Search This Blog

Sep 16, 2014

Paris, September

The self-assured French on the streets, crisp, nasal, with mocking intonations, as if people rehearsed a play, but at the very first rehearsal, no need to try hard. Plenty of English, too, but it is subdued, apologizing, - a guest language. Even Americans are quiet and trying to blend in, alas, mostly failing. Theirs is a look that is too honest, too fearless. We can see them from afar; our people. The Russians, too, with their intense, quick eye-contact, constantly scanning the crowd – for friends, for danger, for impressions. The other of our peoples. Other languages are spoken, too, but all who can speak French will speak French. Bonjour, merci, au revoir – even within a conversation conducted otherwise entirely in English. Just to remind you – this is France. But there is no need – it is in your ears.

The Parisian waiters – dignified, professional, helpful without trying. Never writing anything down; that would be completely uncool. They are both the directors and the ushers at the low-key street drama that both the locals and the tourists are so keen on watching. Some fight, others cry, this one has a cool pair of pants, that dog is ugly… That kind of stuff. Someone inside the café turned on the heater lamps instead of the lights. It is a warm evening, Uh-la-la. Pedestrians, maneuvering among the tables, they all without exception check out our plates – what are these people eating? It is voyeurism as an art form. Flâneurism, too. It is the ability to enjoy the smaller events, to taste the finer texture of life.

The buildings, fanning out of each plaza in six or eight directions, so that more buildings can be seen at the same time. This is definitely more than you can do with a simple intersection. Svetlana says all buildings only look the same, but in fact all are different. I don’t bother to check. It is really too much, thousands of huge, creamy, rich pieces of cake, sliced by the giant knife of Haussmann. Somehow I think I am not the first one to us this metaphor.

Plane trees and chestnuts may be even more important than the buildings. Definitely more important than the waiters, but the latter won’t mind. Almost as important as the language. Definitely more beautiful in the early autumn.

I thereby declare that an English sentence no longer requires a verb. Forget the damn things. Go Faulkner, go Proust, go wondering, throwing full stops at random. You get the courage after visiting Paris in September.

No comments:

Post a Comment