Saturday, November 9, 2013

Paris - London Trip October 28 thru November 7, 2013 - Pocketbook Stolen at Morgan et Toi - Poem: The Rug Merchant

I fell in love with this carpet the moment Mr Kashani pulled it out. I knew if the price was right, I'd buy it.

In American dollars, this Iranian-made rug was about $350.

Kashani left Iran after the Shah was ousted. He worked as a banker in Iran, but here in Paris he sells carpets, pocketbooks, jewelry and objets d'art.

The Shah left you alone, he said. The new Islamic governments intrude into your personal life. See poem at the end of post. Like most poems I write, I had no idea what it would be about till I'd finished. "It's not about the rug merchant," said Martha at the Writers' Group. "It's about your brother."

In Paris, we stayed at the Hotel Joyce. The concierges were friendly and helpful. Many were from North Africa like the gentleman below from Tunis.
We loved Samuel, another concierge, who never knew of his Jewish heritage until his father told Samuel while he lay dying.

"It's important you know," he said. Samuel thought he was Muslim. Prejudice against Jews and blacks is fierce in Paris. I wish I had worn my menorah earrings so everyone would know.
 Here's Sarah Skyping Ethan. I used her laptop to check emails and learned to use it w/o a mouse.
 Purchasing Metro tickets.

When she couldn't figure it out, she asked Pascal, a very funny man, who helped us. He introduced us to Anny, below, saying, "This is my wife."

Then, "we're divorced."

Years ago, Anny, now 44, was a kickboxing champ for all of France.

She and Sarah became fast friends. One nite, Sarah met Anny and her boxers for practice.

"They're just like my boxers," said Sarah. Most are from the West Indies, like Anny herself, who is from Guadeloupe.
 Pascal is also a Sephardic Jew, from Algeria.

 Everyone looked at These American Tourists who had gained entry to the goal post. Or whatever you wanna call it.
 I told Pascal my boyfriend worked at SEPTA, the equivalent of the RATF, embroidered onto their clothing.
 Dig the doors and knockers on this building. My knockers are... never mind.
 Window shopping. Woodcuts by a famous artist.

 Autumn in Paris.
 Riotous mums.

Mine were all dead when I got home. And my pansies were all eaten. Not by squirrels, but by deer. 
 Jogging paths everywhere. Sarah exercised at a Club Med near our hotel.
I took great pleasure in not exercising.

My feet held out pretty well. Brought two pair of shoes. My Vasque sneakers and some lo-heeled black boots that I could pull off when we went thru security and that I could slip off when we were on the plane or else in the theatre.

Visited the astonishingly beautiful Garden of the Luxembourg, complete with fountains, a lake, sculpture, and picnicking couples.

Every meal includes wine. 

When I was a teenager, I sat in the Cleveland Public Library and read the mystical book "A Night in the Luxembourg" by Remy de Gourmont. Sarah read it too.

Bought this jacket at Marshall's three years ago when Sarah and I took our Mediterranean Cruise before my kidney transplant. It's waterproof and has lots of zippered pockets which you want to deter thieves, which, as you'll see, got us anyway.

Our fast-paced Cruise made me want to linger in cities and take our time. Hence, our trip.
Well-cared for flowers and a red-haired soldier guarding them.
Let's have a pique-nique.
What is a park without a lake?
What is a lake without a boat?
What is a park without a palace?
People stroll through the park for the enjoyment of its beauty and serenity.

Our strolling led us to a museum we knew nothing about.
What a wonderful surprise we had at The Musee de la Luxembourg.

It was an exhibit by artists whose paintings represented inspiration through dreams and night visions. We were astonished at our luck in finding both museum and the artwork. I bought a dozen postcards and mailed them off after buying French stamps at a post office.
I am especially fascinated by the mystery of doors. What lies behind them?

Hmm, I wonder whose light-streaked door this is.
Posters advertised attractions throughout France, including an area where Sarah had lived for a month when she got a writing scholarship, an area known for its fine wine.
I was just pretending to photograph the posters. I really wanted the people, their fine clothes, their companionship.
This was a famous restaurant recommended by Mark Padmore. Absolutely mobbed.
My cod was delicious BUT way too salty. Gotta take care of Odysseus, my aptly-named kidney, who returned home to mom. My nutritionist, Mary Ann Moylen, is insistent on not eating salty foods, so I gave up buying pickles.
Sarah ordered Steak Tartare, raw hamburger meat, which comes with a raw egg. Delicious, she said. When I told Scott, he said when he was young, his mom would always give him some raw hamburger meat b/c she knew he loved it.

