I am at the Riquet Bar. It's now almost 11 AM. Located close to the Riquet subway station, it does not look like the trendy bars alongside Canal de l’Ourq. I am chatting with the bartender Mounir. He tells me that the rhythm of time in the bar today is totally different from what it used to be in the early 1990s. Back then, customers would crowd the bar during the morning, on their way to work and then again after work in the evening. Today, the bar activity mirrors the disconnected working hours of workers. Some people come every day during a month then you never see them again. Some others come at 7 AM one week, at 10 AM the other week and do not come at all during the third week. Some customers quickly drink at the bar during a month, then, during the rest of the year, they take their time to read the newspaper while seating on a chair. Working rhythms are less synchronized than they used to be.
I have been here for almost half an hour and some 30-odd people have come, chatted with the bartender and left. Eight of them, all men, chatted at length with Mounir before leaving.
A few regular customers mostly retired people, provide stability to the social life of the bar. They include: two white male teachers, a Senegalese housewife, a retired white lady, a Malian cleaning man who lives in a workers’ home nearby, and Patrick, a retired business accountant, form the stable part of everyday scenery. Patrick is perhaps the most regular. He comes in today at 11 am, as always. As always, he teases Mounir trying to get him to offer drinks to all customers. Then he reads the newspaper and comments on its contents, chatting with the other customers about Trump’s election, Paris football club victory, and the recent education reform.