Sunday, 19 January 2014

“Fifty years later ...” (part II)

(Part II)

Please scroll slowly or refresh the screen if photos do not appear.

Thursday, 14th of March 2013 (Paris, France)

Without wasting any time I made my way back to the "Happy" florist.

My flower selection was very close to the original idea, although I decided on one red rose (representing Piaf) surrounded by forty nine white roses symbolising the many hearts touched by her voice.

The bouquet may have looked a bit boring, but to me it carried a powerful and loving energy hidden in a cryptic style.

While waiting for the arrangement to be made, I was moved to get a card and share some deeply felt emotions released unexpectedly from my heart.

As I turned the stand around there was this last perfect card waiting to be filled with touching words and signed ... “Petite Olga”

Even though I had no idea where this strong urge to sign off in this way came from I decided to follow my heart.


On my way to the metro I routinely grabbed “Le Parisien” to be unsuspectingly greeted by the smile of the newly elected Pope. What a day!

Moreover, the bouquet of roses attracted so many curious glances that by the time I got to Pere-Lachaise my adrenaline was truly running high.

After coming up onto the familiar Boulevard de Menilmontant I stopped by the news papers kiosk to purchase a map displaying the cemetery's layout.

I must say that the shop keeper's mood was much friendlier this time around and even more so after he found out that the roses were for Edith.
Ending a happy chat about the days gone by with the vendor and one other customer (an older lady), I went to the cafe across the road for a quick double espresso to catch up with my daily target.


The sky was as blue as only the sky can be, showered with the sun's radiant smile and decorated with white fluffy clouds leisurely floating below it.

A slowly melting snow was still visible on many monuments and the air held onto its crispness disguised by the sun's warmth.

As I was getting closer to the location I hoped that no one would be around upon reaching Edith Piaf's grave, which unfortunately did not happened. However I was graced with at least 30 minutes of seclusion in total and on two occasions I was on my own for a good 10 minutes, for which I am more then grateful.

At one point, while fiddling with the flower arrangement a visiting lady asked me if I was related – to which I gave an uncensored reply ...

           “Yes, in the past life.”

Shocked by my own words, I hoped that she may have not understood my reply and I was relieved when she left without posing another question.

However bizarre, there may have been a touch of truth in my statement.
An astrological chart formulated for me about twelve years ago revealed a presence of the asteroid Edith, the asteroid Piaf and the asteroid Paris. When analysed, the astrologer felt a very strong possibility that I may have known Edith Piaf in my past life.

During my 90 minutes stay a number of people came by to visit the grave of this famous singer. Some of them in appreciation of her special gift and others just to place a tick on their “must see” list.

I have to say that the whole experience was very moving for me and it felt as if I had really known her - the most cherished were the moments with no one around to see my tears falling like a light drizzle onto the marble stone.

It wasn't easy to say goodbye, but I knew that life had to go on. While walking away, I found myself stopping and turning around for as long as I could see a glimpse of her resting place.

After stopping for yet another espresso I now headed towards Place Edith Piaf, named this way in 1981 - only a year before my first arrival in Paris.

As I surfaced from the underground of Porte de Bagnolet metro station I noticed that the road didn't have as many lanes as the mental picture retained in my memory  


The location of the Bar de la Place Edith Piaf was spot on, but once again the size was about half of what I remembered.


It is interesting how there is a tendency to recall the past in much bigger images.

Opening the door, I was looking forward to enter into a different world ... a world of the Little Sparrow (Piaf), but instead I was greeted by the energy of an empty nest.

The place was still filled with her many photos, but her voice was gone. The time had moved on and new tunes were embraced.

So today it was my turn to feel like one of those “old men (back in 1982) sitting quietly and mostly alone; beret, scarf, beer and eyes focused on the distant memory”.

With a last sip of rose I tucked her smile under my coat for that extra warmth on my way home.

It was now after three o'clock in the afternoon and I felt my tummy rumble - time to return to Place Pigalle to find a nice place for a late lunch.


As one thing leads to another, one smile (the one tucked under my coat) pulls you to another and without being aware of the connection I ended up entering the “Le Bistrot Smiley” on 37 Rue des Martyrs.


It was a perfect place for my birthday meal. A happy, creative space with a touch of eccentricity and a chariot leader (I suspect the owner - top left on the photo below) showering everyone with his bubbly energy at no extra cost.

The whole experience was very entertaining and if you didn't walked in with a smile, you would definitely come out with one!

So now you are probably wondering what I had for my special meal.

A glass of champagne was a must! Then a “tartare de saumon” (salmon tartar) with a green salad as well as yummy bread and avocado dip.

The taste was sensational and my tummy smiled from “kidney to kidney”.


The place had wonderful energy. The dynamics between the owner (?), the staff and the clients resembled one big happy family.

As you will guess, I left the place with an even greater smile than the one I came with.

Right now I was too full for a dessert, but I wasn't going to miss out on one.

It was waiting for me right across the road at “Popelini” - teasing me with a pretty look.


Forgetting about the “French resistance”, I marched into the premises with a white flag of surrender.

After choosing only four from the collection of very tempting "crème à la chou" (profiterole) I left the store with a big bag of little goodies.


While beaming with joy I swung a bag of treats all the way to my abode.


                                   Today a different item is stored in the "outdoor fridge".

As I turned the key, my neighbour acquainted earlier, popped out from his apartment to kindly inform me that one of the doors on this floor led to the passage used by concierge (or something like this) and so there is no one behind this door to collect a “raspberry smile” hidden in a box.

Would you like to have another one? I just got myself some popelinis, so this is more than enough for me.” ... was my response.

He was very happy to accept my offer as he enjoyed the first one very much.

By now I felt like I needed a bit of rest and decided to take a sit in my comfy “Louis XIV” (or maybe not) style chair with a book gifted to me for my birthday.

With a few pages into the story I heard a knock on the door.

Un moment” ... I called out while getting out of the chair.

Without questioning, I opened the door to the lovely smile of my other neighbour – a guy probably in his mid twenties with a very warm energy.

C'est toi Olga?” ... he asked.

Oui, c'est moi.” ... was my reply.

He thanked me for the cake ...

C'est très gentil de toi ...” and wished me a “bon anniversaire.”

His smile was like a beautiful sunset serving as backdrop for the remainder of my special day as I set back in my chair with the book, four delicious looking popelinis and a cup of herbal tea to sooth my overexcited soul.


As my birthday nears the end, my Parisian journey keeps on going for a few more fun filled days!

Sleep tight as another big day is awaiting us tomorrow ...

Link to ...
Popelini” at 44, Rue des Martyrs

Photography by Olga Kulanowska

No comments:

Post a Comment