Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Another lovely day

A beautiful day for photographing the Eiffel Tower.

August 8, 2017 – I’ve been reading “The Lost Mandate of Heaven,” by Geoffrey Shaw, for the past four days – in between all the walking and dining in Paris.  Last week, Tom and I met Nicole, a member of the Ngo Dinh family that figures so prominently in this book about the build-up of the Vietnam War and the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. 

I’d hoped that the book would be more focused on the family, but instead it is more focused on military and political history of that tumultuous time.

For military history buffs, I highly recommend this book.  It is well-written and well-documented, by a historian who has excellent credentials.  For the first time, I feel like I understand how the Vietnam War became the quagmire and disaster that it was.

There are plenty of lessons learned from that era.  I can see how many apply in a country like Afghanistan. 

The square and fountain behind the church of St. John the Baptist of Grenelle.

Tom was in the Naval ROTC program at Duke in the early 1960s, the time period that the first several chapters of “The Lost Mandate of Heaven” covers.  He remembers that most people he knew then had not heard of Vietnam.  But then one day, one of his NROTC classmates said that his father had been shot down over a place called Vietnam.  By 1964, when Tom went into active duty after graduation, he and his NROTC mates were slated to go on a radar picket ship, which would likely go up the Mekong River and be fired upon by the Vietcong.  Then Tom’s orders were changed, unbeknownst to him, because the Navy needed an English instructor in Maryland.  Thank heavens.

To read about the discord and disagreement among the top military and political leaders when it came to the subject of how America should be involved in Vietnam makes me sad, but also makes me hope that history will not repeat itself; much more consideration should be given to saving lives.
Dining room at Le Tipaza on the rue St. Charles.

I put the book aside for a while yesterday so that Tom and I could go for a great couple of walks in the neighborhood.  First, we wanted to explore Boulanger, the small- and large-appliance store that has replaced the big old hardware store, Zola Color, that we had frequented over the years.

Boulanger did a fabulous job renovating the tired old Zola Color space, which is vast.  Everything about Boulanger is well-displayed and well-run.  The employees are a far more cheerful and helpful lot than those at Darty, its tired old competitor. 

I think the employees at Boulanger must be treated and paid better than those at Darty.

Tom especially wanted to look at the laptop and tablet computers, because he wants to get something smaller than his laptop when we return to the U.S. 

We’d never buy a computer in France because they have AZERTY keyboards instead of QWERTY keyboards, and we are rapid touch typists on the QWERTY boards.  Also, I think computers bought in the U.S. have better encryption, but I’m no expert on that.

In each department that we explored at Boulanger (except for the computer area, where they left us alone), a friendly employee asked if he/she could help us, and after we explained that we were just looking, they did not bother us.  Even the security guard at the entrance struck up a friendly conversation with us.
Dining room at Le Tipaza.

We took our time looking at all the kitchen appliances, big and small.  We’d just renovated our kitchen back home, so this was of great interest.  I especially noticed the brand names – Cuisinart was not among the various food processors on display, and Kenwood makes mixers and blenders.  Go figure.

Boulanger is the place for audiophiles.  The set-up for displaying and listening to speakers is impressive.

All we bought was a nice pair of Sony earphones for Tom. 

Later, we walked along the peaceful Ile aux Cygnes, and then explored the large Zara store at the Beaugrenelle Center.  Time flew by, and we had to walk briskly to dinner at Le Tipaza on the rue Saint Charles. 

We were warmly greeted there, as usual, and we took our seats in the elegant middle dining room.  I noticed that Kir Royals are reasonably priced there, so I had one.  Then I ordered at Tagine Royal, and Tom had the Grillade Royale – a dinner for royals all around.

Tom indulged in the traditional North African pastries for dessert, and I had a heavenly, homemade, dark chocolate mousse.

We both appreciated the long stroll home after that feast.


Dennis Wipper said...

Hi Barbara... Love your Paris journal entries! Even the parts about appliance stores... but especially the parts about walks and history. Hope all is good. Best, Dennis

Barbara Joy Cooley said...

Thank you, Dennis! Do you and your family still go to Paris in the summer?