high speed service trays…

if you’d like to know where all the great south indian food is in paris, here is a handy little map…the walking directions features on hopstop/google apps are super convenient…although, i find that that the streets in paris are such a wonderful mess that i end up getting slightly lost no matter what…

my walk to khrisna bhavan

my walk to khrisna bhavan

after lunch, i wound up back at the apartment for a couple of hours and demoed a new song on my iphone…which has become really useful for the purposes of putting ideas down quickly…especially because i tend to forget them fairly quickly…

i took a quick shower and then took the metro to the Sentier stop to meet a new friend that i’d met through some online travel community…she was an indian american (from minnesota) who’d been living in paris for the last eight years…she’d recently built a new online fashion business here that is apparently doing quite well…we chatted a lot about traveling as we’d both done plenty of it…as well as falling into an interesting diaspora of being indian american immigrants…we grabbed dinner and a few drinks and had pretty conversation for a few hours…though it definitely got a little dicey when she told me she thought standardized tests were a good idea…but it’s always good to have to think about another side of the argument…i suppose…

i’m very grateful to have had parents that raised me in an indian household – with a lot of traditional elements…but always allowed me to enjoy the benefits of living the united states…especially when it must have been hard or awkward or at times just frightening for them…(you know, like when i was listening to modest mouse really loudly when i was 15 or was having punk/indie rock shows in our basement)…

i can not imagine the courage it must take to uproot yourself, leave your family behind and hop on a plane to another country, thousands of miles away with your two young children…i spoke to my amma on the phone at length the other night when i was still jet-lagged and unable to sleep…she articulated how happy she was that my sister and i have the freedom and resources to travel and explore the world on our terms…

on that note, i am about to head down to maison europeene de la photographie as it’s free on wednesday evenings…scott’s going to meet me there and i will hopefully scarf down another falafel sandwich while i’m there..

ooxx aa

 

 

you will be free…

i had a very light day yesterday – mostly recovering from everything ian gave me and scott to drink from the night before…after waking up late and forcing myself to go for a run, elsa, the young lady i’m renting my apartment from gave me a little tour of the neighborhood…this was extremely helpful because almost everything she showed me was literally under my nose – but i hadn’t noticed any of it on my own…now i know where to get top quality produce, booze and baked goods all within a five minute walk of my front door…this will no doubt make the next four and a half weeks much easier…

scott invited me out to a pub trivia night organized by the couchsurfing folks here, but i passed because i just wanted to make sure i went to bed at a reasonable hour…i also don’t think my stomach could have handled even being around another alcoholic beverage…we have tentative plans to check out versailles on thursday and i’m hoping to check out the free night at paris museum of photography on wednesday…

i managed to get a full night’s rest and woke up early this morning to go for a run and grab a quick breakfast…i came back home and finished writing a tune i’d been working on the last couple of days…then, i turned my attention to my stomach’s request for some south indian food…my good friend, neepa, lives in brussels and has spent a lot of time in paris…she turned me onto an area in the 10th that is home to a large number of sri lankan and south indian immigrants…i did a little digging and found that it was only a 10 minute walk from my apartment…after some research on the food situation down there, i settled on checking out khrisna bhavan

view from the street...

view from the street…

my first paris dosa...(won't be my last)...

my first paris dosa…(won’t be my last)…

khrisna bhavan, nailed it – the dosas was perfectly crisp…crispy enough on the edges but not completely flaky and soft on the inside…the softness is important to soak up all the delicious sambar and chutney…both of which were excellent here…

over the years i’ve become extremely picky about my dosas…this is obviously because my amma makes the best dosa, sambar and chutney on the planet (okay, she says my periamma’s (aunt’s) are better, but still)…that being said, the key to a good dosa is usually not the dosa itself but the sambar and chutney that come with it…usually restaurants handle the coconut chutney reasonably well – it’s relatively hard to mess up…but man oh man, is sambar usually a disaster…when done correctly it’s a beautiful thick, spicy lentil sauce with a key complimentary vegetable (okra and moringa are the best)…but restaurants usually turn this into a watery, tasteless mess that manages to look the right color without any of the taste…

i can say after a thorough exploration of the dosa scene in nyc that the only place to get really amazing dosa is from thiru jumar – the sri lankan dude who runs his dosa cart in washington square park right by nyu…my amma and appa fully endorse his dosas as well…now, that’s, a compliment…

there are supposedly a number of other restaurants in this neighborhood in paris near khrisna bhavan – so i plan to try many of them before i leave…a 5 euro dosa is an extremely filling (and delicious) meal with a price that’s hard to beat in what is, definitely, a very expensive city…

