M is for Markets,Metro, Madame and Memories
The markets of Paris are absolutely delightful.
It feels like anything can be traded here and not just in goods and money. These are places for connecting and sharing with others. Without fully understanding the words which can be said quickly and in many different accents, body language is universal and I can still get a feel for the warmth of connection between friends, exasperated expression at many aspects of modern life or the search for that perfect gift for a friend.
‘Madame, where do you come from?’ the stallholder asks as I pay for peaches, plums and strawberries, curious at my accent. I see the look of amazement on his face and the faces of his clients when I tell them I’m from ‘Le pays du sud’. But its not until I use that magical word ‘Le kangourou’ that I can see their full appreciation of my journey. “Si lointain” so far away, they nod in unison as I feel a bit like an exotic specimen amongst all the produce which is so unusual, fresh and bountiful to me.
Like the markets the Metro is also a place of many different purposes, not just an intricate series of underground stations within Paris. Its a place where people live, sleep, take a train to sing, to proclaim their parlous state in life, to recite a poem, beg, or simply travel to work. On my first trip I got lost and it seems to me that’s the only real way to find yourself around the city when your as directionally challenged as I am, I was struck by so many differences to train travel in Australia, a major one being that despite the crowdedness and forced intimacy with strangers, a level of politeness was still maintained.
‘Madame’ the young man gently touches my arm and urges me to move right on the escalator in order to let another person pass. He seems to understand that my body has not fully integrated into the Northern Hemisphere. As I leave the Bastille station to walk towards the Ile St Louis and Notre Dame, I feel the sudden urge to touch the stone that is the last vestige of the old prison which when destroyed by the revolutionary throng, birthed the beginning of modern history.
My walk takes me towards the famous cathedral and into a calmer part of Paris. Walking down a deserted street, I feel an urge to look upwards and as I do see this sad dedication. So it in in Paris, a place of history, holding many memories of so many past lives.