Robin Camille Davis
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A walk through Neuilly

April 01, 2009
Tags: cityview, everyday, outdoors

View from La Défense

All three of my classes were canceled today, so I took my map and camera for a walk around Neuilly-sur-Seine, my corner of the Île-de-France. Originally, I only meant to go to the Métro station to recharge my monthly pass, but the machine was broken. And so the one at the next station didn't accept cash. So I strolled leisurely for about half an hour and found this lovely spot with a view straight down Avenue Charles de Gaulle. Behind me was l'Arc de La Défense, the new and funky version of l'Arc du Triomphe, which you can see in the distance. Not sure how I feel about the public art in the pond. It looks all right in the photo, but in person it's kind of tacky and faded. Do you think the corkscrewiness is a tribute to French wine?

Walking along the Pont de Neuilly, I discovered a parc on Île de Puteaux, a thin strip of land in the middle of the Seine. It was surprisingly empty and peaceful, even though the bridge over it (whence this picture was taken) was part of a busy highway. What's more, it was not only sunny but warm! I chose the sunniest bench, then peeled off my two sweaters and scarf and lay luxuriously in the heat in a sleeveless shirt. I hadn't thought to bring a book, but I had my iPod, so I listened to some New Yorker fiction podcasts: "A Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolff (read by T.C. Boyle), and "The Wood Duck" by James Thurber (read by Jonathan Lethem).

My friend Christina took a class taught by Tobias Wolff at Stanford. Apparently he is a pompous ass. But I find that pompous asses often make excellent writers. Look at Hemingway, or Bukowski, or Hans Christian Anderson, who apparently was invited to Charles Dickens' home for two weeks but wouldn't leave for five.

While I was stretched out on the wooden bench listening to the Thurber story (which by the way was one of his earlier ones and wasn't as overtly humorous, but still quite good and engaging), a loud siren suddenly went off, like a tornado warning or perhaps a nuclear holocaust siren. I ripped off my headphones, heart pounding because I am easily frightened by loud noises, and trotted to the balcony overlooking the Seine to see what was happening on the other side, where the office buildings of La Défense were. But no one seemed concerned. The alarm stopped after a minute. People were walking and talking and smoking as usual. It happened again a few minutes later, and it was incredibly loud, clearly a city-wide alarm. Again: no one else seemed to even register the sound.

I called Deven to ask him if klaxons were going off near his apartment, but he sleepily replied "No" and politely requested that I let him go back to sleep. When I ended the call I noticed it was 12:13. So perhaps it was a siren test scheduled for noon? That would be a bit odd, as Brown's campus-wide alarm system was just tested yesterday, according to the automated text sent to my US cell phone. Well, in any case, it was a rude disruption of my peaceful repose in the park. I plan to go back, though, this time with a book in hand.

I'm trying another chicken recipe tonight. I'll take some photographs and, if it turns out to be tasty, I'll post the recipe later on. Ta-ta! Oh, and a very happy birthday to my dad! XOXO.