After staying up late writing and sleeping in late (which I rarely do, being a habitual early riser), a leisurely stroll around my neighborhood in the 18eme early this afternoon turned interesting when I turned down one side street to see thousands upon thousands of African and Arab men standing with their heads bowed over prayer mats, then pressing their foreheads to the ground in the direction of Mecca as the muezzin's call to prayer echoed down Paris’ bustling Friday streets.
From that auspices beginning, I strolled down past the Gare du Nord and eventually through the largely Asian and Arab quarter of Belleville, birthplace of the famous French chanteuse Edith Piaf in another era. The sky darkening, I found myself, eventually, along the Canal Saint-Martin near the Stalingrad neighborhood, where I took shelter beneath the awning of a café right on the water as the sky opened a torrential deluge that cascaded dramatically down from the sky onto the pavement and the water of the only a few feet away. With typical Parisian schizophrenia, the downpour lasted less than half and hour, and the sun was blazing again as I walked back to the 18eme, arriving home at the height of the outdoor market, where I picked up some bananas and grapes fairly bursting with flavor, and watched as the some of the local vendors took off at a mad dash when the French police showed up to question the legality of some of the watches, jewelry and assorted bling they were selling from makeshift cloth-covered tables and in some cases literally from their bare hands curbside. Arriving home, I found an invitation in my mailbox to join some friends for an apéritif on Sunday.
I think I’m going to like it here.