Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Truly "World Wide"

First Karl in Tokyo, now me in Paris...

I'm just beginning nine months in Paris for doctoral research, and hopefully the experience will produce some good material for the blog.

Everyone in the States who heard that I would be in Paris said the same thing: "Oh, you'll have a wonderful time, Paris is so beautiful!" So far I have not seen much of the Paris of tourists, so I can't yet comment on its beauty. I am living in the tenth arrondissement, which strikes me as being akin to an outer-borough middle-class neighborhood in New York. In other words, not beautiful, per se. For now, some early impressions:

  • Despite the recent publicity, the women here are not all thin and beautifully dressed. I think this is neighborhood-specific, as when I was out in a more fashionable part of town I did see an incredible number of beautiful, thin women. The men, however, do all seem to be quite skinny.
  • Parisians are not rude-- many people have been kind to me, despite my almost total inability to speak French. The only people who have seemed annoyed with me were a postal worker (nothing new there-- the postal workers in the States almost always seem annoyed with me, and I speak English!) and a man in the metro who asked me for directions. (I would like to think that was annoyance at himself for choosing a tourist to ask for directions.) Walking on the street, the vibe has been very similar to New York, although the streets here are even more packed with people (which I love). Maybe coming from a city where people are said to be rude as well, I feel right at home.
  • The metro is amazing! Trains come quickly, the stops are quite close to one another, and I have taken some trips across town (one involving three different lines) and have never spent more than half an hour down there. The only possible downside is that the trains do not seem to be air-conditioned. I thought the New York subway in summer was surely a gateway to hell, but at least there you can usually get into an air-conditioned car. Fortunately the weather is cool here now, so I won't have to deal with that for a number of months.
  • The produce! Yesterday I went to an indoor market a few blocks from my apartment with little stalls for meat, cheese, wine, produce, etc. I have never seen such beautiful strawberries! Not to mention all the different types of mushrooms... In a similar neighborhood in New York, you're lucky if the produce isn't rotting in the neighborhood grocery store.

So far this city seems to have the good characteristics of New York that I love-- the energy, the bustle of lots of people out all the time, lots of food options all the time-- with fewer bad ones. The city itself is smaller than New York, so getting around seems easier. A few days ago I walked from the sixth arrondissement on the left bank all the way home to the tenth without any difficulty. In a few weeks I'll find out if the rumors of the Parisian love of dogs are true, when my dog Leo joins me for the rest of my stay.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

"Infused with entrepreneurial spirit and the excitement of a worthy challenge."--Publishers Weekly

Read more . . .


What do GE, Pepsi, and Toyota know that Exxon, Wal-Mart, and Hershey don't?  It's sustainability . . . the business secret of the twenty-first century.

Read more . . .