Jan Galligan
Paris, 1995

Ou Est Banque La Plus Proche?
We are excited by everything. Everything is different. Everything is unusual for us. Everything is unique. Often it seems that more consideration is given here to the small things that are a part of the ordinary day to day. We stopped yesterday in a small cafe in the neighborhood, for lunch. We ordered bread with butter, ham and cheese sandwich, and soda and tea. Along with our order, we were served two glasses and a flask of water. Of course you get water with your meal; it's just that what we are accustomed to is a glass, with water. The flask and the glasses, made it into an experience.

From almost the first moments it has seemed as if we are inside of a film is directed by Fellini, Godard, Bunuel and Jacques Tati, though Tati seems dominant. Mon Oncle is the architype for this experience. Everywhere we are surrounded by a mix of the ancient and the modern. The ancient seems quaint and the modern seems horribly confusing. It feels like we are constantly walking into glass doors we didn't see and hearing voices coming from the walls around us. On the plane ride, Lillian and I decided that what we wanted to do most in Paris was walk the streets of the city, to explore, and see what we might find. Having quickly unpacked and settled into our rooms, we set out for a brief tour of our neighborhood in the 15th Arrondissment.

We turned left, off the warehouse row and emerged into a district of small shops, bistros, cafes, and pastisseries, dominated by a shop du tabac on the intersection. This tabac is also a pharmacie and is marked by a large neon blue and green cross made of concentric plusses, alternately flashing green and blue. Since it was so distinctive, this sign became our marker to find our way back to the intersection, when we were ready to return to maison du Leu. A few blocks of right and left turns later, we found an identical tabac on a similar intersection, and realized that we no longer had an idea of where we were. Some minutes of working to retrace our steps brought us back to a familiar boulangerie, and from there we were able to make our way to the original tabac and the street which would take us to the meat district and our cul-de-sac.

Ya-t-il quelqu' un qui parle anglais?
Gar de Montparnasse Nov 5, 19:30
We have arrived at the station in Paris and are about to look for the Metro in order to quickly get from the train station to the Place where we remember seeing a very large movie palace. At the moment, we can't remember which Place it is, but we know it was in the vicinity of Place d' Italaie, since that is where we met Clare for dinner, and we walked right past it on the way to, and from, dinner. We plan to see Kevin Costner's film, WaterWorld. The film is V.O., version originale, which means it's not dubbed into French, and we can ignore the subtitles. We get off the TGV and walk into the station which is jammed with people returning to Paris or leaving Paris, for the weekend. It has the same crowded feeling as Grand Central Station on Thanksgiving. The crowd is dense and milling about. It's difficult to push our way through to find directions to the Metro, or just figure out where we are. Suddenly the crowd is pushing us backwards. In front of us, the police have stretched a length of crime-scene tape and are beginning to cordon off the central section of the train platform. Hundreds of us are jammed behind the lines, trying to determine what is going on.

Across the station the police have pushed the crowd away from the central area as well. Lillian and I shove our way to the front of the crowd. At the far end of the station, behind the opposite crowd is our entrance for the Metro. The police seem fairly casual. The crowd seems intent, but confused. We cannot pick up on what is happening, but we notice the electronic billboard overhead is saying things about baggage, interdict, and something to the effect that everyone is subject to a search of their bags. Occasionally, someone from the crowd tries to break into the clearing, but the police rush over and push them back. It's exciting and tense. We're torn between staying to watch what happens, risking having our bags searched, not having our passports with us, and trying to make our way to the movies. I notice one man on his knees near a kiosk at the center of the cleared area. He gets up and moves rapidly away. The crowd tenses. KABOOM!!! An explosion reverberates through the station. My heart stops. Lillian's face is ash. People scream and cower away from the police line. 'Let's get the hell out of here', I say. I grab Lillian's arm and we push our way to the back of the crowd and hurry towards the closest exit. On the street, we try to make sense of what has happened.

Next: Overt tous les jours jusqu'a minuit.

Last change: July 24, 1998
Copyright 1995,1998
Jan Galligan
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