Different story today, of course.
In the table next to us, a family sat, grandparents, etc. Half of them were Indian-Parisian. The grandfather sat across his son, who obviously had schizophrenia. He was listening to headphones and was not paying attention to the conversation. He was loved and accepted by his family.
After eating at Le Rostand, we went shopping. 
Hello Mr Kashani. Please show me your carpets. I sent him a thank-you note but his email didn't work.

I had an entire "nun," a rich custardy dessert, which Sarah said was her fave.

The boulangerie or patisserie where we bought the pastries. Fortunately, none exist in Willow Grove, PA.

Sarah holds her pocketbook and my rug in the yellow bag.
It was so good to see flowers.
Photos taken of war destruction in Eastern Europe.

24-hour grocery stores were found every few blocks. What wonderful food they had. Produce is fresh and delicious.... they don't use the pesticides we do in the States.

When we were out and about and hadn't eaten in a few hours I would sit on a bench and check my sugar. Once it was 44. It's low when it gets below 70.

I always carried 'granola bars' with me, except when I forgot, but I'd rather eat real food. So we bought some cheese and I ate a lovely bright-orange clementine.
We're going to the 'toilet,' as they're called, before an organ concert at a church.
Church architects embellish everything. Guess it helps to look around if you get bored with the service.

Here's the organist after the concert. Lionel someone.

The tile floor.

Trash can with spiffy McDonald dessert cups.
Rue Flecher, which I snapped for Ada and Rich Fleisher.
We're now in the small Jewish Quarter.

We wait in line at a kosher Falafel restaurant.
I ordered Chopped Liver with onions. Delicious!
Auburgine with tahini dressing. They call eggplant "auburgine" in France.
Nicole traveled to Paris by herself. We enjoyed chatting. Her sister has been diagnosed with necrotic disease and is in endstage kidney failure. Nicole will probly donate her kidney to her sister, who is on bed rest at home, married, with four children. 
Jewish bakery. Challah twists on right, poppyseed rolls on left.

Enjoy the photos. 

This was a huge playground designed by a famous reductionist architect. I have no idea what this means but Sarah took a course at Brown that explained it.

The Pompidou Centre had an annex that housed Giocometti sculptures and his workroom.

Long escalators sailed us to different floors.
We always looked out the window, as we sailed upward, to see the views.
From one of the escalators we saw La Tour Eiffel. See it faintly below?

Saw an incredible Roy Lichtenstein retrospective (1923-1997).

Doesn't Chairman Mao make you laugh? How many starvations was he responsible for? China is still paying the price of his horrific Cultural Revolution. Just finished the book "China's Son" by Da Chen which tells the story from a child's perspective.
This Lichtenstein reminds me of the New Directions logo. Perhaps Roy was the first to invent this sunrise which has become a famous logo today.

Matching blue carpet.
Students sketched.
Wanted to shoot this b/c I made a collage of my red living room couch and wanted to see how a pro makes a couch. 
Nice ears and scarf. The French people love their scarves. Please! Do not buy me a scarf.
Roy was influenced by Japanese art.

Butternut soup with Scallops at swanky restaurant called Boeuf S. Le Toit. 
You'd think I'd remember what this is. Any ideas?

Thank goodness! I just remembered. It's fresh tuna with a tapas sauce.
Our marvelous waiters Baba and The Other One.
My dessert, almond ice cream and carmel ice cream. Powerful flavors.
Chocolate cake filled with chocolate cream.

Sign below reads "Grand Marnier." My friend Helene used to make a Grand Marnier Pie. Surprisingly, I never tasted it. But I WILL taste one later on during our trip.

Window shopping.
Church shopping.

Ducked inside this famous train station. Schedules in blue. As we ascended the steps, we saw homeless people asleep under blankets. They looked like big covered logs.

Men's clothing by Celio. I have friends with that name.

