Sunday, 13 September 2009

Tourist care & feeding

There's a sort of look that tourists have, that distinguishes them from the locals. It's not the guidebooks or matching red windbreakers or comfy running shoes, but more a sort of self-conscious dis-engagement, looking at the storefronts, glancing at passers-by, discreetly scoping out places to sit or not at Tribeca, hoping not to be noticed. We all know the feeling, I do it myself even in Rome, my foster home.
So when a father and his son sat down at the next table and started nervously translating the menu out loud, it felt callous not to pull them into the comfort of the cafe chatter, even in English. And hey, I was charmed that they couldn't pick out my American accent. And they shared a good story about how once the head of Airbus unexpectedly gave them a personal tour around the Toulouse factory.
They left and I basked in the sun. Although summer is getting blown away by brisk gusts of chilly autumn air, the rays were still July-hot, and families were out for a stroll and a shop. Tribeca's sunny front-line tables were all claimed by 11h, and the terrace was full by noon. That's when I left, wound my bike through crowds, past the cheery organ-grinder and the competing soulful Peruvian pipes, and back to the ACP to train folks to be tour guides at the American Church, for next week's Journee du Patrimoine.
Yes, taking care of the tourists! Wish me good karma when I next hit the Eternal City.

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