November 19, 2007

honk my horn

Okay people, this is serious. All of this past summer's environmental initiatives in Paris (free bikes and anti-car days and bla, bla, bla) have just bitten the dust. Or rather, are choking on the pollution of hours of gridlock as every car owner on the Ile de France tears up their worthless metro pass and spends hours in their vehicle to cover 5 kms in 4 hours.

We are entering DAY 7 of the transport strike and for good measure, the teachers and postal employees are joining the fray. It'll be like a bloody bank holiday here tomorrow - except that normal people are trying to work, with very limited options as to how to physically get to work and nowhere to leave the kids!

I have been making use of the passenger-on-scooter mode of transportation. Luckily one of the owners of a voice-over studio I do a lot of work for lives near me and has a scooter. This evening we crossed the city from west to east at 30km/h, dodging side-mirrors as the cars turned Paris into a giant, idling parking lot. Here's what I've learnt about strike etiquette: scooters and motorbikes put on their hazards and then dash right through the middle, between the cars. In tunnels, the gleeful two-wheeled drivers sound their little hooters as they manouvre through the lines of cars: beep-beep, bip-bip-bip, beep-beep-beep-beeeeeeep and the cars REPLY. Yes! It's true! Car hooters are much louder and fuller than the tinny little scooter horns, so it's quite cool to hear the resounding BEEP-BEEP, BIP-BIP-BIP, BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEEEEEEP reply.

I am amazed that in this crisis, people find the time to play eccentric little honking games in tunnels. Especially if you take into account how much bad feeling there usually is between the 'scoots' and the cars :-) People are weird.

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