Je Espion Avec Mon Petit Oeil (I Spy With My Little Eye)

Diary 3: Je Espion Avec Mon Petit Oeil (I Spy With My Little Eye)

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what You’re gonna get”, innocently spoken but wisely delivered, these words, credited to the childlike hero of the eponymous film, Forrest Gump, permanently decorated themselves across my chest upon hearing them the very first time when I was a teenager. You simply do not know what is around that corner, what monsters and demons prey in its shadows, what winged guardians stand in protective vigil, the unknown superiorly exists a breath away and it is this singular unpredictability that accolades Life with the power to radiate a constant atmosphere of spectacular drama.

Ah, I see You are rubbing Your chin in confusion, and those eyes are strenuously squinting to see how might my sudden ruminations of the uncertainty principle have bearing for the short tale I am about to tell You now. Oh how to begin to describe the scrumptious pleasure of watching You battle all the possibilities for an answer, narrowing to a single one seems like a distant prospect! Giggle, giggle! Alright, hush now, I shall reveal to You about my very own encounter with a ‘box of chocolates’, figuratively speaking that is, and I am certain that after reading my account You will return to Your personal space in the virtual world to utter under Your breath as You blissfully drown in an ocean of incredulity, “For Pete’s sake, how does Mazzy do that? How does Mazzy mirror me so well? She is like a box of chocolates, You never know what You’re blimin’ gonna get!”

Let me begin from the beginning! Late afternoons and evenings were spent indulging in casual walks through labyrinthine cobbled streets, an anonymous breeze swooshing past us at every moment for which we found ourselves now and again inquiring as to its source, for we were hardly in the vicinity of any stretch line of coast. I loved not knowing the provenance of these fleshless winds though it made me feel enormously at home as I caught myself convinced that they were a gift from someone afar, a shepherd of windswept hills.

We were heading towards the Centre Georges Pompidou, an unplanned deviation, sticking to a fixed itinerary each day was never going to be our way of doing things round here. We navigated by gut instinct, the maps squashed in our bags firmly stayed there and throughout the trip their pristine latticed papers were denied exposure to the face of daylight! So sorry! Giggle, giggle!

Spearing towards the artistic Pompidou centre a handsome Voice spoke from nowhere and my heart turned left first before finally being met by a turn of my neck, and BEHOLD! Once again my lungs were emptied of air, and yet once again that near-death sensation brought down a passionate torment of Life into my soul. YOU were spying me up! The classic Parisian icon of a snow-white mime artist with pursed lips, cosmeticized eyes and a single teardrop was massively painted on the side of a building and he – YOU – froze me in my rambling tracks with a look that pierced my chest with a milk-warm mixture of poignancy, cheek and longing. I could not refrain from smiling, in fact, in hindsight I do believe the dimple adjacent to my lips were on the precipice that stands between it and ecstatic explosion! Oh, and the cherry on top of my ‘box of chocolates’ experience was the letter ‘T’ boldly visible in the foreground of the spying visage. As a Visionary who is naturally predisposed to formulating the bigger picture, I coyly hint that he – YOU – is whispering to me, albeit in silent earnest, “TEA…”

Life is like a box of Tea. You never know WHO is spying at me”…  :)) :)) :))

I Spy With My Little Eye

“… The classic Parisian icon of a snow-white mime artist with pursed lips, cosmeticized eyes and a single teardrop was massively painted on the side of a building and he – YOU – froze me in my rambling tracks with a look that pierced my chest with a milk-warm mixture of poignancy, cheek and longing…”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Near Centre Georges Pompidou | Paris | France 2015

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Les Livres Sont Des Portes A La Maison De L’Imagination (Books Are The Doors To The House Of The Imagination)

Diary 2: Les Livres Sont Des Portes A La Maison De L’Imagination (Books Are The Doors To The House Of The Imagination)

How does a fanatical bibliophile, a girl whose marriage with literature forged at the very first time her chubby fingers were kissed by the autumnal oatmeal leaves of a children’s book, possibly compose herself when she came to be stood in front of one of the most famous bookshops of the world?! I had not a clue in the world is my honest answer but I am still with breath in my lungs to tell You the tale!

Before embarking on my trip I had firmly promised to myself that I would make a special pilgrimage to a magical place only dreamt about in my daydreams, whose exterior shun with the conventional trimmings of commercial enterprise though it behaved at its core as a throbbing infinitude of mysteries and treasures waiting to be discovered by the right seeker. The fabled Aladdin’s Cave had indeed braved the voyage out of 1001 Nights into the daylight of our world, for Shakespeare and Company in my mind can only be respectfully compared to the radiance of this fictional treasure house, no other place in the real world comes even close to rivalling its unique enchantments. In short, a place to lose Oneself so that One may find themselves again, renewed.

