mardi, décembre 28, 2004

3 hours stay in the police station of Chartres.

I went to the police station in Chartres on the Saturday after I lost my wallet and mobile phone to file a stolen report. Seb and I arrived at 10am. There was a young police officer at the reception to welcome us. When he was explained of what we need to do, he ushered us to the counter. Before us, there was an elderly man who was there to complain about his neighbour or someone who was haressing him. When it was our turn, the police chief explained to us that we lacked some information and had to come back later. Also, he was busy as the "hotel" was full. Apparently, they had 3 cells (little rooms) and they were occupied due to a good "harvest" from the night before.

So, we went to the bank to get the numbers we need and to cancel all our GIRO transactions. When that was done, we went back at 3pm in the afternoon. As the young police officer recongised us, he told us to sit and wait. While waiting during the one and a half hour before our turn, I saw the "All in a day's work" in a police station on an average Saturday.

1. An old granny came to report that her house had been broken in. While she was waiting with us, her other old friends came and joined her and during their discussion, we overheard a comment "It must be done by the gang of blacks".

2. There was a couple who came and was told to come back another day as the police station was understaffed and there were too many waiting to lodge a complain. The couple were not happy as earlier they came, they were rejected and told to go to the Gendarmerie. And at the Gendarmerie, they were told to go back to the police and now, they were informed to come back another day preferably a weekday. For your info, in France, there are the police and gendarmerie. Usually, the gendarmerie takes care of road traffic related incident.

3. Another couple came and were rejected.

4. A man came and informed the police officer at the reception that someone misused his credit card number and purchased items in Turkey. Fortunately, the bank had blocked the credit card now and he was there to make a formal report. The police officer explained that the police station was understaffed and overcrowded with complains and asked the man to come back another day if he considered the money lost was not a big sum. The man replied the sum was about 3000 euro and he did not mind coming back another day.

5. A man came to ask for his son who was locked up over the night.

6. A woman came to ask for a man who was locked up over the night.

7. A woman who wanted to talk to a detective and not to the police officer at the reception as the complain was too personal.

8. Another man who was before us and waiting and waiting.

Now we know the job of the young police officer at the reception. His job was to filter the complains. At each complain he received, he maintained a cool look. I believe he must have heard of broken-in houses, stolen wallets and mobile phones, complains of neighbours, traffic accidents so many times that he was just so unaffected by it.

Finally, it was our turn. We were met with another police chief. He explained that usually it was not his place to be typing out complains but that day, they were understaffed. We explained briefly what we need to report and spent the next 45 minutes following his 2 index fingers on the keyboard. Yes, he is a 2 finger man. But at least he was nice. He asked "What is your country?" I replied "Singapour". And he asked "What is the city?" I replied "Singapour". That really surprised him. Guess it was the first time in his life that he heard of Singapore, Singapore. Of course when he asked for my nationality, we all laughed. "Singapourienne". How difficult can that be.

Voilà, voilà. That was my 3 hours stay in the police station of Chartres.

Merry Christmas 2004

Bonne fêtes et joyeux noël.
I had a good christmas in Chartres. Nope, it was not snowing yet. In Chartres, there is a high chance that it will snow in January but in Paris, snow never stays long. There is just too much pollution and it warms up the atmosphere. So for my friend who wished me to walk under the snow along Champs Elysee, that is very unlikely. :)

We bought a small real Christmas tree at home. It feels good to have a real one unlike the plastic one back in Singapore. When you walk along the streets, if you look up, you will most likely see sapins of all shapes with their christmas deco and lighting in almost everybody's living room. But too bad most people forgot the real meaning of Christmas. To kids, it is the time to write to Papa Noël to ask for gifts in return for being nice for the whole year. And adults help the kids to write letters and paste pictures from catalogues to send to grandparents, uncles and aunties.

For me, I hope to educate my kids on the correct meaning of christmas. Indeed, it is a time of giving and sharing. Indeed, there was a Santa Claus somewhere up, up north of France who once went around giving presents to nice kids. Still, the beginning started with baby Jesus being born on this day or somewhere near this day. And 25 December is the day to remember about our Lord Jesus who came to live and die for our sins. If you are interested to find out more about this, just search in the internet for an online bible and start reading from the new testaments.

Apart of that, I had a new lambwool scarf, 2 french books I asked for, a thick French-English dictionary, a pair of leather gloves and lots of cold outdoors and warm indoors and from Seb.

samedi, décembre 04, 2004

Why would someone steal my things?

To compensate for the silent period of Nov where I did not write, I am going to write more before today ends.

In my previous blog, I was pickpocketed. The police found my handphone but not my wallet with a teenage girl from the eastern country. Seb is not surprised. He explained to me that the pickpockets work in gangs. The leader will recruit these minors as they cannot go to jail due to their young age. Worse for these young girls are to be sent back to their country and in a month's time, they will be back to Paris to continue with their tricks.

These poor girls are usually promised food, clothing and shelter. In return, they are to steal for their boss. They work in groups where one steal and pass it to the other. In my case, the police only managed to catch the girl that has my phone. The boss keeps the wallet so that he can manipulate with the credit cards in it.

Is the society to blame for the sad plight of these girls? They are poor, have no education, no skills to find work. They are young and impressionable. How can we stop this chain of pickpockets where the big boss is never captured and brought to justice?

Life is tough for everyone. It is tough for me too. I'm glad in a way that I was the victim and not the culprit. I truly hope the young girl who is sitting in jail yesterday (maybe not today) will turn over a new leaf.

I have to buy a new wallet.

Someone stole my wallet and my handphone yesterday. It was a friday evening and Seb and I were leaving Paris to spend the weekend in Chartres.

It happened at the Montparnesse train station. As usual on friday, almost half of the parisians are leaving town to spend the weekend in the countryside. It was very crowded and as we were taking the escalator, someone told Seb that my backpack was opened. I took a look and realised that my handphone and wallet were missing. We were constantly on the move and walking. I could not imagine how someone would opened my zipped bag and stole my things without me feeling a thing. The chain of events happened as they should be. Seb called the phone company and bank to cancel my contract and credit card. He called his mom to get the numbers as we were not at home. To make life more interesting for us, the ticketing counter system for the counters were down and everyone had to buy tickets from the machine which were created in 'stone-age'. It was just so slow. And to add the cherry on top of the cake, the train was late and stopped every 5 km. On the train, we received a phone call from Seb's mother that the police called Seb's grandmother. They found my phone on a teenage girl. Apparently, she stole my things but they could not find my wallet. I was lucky cos there are so many people who had been pickpocketed and never manage to know who did it. I was so depressed to have fallen victim to pickpockets that I called a friend to get some comfort. She told me that she had the same thing happened to her. Someone used a knife and slitted her backpack from top to bottom and emptied the contents. She did not feel a thing. I feel better now. At least, I still have my bag intact though I am not sure I will want to use it again.

Now, everyone tells me to keep my bag in front of me in crowded places. So if you are thinking of the same, please do not send me a reply. :) Enough for this week where the washing machine gave out smoke, Seb's lap top died. We have enough misfortunate to end off this year.