Sunday, October 05, 2008

Paris, Pedro et al.

This week I was in France. First, in Strasbourg, dealing with Council of Europe issues and, then, in Paris, with Alliance of Civilizations'. I fundamentally like France. This is possibly the result of having close relatives living in France for a long time, who conveyed a positive message about the country, especially during my childhood. Or maybe the fact that I studied for many years at the Alliance Française, learned the language when I was still a kid, and traveled very often to the hexagon. Or even because of this romantic vision of France being the country of the "liberté, égalité, fraternité" motto, and of that other revolution that revealed "sous les pavés, la plage" and decreted that "il est interdit d'interdire". I am not totally sure why, but I know I like it. And, therefore, I like going to and being in France. In Strasbourg, I was surrounded by many good friends, some of whom I had not seen for a while. In Paris, I was alone. I like being in Strasbourg with friends. But I also like being in Paris, even if alone. Although I have many friends in Paris, I didn't have time to meet them, and yet I enjoyed being there. Paris alone is enough. Maybe because Paris alone is already a lot. Or maybe because Paris is my longest-lasting love. It would be difficult to explain in a few lines why I love Paris so much... I mean, I do love the more romantic Paris of Robert Doisneau's pictures; I do love its classic architecture and the celebrated café culture; but what I like the most about Paris is the fact that, under the leadership of Bertrand Delanoë, it has picked itself up and reclaimed again its place as a global city. Today, Paris feels less uptight! Just to give on example, seeing Parisians of all varieties whizzing around on the city's 20,000 Vélib' bikes (the world's biggest bike hire scheme), you sense a more playful, inventive city in the making. And that is great! For many years I regarded Paris as the perfect tourist destination; today I can imagine living there and even enjoying it. I will for sure consider it as a possible destination for when I finally decide or have to leave Brussels behind... The changes I have been referring to, slowly but steadly, are taking place. Today was Pedro's last day at the Youth Forum, and with his departure a small piece of me will also be leaving the organisation. He is one of my best and oldest friends, and I am going to miss him. And, more than I, the Youth Forum will miss him. Because there are no two Pedros, and he will be difficult to replace and forget. Personally, I feel priviliged for I know that even though I will lose the colleague, I will keep the friend. And friends like Pedro are not replaceable by any colleague. From tomorrow on, his desk will be empty, but the Youth Forum's life will still be busy. As the General Assembly approaches and future scenarios become clearer, changes will keep happening and I will keep enjoying them! The upcoming week will bring me back to Kiev; I hope it will rain less in there...


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