Paris in thethe Spring

So I realize it’s about two months late, but today’s topic is my March trip to Paris. No, I didn’t visit the Eiffel Tower — I promised Sheridan I’d wait until she would go with me.

I went to Paris in March to interview a director for my dissertation — remember that LONG paper thing I’m supposedly writing?  In November 2008 Japanese director Oriza Hirata, along with his colleague in robotics Hiroshi Ishiguro, staged a production at Osaka University using robots at actors. This 20-minute long “proof of concept” production, titled Hataraku Watashi (I, Worker), includes two Mitsubishi housekeeping robots (which were originally designed by Ishiguro), one of whom is tired of domesticity. She discusses her puropse in life with her human owners.

Being that this concept is, um, quite central to my thesis, I of course wanted to interview the pair. As luck would have it, they were in Paris in early March since Hirata was directing a couple productions there at the time. Paris being much closer and much more affordable than Osaka, I jumped on the opportunity to go!

Besides interviewing both, which I’ll talk about on my research site later, I got to visit Notre Dame (the church, not the college), walk around the Jardin des Tulieries and the courtyard of the Louvre (and took a picture of the pyramid!), see the Comedie Francais and the Odeon (yes, I’m a theatre geek), and attend the opening of Hirata’s production of Chants d’adieu and a rehearsal of Sable & Soldats. What a great trip!

One of the strangest things that happened to me while in Paris was while I was strolling through the Jardin des Tulieres, on my way to see the Louvre. It was fairly early on Thursday morning, and I wasn’t due at the theatre for my interview until later that afternoon, so I thought I’d do some sightseeing. I was looking for a cafe or a kiosk to buy a pastry and coffee, when a man approached me, picked up something from the ground, and asked me if I had dropped it. It looked like a gold wedding band!

After I told him I hadn’t, he insisted in broken English that I keep it as a souvenir of my trip to Paris, and walked away. A moment later, he retuned, as in afterthought, and asked for money so that he could eat. I tried to give him the ring back, telling him he could pawn it (if it was really gold as he claimed) and use the money to eat, but he refused. I ended up giving him about € 8, figuring that even though the ring was probably fake, it was worth it for the experience.

I still have the ring, it’s in the pocket of one of my jackets, and when I happen to come across it while digging through my pockets, it makes me smile. Yes, definitely worth the € 8.

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