GUEST WRITER ANDREW DAWSON reports from the city in the headlines

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GUEST WRITER ANDREW DAWSON reports from the city in the headlines

Yesterday began as a beautiful sunny day, with a cool and refreshing breeze.

I caught up with friends back home in NZ, and in Denmark, and then headed off to lunch with my friend Sunila at Saravana Bhavan.

(Yes, two Tamilians in Paris... where else would we go?)

After lunch, we travelled to the centre of town and visited the Shakespeare Bookstore where I bought a novel by Jamaica Kincaid.

We then saw the Cathedral of Notre Dame, with its wonderful medieval façade, and walked along the river Seine all the way to the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay.

It was a beautiful day indeed.

So beautiful, in fact, that I walked far too much, ended up too tired to go out for dinner, and decided to stay at the hotel for the evening.

When the news hit, and the messages of support, concern and prayers come through, I was as blind as any of you back home to the nature of the events unfolding elsewhere in Paris.

I watched the news, with all its attendant sensationalism, the media providing Daesh [Isis] with exactly what it wants: attention and fear.

I stayed at home and spoke to loved ones, and slept.

Today, I woke up to more news: of deserted streets, no public transport, and closed borders. The New Zealand news quoted an artist who said Paris was a "ghost town."

That was not the Paris I saw today around Montmartre.

I saw a late start for the locals, who, like me, likely stayed up to watch the reports.

I saw the Algerian receptionist help someone check in to the Hotel.

I saw the same old men and young couples sitting in the café next to the hotel I stay at, although some came later and left earlier.

They ate more, and talked less; their conversations were muted.

Paris was quieter.

In that sense, Paris seems a different city today, not ghostly, but sober.

I was sober as well.

I spent a lot of time in my room thinking about everything.

But, in the end, the Parisians have the right attitude: life must go on.

I will always remember the beautiful day I had yesterday, even if that memory is tinged with the shadow of death which fell over the city last night.

God bless.

Andrew Dawson's interests range from ragas to r'n'b, and he has a secret passion for medieval literature and Derek Walcott's poetry. He enjoys writing, teaching, and travelling . . . between his studies in English and Music at the University of Auckland. His previous entries at Elsewhere are here.

Other Voices Other Rooms is an opportunity for Elsewhere readers to contribute their ideas, passions, interests and opinions about whatever takes their fancy. Elsewhere welcomes travel stories, think pieces, essays about readers' research or hobbies etc etc. Nail it in 1000 words of fewer and contact graham.reid@elsewhere.co.nz.

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