Cool Haunting: Passage Brady

If you do yoga for long enough, India begins to flood your senses. Little by little, like rising water, you find yourself doing things à l’indienne without even realizing it: placing your hands in anjali mudra to say thank you, creating altars out of beloved objects, kicking off your shoes the minute you get home.

Today I was in Paris’s Little India with a friend. We had lunch at my favorite South Indian vegetarian restaurant near the Gare du Nord, then we biked down to the Passage Brady for some good, old fashioned threading (OMG -- Oh My Ganesh -- it’s only 7€) and grocery shopping.

While the Passage has seen better days, I love its shambolic decrepitude and the men who invite you into their restaurants like gentle carnival barkers. While I wouldn't eat in any of those establishments (seriously, go to Saravanaa Bhavan instead), Velan is a fun stop for spices, lentils, tea, dried fruit, beauty products (I like the sandalwood soap from Mysore,) and other things. It’s not quite as big as VT Cash & Carry on rue Cail, but it’s smaller footprint is easier to navigate and if you’re just picking up a few things, it’s an easy dash-in, dash-out.

Chanson de la Seine

Chanson de la Seine

La Seine a de la chance
Elle n'a pas de souci
Elle se la coule douce
Le jour comme la nuit
Et elle sort de sa source
Tout doucement, sans bruit…
Sans sortir de son lit
Et sans se faire de mousse,
Elle s'en va vers la mer
En passant par Paris.

La Seine a de la chance
Elle n'a pas de souci
Et quand elle se promène
Tout le long des quais
Avec sa belle robe verte
Et ses lumières dorées
Notre-Dame jalouse, immobile et sévère
Du haut de toutes ses pierres
La regarde de travers

Mais la Seine s'en balance
Elle n'a pas de souci
Elle se la coule douce
Le jour comme la nuit
Et s'en va vers le Havre
Et s'en va vers la mer
En passant comme un rêve
Au milieu des mystères
Des misères de Paris.

—Jacques Prévert

time lapse the Seine Paris time lapse from olivierlalin on Vimeo.

May Day

Photo: The Interpretation of Dreams

Today is La Fête du Travail (May Day), a day on which people give each other sprigs of muguet (Lily of the Valley) to commemorate Spring. As it’s a national holiday, expect yoga studios in Paris to either be closed, or to offer revised schedules of classes for the day and -- in some cases -- the entire week and then some (Ashtanga Yoga Paris, Big Apple Yoga France, Centre Anjaliom, Espace Nataraja, Himayoga, Paris Yoga, Qee, Samasthiti Studio, Studio KellerYoga Bikram Paris, and Yoga Village, for example.) Be sure to check the listings before heading out with your yoga mat!

In the study of flowers, the muguet symbolizes sweetness, humility, trustworthiness and heralds the return of happiness. All things that you put into practice when you do yoga :)

Cool Haunting: The Museum of Everything

If you haven’t yet been to The Museum of Everything, make sure you check it out before it moves on to the next city in February! This exhibition of art brut, aka outsider art, is housed in an old convent on the stuffy boulevard Raspail. You can’t possibly miss the museum because the signage stands out like a loopy smile in a phalanx of aloof, sand-colored buildings.

Part of what makes the show so affecting is the way it rambles from room to room, from Henry Darger to Guo Fengyi, up and down narrow steps from one floor to the next. It feels as though you are inside one of the artists’ minds, moving from wide spaces to shadowy corners, stumbling and feeling your way toward understanding. Even if the wall text weren’t there to explain each artist’s disability or troubled background, you would still feel their pain and the weight of their struggle in the art. The art is obsessive, sometimes beautiful, sometimes troubling. The Museum of Everything really made me question art -- how we define it, how we choose to validate then display it -- and made me wonder, too, about art’s therapeutic, prophylactic and redemptive power.

I was quite moved by the art, but also very grateful for the café and gift shop’s cheery respite!

Cool Haunting: Musée Cernuschi

As a teenager I lived in the 17ème arrondissement, closer to the banlieue of Clichy than to anything resembling a Parisian cliché. Between my lycée on the hardscrabble boulevard Bessières and my dance school near the much tonier Porte Champerret, my familiarity with the 17th merely skirted its periphery. To me, Batignolles wasn’t a charming square, but the name of a stop on the 66 bus line, a bus I’d take to Opéra whenever I needed a new pair of pointe shoes. I was myopic in the way that only a fifteen year old can be, etching my life with a fine-tipped scribe and never stepping outside of the lines.
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Et sous mon ciel de faïence, je ne vois briller que les correspondences…” —Serge Gainsbourg

“What about that woman you wanted to punch in the face?”

This is a question a friend asked me, facetiously, not long ago, in reference to an episode in which a woman made me so mad, I wanted to punch her in the face. Yes, even yogis have these feelings! This woman (who was dating a friend of mine) and I were standing on a New York City subway platform, and somehow the conversation turned to the subway. When she declared the NYC system to be the greatest in the world, my ears pricked up.

“New York City’s subway system may be good, but it’s not the best. Paris’ métro system trounces New York’s in terms of modernity, cleanliness, and efficiency. I’ve seen people texting and emailing on their mobiles while underground in a métro tunnel, and I’ve never seen that in New York. It’s so wired.”

Her response? “Well, that’s not surprising since Paris’ tunnels are not as deep as New York’s.”

(See why I wanted to punch her in the face?)

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Cool Haunting: Musée Carnavalet

A secret garden in the heart of the Marais. Even under a light rain (as it was the other day when I ducked inside) it offers a quiet respite from the frenzy of tourists and shoppers outside. I like to sit on the benches in open-eyed meditation, letting the architecture and garden’s symmetry decelerate my nervous system and breath. As the sound of cars and scooters fades, I close my eyes and focus my awareness on the crunching of pea gravel underfoot, the rustling of leaves, whispered snippets of conversation…
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Free Yoga in Paris

Over the weekend, I had a chance to check out a couple of Paris’ free yoga events: a Portes Ouvertes, and one of Lolë’s classes at Wanderlust Paris (held at Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design.) Thanks to the sustaining energy of La Rentrée, there are still a few opportunities left to explore new teachers, studios and styles of yoga, take advantage of “Back to School” class pass prices, as well as unroll your yoga mat in surprising environments. This coming weekend is a perfect example: there are not only three free classes sponsored by Lolë, but three separate open houses at Studio Keller (11e), Sivananda (10e), and Red Earth Centre (10e).
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