I’m not sure whether this little descriptive passage from my fieldnotes will ever have much use in academic discourse, but it does remind me quite vividly of urban space in my fieldsite.
May 4, 2011. Last day in Paris. A man across from me on the metro dangles one hand in his crotch and texts with the other. A woman across the aisle is chewing gum and has flipflops with painted nails. The day is hazy, footsteps tap on the car floor, the train squeals as it accelerates; it picks up speed and the cement panels flash by and the advertising, CHOISISSEZ LE LOOK MALIN it says in orange on blue, hint of a smell of pastries, of sweaters, thrashing of the air through the open windows. I’m aboard the 14 train going to Saint-Denis to see a friend one last time; it sighs, the train, the man across from me now replaced by another, he rises, a woman gathers her purse, staggers a little as she gets off as the train shudders, with its long tube of fluorescent lights, with the grey of the car and the black of the tube that the tube of the train rushes along, rushes through; and I’m elbowed gently, but fortunately it’s not a période de pointe.