One of my great pleasures is giving good directions. I pride myself on the clarity and precision of my directions. Knowing that someone who was lost will now reach their destination fills me with a feeling of accomplishment. I am frequently stopped on the street by lost souls (I must exude a sense of knowing where I am) and have been known to double-back or cross streets to offer assistance to people who look like they have no idea where the hell they are.
Which is why I’m sorry about intentionally misleading some dude the other day. What happened was that I was walking, minding my own damn business (my default setting), when this man asked me in English if I knew where “this” was, as he pointed to a piece of paper with “Forum des Halles” written on it by a French person. Les Halles is precisely where I was going and was practically within sight of where we were.
Normally, I would have said that I was heading that way and he could walk with me, or I’d point him in the right direction and then loiter for a bit so that I wouldn’t have to walk with him or I’d tell him a slightly different way to go so that I wouldn’t run into him, but before I’d made a decision, my mouth said, “It’s straight ahead, about three blocks” which was a total lie.
I don’t know why I did it. Many days later, I still feel bad about it. It’s like I was possessed by some evil navigation gremlin that didn’t want me to help a stranger. Sorry unknown guy. You may have had more luck asking me in French.
French lesson: un halle is an urban food market, the place where people used to go to buy every kind of food from different stalls. In Spain and France, many of the sites of markets have historical or architectural value, so a lot of money is spent on restoring the original structures or repurposing the real estate in a meaningful way. The one in central Paris has been under construction since forever. They’re giving it a total facelift.
The Forum is a hub for 8 different metro lines, has a three-story underground shopping mall, several movie theaters, a swimming pool, a billiard hall, a couple libraries and a police station, among other things. It’s both one of my favorite places (so many movie theaters and books!) and least favorite places (it’s always full of people).