Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Paris Diary: 3

There is much about that spring in Paris that I have forgotten, but a few memories remain.

I am sitting in a sidewalk cafe, at peace with myself, watching the world go by. Across the river, I can see the graceful Notre-Dame cathedral, silhouetted against the evening light.

After coming to Paris, I have fallen in love with the wayside café which for the French is not just a place to eat, but also a centre for socialising, relaxation and even rumination. If people-watching is your hobby, hours can be spent just watching various parallel universes revealing themselves all around your table: men in business attire unwinding with a glass of wine before going home; young couples kissing or holding hands oblivious to the world around them; matrons with dogs in tow; old men in chequered caps reading the newspaper or staring emptily into space. For a gifted writer, I think to myself, every table can be the beginning of a story.

On my way back to the hotel, at a newsagents’, I see a stark black and white billboard with three words: Sartre est mort. Sartre is dead. With a mild sense of déjà-vu, I recall reading how the French intellectuals of the post-war era, Jean-Paul Sartre included, were hosted and celebrated by the well-known cafés of Paris of that time, some of which exist even today.

A few days later, Sartre’s funeral is attended by over 20,000 mourners.

I do not go, not knowing where exactly the funeral was taking place. I feel inhibited going alone.

I wish I had gone.

Photo Courtesy: Emilia. Paris. Picasa Web Albums

3 comments:

Praveen G K said...

Yep, Paris is a phenomenal place! I loved it...Nice walk-through of the city :-)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

beautifully evocative..

Rada said...

Praveen!

Why don't you write about it?

CIW!

Thank you! :-)

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.