Saturday, December 12, 2009

Silver Lining

I had plans to meet up with a group of people at the Louvre on Thursday even though we knew it might be dicey. Workers at the Pompidou Centre went on strike at the end of November and last week, those at the Louvre, d'Orsay, Musee Rodin, Arc de Triomphe, and Versailles followed suit. But the strike has been spotty and most of the museums have not been completely shut down. We decided to chance it, arriving at the Carrousel du Louvre entrance at 10:30 only to find a line stretching almost all the way back to the subway entrance, a good 75 yards. And then we saw this:

Uh oh.

Only then the line started slowly moving, and within a matter of minutes completely dissipated as security allowed visitors into the museum. It turns out that union meetings are always held from 9 to 10:30, hence the delayed opening. Once we walked past the gift shops into the main area under the pyramid, we saw something else interesting:

Yes, the museum was mostly open (a few galleries were closed due to lack of staffing) and best yet, it was all free.

For some reason, I was almost as interested in this group of (I think) Japanese high school girls as the art itself.

I'm somewhat timid though about taking pictures of people so I snapped before focusing. But I'm glad to have the memory preserved, even with the blur.


Starman said...

Were all of them wearing masks? Did you wear one? Have you even bought one since the swine flu scare started?

Anne said...

Starman: Only about 10 percent were wearing masks. And seasoned public health professional that I am (or used to be), I don't wear one. I do wash my hands frequently and that's probably the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from any kind of virus. Knock wood.

David said...

Wow, Japanese school girls in uniforms in Paris... That's a rare occurrence. Usually, they don't wear their uniforms on school trips (I'll need to ask 康代 about this as soon as she's back home -that should be in a few minutes).

As far as the masks are concerned (but you know that Starman, as you're an avid reader of my blog ;-) maybe Anne doesn't know though), they're more a cultural thing than anything else.

To my knowledge, they don't prevent from catching the flu that much (well, I guess a little as you're less likely to put your fingers next to your mouth with a mask on it), it's just that usually in some parts of Asia, and especially in Japan, when you're sick (basic cold, basic flu, etc) it's almost a matter of politeness to keep your germs to yourself and not sharing them with everybody, hence the masks.

Yes, their primary function is to not spread the germs when you're sick (and not to prevent catching any, even less to protect yourself from pollution as I've heard many times), but yes, most Japanese being pretty paranoid about germs (more than Americans if you can imagine, then one wonders why Americans and Japanese are full of allergies and have weaker immune systems (ok, I have no hard data for the latter statement)) they'll wear masks in mass every time there's a flu epidemics, swine flu or else.

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