city noises of Lille

SUNDAY – I slept until 10 this morning. Earlier, around 6 am, I was awakened by a chattering congregation of birds, predominant amongst them a cooing sound. ‘Doves?’ I remember thinking before falling asleep again. What kind of bird, other than a dove, makes a cooing sound?

The sound of church bells awakened me again at 10 am. 

In my Paris apartment all I hear are scooters, motorcycles, drunkards, people talking loudly on their cell phones, people sitting in their cars talking through amplified speaker systems (my apartment overlooks a dusty noisy street.)

My nerves are frazzled, and I constantly crave quiet. At the office I work in an open space, a noisy one. I don’t know whose idea it was to place the Legal Department in the middle of the Sales Department, but that’s where I am.

This morning in Lille I walked the 20 minutes to the large Sunday market called Wazemmes. It’s a huge outdoor market, principally Arab. “Can I take Soso with me?” I asked his mother. “No,” she replied, “Too many people.” And she’s right. If you don’t like crowds, you should avoid Wazemmes on a Sunday morning. But I like it because there are bargains to be had, and it’s lively and convivial. I bought a large bottle of orange flower water for 1 euro (in Paris it costs 7 euros), a bunch of socks made from bamboo fiber, two boxes of Turkish Delight, and some pastries.

“How was it?” my friends asked when I returned to the apartment. “Like taking a trip to Morocco.” I said.

Just before leaving to catch my 5 pm train back to Paris, I was sitting on the bed in one of the children’s bedrooms. Soso was standing in front of the mirror making faces at himself. “I”m leaving now,” I said to him, “The next time I see you, you’ll be seven years old.” After a pause, I added, “You’ll never be six ever again.”

He thought about this for a few seconds, then said – “I’ll miss being six.”

His idol of the moment is Kamil Majestic, child rap singer and winner of The Voice Kids.


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