Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The flâneur

Right, left, right, left, right and so on. No doubt taking his cue from Luke Rhinehart’s novel The Dice Man, a recent acquaintance told me in Shanghai how he goes about exploring cities these days. For years much of his travel has mirrored mine: airport, plane, airport, taxi, hotel, conference, taxi, airport, plane, airport, sleep. Sick of this routine this peripatetic tycoon decided to make an effort to be different and see a unique slice of each city he visits. Now, when he gets a spare moment (and he always makes time – at least two hours) he heads out of his hotel and takes the first right, then the first left, then the first right and so on. This wonderfully random way of exploring appeals to me no end and will no doubt form the basis for many future blog posts, as (doff of the cap in Paul French’s direction for this lovely word coming up) what Baudelaire might have called a flâneur -- "that aimless stroller who loses himself in the crowd, who has no destination and goes wherever caprice or curiosity directs his or her steps".

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