Romanians in Paris / by M Durquet

My eyes fixed upon a small ivory sculpture in the window. I looked for the gallery owner to ask if I could take a photo of it. He obliged gracefully and I asked him about the price. It was far beyond my means (5,000 Euros) and I told him that immediately so as not to waste his time, but he insisted on having me touch and hold it. We entered into a wonderful conversation about African art and looked at the Senufo mask he had just purchased. Within his perfect French, he had a slight accent that was vaguely familiar so I asked where he was from- Romania, he said. He had been living in France for 30 years.
The day before, I spoke with a French woman who told me that France was dealing with huge waves of Eastern European immigrants. "From which countries?" I asked. "First the Romanians, then the Bulgarians, now the Ukrainians and the Georgians," she lamented. "It's a calamity." Je ne sais plus ou on va dans ce pays si ca continue comme ca. 

Later that morning I walked by a market under a freeway where people who were supposedly Romanian were gathered around piles of used clothing on the ground. There was a great deal of frenzied activity around the people who were selling these items. I couldn't understand the language. I was only able to take a few pictures before a man threatened to kill me and chased me away. Again, I was told I had no right to take pictures. This time I walked to the policemen stationed on horses nearby, explained what happened and asked if this was true, so I could get it straight, once and for all. "No, you have a right to take pictures here," they said. Still, I didn't dare take more. France is certainly a confusing place. I wish I had asked the art dealer more about his life as a Romanian in Paris.