Marseille scares me. It’s not the people, it’s the buildings. Buildings that look as if they’re about to crumble and fall on you. And it’s not just the buildings, it’s the never-ending work going on around the city, for the tramway, for the train station. Bulldozers, everywhere. Men in hard hats and steel-toed boots, shouting. Whole avenues closed down, chicken wire hugging the pavement, making the whole city look drab, dry, claustrophobic.

Another job interview that I botched up. It was in French, and my tongue froze, my practised speech dried up in my throat. I stammered for words. Polite smiles, glazed eyes, patronizing looks from the lady across the table. And then the thought: Stupid to try. And then: I never get what I want. And again: But I can do this, what’s wrong with me then?

Once outside I nearly got run over by a bicycle. The boy on the bicycle looked back and snickered, and I shook my head and ducked into a Chinese restaurant. Suzhou ballads, chopsticks. Do you know I collect chopsticks? Forks and spoons and knives have started to bore me. Come to think of it, a lot of things bore me.

And a lot of things scare me too, like the fact that cities, no matter how many people live in them, can be very, very lonely.

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