Migrant voices #2: Geneva Paquis edition: drugs, escorts, depanneurs

I have that tingly feeling in my fingers that occurs when I spend too much time on the computer. It’s basically carpal tunnel syndrome!!!! Ahhhhhhh!

So I write this while in a wrist brace lol.

Ok but in memory lane, things get warm n cuddly especially near Christmas! 3 more days!

Soooooooooooooo good stuff in GVA, as found in the international migrants building their lives in this small city.

The Paquis is a fun quartier. My old boss said it’s known as the quartier chaud aka red-light district but in my opinion, it isn’t a really rough neighbourhood but certain parts are very boisterous late at night.

OK so yeah there are drug dealers. But dealers are people and in this case, they seem to be African migrants who aren’t really well-to-do but rather groups of ppl who somehow became legal in Suisse (I hope!) and do this work, well, I’m not sure why. BUT LET’S BE HONEST: WHO USES DRUGS ANYWAY? Oftentimes, it is people with funds and guess what place has a lot of these people?

And prostitution is legal. But that’s the Swiss’ responsibility and their choice. And again, there seems to be a steady demand. These ladies seem to often be migrants as well.

OK so back to other ppl in the neighbourhood!
Back about 25-30 years ago, migrants started settling in this area and I’m guessing they were from Pakistan since the quartier is called the Paquis…I hope it was affectionate …but….but….but…..hmmmmm 😛

So it was a more ‘run-down’ area, I guess with cheaper rent? Oh how things have changed! But anyway, it is true that this is one of the few areas that has yummy fair priced ethnic food and a few restos are actually OPEN ON SUNDAYS!!!! = hugest deal ever for a night owl like me 🙂

It’s also lakeside and super close to the train station so Cathy literally walks 6 minutes in a couple directions and can leave GVA via boat or train or bus! SMALL MERCIES RITE LOU?!

Q:So how do we get to meet migrants in this livelier quartier?
A: I BUY GUM FROM THEM. Well, as I discovered, the corner stores are run by migrants so I started to break bills for bus fare by buying gum and juice. And we chatted. Here are a couple I met (with names changed).

1. My first Afghani corner shop friend was the worker who had the night shift. Aalem was nice and wanted to learn French. He came to Swiss via a family sponsorship through his bro who married a Swiss person. Immediately he wanted to work. His English is good. I tried to speak French with him but he said it was too hard. But he doesn’t have much time to study anyway b/c he works a lot. I bot my Ricola from him.

2. The Lebanese ladies. Two gorgeous girls with long dark flowing curly hair. One was in uni the other in high school. It was their dad’s shop on Rue de Monthoux near the car rental place and the Grand Kempinsky hotel. Great hummous & tabouleh that I could kinda afford and well, Lebanese bread! And yummy sweets with all sorts of nuts. I bot my Ricola here too. As well as my phone credits. They taught me a few words of Arabic too but that language is seriously difficile!

3. The Afghani brothers! Sometimes when Aalem was not around, I walked down Rue des Paquis and found this shop one block away. They liked my English and accent. They asked me if I wanted cigarettes. I bot my gum. Hard working and young and hadn’t been there too long.

4. Another fave: an ex-WIPO worker from Pakistan who married a Portuguese woman and decided to leave the UN system for stability and opened this true corner shop on the intersection of Monthoux and Paquis. Ali is brilliant. And warm and oh so kind. Once we started talking about UN stuff, he asked me if I had ideas for how his son could work with refugees. Well he asked the RIGHT person and so we had a great chat. After that, he GAVE ME FREE STUFF and reduced prices when I went into his shop. MMMM OVALMALTINE my fave choco bar (thx for the intro MFBoucher!) and then he gave me the choco-milk as a gift! <3 says Cathy! We then bumped into each other a few weeks later and he hugged me and gave me a peck on the cheek in the street. This is friendship; this is migrant solidarity people!

All these shops were just 1.5 blocks away from each other. I told you it was a small (migrant) town!

xxoo to migrants and u!

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