. Logical
thing would be for me to walk away, but her command of English puzzled me. It was too good for a French. It turned out that Mme. Empathy was French
only by national. It was a typical case
of immigrants dumping on other immigrants.
I observed Mme. Landlord as we walked out the
restaurant. She was looking fragile every
day because of her cancer. She was a
good French lady, very sympathetic to immigrants and one of them is returning evil for good. What would it make me
if I abandoned her after all the compassion she had shown me? Another ungrateful immigrant, of course and I
refused to go down that path. We
Japanese maybe many thing, but ungrateful is not one of them. We would much rather wage a losing battle and
thus I declined when Mme. Landlord offered to return my deposit so I could
So, together we headed for PASU, the authority that approved
the infrastructure of the restaurant. Mme.
Landlord was sure that Mme. Empathy had lied to the authority. To be continued.
I returned to my building after midnight
but the guests were still in the restaurant. The drunks were laughing away with
Mme. Empathy. But I was
relieved to find that the chef was outside smoking so at least there would be no
more cooking. This chef was an Asian
which is considered trendy in Paris these days.
He did not know then that Mme. Empathy would later reveal her racism and
threw him out after stealing his French-Asian fusion recipe. A woman who tramps down her neighbors would
have no scruples mistreating her employees.
However, there was one group of people Mme.
Empathy would turn her charm on and that was 'elites'. She boasted of being chummy with famous food
critics. Even her brother had a
connection with someone in the Council or in French le Mairie. Can such a thing be possible in an advanced
nation like France? But how do you
explain the fact that their permit to open a restaurant was granted by one
person at the Council only a few months after the first application was turned
down by a different person?
I walked up the stairs expecting my apartment
to be quieter, but even after the cooking had finished I could still hear the
staff’s every movement, every shelf and indoor door slam shut as they were in
the same room. Mme. Empathy and Mr.
Pride had not insulated their ceiling AT ALL and yet they were granted the approval by PASU for the facilities in their restaurant. In Paris, you need two types of permit, one
from the Council and one from PASU, but our two clever pair managed to cheat both
systems. To my dismay, their dishwasher
was set in motion. Even in France the
electricity rate is cheaper after midnight.
Of course, Mme. Empathy would take advantage of that. Eventually the guests and the staff would
leave, but I was to be left behind exposed to their electric appliances for
After the sleepless night, I opened my door to
Mme. Landlord. She saw my distress but was
too honest to offer me unrealistic consolation.
In silence one old lady with one Asian woman headed for the restaurant. Power was not on our side. To be continued.
The hell-turbo engulfed my apartment. The invisible but strong force gripped my
lungs and pinned me down onto the floor…which transmitted the vibration from
the extractor of the restaurant directly into my body. I had to push myself up with all my strength
while losing balance to the vibration from below. I was fast losing breath and felt the blood
I managed to stagger towards the small
kitchen that was half shielded by a wall.
I gulped water down instinctively in hope to ease my heightened blood
pressure. With my shaking fingers I
called Mme. Landlord. She immediately
perceived my distress. There was concern
in her voice which felt like a ray of light in dark. She promised to come the first thing the
following morning to speak to the restaurant.
This small new hope gave me enough strength to go back out to the hell
turbo, walk across to the door and leave my apartment. I ran out of the building, passing the
restaurants where guests were making merry with drinks. Mme. Empathy was flirting away with guests,
not shedding a thought to the hell she had subjected me to. In fact, I did not even exist in her mind judging
from her jubilant face.
I could see that the opening party was to
continue until midnight, or even later, so I started to roam around. The beautiful city of Paris suddenly looked ominous. The river Seine at night looked rebuffing. You might advise me to move out of the hell
apartment, but I had already changed my address several times because of an
attempted burglary, crooked locksmiths, a dishonest landlord and rats. It was not recommendable thing to change
addresses frequently if one wants to renew one’s visa in France. It may spell the end of my humble dream if I
moved again and I was no longer young. And yet, I already knew that Mme. Empathy would not make anything better.
I rang my home in Japan and did a thing
that I had not done in many many years—crying to my mother like a lost child. To be continued. <a href="//english.blogmura.com/ranking.html"><img src="//english.blogmura.com/img/english88_31.gif" width="88" height="31" border="0" alt="にほんブログ村 英語ブログへ" /></a><br /><a href="//english.blogmura.com/ranking.html">にほんブログ村</a>
In spite of everything Paris continues to
draw people in for many reasons, but one of mine was to fulfill the dream of my
parents. They wished to live there
basking in her historical glories. As an
Asian with no siblings, it was all up to me to make this happen and my father’s
mind was gradually being eroded by Altimizers. Time was running out so I settled on this
apartment in Le Marais.