i took a long walk back to my apartment while my stomach was digesting the delicious dosa…i remembered that i asked ian the other night if he was married…he told me he was 38 and married with no kids to the only person that could deal with him…then said, “listen, if you can put up with 90 percent of her bullshit and she can put up with 90% of yours. that’s love. that’s it.” … sounds about right…

ooxx aa

the boat dreams from the hill…

the title of this post is taken from the jawbreaker song of the same name…it is as incredible now as it was ten years ago when i first listened to it…it is also the best song ever written from a boat’s point of view…

i met scott at the coq and bull pub a little after five pm and we got well acquainted very quickly…there is something about meeting people while traveling that significantly diminishes the normal boundaries that exist when meeting new folks…i am not entirely sure the reason for this, but i think it’s a mixture of generally being more willing to (or having to) take risks when you are out of your comfort zone…there also seems to be a universal understanding among travelers that we can trust each other…so far it’s served me very well over the years and i can’t count the number of life-long friends i’ve made over the years just wandering around the globe…

scott’s an english teacher in suburban new jersey and we shared some good stories about our teaching experiences over a few drinks…a friend of a friend of his, jason, was the bartender there and there’s nothing better than having a bartender on your side…he was pleasant, friendly and gave us a lot of interesting tips and ideas on local places to visit…he even went out of his way to make a list of vegetarian restaurants for me that i should check-out…simple kindness is grossly undervalued…jason was also irish, which means he insisted that we polish off every beer with this…

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if you know me at all, you know i never turn down a good whiskey…we threw down a few more drinks and between the three of us shared a lot of traveling stories…jason had a lot of questions about the quality of life in the states as it pertains to work/life balance…he was pretty disturbed by how much people work in america and how little time people have for things like family, friends etc…you know, things that matter…in that moment, i became immediately aware of great it is to have the career i have and the freedom to do the kinds of things i really want to…lots of blessings…

after jason’s shift ended, his buddy ian (a north englander as he told us) came in to fill in for him behind the bar…we introduced ourselves and while he had no problem saying my name, ian insisted on affectionately referring to me as “dev”, which i found charming and funny…i’m sure someone else might have found it offensive, but ian didn’t seem like the type of guy who would have given a fuck anyway…i appreciated that…he gave us all another shot and then we hit the road with jason to a vietnamese joint down the block…

the food was good, maybe better than good…it was hard to judge fairly at that point in the night (it was approaching midnight) and scott and i both commented on how quickly the night had rolled by…we finished up eating and because the restaurant was a little hole in the wall without a bathroom, we all headed back to use the restroom at the pub…ian was closing up shop, and before we could leave, poured us all another shot…i thought maybe this isn’t a good idea, but i didn’t think ian was taking no for an answer, so we all threw one back…

jason hit the road to head home to his wife and new born (ten months) and scott i headed to the door when ian asked why we were leaving…and followed it up with “i figured i’d close the bar and we’d have a few more”…scott and i looked at each other for a second and i’m pretty sure we both came to the same conclusion…ian’s not the type of guy you meet all that often and  hanging out with him for a while longer is not something we’d soon forget…we guessed right…

in the next three hours, ian made a medley of different drinks for us while telling us some amazing stories about wrestling crocodiles and hanging out with bears in various places…he was very smart character, with a sharp wit…the kind that knows just how to tell a story and just how to make fun of you without making you feel uncomfortable…he invited us to another bar he’s working on tuesday and finally threw us out at 3 am after telling us that samuel beckett (the dude who wrote waiting for godot) was andre the giant’s babysitter/driver…which is actually, completely, fucking true…

oddly enough, the whole paris metro thing i wrote about in my last entry slapped me right in the face since none of the trains were working at the time we left the bar…luckily my apartment was only a couple of kilometers away and i made the walk without incident and without getting lost…

and that’s about as good as a sunday ever gets…

ooxx aa

we’re invisible and we’re bulletproof…

yesterday, i woke up early and found some green space in a park nearby to do some reading and writing while snacking on a baguette with some strawberry jelly…afterwards, i decided to go hunt for some falafal as i’d developed a craving the day prior…on my last paris visit, i was living near the marais and had a pretty delicious falafel sandwich from l’as du fallafel, which seems to get a ton of press and also proudly boasts that it’s highly recommended by lenny kravitz

this time, i decided to venture across the street to mi-va-mi (l’as was closed, anyway, and i wanted to try something new)…i was rewarded after a short wait in line with this…

