Friday, September 9, 2011

With outcasts in Albi

I don't remember the last time I was so spellbound by a city. Tiny, cute villages took my breath away but bigger cities seemed to look all the same, apart from some characteristic landmarks. Time to change this came in Albi. My gosh, this city was a gem for me; and if I had picked with my eyes closed, I wouldn't have chosen any better.

The best way to discover Albi was to get lost in the chaotic jumble of narrow, winding streets lined with houses made of pink or red colored brick and wood. I wanted to incessantly stare stare stare at them. How I wish I could live an a building like that, with crooked floor and a wooden side cantilevered over the street. Wherever I went, I always found some hidden charms. And the best thing: the more adorable, the more empty the street was!!!

There's even more splendid view when you look at the tight cluster of red houses from the other bank of the river Tarn.

One of the highlights of my stay was visiting this man:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, or rather faithful friends of this miserable, crippled man - prostitutes, dancers, pimps, clowns and other outcasts. Simple women, without idealization portrayed in the most intimate moments of their everyday life - bathing, combing their hair, resting, pulling on their stockings, waiting for medical check-ups,

I see a prostitute wracked with alcohol, wondering about her life drinking on a side of a table, a mother prostitute talking to pregnant daughter who is a prostitute herself.

His women aren't beautiful; on the contrary, they're unattractive, sleazy, with humdrum faces and withered bodies, as if all energy, hope and attractiveness have escaped their bodies and minds.

A prominent feature observable in his paintings is lack of eye contact between the characters, their dull eyes look into nothingness but never at the person who looks at the painting or at any other character in it.

But in their own way, the women Toulouse-Lautrec grew so close to living in brothels and indulging in prostitution, are beautiful, they are real people with character, painted just the way they are, and their appearance tells more about their life than you can read from a face of young and gorgeous girl who hasn't experienced the hardships of life.

I planned to be on the road for a little more but eventually decided to come back home earlier, give my legs some rest, meet friends and listen about their recent adventures. I don't want to jinx but next week I might try something I've never done in my life. One thing I have to admit, some of the stories I heard today inspired me enough to take the plunge!

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