Au Cadran du XIème

December 10, 2002 - 3:00 p.m.

An older blond woman in a black coat has been standing at the top of the metro steps for a few minutes, frowning in the cold, waiting for her husband who has just arrived, and now they have descended.

On the menu, the receipt, the black and yellow tubes of powdered sugar, and the tabletop are examples of the café logo -- a large "C" with a dot in the middle. The bottom right part of the "C" helps to form the "X" part of the "XI" that follows it. Two French men with black coats and George W. Bush haircuts walk by outside.

A dog was barking loudly in here earlier, out of view. Neon signs hang about the place: "Open," "Perrier," "1664," and yet another "CXI." They are quite proud of their logo. "Cadran" means "dial" by the way, though I'm not sure why a café would want to be named that.

Tonight the temperature will drop below freezing, and in the suburbs there is a chance of snow in the early morning. Outside, wedged between the crossing sign and the directional signpost, a woman kneels on a flat bag. Her head has dropped down towards the cardboard sign in her hands as if she has fallen asleep. A little square tin container sits in front of her. Finally she picks up her head and pulls out some of the coins that are in the tin and, after examining them, slides them into her pocket. She stands up for a few seconds and then resumes her hunched kneeling position, the fingers of her right hand exposed under the cardboard sign. Hundreds of people pass by without seeming to notice her at all. A man smoking a little cigar crosses the street behind her and starts to look through his change purse. He puts a couple of coins into her tin and then enters the café.

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Au Cadran du XIème
109, Boulevard Voltaire
75011 Paris
Metro: Voltaire
Phone: 01 43 79 07 13

Price of an espresso: 2 euros
Sugar: two tubes of powdered sugar

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Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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