How often do you just stop and look around you? Are you are a part of those who are constantly analysing? Wondering what the guy in the front is listening to, or why the lady across the street is trying to avoid any human contact at all costs?
Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that there are some places where doing this might not be ideal. A restaurant for example, because let’s be honest here, no one likes to be watched eating. But nonetheless, me, being a part of this group of people, I can’t help but feel amazed by those surrounding me whether I’m at the mall, the park, a store or the metro. Living in Paris though, this isn’t necessarily the best trait of personality one can have.
See the thing is Paris, as most big cities, comes with a set of unspoken rules. Rules no one tells you about before coming, but that you acknowledge the more time you spend here. And probably the biggest one out of them all is: DON’T STARE. I’m serious, for some reason, Parisians feel really uncomfortable when they make eye contact with somebody. So needless to say, because of this the metro ends up being quite an interesting experience.
Out of all the places in Paris, the metro is probably the one with the most unspoken rules:
Among all of these, you should always keep in mind the whole not staring thing. Looking at the others in the metro it’s a particularly awkward situation. But allow me let you in on a little secret: if you do it for long enough, something changes.
People are just afraid of what others are thinking of them, which is completely normal. But at the end of the day, metro journeys can be quite boring. Which is why, I gave up on such rule pretty early on after moving here. There’s also the fact that back home, people don’t really care if you look at them and might actually smile back most of the time, so I find it really amusing now, watching the different stages people go through after they realize I won’t look away.
It usually starts with a really awkward/angry stare, that then goes into a confusing glare, ending on them realising nothing actually happens if you maintain eye contact with an other human being. Now there are obviously different reactions depending on the person, time of the day, etc. But at the end of the day, who doesn’t like to be noticed? Imagining the story behind the mask it’s all part of the fun isn’t it?
So, if you’re planning on coming to Paris, but feel intimidated by the stories of how everyone’s in their own world, keep in mind that we are all curious to look around, but most Parisians don’t dare.