Sunday, March 11, 2007

The other Paris...


There is/was a row of falafel shops off of Rue Vielle du Temple in Paris in the Marais. One in particular was my favorite. No, not L'As du Falafel, another one. On the corner. For about five dollars (the very most I could afford) you got a pita packed with the most incredible assortment of things inside, ultra-vivid purple sauteed eggplant in particular. That was my one meal a day and it was always beyond delicious. Hope it's still there. And the wooden bench in the sun next to it. The smells and the tall crumbling walls and the marching Parisians were so nice to take in while brooding and munching slowly on the day's repast.

Once I was walking through the Marais at night, and a massive bearded Lubavitcher Hasidim pleaded with me (in Yiddish?) to follow him. I did. We walked in silence through narrow streets I'd never been on. At last he took me into a small doorway, a dark room with a gas stove. He pointed to the stove. Could I turn on the gas for him to boil water? Could I turn on the light switch? But only for a moment so he could find something in a dark corner. Stacks of Jewish newspapers everywhere. Windows covered with sheets. I understood that touching these pieces of modern technology were religious no-no's. Beyond that, he was such an unusual man. Dreamlike memory.

I never felt entirely comfortable in Paris. But I can see now that these feelings were, in large part, coming from inside of me. That said, there is something about those cutting French stares you get on the street that can truly make you feel like a fart in an elevator. But it's a game. You stare right back. A duel in passing. It's a great city and I miss it, especially in the springtime - cliches be damned.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nick Z. said...

Ah Paris.
A fart in an elevator is right. And an American fart no less.

I experienced Paris at the end of a three week tour of western europe. I was tired and burned out on art and new food. All I wanted to do was go back to my apartment in Germany (I was living there for a year). I never felt I gave Paris a fair shake. Would love to go back with a fresh outlook and few extra years of maturity.

9:06 AM  

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