Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting Lost

So perhaps there is a perfect way to go about discovering Paris, and then again, perhaps the only way you can truly find new and interesting things is to let yourself get lost in the city. Even if you don't necessarily come across anything spectacular, you may at least realize that there is a whole, grand city right outside waiting for you to come and discover all the neat little things about it. I decided, after class, to not take the metro home, nor did I take out my map. Instead I simply would turn whichever way seemed best to turn. I wandered past the South African embassy, which was a very neat building, and past a recreational field, where kids were playing soccer and people were running around the track. I also ran into someone, with whom a conversation was struck, and that may have been the most interesting point of my wanderings. As I was walking along the street, I had my sleeves pulled down from my coat, so that they could cover my hands, since it was so cold outside. Passing me on my left (I was walking rather slowly) was a man probably about in his seventies, and he bumped my arm as he passed. He glanced back to say pardon, and upon seeing my arm begin apologizing profusely and seemingly making a big fuss over my wrist area. I had not been ready to understand a quick jumble of french, so I thought maybe he wanted the time--so I pulled my sleeve back and showed him I had no watch. He seemed a little surprised, and looked from my bare wrist to my face and back to my wrist. Then he began to laugh. "J'ai pense que c'etait casse madamoiselle!" He had thought my wrist was broken, and that the sleeve was a wrap or a cast. So we collectively shared a laugh over that and he asked me where I was from. I told him I was American and he was surprised, saying that my french didn't sound American (which made me very happy to hear!). Then, suddently he stopped speaking french and began speaking in English, as apparently, he was from Oxford England. Not orignally, he was French but he lived in Oxford for a very long time, having moved there when he was 12. We talked about studying in Paris and what a wonderful opportunity it is for me. He is right. I will probably never have the chance to "be a Parisian" again, and yet there is so much about this city that I still don't know. We continued talking, and I just walked along with him, since I didn't exactly have an aim as to where I was going and he was keeping along the same street anyway. He told me some stories about England and some stories about France, and was very insistent that I don't see just Paris. It is a very large city, and the place where people think of when they think of France, he said, but it is not the only thing that France has to offer. The north will awe you with its beautiful countrysides and there are of course beautiful things to see in the south. Explore a little bit. I only wish I had all the time and money in the world to explore it! But for that day, I was sticking to exploring Paris. We talked for a while longer, and then he was off to meet someone for lunch (which he actually invited me along to, but he was rather dressed up and I thought I would perhaps be imposing or not able to afford wherever he was going). So I kindly refused and thanked him very much for his time and company. "Oh, not at all darling, not at all all. Cheers!" He said, and turned down a side street. So that is part of discovering Paris that I hadn't really thought much about before: the people. They all have their own stories and come from all over the world. And while I'm spending time to search about the town for small stores whose windows catch my eye or the bakery with the perfect macaroon, or the market place with the freshest and most interesting things, I forget about the people who are behind all of it. Like why did the woman open up that store where everything comes from the Orient? Who goes there? Who buys things from her? Or that bakery that I go to and love so much, why did they decide to open yet another Boulangerie in Paris--and how are all of the boulangeries in this city staying afloat? What hardwork does it take to keep a small place like that, which makes Paris what it is, afloat? I always had the dream of having a bakery, making my own creative pastries for the world to enjoy, and for those who have dared to do it in this great city, the ones that aren't these big chains, I applaud them. All the people that come here and try to make a life, it is certainly impressive. And now I wonder about all of them, the people who make this city, who open these restaurants and shops that we are all wandering about to find. I wandered around and did wander into a few of the little shops, most of them empty except the one person working there, and I just wondered how and why they do what they do, these people that make the city of Paris. It amazes me.

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