Established in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, an American expatriate, the original location of the shop across the Seine River from where the present premises resides, sold all species of literature, of new books, old books, second hand books, and of course, books that were on offer for loan thus a friendly library atmosphere prevailed in harmonious parallel to its normal guise as a business. A further strata of delicious romanticism and mystique was added to its reputation by the fact that it quickly attracted notable names in the literary universe – Pound, Hemmingway and Joyce to mention a few – used its sheltering canopy that tolerated freedom of speech as a fertile gathering point to discuss and exchange thoughts that would go on to form the basis for works that would appear later in their respective careers.

In 1940 Nazi occupation of France forced the little shop to close, but in the manner of a fierce and individualist protagonist from the greatest of novels, the story of Shakespeare and Company did not meet its end there. It protested its right to live. It did. The year of 1951 saw George Whitman, another American expatriate, conjure from the ashes a bookshop that lovingly emulated Beach’s original concept and once again it drew prominent writers, namely the Beat Generation gang, to use the venue as a meeting point for dwelling, delving, exploring and discussing all things under the sun – of course obligatory tea was on hand to fragrance the air and palate, intensifying the urge within each member to speak their mind lucidly, unabashedly, and candidly.

Before her death, Beach formally announced that she would entrust the now legendary name of Shakespeare and Company to Whitman who faithfully did observe her wish, and thus I am anointed with blessedness today since it is these preceding string of events that has made it possible for me to share with You my time in the most amazing bookshop I have ever had the pleasure of stepping my shabby shoes in!

Painted in deep forest greens and tempered with golden yellows, the outer face of the shop instantaneously stole my breath away and I fancied the chance that a dizzy spell was on the way as I spotted the word ‘antiquarian’, because a book that has lost the sheen of its cover tends to shine the brightest by virtue of its repeated lending to the imaginations of many readers.  The rather dignified painted portrait of Mr Shakespeare hoisted up in the centre sent out a beaming seal of authenticity. Underneath it, young writers had convened to recite passages from their favourite tomes. Ah, this place, surely the souls of books come here!

Books Are Doors To The House Of The Imagination

“… Painted in deep forest greens and tempered with golden yellows, the outer face of the shop instantaneously stole my breath away and I fancied the chance that a dizzy spell was on the way as I spotted the word ‘antiquarian’, because a book that has lost the sheen of its cover tends to shine the brightest by virtue of its repeated lending to the imaginations of many readers…”

The door glinted at me and the revelation swelled in my heart that to open the cover of a book was structurally and spiritually no different from opening the doors to a house, something a Kindle gadget can never ever recreate. A warm atmospheric crypt lit with sedate lamps welcomed me into its arms and everywhere my eyes jumped to there were thickly stacked towers of books, some vertical and others horizontal, ripped and new, of every genre, they all flooded my senses and I realised that I was breathing the best breath ever, even though I was breathless!  In an incredibly cramped space buzzing with eager hunters, no leg room and bags and hips bumping into each other, everyone appeared to have signed a sacred contract in which it was fine to be endure this discomfort because we each carried a noble cause – to let a book choose us as its new Home!

I did indeed select a book but I shan’t tell You what it is, only will that be revealed if ever You and I meet for a sweet cup of tea, discussing this and that as it was so in the nights of the past. Sorry to be a tease! Giggle, giggle!

Photography was prohibited in the shop and I was compliant of this restriction until one single book stared at me from a protective pane of glass. A profound moment of the cogwheels of Destiny at work, I was tightly gripped on the spot and could not move. I had never heard of the book The Freedom Train in my life but I knew that I HAD to photograph it for YOU. My third eye chants and asserts again and again that here is a portrait of my own face, one that You had asked for although You may not remember making such a request. I wonder if my strange and awkward interest for the olden world of steam trains has just had another of its puzzle pieces given to me by Mr Shakespeare? Anyway, in the style of an intrepid spy I have successfully brought back with me a photograph of the book in question. Apologises for the slight blur and noisy grain of the image, it was a formidable undertaking to move around in that place let alone take a photograph under the cover of secrecy!