Thus I came face to face with the notorious
Mme. Empathy whose desire was to have fun at the expense of other people. Her smile made me feel uneasy, but I needed
to ask her to show me her kitchen. I was
initially hesitant to live above a restaurant, but my parents had weak knees
that they could only walk up to low floors.
As the small apartment was not above the client seats area I had decided
to move in. The kitchen noise from below
should be manageable with insulation and so in order to insulate my place effectively
I needed to see where her kitchen appliances were installed. To my request Mme. Empathy obliged with a
smile and pointed at a refrigerator which was only slightly bigger than a
domestic refrigerator. Something did not
sit right with me, but she kept talking and talking that I could not think
straight. Against my better judgement I
forced myself to believe her smile and left quickly. Such was her manipulative gift.
Then it began. The chef switched on their cooking
ventilation attached directly to their ceiling with no insulation. The vibration force virtually threw me away
from that particular spot. It was like
inside the airplane engine. The heat
would have scorched me had it been summer.
The only sanctuary was my kitchen but the hellish noise and vibration
would continue for 8 hours straight in preparation for their opening
party. I could not move because of the oppressive
force on my lungs that rendered me immobile.
With my shaking fingers I dialed Mme. Landlord. It was beginning of my long dark days in Paris. To be continued. <a href="//www.blogmura.com/point/01365672.html?type=image"><img src="//blogparts.blogmura.com/parts_image/user/pv01365672.gif" alt="PVアクセスランキング にほんブログ村" /></a>
Discrimination takes all kinds of forms,
but basically it is the ultimate means of survival through choosing easy weak preys.
Predators leave the rich alone and
prefer to take from the poor what few they possess because the rich would put
up a fierce defense while the poor cannot afford lawyers. Fortunately for the bullies, there are more
of the weak than the rich and powerful.
The principle of low interest sales is feasible in every field.
My landlord was a senior French lady who
was suffering from cancer. The treatment
drained her of time and energy to care for her property. I shall refer to her as ‘Mme. Landlord.’ Her vulnerability was fully taken advantage of
by Mr. Pride who chose to ignore her requests to share his plan for the
restaurant, for an instance, what electric appliances he intended to install,
etc. Mr. Pride even had the nerve to
jeer at the fine lady that she knew the restaurant was there when she purchased
her apartment. It was too bad that Mme.
Landlord’s tenants would go mad from the noise and that the value of Mme.
Landlord’s property would depreciate significantly. That is the price one pays for being stupid
and of course, Mr. Pride was the smart one, he added smugly.
Mme. Landlord quickly reminded Mr. Pride
that the Council had rejected his application for restaurant permit when she purchased
her apartment. No legal restaurant therefore
existed. It was only after Mme. Empathy
pulled a few strings that the restaurant permit was finally granted, or so she
boasted but she would lie as she breathed.
It was more likely through false
pretense the permit was finally granted.
Mr. Pride clucked his tongue because he would have to lie low for two
months so that the old hag, Mme. Landlord would not poke her nose in.
Maybe many cheaters in Paris had waited two
months before they opened their restaurant to fool other landlords and this is
what Mr. Pride and Mme. Empathy could have done. But this meant the loss of two months’ income
and they had already suffered a setback after the initial rejection of the
permit. They had already missed one
summer to rip off tourists that they had much to make up. However, luckily for them, the cancer
treatment kept Mme. Landlord away and her new tenant was that little Asian
woman who would not know how to complain.
Her French was pathetic and the authority in France barely understood
So it was decided. The restaurant from hell was to be opened
just 10 days after the permit was granted.
To be continued.
I cannot describe the physical appearance
of Mr. Pride and Mme. Empathy in this true story. I have had to modify minor details of the
situation so as to hide their identity, but this I can say. They would look at you as their preys and the
air around you feel heavier. Out of
fear you feel compelled to please them as they chat you up as if you are
special. But the moment you contradict
them, their eyes widen up with a fierce glare, I later learnt.
The restaurant needs a ventilator, a huge
one that emits non-stop loud noise. The
chefs would find it loud also but the air gets sucked into the ventilator, and
then vibrates up the extracting pipe.
The chefs are not exposed to the vibration that travels upwards, but it
is the residents upstairs who get hit with the full force of it. Therefore, restaurant owners with conscience
would install the extractor on their sidewall.
