48 hours. Not much -- two days. But when France Telecom tells you that you have a probleme de reseau (network) and it will take up to 48 hours to repair your internet connection, the cyber void looms like a cloud. How can I cope? I tried to find the free wifi in parks promised by the Mairie de Paris, but nothing in my neck of the 7e arrondissement. Yet.
So I find myself sitting in the Cafe Jav -- un bistro Wifi -- on rue de Sevres, feverishly checking and answering emails for the two hours that my laptop battery lasts.
It's a new experience for me, sitting here with as late-morning cafe-creme as the day merges into to lunch time. The habitues arrive at noon, always entering the cafe with a bonjour and a handshake for the bartender and other customers. The bartender offers them their regular apero-- un Calva, un ballon de rouge, un Coca, une demie pression. Carpenters and businessmen and postal employees chatting at the counter, an elderly lady in a wheelchair with her companion at a sidewalk table. Adolescent couples demeurely sequestered in the corner. Three bearded men about my age, in tweed jackets, grouped around a table checking out the babes parading by on the sidewalk in their lightweight summer outfits. After pontificating on the morning's events, the buddies at the counter swig the last of their drinks and depart with the understanding they they don't pay. I wonder if they have a tab or if the drinks are on the house. More customers arrive to replace them, sharing sections of l'Equipe, the sports newspaper, for lack of a listener. More local news, more gossip which I don't catch the gist of. One guy on a stool announces to the group "je suis amoureux." I order lunch, a tartine Norvegienne. An australian man slides into the table next to mine and asks in French if there is Wifi here. His internet is down too.
The young American couple across from me asks where to find Vegan restaurants in Paris. I'm stumped, but recommend Lebanese or Sri Lankan places. The buzz of camaraderie is contagious. I am lounging in my seat, sipping my after-lunch cafe.
The floor-to-ceiling windows are open on two sides, a breeze flows through the room. summertime, in a cafe, in Paris. Now there is salsa music playing. I linger. Oh, maybe France Telecom will fix that internet connection at home. I don't care so much any more.