I hitch my bag higher up my shoulder and start down the stairs. The 13 flights would have been too much for my mother when she was 81, but for me it’s no problem.
It’s all this new technology keeping me in shape. I wear sensors all over my body so the doctors can monitor me. Sometimes I’ll get a text from my GP advising me to take painkillers, because he’s seen from the sensors that my back’s going to be hurting tomorrow when I wake up. It really is amazing.
When I reach the bottom of the stairs and pull the lever to open the doors of the high rise flat I live in, the heat hits me instantly. I’m all for warm weather, but a 40 degree Parisian summer is nothing to smile about, though it is something we’re used to after about 20 years of global warming. I pull on my jacket and set out into the sun, instantly feeling the relief as the nano-technology cools me down.
I head down the street towards the synagogue. It’s a bit of a walk, because there aren’t a lot left. Most have been replaced by industrial buildings and high density housing. I hear a call of “Bonjour!” from behind me and turn, knowing who it is. Rachel is the only one who still talks to me in French. I’m not sure anyone other than us still knows how to speak it.
Rachel is my only Jewish friend left in France. Many of our old friends left for Israel back in the early 2000s to escape anti-Semitism. Personally, I’m willing to stay until the last synagogue has been demolished. Paris is my home.
I can still contact all my old friends through Facebook. Even they have stopped speaking French though. English is the big one to know now. “The language of business” as they say. My English is quite good. It was easy for most people to pick up as we learned a lot in school. It was more a case of remembering than learning.
As we get closer to the synagogue the population begins to increase. This is a poorer part of town than we are from, so more people here have to get up early to do the jobs no one else wants to do. Not that we’re well off. Far from it. If I was well off I certainly wouldn’t live here. I’d live in the other end of Paris, with proper housing and gardens, and with the 4 families that literally own most of the city. But that’s wealth distribution for you, I guess.
We arrive at the synagogue, dirty and in disrepair, tucked in at the back of an alley and quickly say our daily prayers before leaving again. I remember when I was a lot younger having set prayer times, definitely more than once a day. Now I just pray when I can.
I say goodbye to Rachel and she heads off towards the train station. Thankfully I have a car, so I make my way to the underground car park where I left it. I used to be a teacher when I was young. I had to retrain though, there’s not as much demand for teachers as there once was, what with the ageing population. I worked in various offices for a while, then retired. After the collapse of the pension funds I went back to work. I’m the secretary of a software firm now. I have to keep myself going for about the next 30 years according to recent studies, after all.
I get into my car and set it to the destination “work” then sit back and let it drive me there. There’s no need to stop for petrol, since everything runs on electricity. It’s a shame almost, I used to enjoy driving.
I arrive at work and set myself up at my desk, ready to start the day. Jianming is at the desk with me today, as every day. He greets me in Chinese and we talk for a while. Chinese is another language that’s been coming into a lot of use lately. I learned it mainly so I could speak to Jianming, but it’s actually turned out to be quite useful.
I order dinner on my mobile phone on the way home – thank god the euro is still in use, I don’t think I’d be able to get used to a new currency on top of everything else – then jump into my car, which takes me yet another new route home, since it’s programmed to avoid traffic congestion. I get back to my apartment and take the stairs back to my room. I eat my dinner and phone my sister, before going to bed.
About the author
Bronagh (16) participated in the Dublin edition of the “My Europe” workshop. She´s a student in Mount Temple Comprehensive School.