25 August, 2006

On the Seine

I am sitting next to the Seine, writing this in a notebook I purchased fifteen minutes ago in a "supermarché" in the Quartier Latin (I think). This morning I woke up around 7:30, tried to go back to sleep, got up, wandered around Montmartre trying to find an open market, purchased some strawberry jam (confiture aux fraises), and sat next to the steps of Sacré Coeur eating yogurt with jam for breakfast.

I took a taxi from the airport to the hostel yesterday. I would have preferred to take the metro, which aside from being cheaper is more of an adventure, but one relatively small person simply cannot take two fifty pound suitcases on the Paris metro. (Although I have thus far resisted, I constantly feel the urge to apologize for the amount of luggage I have. "I'm sorry, it's just that I'll be here for a year. I'm sorry, but I have diabetes and need a lot of medical equipment," and so on.)

The driver of my taxi was a small Asian man whom I felt I should be helping with my suitcases ("I'm sorry..."). I got in back and directed him (in horribly accented French, I'm afraid) to 45 rue Gabrielle, Montmartre. He wasn't quite sure where rue Gabrielle was, and I couldn't quite understand the questions he was asking me about it, so it was a few minutes before we got everything straightened out. After a little bit of silence I, as is my wont, tried to make conversation by asking him how long he'd been a taxi driver. Unfortunately, he took this as a commentary on his knowledge of the area and expostulated vehemently for a short while on the navigational difficulties associated with the Montmartre area, after which silence again reigned.

A little while later I asked him what the "Pte" abbreviation on the freeway signs meant ("porte"), and in explaining he must have warmed up to me, because we chatted happily for the rest of the ride.

When we got to the building I took out my wallet to pay him and dumped all my cash out into my hand in search of euros. The driver was in the middle of unloading my luggage (I'm sorry, but...") and rushed over when he noticed me doing this. "Oh, you should not do that! This is not a nice part of town! You won't do that tonight, will you?"

I personally have never found the French particularly arrogant or uncaring. Perhaps my helpless demeanor catches them off guard.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jay Freeman (saurik) said...

45 rue Gabrielle, Montmatre is the address of an architect (you know, if you say this word over and over enough times it starts to sound really really awesome). You planning on building yourself a house there for the year? ;P

12:48 AM  
Anonymous boo said...

wait, he didn't tell you his life story? you're losing your touch! love you & miss you- also am horribly jealous.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Oh, no, I did get his life story- studied English in college, lived in England for a while, never been to America- but it wasn't very interesting so I didn't bother to put it up.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous boo said...

glad to hear the giant blinking neon sign still works. funny to think it works in french, too.

1:44 PM  

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