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it tasted as wonderful as it looked and while good falafel is certainly not hard to come by in nyc – this did have a unique charm…most notably, the use of a spicy orange sauce which, for my tamilian folks, will taste just like your amma’s onion chutney…a compliment indeed…i sat down on the street (literally) with a few other folks who were also consuming their own sandwiches and took my time dissecting this beast of a sandwich…in addition to the sauce, the huge chunks of roasted eggplant spread throughout were like little golden nuggets meant for the treasure chest of my tongue…i’m usually not a fan of eating these things with a fork – but it was absolutely necessary to avoid making a mess all over the streets…

afterwards i decided to take a walk down the seine since i was already nearby…i knew i would at least partially regret this because, while the view was nice and there was certainly a lot going on, the crowds on a saturday afternoon were just too much for my anti-social-self to be able to handle…i lasted about a half an hour before wandering back towards the metro and hoping on the 4 back to my apartment in montmartre…

i’ve always been impressed with the paris subway system…don’t get me wrong, i’m more than satisfied with what nyc provides in the way of public transport…but in the many times i’ve taken the subway here on my visits, i’ve never waited more than 6 minutes for a train…ever…and the fact that every station tells when the next (two) trains are coming is greatly appreciated…i suppose that’s the benefit of not running the trains 24/7 a la new york…you can handle maintenance easier and keep your daily schedules very regulated…

these days, i rarely get into a subway after midnight, so i’d be happy if nyc opted for a more paris-like schedule (assuming the efficiency during the day would improve as well)…but i’ve also had many international visitors who have stayed with me nyc who rave about how they wish their cities had a 24/7 metro option…tough call…

after a quick run this morning up to sacre-couer and back (the uphill definitely kicked my ass), i grabbed another breakfast quiche and spent some time working on lesson plans for the upcoming year…changing schools, i’m finding myself more nervous than i’ve been in the last 4 years about generally being prepared, so i’m starting early…very excited about working on a 7th grade curriculum again as i think the content offers a ton of options for interesting explorations…

i’ve been writing, slowly, more songs on the ukelele i managed to stuff into my bag on the airplane…it’s been a while since i’ve sat down to write so deliberately and while this exercise has been historically hit or miss, i felt like i needed some structure just to get back into the flow…in between some bouts of writer’s block, i started working on a cover of  possum dixon’s “invisible” …

i’d probably not be playing music at all if chris hadn’t had passed this record on to me when we were teenagers…little things…

i’m going to spend the next couple of hours writing before meeting a couchsurfing friend for a drink in the evening…the couchsurfing website has come a long way in the last 8 years that i’ve used it…it also serves as a pretty amazing example of some of the best that humanity has to offer…lots of great folks to meet…

looking forward to the craze of the weekend to die down and i hope to explore a few museums tomorrow sans crowds…

ooxx aa

public appearance is everything…

my first full day in paris also happened to be my birthday – the second one i’ve spent in paris while traveling solo…i got started a little later than i’d hoped as i was still trying to kick the jet-lag (taking longer than i hoped as i’m still not quite there) but i managed to roll out of bed in time to head down to coquelicot (a highly recommended bakery in montmartre, where i’m staying) for a vegetarian quiche and a chocolate croissant…i took the pair to the top of sacre couer and while quiche has been historically hit or miss for my taste buds, this one was epic in its deliciousness…i then scarfed down the chocolate croissant which was exactly as wonderful as i’d hoped, but my thirty-year-old stomach immediately told me, “if you do this everyday, i’ll kill you.” – this was sad because i was hoping to eat a croissant a day while i’m here…

last week my mother insisted that i find a fountain to throw some change into on my birthday and, of course, i obliged…she did however insist that this year she was going to make my wish for me…so i found the fountain in sacre couer and tossed a few coins into it over my shoulder and will now hope for the best…my mom’s a pretty good wisher and i’m fairly certain i know what she’s asking for…

the weather in paris is hot, but very manageable, especially compared to the oven of nyc that i’ve gotten used to…after wandering around the streets of montmartre for a few hours – people watching, mostly – i headed down to La Glazart – a neat little music venue in between the 18th + 19th arrondissement that’s essentially a homemade beach with a bar and a stage…it was quaint and very chill and i checked out a couple of bands – little trouble kids  and venera 4 – both were good… the former a very fun indie rock duo that at times reminded me of the white stripes, architecture in helsinki and mates of state and the latter a dense, shoe-gazing pop mess a la ride, my bloody valentine and the like…both were way more than competent and little trouble kids were really fun live…

today, i managed to get up a bit earlier, went for a run in the neighborhood and then went out to hunt for some falafel (more on that later)…right now, i’m relaxing with the windows open and about to pick up my uke to do some writing…pretty great way to kick off year thirty…

ooxx aa