In attempt to grasp the details

My AU education sprung full force yesterday morning, in French Grammar class, when Madame Morio asked us where our mothers and fathers met. 

Mothers and fathers? Boy, in today’s day and age, or at least in the bubble of American University, the assumption that our parents are of opposite sex is not really politically correct. 

Like when Madame Morio corrected one of the Swedish girls for using the male form of “small” (petit rather than petite); Madame laughed pleasantly, shaking her copper, ruffled head of curls in amusement as she joked that the girl hadn’t changed sex.

Hmph, also not PC. Because, as AU has taught me, gender is a social construction and sex can, in deed, be changed.

For a country that rates nudity lower than violence and for a society in which cheating on your spouse is culturally acceptable, there’s some steps the French are still slightly behind on.

_______________

It’s been six weeks since my arrival in Paris. I’ve moved on, slightly, from that as an observer; I do feel as if I am a part of the flow of life here—different from my initial grasp of the distinct separation between l’estranger (the foreigner) and the Parisian. I’ve grown accustomed to the quietness of a rush- hour, packed metro car and I’m aware of the Parisian faux pas, unbelievably conscious of my discomfort should I dare leave the apartment in sweatpants or yellow rain boots.

Yet in the progression from observer, it becomes easy to miss the small things—easy, because as our days takes shape around the familiar of a routine, we too begin to blend in among the nuances that become the ordinary.

While I am here to immerse myself (however one- sided I realized the ordeal would be), I am also here to observe. And with five months remaining of this experience abroad, I don’t have time to loose myself among the regular of a routine.

The Pont Neuf Wrapped Image credit: christojeanneclaude.net
My art history teacher presented “The Pont Neuf Wrapped,” a work by Christo and Jeanne- Claude, the famed American artists who displayed orange flags through Central Park. The pair wrapped Pont Neuf (Paris’s oldest bridge that links the left and right banks of the city) in over 450,000 square feet of polyamide fabric. The work, which was displayed for 14 days in late September 1985, attracted over three million visitors. But, as my professor pointed out, prior to the embellishing of the bridge, residents and tourists rarely flocked to see Pont Neuf, merely crossing over it as they would any other bridge along the Seine.

All Christo and Jeanne- Claude did was change a way of looking at the ordinary. Because, as they highlighted, in doing so, we regain a sense of appreciation, admiration and observation.

This is what I can learn from. I can't wrap bridges across the Seine, but I can change parts of my everyday to once more grasp the details that surround me.

So I made a right out of my grammar class this morning, rather than a left onto my regular route to the boulangerie next to the Vavin metro stop. It didn’t take me long to find a new lunch spot, a boulangerie with a fucsia pink exterior.

The boulangerie offered two vegetarian sandwiches—not even the slightest of an issue given one of the two was eggplant and cheese in whole wheat bread. Which, as eggplant (or aubergine, as referred to in Europe) is number two on the favorite food list and boulangeries don’t seem to sell avocado (number one on the favorite food list) or whole wheat sandwiches, eggplant and cheese was a fine choice.

I found a bench on the side of the road; I must have skipped over to the bench-- my excitement for my lunch clouding all better judgement to project a sense of refinement rather than giddiness. I sat myself promptly, leaning back as I undid the plastic wrapping encasing my sandwich. From the bench, I could glimpse the boulangerie I usually frequent for lunch. It looked different from the angle, a small crook in the symmetry of the road. I would have missed it had I not known it was there.

My view ahead was just of the road-- nothing more than ordinary.

It was the colors that I initially noticed—the colors of dress: the man in the mustard trousers, the woman in the earthy- brown, suede coat. I noticed the scarves, the red fabric of the man’s woolen scarf; the girl's patterned green and white scarf, wrapped loosely around her neckline.

I picked up on the delicate clink of feet hitting the pavement, conscious of the poise and elegance of Parisians’ posture. Most of the pedestrians crossing the pavement walked alone; Madame Morio likes to say Parisians are a rushed breed, purposeful in their stride. I noticed otherwise, sensing calmness and complacency among the individuals, all seemingly caught in their own worlds as they passed me by. Bicyclists zipped by, navigating their way alongside the afternoon traffic. And the scattered bustle of cars and buses added a gentle buzz to the afternoon sounds.

This is ordinary Parisian life; so ordinary that I too would miss it should I forget to step back-- forget to appreciate the uniqueness of my surroundings, the charm and character of the city. I don’t have sandpaper to wrap my surroundings in, but I do have the power to change parts of my daily routine. A
ll it really takes is a small change to make you aware once more.

No Response to "In attempt to grasp the details"

Post a Comment

 

Followers

Labels

100th blog post 762 curves Alice Springs Alipura Amsterdam Anne Frank House Art Fair attractions August vacation Australia Ayers rock Ayuttahaya backpacker backpacking bamboo rafting Bangkok Bangkok hospital of Phuket Barcelona Bastille Day beaches beggars Berlin Berlin Wall Blue Mountains blue shoes Bondi Beach bucket list camp Cathedrale Notre- Dame cemetery Chabad Chabad Champs Elysees Chabad of Bangkok Charles Bridge Chartres Chartres Chathedral Chateau de Vincenne Chiang Mai Chiang Saen chicken thigh Christo Claude Francois Cloclo Cold War Cultural differences Czech Republic day trek day trip DC travel definition Dengue Fever developing connection East Side Gallery Eiffel Tower light show elephant ride elephant trek England Festival Fnac Live Florence FOAM Museum Fragonard France French culture French friends French presidential inauguration GAdventures Germany ghats Giambologna Giverny Golden Triangle graduation graduation travel Grand Temple guesthouse hairdresser Hales St. Pierre Hall of Opium heritage Hinduism Holocaust homestay hundred step staircase identity India internship introduction Israel Italy Jardin de Tuilleries Jardin du Luxembourg Jeanne- Claude Jewish Quarter Jewish travel Jubilee Judaism Khao San Road King Solomon restaurant ko phi phi koi samui kosher Krabi La Defense La Grande Arche Lesser Town Lido life thrill London Louis XIV Louvre Mae Salong Marmottan Monet Melbourne metro Milan Munich Murano Nazi Germany New York City northern Thailand Oktoberfest Old Town Orchha Overnight train Pai Palazzo Grassi Palermo Parc Montsouris Paris Paris Statue of Liberty Paris summer sales Passover seder people watching Petrin Tower Photography Phuket Piazza San Marco post-graduation Prague Prague castle President Francois Hollande publication Ram Raja Rape of the Sabine Woman Ray Caesar returning abroad Rome Rouen San Spirito school Seine Shabbat Shavuot Siam capital Siam capital city solo travel Spring break St. Chapelle studies study abroad study abroad program summer friends Sydney Thailand Thailand elephant Thailand historic capital Thailand hospital Thais The Pont Neuf Wrapped thrill of life Tiger Airways time off from work toilet Tordi Sagar Tour de France transportation travel travel alone travel blog travel essay Trocadero tuk tuk USA TODAY College Varanasi Venetian Jewish Ghetto Venice Versailles Versailles Light and Sound show Vincenne white water rafting Yoga Jardin du Luxembourg Yom Kippur in Berlin zip line

All Rights Reserved © 2011 The Girl with the Traveling Blue Shoes All rights reserved.
Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul Theme By- WooThemes
This template is brought to you by : allblogtools.com | Blogger Templates