Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Squalor, interrupted

One of the things I miss most about the UK is not being able to cook properly. Minimal surface space, two tiny electric rings and no oven means I am limited to rather simple dishes which, although tasty, don’t provide a sense of achievement at all. I used to love cooking in London and would forever be making new recipes and trying them out on my flatmates. As such, when Darshi, a friend of Katy’s, announced that she would be house-sitting for a lady with an amazing apartment in the 19th we decided to make full use of the place. Last Sunday I bought three enormous pizzas and some beer and we spent, possibly, the most relaxing evening since my arrival, eating far too much and watching Friends videos slumped on the luxurious white leather sofa. We have since had a proper home-cooked meal and we’re planning a roast next week which I am very much looking forward to.

The owner of the apartment has two animals that Darshi is also looking after – Lola a little Pekinese cross, and Koshka, a beautiful Siamese cat with enormous bright blue eyes. Koshka seemed to take a liking to me and would stroll across the sofa and settle herself right on my stomach staring lovingly up at me. As she got more comfortable she would lay her head in the little groove of my breastbone and fall into a deep sleep and start twitching in her dreams. Most of the time though she would lie on my stomach with her arms draped either side of my chest staring up at me – this was rather disconcerting and, uncomfortable in fact, since she was rather overweight and I had generally eaten more than was necessary wishing to take full advantage of decent food.

There is certainly a great deal of poverty in Paris and it is rare for a day to pass without my being asked for ‘des petites pieces’ – some change, or a cigarette. The metro is riddled with beggars ranging from those who get on the train itself and launch into a spiel about the hardships of their lives to the burkha clad women who sit on the walkways like statues, palms outstretched. There are also those who busk and one of my favourites is an elderly Chinese man who is usually to be found, in the evening, at the Chatelet metro stop. He settles himself on the platform with an array of instruments and proceeds to play various Asian songs that fill the station with somewhat melancholy sounds. Every now and then he will put down his instrument of choice and burst into song. Despite being, at a guess, around 60 years old, he has an amazingly strong voice and fills the tunnels with a strange wailing. It is certainly impressive though and I always look forward to seeing him perform.


  1. I didn't know you had a blog!! It's provided me with much amusement and insight this afternoon, whilst I'm 'working'.

  2. Cool, thanks 'anonymous', I'm glad you enjoyed it and that you commented - no one ever does you see which makes me wonder if anyone reads this stuff ;-).