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Unemployment has meant, for me at least, a sort of spatial limbo: I am at home, but I feel very much in-between places. This is partly because, after 4 years in England but very little of it in London (which is such a pity!), I thought I might like to get to know the grand old metropolis a bit better than I do. It’s also partly because I am willing to go anywhere at all in the world for adventure and novelty, but am not so keen to stay on at home (none of my friends are here, and living with parents does get a bit stifling now and then). My father has done his best to assiduously encourage me to head Stateside at some point (like many good middle-class Indians, I think he harbours the ‘American dream’ and doesn’t care much for the old world, which he sees as fading and increasingly irrelevant in career/financial terms; well, perhaps the newspapers would bear him out on this, partly). And to a large extent, as I learnt more and more about the bureaucratic strictures which try very hard to keep people from coming into countries, and as I read more and more about how sad an economic situation much of the world is in, I pretty much resigned myself to not going back to London or the UK anytime soon (save for holidays, ofc).

And I was pretty fine with that. For most entry-level jobs, going to the UK does not mean (as many with anti-immigration sentiments seem to think) a better quality of life/living: the tax-rates and costs of living are incredibly high, and logically the same amount of money earned in a place where housing is cheaper and the tax rates lower = better life. Materially speaking.

But when I rationalized so with myself I forgot one very important thing – I forgot that I didn’t love London for its promises of any glamorous life or great riches (for I’m no Dick Whittington), & that I loved it instead because it was the London of countless books & innumerable stories;  the London of Shakespeare and Austen and Woolf and even T. S. Eliot; the London of the history-books and nursery-rhymes. And this is after all something no other place in the world can (or even should, since every place has its own unique wealth of stories and histories!) ever replicate. It also probably only has such importance for me because I loved and then studied English Lit., which is enough to make an Anglophile of anyone, and for the noblest of reasons :P But remembering = nostalgia, and nostalgia = (in my world, at any rate) lots of wistful blog-whining & lots of photographs, so this post will groan under the burden of both. You have been warned!

My recent Fanny Burney binge has reminded me of why I love, and miss, London: Burney’s novels are all about innocent (but virtuous! NEVER forget!) and beautiful girls from little-ish country towns who find themselves in the great city for the first time. They are regaled, and often left not too impressed, with the dissipations of high society life in 18th c. London – they go to plays and to the Opera and to the Pantheon and to ‘assemblies’ – yes it is like a dream! It’s one of those delicious things to read, like a tabloid gossip column looking into the lifestyles of the rich & famous today, only Burney’s books of course have infinitely more wit, are quite censorious of all that is ‘dissipated’ and extravagantly wasteful, etc. Well, first I missed 18th century London with the worst kind of nostalgia one can have – nostalgia for times one has never known, will never know! And then I missed London as I know it, because London is so beautifully historic and so layered over with different eras, that I am quite sure that 18th century London has peeked out me from odd places during some walk or another.

A rather glorious monument, the Albert Memorial. And enhanced by Instagram! :P Probably what I dislike most about London is all the Victorian in it, which (to me) is just somewhat bleak. Like the Victorians themselves, and especially in winter. And add to that I have, like Terry Castle said, a sordid case of ROCOCOPHILIA, and so have always loved the prettiness of 18th cent. buildings (their white and bright airiness) a whole lot more. 

What I love most about London is the way different places have different associations – a sort of historical/literary burden these spaces are forced to carry, but maybe that’s no bad thing. I have very violent historical/literary fetishes, so a lot of what I remember from my London summer pertain to this! Getting breathless as I walked around Russell Sq. and Bloomsbury (because Woolf and Eliot must have walked there, and maybe I would stumble upon Woolf’s family home or something – !); waxing lyrical as I wandered around Hampstead & its Heath with my friend (because Keats probably roamed there too, and who knows but one of those ancient trees inspired some poem or another?); getting lost somewhere off Fleet Street, going down some small lane and actually finding myself in front of Samuel Johnson’s house; trying to figure out the exact spot on which The Globe must have stood (not quite where it is today, apparently, a few meters off – maybe it was where ‘EAT’ is?). Reading about Burney’s heroines going to Tottenham Court Road or Holborn (where the tradesmen in 18th c. London lived, apparently) or Sadler’s Wells (apparently, back then, not a ‘posh’ theatrical experience) – or even better, going to Haymarket (!!) to watch a play (!! I DONE THIS!) got me immeasurably excited and nostalgic. (Haymarket is my absolute favourite theatre, though, I have to confess, only one out of a shameful four I’ve been to: but it was the first, and it is so beautiful and palpably 18th c./rococo, that I have tried to go to almost every show they put on. Not succeeded, but meant to anyways….!)

