Day One: Paris, sono arrivato

Arrived yesterday vie American Air: the most nondescript, banal, uninteresting flight I’ve ever had. I think I’ve already overdescribed it. But then I arrived, and everything changed. S. picked me up at the airport and we went to her place. She had to go out with some friends for some prior plans, and I have the afternoon to myself. O delicious reacquaintance!Long lost loves of my French life, we’ve been celibate so long, so to speak, during the Berkeley desert, and now we embrace again! Okay, I’m exaggerating. But boy, it’s great to be back!

I had the best time yesterday reacquainting myself with the delights of Parisian life. Some random things I loved the most:

-smooth, wide, people-friendly sidewalks;

-bookstores all over the place with French books inside them;

-cafes without a laptop in sight but tons of people chatting their life away;

-press kiosks with dozens of options, with many newspapers representing varied ideological perspectives (rather than American press’s monoideology hidden under the microscopic liberal-conservative differences);

– and, of course, you all guessed this one: people who truly take their time during dinner. (Although I have to admit it, even yesterday, dining with French friends, I was, I sheepishly confess, still the last one with a plate before me. On the other hand, it was not awkward in the least the way it can be in America when I’m out with fasteaters; in fact it was perfectly normal and we stayed for twenty more minutes just shooting the breeze in the coolwarm Paris evening.)

Today has its own list of new treasures:

delicious espresso at any corner, which you may drink upright at the counter;

an outdoor market (held three times a week) where you can buy anything and everything;

a lunch on olives, dates, apples, fresh carrots, baguette, and brie de maux.

Tonight I dine with L., dancing friend from the old days (we actually met at the Sorbonne, where I once showed her some steps from this dance called Salsa, whereafter she took an interest; then later after I left she went on to become a great dancer). Tomorrow school begins: two hours in the morning (how hard can that be?) and then I have the rest of the day to myself to revisit with long-lost wonders of the Parisian landscape. On the map: strolls on the Seine, the old bouquinistes selling long-lost books in their little stalls; a hello to some of my old Paris haunts near the Sorbonne and in the Marais.

And now I’m off to meet L. for a drink in the Butte aux Cailles district. And then professors’ meeting #1. And finally , prelude to sleeping, I have to prep tomorrow’s class. Mmmmm….

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