Paris is a huge melting pot, like NYC and London.

We walk along the Seine River.

Clock in the Musee d"Orsay, which used to be a RR station.
Dig the scale of the artwork.

Sarah dropped me off at the museum and then went to meet her boxers. Je confesse I was minorly terrified to be on my own. But she clearly outlined the course of my evening.

Walked across the River Seine, as Sarah said I must.
Unparalleled beauty. That's what I also say here at home as the leaves are changing.
The famous obelisk.
A boat cruises along. Below the water splashes into the bridge bulwarks.
The Musee d'Orsay. There's something so pleasing to the eye about these long low buildings and their magical symmetry.
Very curious. This arch with soldiers on top, I think, stood atop.... mud.... across from the Seine. It was along here that I tried - with no success - to find a cab home.

Took me 45 minutes to find a cab. Oh, my aching feet.
We await our dinner in front of cactus plants. Restaurants open for dinner at 7 pm, sept heures, I would tell people, pretending to speak French.

Vieille femme, old lady.
Water fountain.
This is very sad. This is a lovely little park, with a memorial to Jewish children who were sent to Auschwitz and killed there. This was under the Vichy government, when Marshal Petain collaborated with the Nazis, said to be a truce to avoid destruction of all of France's great cities and art. 
Here is the marker of the massacre. Jewish families lived nearby. Children as young as 21 days were killed.
Sarah photographing the memorial.
She wept while reading this. Look at all those Jewish names.

We're on our way to meet Barbara, a boxer friend of Sarah's she met last year.
Barbara choreographed our walk. This is an area where young artists meet.
Graffiti that looks like art. Keith Haring, the American artist, was famous for his London subway art.
Scott! This photo is for you! Nice clean trains, unlike SEPTA.
This man was plastering a poster onto a wall.
Bonjour Barbara!
In line at the kosher butcher shop.
Lunch platter, good enough to eat.
Barbara left early to get back to work. We tried to visit her at work but couldn't find her. The IMAX theatre in the distance reminds us of Buckminster Fuller.
Why the moat?
Double-decker carousel. I stayed in one spot while Sarah ran around looking for Barbara's office which was something like the department of the interior.
As I sat on a bench, I got the shock of my life. Three young soldiers, carrying assault rifles across their chests, walked along the sidewalk.

Quick! I said to myself as they passed. Get your camera out. It was in my zippered front pocket and I got this distant shot of them. 

Jerszy Kosinski did a long monologue on the Johnny Carson Show about the power of a man in uniform.
I liked the shape of this hotel.
Waiting for the metro. Sarah knows my wicked ways, as I take a pic of the man next to her and his wonderful striped shirt.
These are madeleines, the cookie that began the stream of consciousness in the famous Proust work Remembrance of Time Past.
Frankly, my dear, I'd rather have something a bit richer like the above.
When push came to shove, I had to decide what I wanted to see on our last day in Paris.

This is what I decided to see. Sarah and I often walked hand in hand down the wide boulevard leading up to La Tour Eiffel.

To me it looked like a lacy iron tree rising from the ground.

Since there were no cafes around to gaze upon it, we stopped at a concession stand. Sarah got a bagel and butter, while I bought a hot dog.
We hailed a cab and asked Joseph to drive us past the Louvre, which is made up of many solid buildings which house possibly the greatest art collections of the world.
We asked to be driven to the Pyramid of the Louvre.

Does it never end?

Mona Lisa is infinitely patient, living in her little cage in one of the buildings, with endless people staring at her.

Here's Joseph who drives a Toyota Hybrid. He laffed when I asked if he owned it. He did not speak a word of English.

When he found out we were Americans, he exclaimed, OBAMA!
On the last day of our trip, we left the Hotel Joyce and I snapped the dining room. We had luscious breakfasts: in hot serving dishes were cheddar omelets, ham and cheese quiche, croissant.

Our bedroom looked much like this. Sarah went to a 'pharmacie' to buy earplugs b/c the woman in the next bed snores like a lumberjack.

Morgan et toi, Sarah's favorite clothing store.

Until, that is, her pocketbook was stolen. She and I were in the fitting rooms. I sat, bored to death, guarding our purchases.

Dyou have your pocketbook? I asked Sarah.