The doorway into Keats’ house at Wentworth Place. Unfortunately we went too late to get in, but an extremely kind man in the adjacent library let us walk around the grounds and it was beautiful. I could not identify the famous ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ tree though :(

There is a respect for history in Europe generally which I admire so much – the preservation of old buildings and façades, the blue plaques in the UK which dot the place to remember everybody and anybody of historical note (from seamstresses to the celebrity heavyweights!) – these are all things I am sort of unused to, but which I adore, admire, and respect vastly. Till this day I am astonished at the large, amazing, beautiful and 100% Tudor building that’s opposite one of the Chancery Lane Tube station entrances. It houses everything from Pret to Starbucks or Costa or whatnot, and there’s an interesting clash of visage & interior for you (even one of the nicest old buildings in Oxford, at the end of Ship Street, houses a Pret) – I never quite get over the juxtaposition – but it is there. Which is amazing.  There’s also the amazing arts scene (and this is not to say that other places don’t have theirs: THEY DO; only I understand the British one best because that’s what I’m familiar with, as myopic of me as this may be) – I love that all the art galleries are free and so open to all; I love that there’s a bajillion theatres with wonderful shows on. Waking up on a Saturday morning & wondering what to do is always so easily resolved when there are a thousand and one exhibitions or plays to be attending! The National Gallery alone could keep me occupied for days on end, and ‘groundling’ spaces at The Globe are so cheap (five quid!) that I am always tempted to watch more plays there than my legs have energy for (or, to be truthful, than my wallet has notes enough for).

Found this in a little lane off St. Martins Lane (I think), where my friend works in a wonderful coffee-shop. This little lane is full of a second-hand bookstores, which are amazingly fun to leaf through in themselves, & this plaque makes it all so much more amazing! MOZART!

So this is why I love, and miss, London. :( Its historicity, its literarineeesss, its galleries and its theatres. So many things I have never done (like visiting the oldest theatre, or the recently-uncovered site of Shakespeare’s first theatre, or Woolf’s house, or famous authors’ graves, or seeing a show at the Royal Opera House) and that I have to lament! I talk a whole lot more about these associations than I have done, unfortunately, because whenever I’m in a place I call ‘home’ (however temporarily), I failed to do enough of the visitory/touristy things I love the places for. I have not been the best literary/historical pilgrim, but since I am going there for a visit in two weeks, I hope to remedy this. I am going to chart out a Fanny Burney/Jane Austen trail, which will take me through 18th century London (or what vestiges of it still remain) and to Bath. FINGERS CROSSED. But most of all, I am just going to walk and walk and walk and walk and walk, anywhere and everywhere, and drink in the streets and the sights and the aura of the past. Kuala Lumpur is not a very pedestrian city, and a car is as essential to life here as breathing, so I really miss walking.

(Also: carrying on from the last post where I mentioned the mysterious ‘Pantheon’ — I have solved the mystery! It was on Oxford Street, and in its place now stands —— wait for it —— a Marks & Spencer’s. -_- Grotesque, is it not? But to their credit, this branch is called M&S ‘Pantheon Branch’, which is a sweet homage to the past.)

Watching the sun set over some lake in Hampstead Heath. I could go on at length about missing (and loving) the parks and gardens of London too, but I may never stop then so have wisely decided to let a picture speak for me.

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Tower Bridge proclaiming London’s Olympic-ness, loud & proud!

This summer I had the pleasure of being in London during the 2012 Olympic period. It wasn’t something I had initially given much thought to – I’m not a sporting enthusiast (or sporty in any sense of the word); I was too busy with work at Oxford most of the time to pay attention to what was happening on the Olympic organisation front; and I wasn’t even expecting to be in London during the Olympics. But as it turned out, I was, for almost the whole two weeks in which they took place. And it was, all of a sudden and unexpectedly, exhilarating!

