Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Hmm...Orlèans was not too exciting. It has a pretty cathedral, but that's about it. I arrived there at 1 p.m., and was ready to leave by 2 p.m., but had to wait for the train at 4:30, so quite a bit of "time killed", or rather "compelled to murder" there.

Met up with Dorothee for coffee upon the return. She had a couple of days ago offered to give me a tour of the hospital where she works as a CRA (clinical research associate), which is no less than the Hôpital de la Salpêtriére, one of the best known and reputed hospitals in the field of Neurology in Europe.

Now, this hospital is not only famous due to the work and pioneering research that went on (and still goes on) there, but also as a historical building, with its famous chapel by the same architect (Liberal Bruant) who built Les Invalides, a group of buildings in the 7th arrondissment here in Paris. In preparation for my visit, Dorothee had most kindly spent a fair chunk of her free time reading up on its history and architecture, going as far as asking the people who had worked there for many years, what were some of the hospital complex's curious anecdotes and "secrets". In fact, she told me that when she told her boss that she was to show me around that afternoon, her boss even gave her an article about the hospital's history that he had written himself, so that she could give it to me (an electronic copy of the article can be found here).

Dorothee did, of course, a most wonderful job of showing me around and recounting what she had read up on, and took the task so seriously, that she even promised to send me pictures of the beautiful chapel that we regretably couldn´t visit because it was closed. And I, I was most impressed that both she and her boss (who we ran into while Dorothee showed me around) had gone clearly out of their way to prepare for and showcase with pride and enthusiasm their place of work. It was a most enjoyable time, not only because I got to spend some time with a friend, but because the promenade was filled with a lot of insight and good humor, peppered with entertaining exchanges such as:

Dorothee [as we approach one of the hospital's buildings]: See this building here? It is where they kept the crazy women.

Me: Crazy women?

Dorothee: Yes, you know, professionals.

Me: Huh?

Dorothee: Yeah, how do you say in English....bitches?

Me: Er....

Dorothee: Is that how you say it, right? Professionals bitches?

Me: [Long pause]. Oh! Er, you mean, like, uh, "women of the night", kind of thing?

She: Night women? I think....maybe.

Me: Uh, prostitutes, you mean?

She: Yes! Exactly! Bitches, right?

Me [chuckles]: Er, no. That´s not quite how you say it.

And so on. Ha ha. :).

I really like Dorothee. I always laugh a lot when I'm around her.

Anyway the point is, that back in the 1700´s or so, prostitutes, promiscuous women, and so called "hysterical" women, were confined in the hospital and considered clinically insane (see Dr. Berlin's--Dorothee's boss'--article I mentioned above). Rather sad, as she pointed out. Good that eventually science triumphs over ignorance. {shrug}

Afterwards Dorothee and I went for drinks at a nearby coffee bar, where another funny exchange ensued:

Dorothee [ordering to waitress]: I'll have a Perrier with a drop of lemon syrup.

Me [after waitress leaves, jokingly]: You know, my friend Edwin says that Perrier with syrup is a thing for little children.
[It was true, he had said that when we were watching the France-Portugal game at Emilio´s a few days ago.]

Dorothee [gets all serious and frowns]: Well, yes, but I like it.

Me [laughing]: Yes, I see. [The Perrier and syrup in question had just arrived, and the look of delight in Dorothee's eyes was rather revealing!].

Dorothee: You see, it has to be lemon syrup. And it has to be Perrier. Only Perrier has the correct taste and....

Me: But with lemon syrup you can hardly taste the Perrier, or can you?

Dorothee: Yes but also only Perrier has the right size of bubbles, and I don´t know, only Perrier is right for these kinds of things. In short it just *has* to be Perrier.

Me [smiles knowingly--I feel the same about Lavazza coffee]: Of course.


And I that had thought that maybe Dorothee was not really a Frenchwoman, when she had told me back in Barcelona, that she had a craving for one of those McDonald's soft-served ice-creams.


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