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Grief and resolve take over Paris streets

world Updated: Nov 19, 2015 02:32 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
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Women light candles, as thousands of people gather at the central square in Strasbourg, eastern France.(AFP Photo)

There is not much to remind you that this is the same city that witnessed its “9/11” last Friday when more than 130 people were massacred at several places. But scratch the surface and you can see grief and a quiet determination to move on.

The Gare du Nord is at its usual bustling self, so is the sylvan Jardin du Luxembourg in central Paris. The number of tourists is less at iconic locations such as the Eiffel Tower, but the busy RER train network continues to ferry Chinese and other tourists across the city.

The usual joie de vivre evident in one of the world’s most romantic cities has been dampened a bit. Mountains of flowers, cards, candles and messages rest at the Place de la Republique and venues hit by the Friday attacks, as people come to terms with the tragedy.

But the inscrutable Parisian spirit is evident everywhere, with residents going about their chores of everyday life, including dining out in the evening.

A gatekeeper at a cinema hall on Boulevard Saint-Germain said the number of cinema-goers was normal for a weekday, but hoped people would continue as usual on Friday - a week after the gruesome attacks.

Eurostar trains to and from London operated as normal on Wednesday. There were no major disruptions in air traffic either, but the heightened presence of security forces reminded many of the fragile sense of normalcy.

Philippe, a hotel receptionist in central Paris, had a resigned look as he spoke about the “new normalcy” of Paris, with its higher security levels and blaring sirens of police cars, but was confident that the city would not allow such incidents to affect everyday life.

“It leaves a scar, but we have to remain united. I can’t understand why all this happened,” he said.