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Eiffel Tower Paris Rude

We arrived in Paris with the scratchy eyes of a trans-Atlantic flight. A nap. We needed a nap before taking in the glories of the city. The taxi dropped us off at the Left Bank hotel and we presented ourselves to the clerk. She was on the phone. "Check in -- noon," she said and continued with her conversation. We stared dully at her.  She finally got off the phone long enough to register us and to point out a place behind the 2-by-2 elevator where we could put our bags while we waited. Can we change dollars to france? we pantomimed. She shrugged and vaguely waved us in the direction of a currency exchange before she began another phone call.

As we trudged through the streets -- obvious disoriented foreigners folding and unfolding our maps, no one paying us any attention -- I wondered: was this the famous Parisian rudeness? Were we feeling the frost of disrespect?

But something didnít make sense. Here was the city that gave haven to all the grand misfits Ė writers, gays, artists, blacks. Creators and innovators flourished on these streets. It takes more than noble architecture to nourish an artist's environment. How could a place be simultaneously rude and open-armed?

I came to the only conclusion I could. Parisians aren't rude. They simply donít give a shit. Come. Go. Paint yourself purple. Whatever. Be whoever you want. Just donít interrupt my phone call.  

The idea pleased me. Even in the chilly March air tables lined the sidewalks and here and there individuals sat with their notebooks and coffee. Not a city for whiners waiting for someone to escort them to destiny. Go... write a manifesto... bust a few paradigms... start a new religion... just don't interrupt my phone call.

3.26.01

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