Month: January 2013

four reasons, paris

Grateful Graduate Project: Reason to be grateful 12 of 365 Librarie Galignani I am grateful to have paused at Librarie Galignani, the oldest bookseller of English publications on the continent (since 1520 to be precise). It also houses an interesting range of contemporary French  publications and classic works in the French language. Few words seem appropriate to encapsulate the endorphin-inducing effect of Galignani at 224 rue de Rivoli (website link here):  Literary heaven,  sacred space,  supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, inimitably enchanting – are a few, inadequate phrases that come to mind. This is an enriching space whose atmosphere  I am grateful to have found time  to savour. I even picked up a good read. Reason to be grateful 13 of 365 Quartier Latin The ‘latin quarter’ has become  one of my most familiar and ‘loved’ districts of Paris,inasmuch as one can profess ‘love’ for a geographic area occupied by inanimate objects that cannot reciprocate such affection! In any case,  I am grateful for the centuries of history, ingenuity, and thought that have shaped this historic part of the city. …

Quality of life

Grateful Graduate Project: Reason to be grateful 11 of 365 Paris Is Top for Quality of Life par tvnportal Stuck in traffic, on the way to work in yet another two hour daily  commute, i made a vow to move to a city that would allow me to have a life and feel human again. I would  pick up where I left off with my university studies and work toward a PhD.   Paris has not been disappointing. The quality of life, measured on a completely biased subjective basis, is fabulous (yet another unscientific, difficult to measure term – how does one measure fabulousness?).  While my lax conclusion on Parisian quality of life is questionable at best – the end of 2012 saw more serious  rankings of quality of life in different large cities affirm the status of Paris as a large metropolis with an excellent quality of life. This performance seems to hinge largely on the quality of the city’s transport system. (my unscientific perspective agrees with this point on transportantion  – when relativised …

Franco-Spanish on a Thursday night

Grateful Graduate Project: Reason to be Grateful 10 of 365 The nature of Paris as a global city is aptly reflected in the culinary diversity offered throughout the city, at an equally diverse range of prices. Paris has not yet been completely taken over by the globalisation of tastes – that is, taste has not yet been completely Americanised if one is to be blunt. 5 I add here Americanisation is not necessarily a bad thing!) Yes, one finds McDonalds, Starbucks and other icons of globalised taste – yet, there is a strong sense of Paris offering strong alternatives to globalised taste. This is one reason to love being in Paris, the persistence of alternatives to the globalised standard of taste. Perhaps the more important value of this alternative diversity of taste is that by being exposed to alternatives, it is a stimulating place to learn to think critically, to question the norm and appreciate alternative ways of living in the world. I am especially grateful today for Cafe Huitème that serves great Spanish and French …

the ‘light’ cliché

Grateful Graduate Project: Reason to be grateful 9 of 365 As the days grow shorter, it is only in a city like this that one walks out of a late seminar, meeting, class onto interestingly lit (and mood enhancing) streets. ‘Interesting’ in that, beyond being the subjects of the ‘City of Light” cliché, there is an attention to detail, deliberate design, and planning of street lighting that has established Paris as a beacon in several regards. A beacon in urban design, certainly. But also something of an interesting case in the creation of a powerful brand and city concept partly based on turning a simple public good, such as street lighting, into an art. That aside, I am simply grateful that the long, dark nights are robbed of their power to depress by a beautifully, intelligent layout and design of light. Grateful Graduate is a personal pledge to collect 365 reasons to be grateful for the graduate student experience offered by Paris and London over the course of 2013.

3rd Floor

Grateful Graduate Project: Reason to be Grateful 8 of 36 The third floor of FNAC’s Montparnasse branch, I found, is a little treasure trove of resources for people learning French as a foreign language. To my naked eye, it seemed at first  a simple bookshop section in a gigantic temple to consumeristic spending but as my understanding of French film, art, literature, increases I am increasingly grateful for the linguistic resources that are expanding my conceptions of life, the world around me, of ‘self’ and of ‘other’. In fact, on the last point, getting to  master the language has made the lines between my English speaking ‘self’ and the French ‘other’ blurred. It is becoming clearer that the divisions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ are constructed. Differences in language mask commonalities.  In short, I am grateful for access to resources that inspire one to master new modes of self expression and become more expansive as person. FNAC’s third floor, to me, has become a portal to such interior expansion and for that I am thankful! Map …

Baron Haussman, Space

Grateful Graduate Project: Reason to be grateful 7 of 365   Paris-Vision from Ketchup Mayonnaise on Vimeo. I am grateful for the part of Baron Haussman’s legacy that has resulted in her wide streets and beautiful boulevards.  The video (above) provides a glimpse of the accessible, open spaces that create the impression of a city that is accommodating to all who are willing to explore what she has to offer. While Haussmann’s planning efforts were driven by more immediate political agendas to control politically excitable Parisians, today it is his spatial organisation that have given Parisian public space its social function as a giant classroom and collection of playgrounds for young and old.  In short, I am grateful for the urban design and spatial configuration of Paris – how it invites one to explore and learn beyond the walls of the classroom. I am grateful for a city that seems well designed to inspire one to explore on foot that which always edifies one’s mind that is embedded in every piece of this fabulous city. …

l’épiphanie

Grateful Graduate Project: Reason to Be Grateful 6 of 365 The playfulness and childlike pleasure that surrounds Epiphany in Paris is a welcome respite from the menacing grown up concerns that begin to loom large as work/study life resumes. One does not need to ascribe to the religious precepts that underly feasting around Epiphany, but there is a certain playfulness that is built into retrieving figurines from the Galette, in the wearing of crowns that has a certain universal resonance to it — It is as if, just before the year’s work begins to take on the arrogant airs of a whimsical tyrant, a gentle reminder to be playful, childlike sounds through Epiphany traditions around the Galette. I am grateful for this call to playfulness of Epiphany in Paris, and the respect given to its traditions and superstitions. Grateful Graduate is a personal pledge to collect 365 reasons to be grateful for the graduate experience offered by Paris and London over the course of 2013