I’m in Paris and jet-lagged, but well, I’m jet-lagged in Paris. The whole day has been gray, rainy and cold but comparably brighter than in Seattle for similar weather. In a week, I begin teaching. But I also need to finish my manuscript and start working on other articles by early next year. I expect to spend considerable time fretting and stressing myself out over the writing deadlines I have set myself. But hopefully this will not deter my desire to explore this famous – and by all accounts – exceptional, city. I’m staying in a colleague’s wonderful apartment in the 5th arrondissement.
Immigration at the airport took a long time just by dint of the number of windows open – two. (What was that saying that the French work to live, and don’t live to work?) Past customs, I had 90-odd minutes to kill for my shuttle. In the meantime, a homeless man asked me for money and when I said I don’t have any, he looked at me with a challenge in his eyes and said, “I know you have money”. Sure.
My shuttle driver was of South Asian descent- a Tamil from Sri Lanka. He asked me if I was Tamil too, looking at my last name on his list. I said yes. But we spoke in French (mine just enough to get through a conversation). I should have spoken in Tamil with him. But here I was in France, encountering a fellow Tamilian but unable to speak in our mutual language, inhibited. Aimé Césaire, get your pad out. (I’m in France; I’m going to practice my French not Tamil!) I just recalled that the first day I arrived in the United States, in New York in August 1997, my first visit to an eating establishment was to Pizza Mercato on 8th and Broadway. There too, the first South Asians I saw were Tamilians working with Italians.
For lunch, I ate a “panini-kebab”. For dinner, I ate gnocchi after doing some grocery shopping. I haven’t yet mustered the courage to sit in some pretty brasserie alone.
I’m severely jet-lagged. My wife thinks I’ve left her to her own devices in California to savor Paris. My father in Southern India wishes I were in India looking after him. My mother in Eastern India wishes she could live in the U.S. My sister in New Jersey has wished I lived closer so parental care were easier. I wish I could have a life that makes everyone happy. I wish I were my cats and I hope they wish I were with them. (I’m not sure I would wish them to wish they were me).