Sunday, August 03, 2008

I Love (doing) Rien

Oh how glorious it is to sleep in.

I eventually got up out of bed some time after noon, deciding by early afternoon that it was a good day to ditch our digs in the 17th - being careful not to step on the tumbleweeds blowing through its streets as we headed out.

A Métro ride and a brisk walk later, we were on the rue de Faubourg de Saint-Denis, its crowded, animated and (most notably) open shops bustling with people of all skin colors speaking all languages. It was a welcome relief from our yuppified, sanitized, chain-store dominated neighborhood.

We cut a right into the Passage Brady, one of the covered market arcades hidden all around Paris. It's filled primarily with Pakistani and Indian shops, spilling over with fragrant spices, fragrant rices, and all manner of peppers. There are a number of questionable-looking restaurants offering dirt cheap menus, and we sat down at La Reine de Kashmir, lured by its low prices and "outdoor" seating.

Feasting on a delightful Thali Rani (a set lunch composed of a couple of curries, basmati rice, samosa, tandoori chicken, and naan), we clinked our glasses of mango lassi and beer and took it all in. Men and women were getting 6€ haircuts at the hair salons across the way (which is to say, about 2 metres from us), Arabs covered in hijab squeezed by pasty, bare-legged, but off-the-beaten-path German tourists, people yelled in their mobile phones in Urdu (or was it Hindi?), older women tut-tutted their grandkids in an African tongue I'd never heard before, pigeons swooped down to pick up dropped garbage. It seemed positively third-world... and fantastic.

Sated by our meal, we went for a walk down the Faubourg du and then Rue Saint-Denis, snickering at the well-past-their-prime prostitutes hawking their, umm, wares in the afternoon heat. "See, I told you they're for real!" I exclaimed to Alannah. "So is this form of prostitution legal here?" she asked, referring to the wretchedly dolled up street-walkers leaning against the wall. I didn't know the answer. I guess if anyone in their 50's wants to do it, they've earned the right.

Oddly enough, this street is about a block from the Quartier Piéton de Montorgueil - m2 for m2 the most expensive neighborhood in Paris. Maybe that's how you pay the rent.

We wound our way south to the Les Halles area, checking out an incredible spice shop along the way, then did some browsing on the last day of soldes at the giant, labyrinthine BHV department store, along with some other home stores until closing time. Then we headed back to Montorgueil for some ice cold smoothies and retiring back to the sleepy old 17th.

This morning called for some more sleeping in, and wasting much of the day by watching TV. I caught an old 1986 episode of Diffr'nt Strokes dubbed into French - wherein whomever does Gary Coleman's voiceover overacts as much as the original. Brilliant! Just as Arnold was making some quip about the snobby, prissy Lisa, I heard the microwave DING!

"Whatcha makin?" I asked Alannah.

"Oh, just heating up some wax."

Realizing that I've got to do more with my weekend, I came up with a brilliant idea. "Ooh, do me! Do me! I've never been waxed before."

Alannah isn't someone to stop an idiot from trying out his idiotic ideas. I took my shirt off and let her smear a patch of wax on a tuft of wiry, black Middle Eastern hair on my shoulder. As the wax cooled a bit, I started getting excited. Anticipating a world of searing pain, I grabbed the heel of a stale baguette and bit down on it.

She counted down. 3... 2... 1...


"That's it?"

It was fairly painless, and overall very anticlimactic. But my left shoulder is now smoother than a Brazilian swimsuit model's junk.

Now I had to come up with more ways to fill up my Sunday.

But this boredom is brilliant. It's magnificent. It's what I would consider at this point an ideal weekend. Because for the first time in god knows how long, we didn't have to go to any open houses. We didn't have to meet up with any real estate agents. We didn't have to make photocopies of our dossier.

Because just the other day, we signed the lease on our brand new long-term apartment.

And go figure, it's in the aforementioned Montorgueil neighborhood. You know, that crazy expensive one. But I love it. And more importantly, the wife loves it.

I'll probably have to don a wig and sell my ass on Rue Saint-Denis to pay the rent, but at least that'll give me something to do besides getting waxed. Which will probably help sales, anyway.


  1. Try malai kofta (usually spelled something like that). Try Rogan josh (lamb, or sometimes "mutton" which really means goat). Try aloo parathas to scoop up rice and dip in leftover curry sauces. Navaratan korma is usually pretty good. Bhindi (okra) curry is good. Baigan (shallots, I think?) curry is yummy too. I'm jealous! You'll get to eat all the lovely food I miss!! :)

  2. Love 'em all!

    If I remember my terminology correctly, Baijan is eggplant.. Bhaji is onion/shallot :)

  3. You know, I was SURE that baigan was going to be eggplant, but we were served something that looked like a heavily-marinated, still-on-the-stalk shallot that was way yummy. Maybe the menu had their terminology all fucked up... something that happens a lot, wish I had taken pictures of some of the more hilarious Engrish examples.

    Oh, I'll email you the updates-- just got back from India. :)

  4. Welcome back! I kept tabs on your blog (admittedly less than I would like) but wasn't sure when you were heading home.

    As for shallots on the stalk - negatory. As bulb plants, they grow below the ground ;)

    What you probably had were the little Asian-sized eggplants, that have the size and shape of a large shallot, and a firmer texture when stewed!

  5. Okay, that makes total sense because they sure didn't TASTE like shallots even if they kinda looked like one. lol

    Yeah, I didn't blog all that much. Meant to, but it's a lot easier to spend time sitting at a computer when you're traveling solo (or even with other non-romantic travel partners) than it is with Mr. Right.