Friday, 17 January 2014

Parallel Worlds - Algeria


At nightfall, on my way down Didouche Mourad street, I saw them again, skaters coming down the road. Young’uns, acting nonchalant, sliding down between cars at a speed peculiarly slow considering it was downhill, risking, if not their lives, those of others.

Are these teenage kids monkeying about being a pain as in so many other cities, a sign of the famous but somewhat fragile ‘return to normality’?

It made me think of the kids in Bab El Oued where I currently live practically next door to the DGSN which by default makes me live in one of the safest areas in Algiers…

…but then in Algeria (as elsewhere) what is a criminal?

When I moved here I was told:
Bab el Oued is the ‘popular’ quarter, a famous area…

It turns out it’s movie heaven here. Sold on improvised kiosk stalls, there are all the movies you could want, old and just released, CDs organised by actors (the Di Caprio CD, the De Niro CD) or by genres…

Mostly, Bab El Oued was to be the place, I was told, where people would speak to me only in Derja.

Perhaps it is not so much contradictory worlds I encounter than my own adjusting.

I could willingly get lost here forever.
 .speed does not have the pace I used to know.

Are these kids not getting arrested because their parents are too well placed and no police officer (well if they were around because by nightfall they’ve taken off) would mess with them, a sign of the privileges many (but always the same ones) can claim to?

…is living next to policemen safe because I am more wary of them than I am of criminals…

... someone who steals, wheels and deals or someone who leads, deeds and decrees…

…‘telling’ is often a sign of ‘warning’…

… popular not as in famous but as ‘uneducated’ meaning fewer fluent French speakers here. Thank God.

… with a section dedicated to Derja, a section you can’t find in any library!

… everyone speaks to me in Kabyle here.

There are several layers of parallel worlds here, not secret worlds, everybody knows about them, they know where they open and where they exit. Although beware, the entrances formerly taken no longer lead to known exits.

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