Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Du cote de chez Tarek

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly "du cote de chez Swann"
Usually posts come by very quickly to me, this one took several days. Apart from the title around which it is based, the content was sporadic. It did not have the usual backbone. I think I wanted to link it to memory. Or the idea of a memory.
I think many of you know that for several years I was on another blog, and Sunday I took a full day reading 2200 posts found there so as to pick the "best" for a new section entitled "from the vaults". I ended up with 5 pages full of scribbles, notes, keywords, and literally hundreds of possibilities and candidate posts.
It is easy to find refuge in the past, in the concept of nostalgia in its original form (nostos or home and algos or the pain that comes with it) - missing the homeland. Even if the homeland is virtual and just published online.
I knew of course that the initiative was doomed. But the exercise was not futile, a friend even reminded me that when I started this new blog (under my name - which was the purpose of creating it to eventually try to kill off or at least sideline the sub-brands I created in an attempt to "hide" from the public) apparently I promised there'd be no "recycling" - a rule I was supposedly going to break under the pretense of digging in the archives.
One cannot speak of memory without mentioning French author Marcel Proust to whom my cousin introduced me on an idle summer day in 1991, and whose last tome "le temps retrouve" I kept for last year (and was glad I did, as understanding its full impact needed - not the mental maturity I had - but the emotional one too which can only come with age and time).
I spoke on two different occasions about walking with my nephews - somewhere between living the moment and immortalizing it. Well, some of our walks take place on a road called "le long chemin". The long road. Let me tell you the etymology of the naming.
"Sur le long chemin, tout blanc de neige blanche" - on the long road, white because of the white snow - so go the lyrics of "vive le vent" the French version of Jingle Bells. The song gave a name to a path which, almost a decade ago, was inaugurated in our village.
So going to "le long chemin" is a bit of a treat. Last week, my nephews felt very energetic and so I suggested we go discover a new road - one that branches out at the end of "le long chemin". It had houses, two modernist villas under construction, some steep stairs, a parked caravan, and all the ingredients that make it magical to the minds of children. Naturally, they wanted to name it.
The first couple of suggestions were a bit lame, until one of them suggested "le chemin de Tarek", to which I commented that it reminded me of Proust's "du cote de chez Swann" - because there was "Swann's way" and "le cote de Guermates". So this could be "du cote de chez Tarek" while the other branch could be "du cote de Mantra" (the name of the other road which we did not take that morning at the end of "le long chemin"). Oddly, there was no complaints and arguments and both found the name fitting.
VIP people have streets named after them by municipal orders, usually such men and women have it named posthumously as people look back at their life achievements in retrospect, I had one named after me simply by consensus with two kids having a good Sunday morning.