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Groggy last day in Paris

June 15, 2010

As people who read my twitterings will know, I was up late and kept up later by noisy neighbors. After deliberation (call the police, call the front desk, call in some members of a mob) I decided to call their room and explain exactly what I was going to have done to them if they didn’t shut up. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that they were more bloody stupid americans… Anyway, I had to get up ridiculously early this morning, and the late nights/early mornings/jet lag combination is really starting to tell, and I’m getting sick of milky French coffee — I really do wish I had been able to make the Italy trip! Well, no-matter how exhausted I may be, I am going to enjoy this last day in Paris!

I had a smashing day yesterday, even if I had to work essentially all of it. As I described in my last post, I had a most entertaining people watching stop-in at a café, and I do so love moments like those. While my afternoon was filled right up with work, things got far more interesting on the way back to my hotel. There was a woman in the metro stop playing the Bach Chaconne so well that I had to pause and gave her a 20Euro note (it was the only note I had on me) before my train arrived. I wonder if this can really be considered people watching? I know it falls under the description in that it involved watching people (or a person), but it somehow had the feel of a private concert, rather than a glimpse into another’s life. Anyway, I was put into a throughly good mood by this experience, and hardly cared that the man next to me on the metro smelled rather and had the tendency to talk to himself in completely incomprehensible French.

I got off at Saint-Michel (I do so enjoy a walk through the Quartier Latin) and headed back to my hotel. On the way I found myself behind a family of 3 — man, woman and child. The child was very young, I don’t imagine more than 5 or 6, and was clinging to the woman’s hand (though perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the woman was keeping a firm grip on the girl). The woman was holding hands with the man, and the entire family unit walked a ways as such. I followed them past Shakespeare & Co. and watched them turn left and cross to Notre Dame. What stood out to me was their complete silence; they never said a single word. This may not seem strange, and perhaps it isn’t, but at the time I was quite struck by it. It would seem that at least the little girl would have something to babble or whine about. I so often find that little kids are always going on about something, but this one was absolutely silent, not a single sound. And the two adults didn’t so much as look at each other.

As I continued to think about the family while on the way back to my hotel, I was struck not by the oddness of their silence, but the power of their togetherness. They were silent in that they didn’t need to make a sound. They were together, and enjoying the experience of being together, without the need for verbal communication. It was a remarkable glimpse into their lives, and I consider a highly successful episode of people watching.

Today was really quite lovely as well and I am looking forward to the rest of my evening. Even though I know that I will be leaving tomorrow, I am happy to have enjoyed the small trip, and am trying not to think about the time in Italy that now will not happen. More blogging will ensue.

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