I can’t decide what I liked best about it: was it the generally happy and enthusiastic vibe throughout London, as people strutted onto Tube trains draped in various flags or wearing their Olympic ‘Games Maker’ uniforms (the London games had about 70,000 of them)? Was it the fact that as I stood drinking outside of bars in little Soho alleyways, little contingents of Americans (still wearing their passes or cards or whatever it was around their neck with the recognisable purple Olympic strap) would run down the streets, asking for directions or wondering which bar to enter? Perhaps it was the fun and joy of live screenings in places like Hyde Park and Potters Field(s?), where people adorned the lawns in great crowds with pints of beer and rolled-up cigarettes regardless of the time of day or day of week, to cheer at (and for) random sports. Or maybe it was the fact that everyone (myself included!) was really, really interested in the games and the events, and that for a while the news decided to highlight something that was happy and exciting and inspirational, as opposed to depressing and saddening (economic troubles; massacres; etc).

There’s also the fact that the Olympics, and the Commonwealth Games to a lesser extent, actually get people interested in things they wouldn’t normally pay attention to – I found myself watching things like boxing, gymnastics, swimming, athletic events (from shot put to pole vaulting), beach volleyball, badminton…. Sports I barely knew anything about, and yet about which I learnt, and which I enjoyed, during this time. I learnt about people who had worked immensely hard to be there, about people who had had to overcome great obstacles to reach the Olympics at all (like Gemma Gibbons, a British judoka, or Gabby Douglas the gymnastics AA individual women’s gold medallist, or Mary Kom, an Indian female boxer who got her first Olympic medal – a bronze – this time), and about the sacrifices they made (training hours and hours a day; no alcohol for 4 years…madness!). It was exciting to see greatness (like a Phelps or a Bolt), and it was exciting to see the underdogs or the unknown win (like Katie Ledecky or Ruta Meilutyte, a Lithuanian 15 year old who won a gold in swimming and shocked everyone – she could barely talk in her post-swim BBC interview, which was incredibly amusing, but also really touching, to watch!). And it was especially amazing to see the kindness and respect with which athletes often treated one another; one of the moments which stood out for me, in particular, was Kirani James’ victory in the Men’s 400m track event: not many people seem to do this, in athletics, but the first thing James did after winning was turn around, and shake hands with every single one of his competitors. He didn’t go straight into the victory run like so many do (hee hee – sorry Bolt!); and I knew I was watching a really nice – indeed, even noble – man, and a great sportsperson.

Celebrity culture is all well and good (sometimes), but as many people have pointed out – the Olympics have been inspirational, particularly for me and particularly this one, for many people in a really different and valuable way. I’m not sure why it was these Olympics more than any other (I watched Beijing 2008 & Athens 2004 with the same avidity); but Michael Johnson’s commentary for the BBC gives a little clue, perhaps – he said that these Olympics were the first to focus on the idea of ‘legacy’, leaving something behind once they were done (besides a big debt and world class stadiums to fall into disuse). The slogan for the Olympics was, among other things, “inspire a generation”, and it sort of showed in everything about these games. And the planners have thought long and hard about what would happen after the Games finished – their Aquatic Centre is architecturally designed to have removable wings, and many of the venues were constructed on a similar temporary basis, with parts to be dismantled etc. So there will be few, if any, ‘white elephants’. Even things like the doping test facilities will be re-used, as a disease research centre (a phenomenal and economic way of re-using something, in my humble opinion!).

‘Inspire a generation’, as seen through a hipster’s phone.

It’s nice to admire people for the hard work they’ve put, or their sheer brilliance and skill at certain things. And the atmosphere in London really redounded with this positivity: there was such a cosmopolitan (yes, even moreso than usual, and perhaps more needed than ever in these economically-troubled times) energy and friendly vibrance throughout the city! The UK did such an amazing job organising it; the Tube wasn’t manic (at least, not moreso than usual, as far as I saw!), and there were so many exciting Olympic-inspired arts events everywhere (one of my friends was performing in such a piece at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, and this is still up – people should go see it!). I went to see the Canoe Sprinting at Eton Dorney, which isn’t the easiest place to get to (it seems), but I was so impressed at how quickly, efficiently, smoothly, seamlessly I was taken from Slough to my seat in the stands – within half an hour, without any trouble!

 

Tino Sehgal’s piece at the Tate Modern.

Canoe Sprint finals, at Eton Dorney (11th August 2012). Team GB did its fans proud with Ed McKeever’s gold!

