Sunday, 25 November 2012


We warmed our new little apartment this weekend – a cozy little affair of friends and drinks.  So, now we are home.

Getting to know our new neighbourhood more, the bar at the base of our building is cute and friendly, we’ve already gotten to know the staff and several of the regulars;  it’s like a Gallic ‘Cheers’, with all the usual suspects and friendly faces.  Several of the locals bring their dogs in and we smile constantly at the little canines’ escapades – tiny little dogs running back and forth along the formica bar top, everyone smiling and speaking French quickly (our French is still slow and awkward).

A nice long walk around this afternoon, up and down winding streets.  Stumbled upon a second hand market where we indulged in a gorgeous little 40s hat for Monique, complete with delicate lace netting and a worn-out little knight puppet for me, his tin armour rusted and clanky.  An expensive drink in a typical Parisian bar across from Pere Lachaise Cemetery – the waist-coated waiters wearing petulance like some sort of armour;  another drink at a differently Parisian bar later, a raggard old couple of guys thrumming guitars in the corner, walls dripping old 60s concert posters.

We rode the velibs home, the share bikes featuring the almost compulsory loose screws and dodgy brakes.  We rode beside the raised railway tracks (a surety amongst the labyrinth), then suddenly, at the station some sort of gang war.  A crowd of maybe forty young chads wielding broken bottle ends against one another, people running, sirens thick in the air as the police screamed into town, capsicum spray sticking in your eyes and the back of your throat, teenage hoodlums running for their lives, the military barking of police dogs in hot pursuit.  Never a dull moment here.

Earlier in the week we took a small class of ten year olds, directed them to make art out of found objects.  It was a really nice experience, all these smiling little guys and galls, everyone laughing as we tied string and sticks into funny, ‘arty’ shapes.  All these innocent smiles and perhaps, five years from now they may be glassing some poor guy.   Kind of a morbid association that only occurs to me now.  It was interesting to see how the kids totally got into the spirit of making things from string and stick – by the end of the class they’d made things that we could never’ve dreamed of, and all the while smiling and laughing.

Last weekend we finally made it to the local market.  Stretching for a mile under the good old raised railway, so thick with people that you mostly felt like a leaf on a stream – a yelling, sweating, boisterous stream of excited people.  The fresh food and hand preserved meats almost as delicious to the eye as the taste – everything from celery to strange knobbly little African plants with unpronounceable names.

Another evening, waiting at the metro stop, a small crowd of streets sellers, gentle looking Indian guys with warm smiles.  A police man crept up behind the cover of the crowds, at the last minute he lunged – ‘You’re nicked!’ (or the French equivalent) as he tackled the nearest seller.  Before you could click your fingers the others had rolled up their goods and were across the four lane boulevard.  The one poor sap caught, his head down, arms tied behind his back.

A community garden, springing up vibrant and alive from a narrow crack in the canyon of beige.  A group of locals pottering around in the dirt and greenery, smiling and laughing.  Old women, young children, everyone enjoying a slice of Sunday calm surrounded by, but completely removed from, all the tumult of the City.
Our house in the top right of our photo, our house.

Smiling and laughing.

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