Yesterday was that day for me.
Since I have arrived in Paris six days ago, I have been looking here and there and everywhere for religious women for my book project, the one I have been working on for a life-time now, but I have been having a harder time that Mea Shearim in Israel.
People here are just much more suspicious and skeptical especially in the Jewish environment. I believe it has to do with the stronger sense of antisemitism one can breath in the French capital.
But nothing is impossible if you dig deep enough and if your senses bring you in the right direction.
After a night out with my French couch-surfer friends and a long recovery morning, I was up and running about getting ready to go shoot a Tunisian Henna, a pre-wedding ceremony in the 19 arrondissement. Too bad half way there, I received a phone call that the brother of the bride was not ok with me coming to photograph the event after all. So he was désolé, but I could no longer go.
I had been waiting for this event all week. I was very disappointed. I had to think of a plan B.
So I went to Rue Pavée and stood with my friend Steven *(who had offered to assist me all day) in front of Pitzman, the Kosher restaurant there for about an hour waiting for people to pass bye.
And then I met a woman who gave me a piece of information that change my night.
She told me of a found raising party in the periphery of Paris. She said I could find many Parisian Jewish women there and I could perhaps ask them to photograph them.
And so I took a train to Aubervilliers, way up north on the 7 line, got lost a couple of times in search of this big expo center that the community had rented for the night. The dinner was 260 euro just to sit and eat, plus you were encouraged at the entrance to donate something. I obviously did not eat anything all night, but I shot and shot and smile happily to see so many hats and so many French women showing off their splendor of scarfs, wigs, long skirts and furry coats.
So, no, I did not go to the Henna, and no, I did not see the Gerbian women celebrating the bride-to-be before she gets married, but I was submerged in a culture shock-wave.
So it was ok in the end to have to walk for half an hour and ride a subway back home for an hour. Hard work and my talkative skills always pay off.