“Le pontissalien” is the local hipster café: sterile atmosphere, furniture in a poisonous green, one popular offer consisting of lukewarm water with a separately served teabag. Featured on farfromready today: its barkeeper.
2nd of August, 14:00
Three men on three bikes are walking to and fro in front of the café. Finally one comes in and asks whether “il y a dü vi-fi?”. When I confirm, they all leave.
They return, ask for a coffee and a tea and sit down outside. To put the cups onto their table turns out to be impossible: Within seconds, they have it covered in postcards, writing gear, large paper folders, diverse devices and a larger-than-table map of Switzerland.
One writes postcards with neurotic precision, one stares at an iPad and only occasionally scribbles something into a small notebook, one seems sleeping or perhaps dead. I hear them complain to each other about the coffee, the tea and the café in general.
The German and the one with the Taliban beard are standing in the back of the café, in front of the toilet and discuss something that seems to greatly worry them. As they return to the table, the third goes inside. Upon his return, few words are exchanged, and their faces light up in an instant. Minutes later, the misers pay their measly two cups and dart down the Rue de Besançon.
Three men with three bikes and a large cardboard box return to the square. In the middle of the town, right in front of the café, they start to dismantle one of the bikes. The quiet one wanders around, inspecting something on the tablet. They buy the gruesomely overpriced muffins of the bakery next door.
Great cheering after the tenth attempt to squish the disassembled bike into the far too small box turns out to be successful.
20:15 Three men with two bikes and a bulging cardboard box are sitting on the square and eat sausage sandwiches garnished with sardines.
Taking the open box and the rest of their luggage bit for bit, the small caravan slowly trails off towards the Porte Saint Pierre.
3rd of August, 9:30
As I cross the Rue Grenier on my way to work I encounter the German and the Ayatollah carrying the now-closed box from God knows where to the Porte. Having passed by them I hear whispering and chuckling behind my back.
I almost forget the cyclists amongst the patrons of my café, who aren’t any bit less enigmatic. Today, they complain about the young clochards loitering around the station, besmirching the park benches with their unwashed sleeping bags … Another guest takes greater offence at the teens that had partied loudly behind Saint Bénigne the night before. His neighbour chimes in that in the morning he found a dozen Wiener sausages on the roof of his car.
Two men with two bikes return to the square. Twenty minutes before I close as on every Wednesday afternoon, they saunter inside and run their usual programme: a coffee and a tea for which there is no place on a table covered in paper and pens and maps. Would the third one have fit into the package?