I was really sad when they ended, perhaps in part because I was leaving two days later too (Heathrow was also full of Olympic residues, people and signs both!). But  hey — looking forward to Rio 2016! (And missing London, very much, already.)

(Everyone was fearing the ‘English weather’, but even the weather behaved itself beautifully.)

More sprinting, canoe-style. This was one of those sports I knew nothing about (i.e., even of its existence!), and learnt a lot about thanks to the Olympics (it’s basically like sprinting on track, except it’s done on water and in a boat).

 

Sometimes I wake up briefly at early hours of the morning (6/7 am) and look out of my window (I sleep with my curtains open expressly to do this). And then I see beautiful things, and if I have presence of mind enough, I photograph them. This is sunrise in KL.

Today I am leaving city skyline views for mustyfusty……

View from the library!

….LIBRARIES! And library-views, of course.

Leaving is always weird. I’ve done it so many times now you’d think I’m alright with the whole business – and I am, by & large, but – I miss home intensely at the same time I’m desperate to be back! Last night I was struck by a desperate urge to run to Dutamas and flop down their with shisha (because it is the most chilled out, laid back thing/place ever?!). But of course I had to pack. In the UK, pubs will replace mamaks.

But – ONWARDS HO! I have done NO WORK these holidays, I am going back obscenely late (I know the libraries will be missing me) and I need to start work ASAP!!! Ahharhghg!! I know holidays are for chilling, and I have, so I’m very grateful… but I still feel guilty!

*   *   *   *   *

I am going back late because driving tests in Malaysia are only administered on Mondays, and I was desperate to take mine. KL is a city which was not built (with any conceivable plan, it’s true, but also) for walking. To get from Point A to Point B can be the most painful experience ever for the transportationally-challenged, because it would be too long and dangerous a distance to walk but too embarrassingly short a distance to take a cab, etc etc. I haven’t seen buses in a long time (although I am assured they exist). Miles asked me if there were buses to my area, and I didn’t know what to say: I don’t think so? I’ve never seen any? And he didn’t understand it either, which explains the unique conundrum that one finds oneself in.

Having attempted to take it in September, and failing because my front wheels didn’t touch a yellow line of some sort (bah), I felt I had to get it yesterday! Otherwise I knew my driving plans would be shelved forever (I can’t conceive bothering to drive in the UK, at present anyways – who would give me a car?!).

My driving school is most wonderful an encapsulation of Malaysia and Malaysian life. The place I had to sit waiting in was next to a miniature city-jungle of sorts, hastily fenced off from civilization/the driving school – but the smells of the forest still wafted over. It reminded me of Duke of Edinburgh trips to Belum, and school trips to FRIM.

There was also the most wonderful little old man who would “look after” the test-takers and send them to their first test (the hill-test). He was tiny, and shouted perpetually at the candidates (only ever in Malay, so I didn’t understand much); although he was mostly only shouting numbers, sometimes his face would crinkle up into a mesmerizing mixture of malevolence/benevolence, and he would lean forward and utter (shout) words like “TAI-TAI!!!” confidentially. (I am VERY eager to know what “Tai tai”, phonetically rendered here, could possibly mean. If you know: get in touch.)

His other job, besides seeing that candidates kept going to the cars as they were available, was to bring back the cars of failed candidates (stopped unceremoniously then and there, upon committing the fallacy) to the next candidate. It was the smallest distance imaginable; about a 15 second drive at a slow speed. He would drive it at insane speeds (60? 80?), and take sharp turns at insane speeds also – the tyres would scream, the small Kancil would look as if it were either about to turn over or be driven on two wheels only. This scandalized all the test-takers, who would gasp, whimper, or shriek, according to their diverse temperaments. Some would hiss, “Aiyohhh!!” – the traditional Malaysian/Singaporean exclamation of dismay, despair and disapproval (“Oh no!” would be a reductive but appropriate translation). Others nudged each other, and condemned the little old man roundly: “REMPITNYAAA!!”

It made me laugh A LOT.

(It would be difficult to translate ‘Rempit’ also: I am assuming that it is shorthand for ‘Mat Rempit’, which – though it originally meant a very particular brand of streetracing motorbikers – has, I think, become shorthand for any kind of dangerous street-driving. See ‘Mat Rempit‘, an article as amusing as my little old man and his scandalized audiences.)

