Sunday, October 18, 2009

Paris notes

Paris = New York + 33%. Yep, it's expensive, especially when compared to Berlin, which felt like Europe on a budget. At $1.50 = 1 Euro, coffee and a Coke at the local cafe in Paris cost us $10. Yikes ! The French have a great word for it: choquant, which is pronounced like 'shocking' but spelled like choking. That about sums it up.

The $10 cafe interlude was money well spent, however. Despite the cool fall weather, some cafes maintain their outdoor seating with heat lamps that warm tourists and locals while we enjoy the parade of humanity that passes by. Leaves Facebook in the dust for social networking, as far as I'm concerned. I am a people watcher and could literally sit for hours, with a newspaper and a coffee, soaking up the ambience. Gee, what will happen when they no longer publish newspapers? Nothing romantic about a coffee and a Kindle, is there?!? Mon dieu!!

The weather is in constant motion and a source of surprise and disappointment, keeping all of us visitors on our toes. Crystal clear blue skies yield within minutes to dark clouds, wind, rain, then blue skies again, then partly cloudy and warm. And we hadn't even had breakfast yet ! I rarely leave my hotel in Paris without an umbrella and a jacket, at any time of year.

The Roman Polanski story continues to reverberate in France, mainly due to some impolitic remarks by one of Sarkozy's ministers who happens to have the last name Mitterand. The vile rape of a child is being passed over as more or less a thing of the past, why punish a man now for an act of 30 years ago, etc. We spit on you Americans with your Calvinist morality, dragging out old news... blah blah. Their attitude on this one is pathetic.

Let's face it: the French have been very good at letting bygones be bygones, especially when it comes to the actions of the Vichy government and French war criminals left unprosecuted until recent years. By contrast, and admirably so, the Germans place their history and their responsibility for it front and center wherever you go in Berlin. Oddly, and ironically, I feel more comfortable and at home as a Jew in Berlin than in Paris.

On the other hand, the French have something to teach us about love...and marriage. And the difference between the two, as it sometimes manifests in relationships these days. I don't know whether the French are ahead of us or behind us in these matters, but what the heck---vive la difference !

Jason and I really enjoyed this trip and we needed it. More laughs and fewer tussles. We both made some good business contacts in each city. A few memorable meals, long chats, long walks, and nights too short. Jase was a bit put off by the legendary French arrogance. I speak their language, so I can spit back in the native tongue.

Pre-Senior Moment: While shopping at the BHV men's store today, I spent about five seconds looking across the aisle at a pretty good looking guy who looked remarkably like me. WAS me, reflected in the mirror on the opposite wall. Hmm...yep, time to go home. Au revoir. Auf wiedersehen.

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