I have seen one in this bistro near Pont Mirabeau. It was run by an honest looking man and his
Other conscious restaurant owners would
hang the ventilator from the ceiling, but Mme. Empathy opted to install hers directly on
the ceiling. It is done in commercial
buildings where the upstairs would be occupied by offices, but to do so in a
residential building is not recommendable.
Particularly in an old historical building with wooden beams on the
ceiling will not block the noise like cement or plaster walls. Therefore PASU requires a proper insulation
to be applied to the kitchen ceiling. Mme.
Empathy gladly submitted that this was done, but as you would guess it, was
another lie. Did she care that the
resident upstairs in the small studio would have no place to sleep but the spot
over her ventilation that would be roaring like an airplane engine while
scorching the victim with heat during the summer? Of course not. In her mind only she existed in the world.
You would wonder ‘the architect must have
told her the ramification.’ Well, the
fees of employing an architect is so expensive in Paris that people opt for cheaper interior
designers who are not by law responsible for the infrastructure. Their job is to make the place look gorgeous
only and if someone gets electrocuted and dies as the result of a bad
configuration, that will not be their fault.
Besides, PASU gives only 2 months to the neighboring residents to
contest the infrastructure of the restaurant.
If you have missed it, or did not have enough money to hire a lawyer,
you would be stuck with an inferno. The
value of the property crushes and the restaurant owner would scoop it up. With the new upstairs apartment they have
acquired for a dirt cheap price, they can apply for a non-stop 24 hours
continuous business license. It is the
true horror dark side of Paris.
You may not care so long as you get served
as a client, but how much honest would such a heartless restaurant owner be to their
clients? To be continued.
Needless to say our Madame Empathy does not
give a toss about other people. She just
wanted to have fun without paying a price for it. Why not?
Men had indulged her for her looks and seduction all her life. Keeping to the rules was for fools and ugly
women who could not hope to manipulate men.
That was the reputation which had preceded her, but the truth was she
did not care for the life of others either.
In the historical part of Paris, the
buildings are made of natural material, not cement or modern stuff. Thus the authority PASU regulates so that
restaurants do not install electric appliances of capacity higher than 20K in the old residential buildings. Otherwise the
noise would be too loud and generate excess electromagnetics. Long exposure to this electric wave would
cause cancer, so it has been discovered.
‘But I won’t live in the building, so I will be safe’ thought Madame
Empathy. She had already chosen a HUGE
shiny commercial refrigerator. Nothing
but the best for her. It did not even
enter her mind, but the resident above the restaurant was an old frail
man. He is already mentioned as Mr. A.
in the previous true horror story in Paris.
‘You’d better wait two months before you
install it’ suggested Mr. Pride. The
authority does not normally check the facilities once the permit is granted,
but the old protected historical building is examined by ＡＢＦ（architectes des bâtiments de
France）to ensure the cosmetic beauty of the building was not lost. If they saw an enormous refrigerator they might alert PASU. Of course, after
two months, no one would be able to stop the cheaters. Mr. Pride had heard that an Asian woman was
going to move in after Mr. A. With a
grin Mr. Pride added, ‘Asians are too stupid to complain or for anything.’
That Asian was me. I was walking into the dark side of Paris. To be continued.
Despite the national motto ‘equality’, France is surprisingly a polarized society. On one side is a small group of incredibly
rich elites enjoying absolute dominancy over those on the other side who are
financially oppressed. There are decent
French people who uphold morality…and yet there is also a culture that hails cheating
as cool. The last phrase was given to me
by a group of French.
The system has made it easy for those cheaters
too. For instance every new restaurant
must seek permission from the Council and an organization called PASU. Insulation
of the premises is mandatory so as not to deteriorate the quality of life of the
other residents of the buildings. However,
the authorities do not conduct follow-up inspection to check if the restaurant has indeed
carried out all that was claimed in their application for the permit. ‘Great’, thought our Mme. Empathy. Insulation costs a lot in Paris and she would
much prefer to spend more money on the décor of her new restaurant where she
would reign like a Queen.
Her partner, our Mr. Pride, checked to see who
lived near the restaurant. They were either
tenants or tourists. ‘Great’, thought
Mr. Pride because in France, it is up to the victims of noise to notify the
authority, in this case, PASU, of the offending restaurant within two months of
the day the permit to run a restaurant was issued. The tenants and tourists would leave without
complaining to the owner. Soon two
months would expire and the owners of the building would be deemed to have accepted
the conditions, no matter how horrendous they were.
