Friday, July 20, 2012

the bird man

Tourist areas are rather contained.  Stand on one corner and as far as you can see is all tourists.  Turn around and not a tourist exists.  I always stray from tourist paris.  In fact my very first visit, on my very first day, I just explored the neighborhood I was staying in (the 12th).  The next day, we went to l'arc de triumphe and la tour d'eiffel.  What an amazing difference.  First day, everyone from store owners, employees, to just people on the street were nice and helpful.  Second day, everybody we encounter is harassed and hurried.  It taught me to always explore.

But, now that I'm living here, I love wandering into the tourist zones and exploring them.  Today, I wanted to go to a creperie that I really loved in a previous visit.  It was right near le Centre Pompidou.  While I was sitting there, a man that looked homeless, but didn't have anything with him so may have been more hipster than homeless walked up the road.  He stopped right in front of me and looked in the restaurant.  I was just thinking it was weird that a homeless guy would do that when the waitress squealed and said hi to him.  She pulled him inside and introduced him to her co-worker as "papa".  Taught me not to make assumptions.  But, I started thinking about that.  How homeless people don't have loved ones who are excited to see them.

Anyway, after I enjoyed my lovely gallette jambon oeuf and crepe du caramel, I started wandering.  I landed in tourist central surrounding le Centre Pompidou.

I had three euros in my pocket and decided now would be a great time to pick up a postcard since I wouldn't have to dig in my purse.  I found a lovely postcard for 1.50 euros which left me with one euro coin and one 50 centime coin.  I saw a beggar lady but her cup had a lot of coins in it so I passed her by.

I stopped to do some tourist watching when a homeless guy with two carts pulled out a 1L water bottle and started pouring it in the street.  He was pouring it in a puddle and birds started coming and drinking the water.  It looked like he was just emptying a bottle but I could tell somehow that he was meaning to give the birds some water.  Then he repeated that with two more water bottles in another puddle.


When the bottles were empty, he started feeding the birds making sure every single little bird got a piece.

Notice all the little birds.  The moment they got a piece they would immediately fly into the trees to eat it.  The pidgins on the other hand, felt no threat so they were able to eat in peace without flying away.

I wanted to give him a coin.  I just felt connected to him and wanted to do something.  But, he was busy and I started to feel like I was intruding so I walked away.  I enjoyed some of the other tourist pleasers.

  Sidewalk Art

Metal art.  The framed piece is an owl in a tree.  All done with metal.

City Baths, from many years ago

I wanted to take a picture of the lion art, so I donated a coin.  At that moment I knew the euro coin was for the bird man, so I gave the 50 centime coin.  Then I wanted to find the bird man again.  I turned around, but didn't have to go far.  He'd come to the same block I was on and was sitting tending to an injured bird.  I wanted to talk with him, but didn't know what to say so I just gave him the coin.  He said "merci" and I replied "pour les oiseaux" and then I left.

I wanted to sit and talk with him.  Get to know him.  I felt like he was my elder and I could learn so much from him.  Yes, he's homeless, possibly mentally ill.  But, he was so kind and giving.  The birds are his pets.  He cares for them.  That is a man I can respect.  I kept thinking of the waitress's papa.  Wondering if the bird man has family that loves him.  I hope he has friends that care for him the way he cares for the birds.

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