Edit: My friend Sara has clarified one thing “Tai tai” means (in Mandarin, I think): “a lady who enjoys life, one who marries a rich husband, dresses well, only goes shopping at Gucci/Prada, does nothing but that” (Sara). It seems a bit out of place in the context of a driving test, but I wouldn’t be surprised…maybe knowing how to drive makes it easier to be the aforementioned ‘tai tai’? Or maybe no ‘tai tai’ would ever drive (because they would have chauffeurs, of course!), so he was congratulating us on not being one? Your guess is as good as mine!

“Despite the perpetual rain, the sordid merchants, and the Homeric vulgarity of its carriage drivers, she would always remember Paris as the most beautiful city in the world, not because of what it was or was not in reality, but because it was linked to the memory of her happiest years.” – Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Marquez Garcia

I’m reading (continuing from three months ago, because ‘reading for pleasure without needing to write an essay’ is unthinkable while at uni) this right now, and I came across this passage which is breathtaking in its beauty and truth. A case of someone else setting down what I’ve always felt and never said (c/f Alan Bennett!).

It always amazes me how much places become infused with the memories of certain experiences or people (and I guess obliquely, people are experiences). I don’t think I could ever conceive of Oxford or London without certain people; London would be much sadder and without half its excitement/charms for me without Someone, for example. Paris – which is, for me also, the most beautiful city in the world! (although I didn’t encounter the ‘Homeric vulgarity’ of any carriage drivers….what is  Homeric vulgarity?) – is so linked to memories of experiencing winter and Christmas in all their European glory: vin chaud from outside St.-Pierre-de-Montmartre; chocolat chaud; crepes in Montmartre and the Quartier Latin; the Christmas market along the Champs-Élysées!

The Seine.

One lives out one’s life in emotionally distorted spaces: every walk along the Thames or every step in the Tate Modern becomes value-laden, feeling-laden – it constantly gestures back to another time and another feeling. The problem arises in time, because people fade in and out of one’s life and places do not (although there is the transience of rooms and homes, which is another matter entirely – I guess I’m thinking only about cities here). I suppose when that day comes traversing along streets of happy memories will be the saddest thing of all.

Until then though – there is little or no seeing places for what they are in ‘reality’, as Garcia writes; the only reality they have is one which is redolent of anticipations and fears, filtered through desires or one’s particular and momentary mood on a day.

This is also wonderful and not all sad, in its own way: stories lie over cities for me like palimpsests; London is never just my London but has traces of Dickens’s London, and Austen’s; Naipaul’s and Virginia Woolf’s.  Paris is never just my Paris but Djuna Barnes’s and Jean Rhys’s; Choderlos de Laclos’s, Flaubert’s. I cannot dream of New York divorced from Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, or Dos Passos’s Manhattan Transfer. Places become soaked in the memories of books too, and while I may romanticize this excessively, it definitely adds infinite amounts to their beauty and charm for me.

Parisian streets.

Edit: Oh golly! And merry Christmas everybody! That was a bit of a downer note to end a Christmas post on, now I think of it….!

View from inside college.

View from window

Birds.

….I’m back in Oxford! One doesn’t realise how much one loves places or cities until one has to go away, or come back. I’m so glad I have another year there, even though it’ll pass probably as fast as – if not faster than – the past three years have. Wonder if anyone else feels suddenly too old, hurtled to a point they never intended to reach by life itself (and more such unexpected stops along the way). I sometimes do.

But whatever. OXFORD. SOON. A place I love filled with people I love. Can’t wait to be back!

 

 

This post will focus mostly on my favourite photographs (& memories, because the two are by and large synonymous in contexts like these) of two particular cities: Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. A love-letter to South-East Asian metropolises; to the shapes of the lines that demarcate sky-space and city-space in this particular region of the world.

μητρόπολις – mētrópolis

Orig. Ancient Greek: ‘mother city’

OED on contemporary usage: ‘a very large & busy city’

So without further ado. (On this note – I always hear people say ‘without further adieu‘ with a very pointed and falsely French stress on that last word. Am I entirely, entirely wrong in thinking ‘ado’ makes more sense? Have I been getting it wrong my whole life? Maybe it’s time for a quick grammar-induced panic-attack Google search…)

What I love most about cities are their lights: the colours they emanate, and the sheer state of life & being it signifies. So lights are for rooms, homes, cities: all of those spaces are lived in, loved in and loved by. The above is Kuala Lumpur, and the bottom is Singapore.