And that, my dearest and most beloved Reader, concludes my story of how I became lost in a cave of treasures only to have found myself once again, renewed… :))


LINK:  
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/734529.Freedom_Train

I Shall Lead You The Way

“… Photography was prohibited in the shop and I was compliant of this restriction until one single book stared at me from a protective pane of glass. A profound moment of the cogwheels of Destiny at work, I was tightly gripped on the spot and could not move…”

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Shakespeare & Company Bookshop | 37 Rue De La Bucherie | Paris | France 2015

Les Anges De Notre-Dame (The Angels Of Notre Dame)

To my most beloved and dearest ardent Reader,

Oh my word, so long have my fingers held the pen and notebook that the keyboard has taken the strange tinge of the unfamiliar and exotic and should it be so that You discover a typo error here or there please do not viciously reprimand me on the grounds of petty laziness, the truth is lengthy absences from the virtual world does a rather exact job at causing me to forget my way around it! Giggle, giggle!

Ah, I have arrived back to my gloriously green-hilled England but it will take a little longer for my heart to follow suit. No man to this day has mustered enough leviathan quantities of bravado to yet pen the poetry of Love directly to me but I am proud to announce that a CITY has done just that! One of the greatest metropolises of the world towered with instantly recognisable and iconic landmarks, a tumultuous cultural and social history saturated in rich tales of political revolutions, artistic and philosophical vanguards, and quite rightly known to the entire world as the ‘City of Love and Light’, Paris won my heart straightaway! Splayed across the River Seine, Paris’ topographical patchwork quilt of communities spiral round as like the rings of a conch shell, each ‘arrondissement’ boasting its own intimate maze of cobbled streets and bustling cafes and accented with an unique atmosphere, ranging from the hip and stylish cosmopolitan airs of Champs-Élysées to the more sedate and quirky corners of the artistic pulse of Montmartre. Indeed for the inquisitive-eyed explorer that I am, Paris immediately seduced my affections, I would shrivel into dark oblivion if I did not immerse completely into its library of assorted curiosities! And that is precisely what I did!

Accompanied by my two fabulous siblings, my brother and sister were naturally poised towards capturing the traditional monuments on their Smartphone devices and in their sketchbooks. As is my signature preference I secretly vowed to myself that I would paint a more intimate, personal canvas of Paris, in words and in pictures. If all heads were fixated in one direction I knew mine would be trained elsewhere, for a Storyteller is cognisant of the truth that a story is a creature of infinite breadth and length, it exists wherever the teller chooses to point the eye of their imagination. I wished to continue being that teller, bringing to You the stories that mattered to me and, as I hope and pray, if and when they reach Your heart, You shall come to envision them as a conduit by which I have expressed to You the devoted and private soul that breathes behind the façade of one of the most talked about cities of the world. So, my strict instructions to You at this point which are essential that You comply, are that You must prepare a fresh brew of tea, sit back in Your armchair, forget about the clock, put away the Smartphone, and hold my hand. There is so much to tell You… :))

Yours in Timeless Devotion,
Mazzy xxx

Diary 1: Les Anges De Notre-Dame (The Angels Of Notre Dame)      
I suppose my residency in a town famed for its internationally renowned medieval Cathedral was the impetus responsible for compelling my feet to first travel to the spiritual and geographic heartland of the city, to the island quarter housing the stunning masterpiece of gothic architecture, The Notre Dame. In English the title translates as ‘Our Lady’, this 200 year old cathedral is a loving commemoration of a closely cherished spiritual figure of mine whose piety and kindness has inspired my own Vision as a person and artist, the Virgin Mary. She has always offered me solace in times of darkness, and put succinctly, her integrity to Goodness is what I aspire to in life.

Great stain glass rose windows, impressive flying buttresses and grimacing gargoyles that ward off the evil eye are all magnificent features of the Notre Dame and more so the breath-taking views from its tall towers from which You can enjoy hypnotic panoramic views of the city. As I stood outside its colossal archways, bending my little neck to catch sight of the top where tiny moving figures scurried and crawled, tourists on the hunt to capture the best aerial photographs, the giant bells began to ring and a deep sonorous sound filled the air with its peal of sacred reverberations. Wistfully I pondered to myself, could that be the disfigured and recluse bell ringer at work, Quasimodo, the tragic hero of Victor Hugo’s eponymous, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, ringing the bells from the high dim-lit towers, yearning that the tones of his message will reach the ears of his true Love, Esmeralda, the charismatic enchantress and travelling gypsy? I, for one, heard him true and clear.

