14 March 2005

Observations from One Broad, Abroad: Part I

I am jealous of the eco-mindedness in action in Germany. Trains connect even far-flung villages, tons of people ride bikes and towns accomodate bicyclists. And most are not the mountain bikes we are used to but more old-fashioned uprights, with baskets. Charming. In downtowns there are LCD displays that show the daily pollution values--how many particulates of different sorts. And they seem to recycle everything. The cardboard juice or milk containers, cellophane; they even pick up compost from houses and disperse to outlying farms.

For all their progressiveness, Europeans are more hooked on the cancer sticks than Americans. I read somewhere that 40 % of Parisians smoke.(Compare that to about 20-25% of Americans). And they don't do so in circumscribed areas; Parisians smoke in the airport, the train station and anywhere in restaurants. My first night in Paris I went to popular buffet-style chain restaurant with a guy I met at the hostel and his friends. A pregnant woman puffed away on several cigarettes while I was there. I don't know what was more disturbing: That or her karaoke rendition of "My heart will go on" from Titanic.

No comments: