Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Paris is too expensive for parisians

My watch had run out of battery. I considered getting it changed by a watch maker during the lunch hour but as soon as I learned the price I gave up. Everyone knows that the tiny Chinese made battery doesn’t cost a penny but if you are unlucky to work close to the Eiffel tower, there it has become a fifteen-euro luxury product. I added the battery to my list of cheap essentials “to be purchased in some working class neighborhood”. Also in my own neighborhood close to Notre Dame, I could easily spend half of my salary on expensive sticking plasters, safety pins and toothpicks. Once bought in intramuros, all these little somethings quadruple in price. It can be all right for a tourist to buy once twelve-euro shoe strings because they are Chinese made Parisian shoe strings, but it is not the same for locals. 
   Even food gets more expensive the closer you get the center. Parisians carrying heavy shopping bags in the bus or metro has become a common sight in the city center. In fact, only the minority of Parisians have a car. At the same time more and more ordinary citizens now take a trolley and go shopping in working class neighborhoods, or even outside of Paris to get more bangs for their buck.
It reminds me of the ex-Soviet Union where western goods could only be purchased by western money in beryozka, particular hard currency stores, whereas ordinary Soviet citizen purchased only local goods with their rubles. Jeans, sports shoes, stockings or even empty plastic bags became such a status symbol that many Finns, mostly males, crossed the border to deal those articles. A colorful western fashion magazine could pay your bill in a restaurant and a pair of cheap supermarket stockings was enough to buy a one-night stand.
   Ever changing tourists don’t protest over Paris prices. Therefore, the city center stores are becoming kind of hard currency stores where ordinary Parisians seldom find anything for their budget. My list was getting longer every day.

All these household essentials could be collected cheap at Boulevard Belleville’s street market. The next Friday I was there. 
 I crossed a pell-mell of fruits and vegetables, cheap cosmetics, wooden African sculptures, fake brand sport shoes, clothes and accessories. Some vendors also called bwana-bwana had put their articles on a piece of fabric on the ground in front of them. This is in case of a police check the articles can be bundled at a glance by tying the corners of the fabric together before running away. I easily gathered all I was looking for. I purchased a packet of two watch batteries for one euro, the same that were sold at fifteen euros each next to the Eiffel tower. 

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