Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Keep believing the rain can be warm and shiny! Rain has come back to Brussels. Big news! October seams posed to take an early revenge on September and the city is plunged in a cold, grey rain. Still, despite my longing for sun, I have to admit that the rain sometimes brings an eerie atmosphere to the city. Once in a while, at night, the lights and the downpour mix to create a glazed, fluid light enveloped cityscape.
I spent numerous hours in the rain of cities around the world. On certain occasions I liked some of this rain I hated it also on other occasions.
Sitting in the womb warm unstoppable windy rain of a Hong Kong typhoon was one of those good moments. A bit tired, a bit tipsy, at 4 in the morning in a glorious mood, kissing for the first time a tall girl on the waterfront while watching the waves and the lights in Kowloon. I actually remember my shirt completely soaked sticking to my skin and my pants desperately flopping in the strong wind. I can still remember the smell of fresh stacks of morning papers getting wet on buildings’ doorsteps mixing with her fantastic perfume. I see the HK cops slowing down for the odd western couple and then smiling and going away. It was a long long night, wet, warm scented and memorable.
Lan Kwai Fong in Central and SoHo I do not remember the name of the places we stoped by. I do remember visiting a few. We did not end up singing karaoke but we shared a few rounds with the expat/HK Chinese mix of a crowd that was. I remember sitting in the window of a teraced jazz place and chatting lightheartedly about politics, decisions, personal choices and forbidden things. Rain drops were falling on our table brought about by the gusts of wind. I also remember the rather lengthy walk to my hotel. I needed that to get in some decent shape and to be sure I am doing the right thing.
I stayed here: http://hongkong.grand.hyatt.com/hkggh/photo_01.html and it was one of the best hotels I ever enjoyed. The girl is history, the memory of the rain as sweet and pleasant as the taste of her kiss. You should see Hong Kong in the rain once. I am happy I did.
But I also remember the icy cold rain pouring down miserably on the back of my neck, creeping between the shirt and skin. It is November and she keeps me on my toes. I walk the streets of Bucharest without really having an aim, desperate for answers totally aware of how stupid and ridiculous I am.
Why do I associate rain and women? Well the fertility cliché comes quickly to my mind. It is not about that I guess. It must be the changing nature of rain. Or rather the changing perception we have on rain. Depending on circumstances, on your own mood, on the time of day, amount of change in your pocket, color of the sky, taste of its drops, rain is a passionate lover, a trusty partner, an understanding and enveloping mother, or a slick courtesan. A bitch or an angel, rain in fact vibrates to your own music while she sings her own.
There are exceptions though. The sheer amount of rain we get here in Brussels makes any take irrelevant. After a while rain becomes this exasperating wife that you want to escape. As I am not and never been married, one should excuse this lack of political correctness. I have no preconception on how married life is and I do not at all expect all wives to act as wretched autumn rain after the flame is fading. I just write according to the inner machismo of a single male. I may not agree with myself of this topic but I am afraid of the long steady cold rains and I find it easy to create a psychoanalytic parallel with the "dangers" in a steady relationship with a woman. Domesticity is sometimes a cold rain in my mind.
Keeping the rain warm and shiny is difficult. The photographic experiment I did earlier this year proves it possible. Even the most drenching interminable Brussels rain can really look glossy. Appetite and desire depend on constant inner things rather then on artificial mental constructs we associate to a particular reality. I hope that bloody rain is kept at bay as much as possible but if not I want to be able to infuse it with a sense of camaraderie and secret attraction as with a good while utterly moody female friend.
Monday, September 26, 2005
I cannot quite get used to live in Brussels. I like working here. I like some of the people I met in these last 15 month. Still I have a bizarre relationship with the city.
It may be its architecture. It is not beautiful while it is not ugly. There is nothing wrong with it and maybe this is the problem. Besides being the world capital of Art Nouveau there is little thrilling in the city. Like with Bucharest, recent interventions have affected Brussels in a negative way. Especially in the 60s they have erased whole parts of the city center were modern concrete monsters have replaced turn of the century and baroque architecture. This is only made worth by the contemporary �Manhattan� style buildings that spring almost everywhere. To add to this, the European quarter is somewhat an island in the city segregating the place in human and urban terms. The rest is rather blunt residential areas. The most colorful are the often semi derelict parts of Anderlecht and Scharbeck were also lives the majority of the city�s Middle Eastern, Turkish and North African population.
Islands of beauty remain and are wonderful. The parks, Sablon on Sundays, the Place de Chatelaine, there are many. I automatically exclude the Grand Place and other such tourist bazaars they are not mine as they are but rarely belonging to the people of Brussels.
You can also find nice routines in the city. I love to shop on Saturdays on a corner close to Merode. I find bread and croissants at Pain Quotidian, fresh figs, sun dried tomatoes, and parmigiano reggiano, my favorite olive oil and fresh goat cheese for sandwiches at a little Italian shop. I love even more to get the same, plus luscious olives with various spices and flavorings, fresh pasta, tomatoes, arugula and basil at the Italian market that sets shop every Sunday in Place Jourdain. I love to have brunches with friends at the Peroquette. I love to rent movies late at night at the Enfants du paradise. I love to walk around Rue Blaise.
This is my Brussels. One day I will right about the people I like here. And the changes it brought into my life.
Sunny Saturdays are something of an oddity late September in Brussels. I was more then happy to take my camera and go out for a stroll. The same idea had downed to many other people so the Senquantenaire Park was if not busy certainly alive. I was thus surprised to see the apparent solitude of this this young father taking advantage of the sun and leisurely taking a stroll with his baby. Judging by the serenity of this image it is just the two of them in the entire world. The massive building of glass wrought iron and stone, the remains of a World Exhibition held in Brussels at the beginning of the XXth Century, is just the perfect background for the pleasant solitude of this father and child couple.
This nice scene of a middle aged couple was captured on a superb Saturday in Anvers. I have no idea who they are as we only had brief eye contact as I asked permission for taking their photo. I like their attitude and the enveloping silence that has nothing ominous or sad. They just take this brief moment enjoying a good view of the city.