In the touristic areas, many restaurants operate
in residential buildings. Next time
you are in Paris, look up at the apartment right above the bustling
restaurants. Some rooms look deserted, probably
by the owner who could not afford to hire a lawyer to contest the cheating
restaurant. Tremendous sadness is cast…or
is that all in the room, really? To be
Whew, I have survived the devil, or at
least it appears so for now. So without
ado I shall resume where I left off. It
has been too long.
Some people have a knack of sniffing out
misfortune in others. So there they
were, Mr. Pride and Mrs. Empathy, standing in front of an old shop whose
previous owner had run himself into a deep debt for the reason I cannot tell
you because I have to be careful when recounting a true story. The closest I can get is that the reason was
very French in this city of love…or lust seems more like it.
The pair dreamt of running an upscale
restaurant though neither had no knowledge on restaurant business. Mrs. Empathy insists she is an expert which
is some exceedingly optimistic view considering she had run every eatery she had ever
managed down into the ground, but in Paris there are always people who would pay
good money for the license to operate a restaurant. With the real estate price going up every
year in Paris, any debt Mrs. Empathy incurred would be paid off. You would question the wisdom of Mr. Pride’s
judgement in appointing her as the manager of his newly acquired property, but incompetence
did not matter in the touristic areas.
The unsuspecting tourists would always be beguiled to dine. Thus, the locals in le Marais would only
trust shops or eateries that had had success in other areas already, or the
long standing establishments.
The long standing establishments provide
good food, but it is hard to find a lousy chef in Paris anyway. The difference comes down to the personality
of the manager whose history the locals are well aware of. The price may be similar but some managers
would cut corners. The challenge in
Paris is not to be ripped off. And I
learnt the hard way that the residents living near immoral restaurants can be a
health hazard. To be continued.
There is a police station on the island of
Cite in the middle of historical Paris.
It is where the world renowned La Notre Dame Cathedral is crowned. The price of real estate of this island is
literally ‘Priceless.’ And yet, behind
the cathedral stands this police station (not to be confused with the prefecture de police on the other side of the Cathedral).
From the point of views of any real estate agents, it is a massive waste
of potential, but…the history of this tiny area is too horrendous that may even
have defeated human greed and vanity. Now that does not happen normally, but this is
What I am about to share here, I must admit
I have seen only two sources: Wikipedia and the news site LOCAL. However, I could not find any other credible explanation
for this peculiar situation of this tiny spot behind the altar of God.
There once operated this butcher who offered
cheap accommodation to the tourists. The accommodation in Paris must have always been expensive. Those unsuspecting tourists however were not
seen checking out until the butcher was finally exposed to be a human flesh trader. That he was not caught out immediately
implies that the cursed flesh was fed to another unsuspecting tourists. Parisians of the time must have gotten a wind
of it, but living in Paris was hard enough, it still is wonderful but hard, that they could not be expected to
hold hands of the outsiders who would come and go.
I am not suggesting that Cannibalism is
alive and well in Paris, but the attitude of anything goes with the tourists is
still evident and I am not talking about financial rip-off. Just last week I spotted a whole chicken at one outdoor market. The price was unusually cheap for a chicken
of this regional famous brand, but it was smallish so I gambled. The worst that could happen was dry tasteless
As I bit into the morsel of my roasted chicken I heard that ominous ‘crack.’ I took out from my mouth a piece of bone that
chipped of my front tooth. And then I
found the brittle bones inside the dry meat.
An old bird it was, perhaps? But soon
afterwards I started to feel sick. Then
I noticed that there were many other brittle pieces of bones, just too many for one chicken. I pondered what the bird
was being subjected before it was finally butchered. Not being able to believe the worst, I tried
the chicken again the next day and felt sick again, but not the kind of food
poisoning sickness. I felt I was being
exposed to chemical. I remembered
ruefully that the woman who sold the chicken brought it out from the back of
her stall instead of giving me the chickens on the display. My Asian appearance is a dead giveaway that I was a non-Parisian. I dumped the chicken in the bin.
My next true horror story of the modern
Paris is about one restaurant. If you
have read my previous posts, you would know that I mentioned of it. If my previous neighbor was a devil, this
restaurant turned out to be a bigger devil that drove out other evils. To be continued.
I could see from the ripped corner of the
large envelope that it was a bag of snack.
Why anyone would go pale over that, I wondered. We were still at the talking stage, Leila and
me. I suggested ‘Has a company sent you
a sample?’ She replied ‘No’ with a subdued
voice. ‘A gift from your friend?’ I asked thinking it would be an odd gift to
send by post. Leila blurted out, ‘but I
am allergic to this! No friend of mine
would send me this stuff!’
