Saturday, October 07, 2006

Einat in Paris

Einat is a friend from Haifa, Israel. She is an architect, research scholar and university lecturer. I visited her in 2003. She showed me around Haifa, sharing her beautiful city with me, making me feel every city should have someone like her, who was the heart-head-conscience of the city.
Last year, while reading Italo Calvino’s essay “The City as Novel in Balzac” in his Why Read the Classics?, I remembered Einat and mentioned this essay to her. She told me she was going to be in Paris soon on a holiday.

So I shared the Calvino essay with her, as well as the various works referred to in that – so that she could try to “see” Balzac’s Paris.

I wrote:

Being a literature loving architect, maybe you can guide students in 'research' - seeing, essentially - on this literature-built space nexus.

Einat wrote:

Thanks for the Balzac web page. What a treasure! I have been asking my students for ages to make the connection. Goodness, somebody already did it! And I love Haussmann's Paris, the stories behind that. It fascinates me.


On our way to the airport, I just printed all your emails and the texts on Balzac to take with me.

I am so excited.

Will think of you in Paris!


Paris was incredible! We had a nice apartment just between the Pompidou, Les Halles, five minutes walk to the Notre-Dam, ten minutes to the Louvre. Incredible! Every morning I went to the nearest grocery to buy the fresh food for the day, and crossed the wonderful pool of Pompidou with the sculptures of Niki de saint Phalle, whom I adore. What a feeling! Every morning! That was absolutely enough for me, I don't need anything more. I could live there forever!

We went to see various areas in Paris that are less touristic, I was trying to figure out what makes their daily life so different than ours. And also I was so preoccupied with Haussmann's Paris, the Paris of Balzac, Victor Hugo and Guy de Mauppassant. There was this quarter (Mouffetard) on which I made a short study during my MSc days at the Technion. The streets tell the stories so wonderfully, I was so moved to walk there. The houses reveal the stories of the late 18th - early 19th century revolution, the changes in humanity. The upper floors especially. I recalled a short story of Mauppassant (I think) about his apartments, and how he "climbed" the floors as he grew older and became poorer. There is so much history there, I was fascinated just staring at the windows.

I read a book before we left about the sources of historical knowledge. A wonderful book that sheds all historical surveys in a different light I suppose.

BTW, I found this site, check it out:

I also took with me the book of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Memoria de mis putas tristes. What a wonderful text about life, about aging, about love, about being human. Goodness, you have to read it!

Attached are the pictures of Balzac from Rodin's museum (the most beautiful museum in the world, in my opinion). Rodin and Balzac's characters intertwined in this sculpture. What a juncture!

What a masterpiece! He's a character!

But the food, the food... aaahhhh!

The best thing in Paris was not thinking about anything substantial other than where we'll eat the next meal, and what will it be. No big thoughts. How wonderful that is. Did not have that at all in the last four years .

Recommended wholeheartedly!

Dear friend, we were mentioning you a few times in Paris, I carry you with me more than you imagine.


Einat Kalisch said...

dear Rama,
what a surprise, I am actually speechless. would never imagine that old email of mine posted on the net... thank you for making me smile so often - your SMS's, emails, not to mention this. In between our holidays and vacations these days - I wish you and yours Shana Tova (= good year) - health, happiness and prolific correspondences!
(working on my web page -
I am sending you to see)

Deb S. said...

This is such a sweet post. Your passion leaps off the page - the result of your oh-so-colorful writing. You make me want to witness these things, too. :-)

krystyna said...

I spend a great time reading your great post!
Paris! I see. You didn't need anything more.
Paris is my dream vacation.

Thanks a lot!!

Please be forgiving with my English. I try, but it need more time to think in foreign language.