Friday, 1 January 2016

One step at a time amid Paris’ subdued New Year Eve (静かなパリの大晦 日、前進は一歩づつ)

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You must never take anything for granted.  Last year, I joined the crowd on the streets of Paris and stayed on until the midnight when the city of Light lit the sky with fireworks, laser beams spreading out from the Arc de Triumph.  Something told me I had to unless I wanted to miss out.  That hunch proved to be right unfortunately because this year there will be no fireworks after the recent terror attacks.  

This year, many locals have opted to celebrate subdued New Year Eve by staying home. I celebrated twice: first at around 16:00 when it was New Year in Japan.  I am grateful that I had a friend with me this year.  My Swedish friend was an orderly and responsible person, a breeze of clean air after the filthy menacing grin of Colombian crooks who swindled me.  

Afterwards, I went by myself to Café Constant, a popular local eatery in 75007 for my first Réveillon, a big festive dinner the French enjoy on the last day of year. Café Constant takes no bookings so naturally there was a queue outside the eatery.  Although this was an essentially local hangout, it has been discovered by tourists as well, therefore, the queue was long.  I had anticipated a long wait.  However, the staff recognized me, a quiet Japanese regular client for at least the last 6 months.  The manager smiled at me and told me to wait ‘just 3 minutes.’  Really?  Perhaps it was easier to seat a single person, but I felt I was given a regular customer favoritism treatment.  I was given a table immediately that the glare of the tourists waiting outside almost hurt me.

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Scallop  with a slice of black truffle in salad.  黒トリュフを挟んだホタテ貝サラダ

I was gratified because it was not always like this in the beginning.  Tourists come and go, so the French in general cannot afford to be friendly all the time.  The staff at Café Constant are always polite, but only recently they have tried striking up a conversation with me.  And tonight, they made me feel included in a tiny part of Paris living.  I could not imagine this when I first visited this Café with my mother 4 years ago.  I envied the locals who could eat here regularly.  I may not have achieved much in Paris, but I have realized one small dream.  

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Venison and mashed potato with a source with Umph.  シカ肉のステーキと唸るほど美味なソース。

It was less than one hour till the clock struck midnight.  I went home to my courtyard where I can look up the Eiffel Tower in privacy and safety.  To be honest, I have a lawsuit to file against my former landlord in January.  I have to move into a new apartment straight after the New Year day.  Life is far from easy, but I shall survive, just like I survived this year.  One step at a time.

Copyright 2009 to 2015 by Mirror Miroir/THE THIRD RED APPLE All Rights Reserved. 

人生何でもやっておけるうちにやっておかねばなりません。去年、シンドイけど大晦日真夜中までパリの街を彷徨い歩き新年の花火と凱旋門から発せられたレーザー光線を拝んでおきましたが、今年はテロの影響で花火も取り消しとなりました。

地元のパリジャンも家庭で過ごす方針が多く、私も現地16時に日本の新年を祝いました。今年はスエ―デン人の友達が一緒でしたが、その礼儀正しく責任感強さは清々しくコロンビア人のどす黒い笑顔で恐喝された後には救われました。

友人が帰った後に一人で近所のCafé Constantへ Le réveillon(大晦日にフランスで楽しまれるご馳走のこと)を頂くことに。地元ご用達の気取らぬ店なので予約は受け付けません。美味しいので行列が。しかも観光客まで押しかけている。待つのを覚悟で本持参でしたがフランス人の支配人が私を見た途端笑顔に。この半年頻繁に通っては静かに食事をしていた日本人と覚えてくれていた。「3分だけ待って」と言われ「マジッすか?」 まあ一人だから席を取りやすかったのかもしれませんが即、座れました。どう考えてもお得意様贔屓があったらしい。店外で待つ観光客の刺すような視線が痛かったです。

むろん最初はこうではなかったので嬉しかったのですが、観光客が入れ替わり立ち代わりするパリでパリジャンは毎日は機嫌よく付き合ってはいられません。Café Constantのスタッフは常に礼儀は守りますが私相手に会話をもとうとしてくれるのは最近でした。そんでもって大晦日にパリの片隅に入れて貰えた気分にしてくれました。4年前に母と初めてここで食事した時には想像も出来ませんでしたが、この店に通える地元の人を羨ましいと思ったものです。パリに来て1年、何もしてないけど、細やかな夢だけは叶えられたかな?

食後に家へ戻りパリでの新年へのカウントダウンに合わせて中庭に出てエッフェル塔を見上げました。新年到来と共に輝き始めます。年始早々元大家相手に法廷に立たねばなりませんし、構成上問題あった今の部屋を出て新しい部屋へ引っ越さねばなりません。2016年も決して楽ではなさそうですが生き抜きます。2015年を生き抜いたように。前進、一歩づつです。