Yes, said Sarah, looking at it on the bench.

Sarah then left the dressing room for a few seconds to exchange sizes.

When she returned the pocketbook was gone.

The sales girl was not concerned. She refused to call the police.

Sarah and I returned to the hotel where we cancelled our credit cards.

Then Sarah went to the police station to report it stolen.

I went up to the room where I went on the laptop to divert myself from the minor tragedy.

Half an hour later, the phone rang.

The concierge, Jennifer, told me the pocketbook had been found.

"You left it at the creperie,"she said. Of course, we never ate at the creperie and knew where it had been stolen from.

I ran downstairs - we were in room 401 - to ask Jennifer to call the police station to contact Sarah.

That's how we got the purse back.

The thief took 200 euros and all of the Metro tickets.

Sarah's carte d'identite was in there, as was my diabetes paraphernalia.

Tomro Sarah will write a letter to the management of Morgan et Toi.

It's bad business to have your salesgirls stealing pocketbooks.

I goggled 'steve madden carryon' and look what came up.


Mon frere passed out
on the Persian carpet
in his bedroom
and was never heard
from again.

We loved our David,
say it in French, and
it’s beautiful, like our
young brother who was
born with a fine but
alien brain.

In Mr Hashani’s shop
in Paris he laid before us
his finery
carpets from the world over

A small one caught my eye
Reds like the reddest apple
for Snow White
Dark Blues like Van Gogh's sky
It was not
I want to tell you
the most beautiful carpet
I have ever seen
yet I had to have it.

My eyes fixed on Mr Hashani
a small man in a sweater-vest
with eyes I can only call
defeated since he left his native
land for Paris
a place of refuge

Although I shall never really know
I believe he gave me a special price
as he turned it over and showed me
where the weaver had plunged her needle
again and again
and I pictured my brother
at home in my living room
sitting on the rug
and working his long
fingers through the tiny
golden fringes
his voice
lifted in song.


  1. I loved every bit of this about your trip and all of the photos. Thanks for sharing. This is a place I haven't been., It's funny because I think I am just contrary but my husband's late brother and wife from Philly area were totally obsessive Francophiles and made 10 or 12 trips there in a few yrs. I believe she had Ed's ashes scattered in Paris, though she won't tell us. They kept urging us to go and insisted that no other place compares, is worth going to, etc. In fact, they went so far as to say that they had no interest in seeing anything in the US because no place is any good. When questioned about where they had been in the past, it turns ...Anyway, though I had wanted to go to France and my parents had been there a few times, the contrary part of me wouldn't go because of how much they raved about it. They also insisted that there was no anti-Semitic or other racist atmosphere/attitude, which I don't believe and have heard otherwise from many.

    I like the more succinct version of this poem. It is more powerful in the edited version in the later post, I think.

    Sounds like such a great trip, except for the purse theft.

  2. people see what they want to see. The truth? impossible to find. but i did talk to many jews who agreed about antisemitism. did u see that park with the memorial to the dead jewish children? i was shocked that it was so small and inconspicuous.

  3. I am loving your blog and all the places I am "visiting" via your blog, and in my recliner. The very thought that there is a memorial to all those list children brought tears to my eyes. Such a sad, sad time in history. My dear friend who died last year from leukemia had lost family in Auschwitz. When I was 10 my Mom had TB and on visiting one day while she was in the sanitorium, I encountered a young woman - Catholic and Latvian - of 18 years, with a number tattooed on her arm. I had never heard of the Holocaust at age 10, as it was not part of the grade school curriculum then, but I learned more than I imagined just listening to that young woman, who has become a friend. I have recently become friends with a young man whose great grandmother (Norway) sheltered many from Hitler's soldiers. What a brave woman. I now wonder how he pulled the wool over so many people's eyes. How could anyone think his ideas were sound? I will never understand how one member of this human race can perpetrate such atrocities against another member of it. It just boggles my mind.

  4. Nancy, I so much appreciate your comments. Glad we found each other. I learned about the Holocaust when I was about 10. Our family attended Temple on the Heights outside of Cleveland and we were ushered into the auditorium where we saw these shocking movies about what went on only 20 years earlier. Today I know there are genocides all over the world and it's shockingly always been that way.