Some allergic is more serious than
others. People can pass out…even on the
street where automobiles go by. The
snack would be an unkind gift in this case.
‘Do you recognize the name of the sender?’ Leila showed me it was blank. To make the matter weirder, it had been
posted overseas. I was absolutely
A few months later, here I was looking at
another anonymous package addressed to Leila.
I could tell the content was again a bag of snack. Someone wanted her dead. I just sensed it. I saw the postage and recognized the country
to be related to this one person. Mr. A.
I confess I had wondered if Leila wanted that
old gentleman to have a stroke or something from her noise harassment and…die. What an absurd imagination, or so I thought. The sender of the package must have known she
would not touch the food, but she would get the message, which probably was ‘I
know you wished to kill me. You would
not have been punished by the secular criminal laws, but your soul is tainted no
matter how nice a person you tried to portray yourself with your sweet egalitarian
speech.’ Leila certainly got the message
and thus turned pale. Not that it stopped her from noise-harassing me later.
I dropped the package because another
thought occurred to me. Mr. A. could
have seen Leila eating at a nearby vegan shop.
If the sender was Mr. A., it meant he had knowingly exposed me to a
psychopath. I had even moved in a month
early so he could leave sooner. His
reason was that he got a job offer elsewhere, but…
Leila would not have minded if Mr. A died…likewise
Mr. A. would not have cared if I was harmed.
What a hypocritical gentleman he turned out to be. I say this again that Paris may bring the best
out of you, but also the worst out of you if you were not careful.
To be continued to another true horror
story in the modern Paris.
North Korea launched another missile
towards Japan just hours ago and yet I am updating my blog as business as usual. Just as we often refuse to confront the
imminent danger, we also deny the past danger as if it had been all in our
mind. In my case, I wanted to retain
faith in humanity so as days gone by I tried to see Leila in a more sympathetic
light. Had she not been suffering from
chronical pain in her joints, she may not have mixed up with a bad news like
him. Then she may have been nicer, if
not less anti-social…
However, I could not suppress the memory of
her high heels persistently struck against the tile floor in the middle of
night. The impact did not just annoy Mr.
A. and me, but it may have well been the reason her joints were damaged which
led to her having chronical pain. Maybe it
was her malicious intent that started the whole negative spiral karma after all...
It was with this thought I stood in front
of the mailbox when the postman placed a packet aside the mail boxes. The address was right, but he could not find
the name plate that matched the name written over the packet. It was addressed to Leila. A distant memory flashed back. It was of Leila going pale holding a packet
in front of her mailbox, just like the one that has just been
Paris, this city of light (or enlightenment)
brings the best but also the worst out of you if you were not careful. To be continued.
Needless to say I caught up with
my long awaited restful sleep in Wien the first few days. As I
regained my strength I assessed the situation. The bar next door
should not be too much problems as the owner-residents would surely take care
of the noise once they are back from Christmas holidays. So it was
back to those two anti-socials upstairs.
Perhaps I could notify the owner
and the police and stay away from Paris for a while. That would have
cost me unnecessary expenses, but quitting Paris for good never occurred to
me. Not until I got harassed by the French. Those two
misfit foreigners were not going to drive me away from Paris. Besides…something
told me the things were going to be all right as I listened to the God sent
voice of angels by the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
In January I returned to my
place. As I climbed up the stairs I noticed the air was light. I
said this before but people’s negative aura carries an actual weight. An
old lady passed by and wished me Bonne Année with the news that Leila and her
fiancé had left. Or rather gotten kicked out by their
landlord. Now if you remember of this poor tourist who came knocking
on my door for a hair dryer because Leila had taken hers with her. I
felt so sorry for this innocent tourist whose dream holidays in Paris was
ruined by the endless party noise from the bar next door that before I left for
Wien I asked this old lady neighbor to rent this tourist a hair dryer. I
would have rented out mine, but I was not going to return before this tourist
It turned out that this building
had a strict regulation against the tenants renting out to the tourists without
the knowledge of the landlords. The old lady neighbor promptly
informed Leila’s landlord who immediately kicked Leila out. The fate
may have intervened through the misdemeanor of the bar next door to which Leila
and her fiancé responded with greed. They thought to extract some cash
from tourists while they escaped the party noise at their parents’. I
could not touch those two anti-socials, but their own greed could.
I sat down and cried from
relief. However, this is Paris. It would not end without
one more twist. To be continued.