After the Harvard dinner on Sunday night Joël/Zhizhong and I walked to the métro with Mike, a fellow alum whom we had just met. Mike’s train back to Frankfurt didn’t leave until Monday afternoon so I invited him over for lunch on my beloved rue Montorgueil. I had plans for the morning: clean house, shop, get a haircut, pick up my hopefully-cleaned dress pants (which had gotten dirty the previous weekend, when I crossed my legs too soon after polishing my shoes). As it happened, however, that morning there was a series of powerful thunderstorms. We have them in Boston, but these were the most intense I had seen in Paris, and Alexis confirmed that evening that they are rare here. Every time I was about to jump in the shower there was a nearby lightning bolt! So by the end of the morning I was only able to pick up my (perfectly-cleaned) pants. [That evening Jared and Alexis scoffed at my concern, but I was gratified to confirm that my parents’ oft-stated warning about using plumbing or electrical devices during a thunderstorm is not an old wives’ tale.]
Mike overslept a bit but arrived by early afternoon. I suggested a beer before lunch, but when I opened the refrigerator I noticed a tempting bottle of rosé, which of course, once opened, had to be finished.
A few pleasant hours later we set out to forage for lunch. The kitchen was closed in my usual haunts so we ended up at Le Marie Stuart, a (now renamed) restaurant on rue Montorgueil that I had walked past literally a hundred times but had never eaten at. It had a youth-oriented menu, and wasn’t cheap, but our salads were quite palatable. Mike will be moving to Nairobi in the fall but I hope to catch up with him and his boyfriend in Cambridge the latter part of September. I wished Mike bon voyage and headed back home to await my next house guest, Jared.
This year’s Jared — Jared W. — should not be confused with last September’s house guest — Jared R. — even though they were boyfriends at the time. Jared W. is a math professor at Boston University. While we are friends through various social connections we have particularly bonded on a series of day hikes in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Jared W. was unable to come with Jared R. last year, but one nice feature of renting in June is that academics — and students — are often free to visit then. Jared W. is now in another relationship, but his new partner was unable to join him here.
Jared arrived on schedule via RER train. After he settled in we headed off to Gare de l’Est to meet my French friend Alexis for dinner. We ate at Marcel, a stylish restaurant on the Canal Saint-Martin serving Indian food. The atmosphere was pleasant and the food was really good. The on-line critiques that you can get comparable Indian food much cheaper elsewhere seem to me wide of the mark.
After making considerable progress over dinner towards solving the world’s problems (including those created by human nature itself) Alexis suggested we visit the nearby African-themed Ghetto Museum. This was quite an extraordinary place, including several contemporary art installations. 2019 Update: It’s now just a pretentious yuppie bar with only slight African touches to remind of its former glory.
I snapped Alexis and Jared at a replica African photography studio.
Something about the environment — possibly the tropical level of heat and humidity — made us thirsty, but fortunately the museum has a well-stocked bar. Several secousses later we staggered back along the Grands Boulevards to our respective homes.
2019 Update: Since the Ghetto Museum is no more, here are a few more 2013 photos of its glory days:
Mot du jour: « bobo », short for « bourgeois-bohème ». Basically, a well-off left liberal. Alexis doesn’t identify with the term, because he considers himself 80% bourgeois, 15% Breton and 5% bohemian. Jared and I felt fortunate that Alexis still has a broad enough bohemian streak to introduce us to the Ghetto Museum.