I love this picture for the stories it tells: people are hugging, posing, staring, photographing, holding hands, etc. - all in the glow of the omnipresent city. It watches like a mother; not far away from its root definition - μήτηρ (mḗtēr, “mother”). I guess I'm having a ''plump Buck Mulligan" moment - "she is our great sweet mother". This is a view of Singapore's gorgeous skyline, from the Esplanade area. It's beautiful because people really do live and love in the glow (I won't say shadow) of the city behind.

Dear Malaysian skyline. I see it every night before bed, and every morning when I wake up (though not in such glorious close-up... this was taken from Sky Bar, which has alcohol & the most amazing view - double win!).

Took this just last night, in the pouring rain, in the center of town. Life is lonely for an umbrella in the big city. Capitalism reminds me that life has some sort of sense of constancy: it isn't all tragedy & soul. Some of it is just plain soulless and that's beautiful. It's wonderful.

(This is how I read Breakfast at Tiffany’s too: in a world of goodbyes and love stories, Holly Golightly finds comfort in the clinically mass-produced (and yet exclusive, of course); in shop windows and their perfectly pre-arranged world. Nothing is out of line. Everything is designed to attract. There is simply no room for tragedy, soul-searching, hello and goodbye, love or loss on those window-display shelves, I’m sure. And so Holly goes-lightly. I always find pretty shops and big glass windows with lots of expensive, over-valued things extremely comforting. Almost the most comforting thing in the whole world. Isn’t that slightly disgusting?)

Dawn.

… and a bit of Vergangenheitsbewältigung for that which one has never experienced. (New word, thank you The Economist! German is an amazing language.)

I was reading this article in The Paris Review today – one of the first by them I’ve actually (sadly) read – but it infused me with this crazy longing for all things dimmed and jazz, feather boas and crazy, inspiring little old ladies. It tells the story of a woman called ‘Bricktop’, who drove F. Scott Fitzgerald home every night in Paris (that city-saddened man); who exchanged wry jokes about lynchings with Cole Porter; who had Django Reinhardt and Fred Astaire playing and dancing on her bar floor; who was comforted by Langston Hughes… well, the article has a hundred other names to drop, and it’s just incredible.

Couple that with an episode of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Great Lives’ series on Samuel Beckett a few nights ago (I find it hugely relaxing to listed to podcasts while pedaling away in the gym; it’s a desperate bid to expand my mind and simultaneously contract my bodily fat) – and it seems like I am fated to dream of bohemian Parisian circles tonight.

Paris seems to have been where everyone fled to in a bid to escape the smallness of their own societies and lives – whether the racism of old America, or the religiosity of an emerging independent Ireland – and Paris was a city of Bricktop‘s and Shakespeare & Co‘s. A beautiful cluster of random things and poetic moments (smoky jazz; pornographic publishings; folies bergères; and error-ridden typesets) – which in many ways, I suppose, it still is: I got the strongest sensation when I visited Paris that it was (as I so eloquently/pretentiously wrote in my journal at the time) “a conglomeration of times & times & times…it’s organic history”. History that never stays still – but lives, thrives and symbiotically fuses with the future and the present and its own past like some kind of throbbing amoeba. It’s like a highly fertile soil covered in different kinds of fungi – the Napoleonic fungi-buildings; the Revolutionary fungi-buildings; the opulent imperial fungi-palaces… etc. (A tenuous analogy, but I can think of no better – except, I sincerely hope no mycologist comes to shatter my simile by telling me that different kinds of fungi cannot grow on the same soil.)

On the other side of the Seine... And some Mallarmé, fatally, and oh-so-pretentiously, scrawled at the bottom.

This post was meant to be an ode to Josephine Baker (who oddly enough hasn’t featured at all yet…), and the redolences of jazz and smoky Parisian corners that that article called up – but it wound up being an ode to Paris. Oh well. But maybe it’s not unfitting: she was emblematic of Paris in the most beautiful of ways, after all. But here it is at last, then – to make this post a truly synaesthetic experience (you’ve had Paris in poems, and Paris in purple hues – now have Paris in music). I’ve heard many versions of ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’, and most of them don’t do to me what this particular version does; they are too slow, too drawn out in a desperately ugly attempt to be that kind of cooling, drawling jazz – but Baker’s really jumps with her special brand of joie de vivre. :D

Now… all I’m waiting for is Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ to be released. Taking… so damn long!!!!