Some might say they didn't need a TED talk or a toutattaché post to figure that out, but...
This may explain why different cities carry different atmospheres.
While unpacking your stuff, didn't you ever find yourself saying "people over there are so... I don't know, they seemed happy in the streets".
Might be some holiday-excitment combined with an after-holiday-blues, but not only I would say. Here's my experience...
I happened to study in a French big city, which was not Paris. In France, every city which isn't Paris is actually much smaller. So we could say I studied in a middle-sized city called Lille.
For some reason, I used to spend a couple of days in Paris from time to time, so I was taking the subway at the same period, in both cities.
If you watch the TED talk on the bottom, you'll notice a little joke about the subway in New York City.
In the Parisian subway, there is this whole heavy atmosphere which makes everyone clustered within themselves, between their headphones, avoiding everyone else's look. At the same time, when you get out of the subway station, you're complaining about the lack of humanity and the very few contacts you get to have with people in the subway - just like everyone else.
There are even those websites, especially made for subway users to release their agressivity or affection, once back home or at the office. Or perhaps, in their little personal cluster, they're using their smartphone to communicate. So what is for sure is that, as Parisian subway users, we definitely cannot have a conversation IRL.
Or only, in very specific cases:
- When we are getting into a trouble.
- When we are causing a trouble.
But in case we're witnessing a trouble, we usually just shut up, don't we?
Well, you got it. No friendly chat in the Métropolitain.
One hour away from there, there's Lille! The middle-sized city. For some reason, people in there brought me something more. And - I have to confess it - I was also a better person while I was in Lille, compared to my Parisian character. More open, more communicative, more smiley.
Everytime I was back from Paris, my impression was the same: anything would make a conversation happen in Lille's subway. One smile, you smile back and you're casually talking with an unknown person just because he or she's carrying lots of grocery bags, or flowers, or just a funny dog.
How precious: your citizen-mates make you happy! As a thank-you, you're making them happy as well, and none of you is even conscious about this.
I also assume these arrivals in Lille were showing after-Paris-excitments combined with Paris-blues, which enhance the contrast of atmosphere between the two cities.
Hey! Who knows why?
Who knows how the alchemy is happening?
Now, here's the talk which I got some inspiration from.
Maybe, you'll have some hypothesis about the alchemy, after watching that...
And I love middle-sized european cities.
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