elb's hovel of thoughts

Thursday, April 27, 2006

African Touts

[Paris entry] The Basilica Sacre Coeur can be accessed from several directions. The most popular entrance is the one which faces the front of the basilica; it also happens to be filled with Africans at the bottom. To get there, you would have to climb up a staircase along the hill, which access depends on a small gate at the bottom of the hill. Crowded around this gate is where you would find the Africans

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The climb to the Basilica Sacre Coeur.

Why are they there, you might ask? I wondered too...

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Some of the Africans.

What were they doing there? Observe the picture below.

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Palm reading? Not quite...

They were holding coloured strings in their hand and beckoning at passers by to stop. Of course anyone would know that it would involve money so they would shrug it off. So anyhow we went past the gate, and the Africans were upon us like a swarm.

I resisted at first, but because I was too tired. Before I knew it, some random Afro had started tying his bands around my wrist. The conversation went something like:

'Hello sir how are you. Are you liking Paris? I'm from Senegal. Here let me do this good luck charm for you.....'

Before I knew it he had tied whatever he had meant to tie.

'Now, close your eyes and make a wish and it would come true....'

Yeah, I wish you and the rest of you lot would just fuck off and leave me and everyone else alone, I thought to myself and nodded.

'Good! Don't forget to come back and give to me several million...'

Do you think all of us are as money minded as you? I thought to myself as I gave a polite grin.

Then, the catch. 'Sir... could I request for some money?'. Oh just get lost. 'Usually the other tourists pay €30' he added helpfully.

No fucking way you're going to get that, I thought to myself as I pulled out my wallet. Fortunately I had the smallest paper denomination - an €5 note. I took it and held it out.

'Please monsieur, do you not have thirty Euroes?'. I'm sorry, but I'm a poor chap, so take it and leave I tried to telepath to him as the joyful mood (on his part) evaporated as I looked at him with indifference.

'Do you not have anything bigger than that at the very least? Ten Euroes?' I shook my head, and reinforced my take-this-or-leave-it-I-will-never-budge look. He relented and took it.

I was never bothered by the other touts the rest of the time because they could clearly see that I had been marked victimized. You have been warned of what to expect should you go there...

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The 'good luck charm'. Hey, I paid €5 for it alright?


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