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Crtd 14-09-08 Lastedit 15-10-31


Paris Seine 1
 

Email from Lydia, who moved from Nairobi to Paris: could I not arrive at 1700 hrs., so we could go for dinner together. I book my high speed train ticket accordingly.

Gare du Nord. No Lydia. Phone: no answer. This is normal. Ability to manage yourself is presumed. An ailing mobile battery and some roaming settings pages later I climb to the daylight at Concorde for me (I read Thiers completely): Place de la Révolution. The guillotine was at the place of the Luxor obelisk, some say, others point to the North corner, where now is the Brest monument, near Hôtel de Crillon. Is this Lydia's new home's nearest subway station? Seems so ... I go down to the Seine.


... Grand Palais to the Northwest ...

It's a barge. I've seen pictures of it. The quay. Northwest the Grand Palais. I walk in that direction. No barge like the one I need. I phone, no answer. I walk on. Phone! Lydia: it's the other way. I turn. Walk till I see the Musee d'Orsay. There it is. The very last one of the barges along the Tuileries. With a free view along the Louvre quay: no barges there.


... Musee d'Orsay seen from dinner table (bridge: Passerel de Solferino) ...
... straight ahead a free view along Louvre quay, no barges there ...

Lydia is in large African electricity projects. Free lance since a few months! I have to cross a barge to get on hers, enter the steering hut. Nobody. I climb down in the hull. Nobody, but next is a comfortable living where she sits with a Parisian teaching her a dice game. On being asked whether I want to learn it too, I confess my decisively poor record on games, go for an excellent cool Pouilly du Loire (she always only buys those with them golden round stickers glued on). And head to deck with her sympathetic Nairobi Alsatian Koco, who needed only half a minute to remember it was me and start licking my face all over.


... Isle de la Cité with Notre Dame, from bow ...

Beaufort 3 and a shitload of tourist boats from Notre Dame, my sample counts lead to somewhere between 1500 and 2500 boat passages per day, with the current, more than I expected, some 5 km/hrs. Fortunately those Asian passengers shoot pictures, not bullets. Within few minutes Koco and me were Parisian celebs on a host of Japanese Facebook accounts. But low car noise from the fenced traffic artery Quay des Tuileries high up, so on balance comfortably low background audio.


... View port side of barge: your blogger with Koco at the Seine - Tuilieries low quay...


... Within few minutes Koco and me were a famous Parisian couple on Japanese Facebook accounts
(Lydia's barge with green sun roof) ...

What a place!!! Fortunately the dice game seemed difficult indeed, giving me leisure before Lydia's firm management style would draw me merciless into the no doubt many technical barge jobs on her to-do lists. Anyway a good thing a have a check, for she may not even realize the barge is tied to the quay with ropes. That's a staff issue. She forgot about her idea to go for dinner (that's normal), but the children would be late so I managed to bribe her. To my astonishment my gorgeous 40 euro Ugandan suit, that made me so popular in Nairobi and there got baptized as my "ball costume" was judged a no go in today's Paris. I got begged to keep on my black fleece training suit and trainers (I call this my ISIS outfit, I wear it on the Koco picture 2 up). Thus dressed, avoiding police gazes, I got led over the Passerel de Solferino foot bridge to a murky Rive Gauche resto with wine she would herself not even buy at gunpoint. But ambiance, you know? does a lot.


... Rive Gauche behind my back, front to back: Passerel de Solferino (romantic locks), and (with green sun roof) the barge,
then, background, the Tuileries leading to Place de la Concorde ...


... Lydia. The barges' kitchen satisfies serious French standards...

Life changed for Lydia, her daughter Jessica, her son Nathan and Koco: in Kenya they had a nanny, a housekeeper, a driver, a maid a dog trainer and all the rest I forgot. Here Lydia, not to her sadness, started to do her own cooking, we have to pack the dishwasher ourselves and children go to school by themselves using the metro. School is judged a disaster: one year behind compared to their Nairobi international school. Moreover that school had a think, exercise and do-kind of education. Here, we are mainly exercising respect for the respectability of the respectable teacher and for the rest we are OK when we memorize things literally. If you do not understand what you memorize, that should only add to your respect for the teacher who does - he says (this is a summary of Jessica's account).


... dinner in the hold, background: one of my barge jobs: hanging at the ceiling a Kenyan dolphin made of scrapped flipflops,
now bobbing at every ship passing, baptized Jan-Claude (or: "JC")  on Jessica's suggestion ...

In the absence of staff, mam popping in and out is now more cumbersome for the children and Koco, but fortunately we've all got a little older and better able to cope. The good news is that the barge is now office as well, since the whole business of setting up electricity generation projects and stamping them through the indolent digestive channels of African government bureaucracies is driven through email, Skype and conference calls between people sitting all over the world.

Back home in 3 hours and 50 minutes, a third of which is the final lap Rotterdam to my own boat on my own clean and quiet river.

Update 2015-04-13


... Spring: Lydia painting her ship while her left hand and ear are attending a conference call about some multimillion dollar African energy project, children changed school and VERY happy ...

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