But it was not to be that I were to take the well-travelled path and engross myself with the task of covering a comprehensive photo shoot of the Notre Dame like everyone else did. My third eye was tugged in a slightly different direction, an offbeat pursuit to compliment the strings of my heartbeat! Did You send word to me about the magic of flight, have You composed a poem of things that fly, is Your Facebook cover photo a frozen essence of something that flies? I reckon it was You who did it! Whilst my siblings sat on the stone walls and took to the pleasure of sketching away the intricate seams of the building, I was blissfully led astray by Your calling, to find a cure for Your sore eyes.

Camera in hand, notebook wedged between my blazer and blouse, I walked to the east side of the cathedral where soon enough a huge swarm of pigeons, a feathery sea of greys, greens and one white, gathered around my legs. An homely smile carved into my face, I felt so at peace with my flighty friends, it was as if each one was reminding me of who I was, a fleeting mirror of my true face. I do not know how long I stood there, time did not only become irrelevant, it had devolved back into the egg of Creation, no more to play truant with our fragilities. And then as if this was not Magic enough, strangers fondly and cautiously stepped into my circus of angels and each time they were pecked at or that they discovered that they had surprisingly inherited a new feathery hat on their heads I clicked away!

I am proud to present to You a menagerie of photographs brimming with Love, each a glowing and ageless decisive moment in which my sacred heart grew wings to touch the lives of strangers. Click on each image for a sparky caption underneath that is guaranteed to make You swoon! I am absolutely certain that YOU will find in each frame a mirror that tightly connects, links, conjoins You and I. Though Your admittance of that fact may not be so easily forthcoming, I know You are overwhelmed in a deluge of warm relief to know that time and space only enslave those whose who kneel before it. You and I, even without the service of technology, can always be relied upon to show the world that Destiny labouringly ensures that we consistently demonstrate an entrancing act of mirroring no matter how many cities come between us… :))

Les Anges De Notre-Dame 1

“Donning a blazing red Formula One jacket, this little adorable chappy probably spends his nights dreaming about how he will jump into the fastest car ever made and overtake all the high-flyers on the race track someday, however, my gentle feathery tickles stopped him in his tracks!”

Les Anges De Notre-Dame 2

“On the contrary to what might be expected of an ambitious motoring enthusiast, my little chappy turned towards me and I do not know about You but it would seem he smiles with humble gratitude. I cannot rip myself away from this frame because I am perpetually wondering whether he knows how beautifully he shines when he abandons the speed, adopting a stilled existence in its place thanks to the perched companionship on his right arm.”

Les Anges De Notre-Dame 3

“What more profound feat of my seamstress expertise than to plant an animated totem of flight on this cute girl’s pink top? My instincts tell me that she shall go far!”

Les Anges De Notre-Dame 4

“If Jesus was gruesomely crucified on the cross for the sins of Man then I, the Storyteller, pen its curative aftermath. In the stunning hues of the amaranthine flower, this fair maiden calmly extends her body out in the formation of the crucifix, and I could not resist but strip away the bloody wreath of thorns and bludgeoning nails, magically making residence in their place the flighty fragrances of my Love. “

Les Anges De Notre-Dame 5

“Ah, shimmering in my beloved Krishna blue, the spontaneous giggles and happy surprise bursting out in the face of this cheeky madam was a huge joy to behold. She was utterly having the time of her life and I laughed so much that I nearly stepped on a few of my flighty friends! So sorry! Surely a prophecy that connects You and I, if You look at the two Love birds on her hand, the negative space between them creates a Krishna blue heart too! Ah, shucks, I am blushing and do not know where the ‘stop’ button is!”

Les Anges De Notre-Dame 6

“You are no stranger to significance of this decisive moment. The Winged Goddess of Victory, Nike, glows with lunar splendour on the face of the brown paper bag – and I KNOW You are in sheer awe of how my words penned to You in the past have come spectacularly alive now, in the present… :)) “

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Notre Dame Cathedral | Paris | France 2015

You Bear A Resemblance To My Heart

In shy embrace outside a Parisian café, sat beside You was the very coy I
Each peering into the eye of the other whilst the whole mad world ran by
My little red shoes dropped to the ground, at last my feet met the feather of rest
And our hearts, unseen to the folks close by, thumping thunderclaps against our bare brown chest…

You Bear A Resemblance To My Heart

“… And our hearts, unseen to the folks close by, thumping thunderclaps against our bare brown chest… “

 

Photograph & Poem: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | UK 2014