October 10th, 2009


Mendacious mendicant wanders Luxembourg

1. I'm in Luxembourg. Later today I'll be dressed as a communist cherub, misleading the public in the role of an Unreliable Tour Guide during the Long Night of the Museums at MUDAM.

2. But this afternoon I'm letting Luxembourg have a sort of pre-emptive revenge by allowing it to mislead and disorient me. I am walking pretty much at random, dressed as a garden gnome / merchant marine.

3. I say "at random", but my trajectory is determined by setting myself arbitrary goals. First, find an open wifi signal. There's one in the bizarre conference centre zone beyond the twin golden towers of the Court of Justice.

4. Next, grab as much Luxembourg map as possible in my iPod Touch's Google Maps app.

5. Then google "Luxembourg Japanese" to find a place where I can eat lunch. Discover a teppan yaki restaurant about five kilometers out into the suburbs. Begin to head towards it on foot, plunging down gorges, skirting electrified railways, and scaling forested mountain paths marked "grotto route".

6. The rain begins to fall. I pass almost no-one; the world is built for cars, not pedestrians.

7. Think romantically about a coming life-post-internet. It would be interesting to spend the rest of my life as a sort of mendicant monk, walking across landscapes. Recall being impressed by a Japanese monk who did this (note to self: google him).

8. Find certain parallels between passing lugubrious Luxembourgeois houses and surfing the internet. The way, for instance, people put little ornaments in their windows, as if they were organising a home page on the web. The passerby sees these trinkets and feels as if he is "visiting a page". In some ways, window trinkets are most intetesting, more pathetically evocative than websites. For instance, this carved wooden sage standing next to a pot plant that dwarfs him.

9. Need cash. Descend from forested hill into the back of a weird shopping mall (its air conditioning hums) featuring an oriental antiques emporium and sporting goods store. Find cash machine and withdraw cash.

10. But not enough for teppan yaki house -- an odd, neglected villa on a main road -- when I reach it. A meal here costs almost a hundred euros! It's also shut, even if one were hungry enough to pay that. I cross the road to a drive-in Quick, eat a King Fish burger, and write this blog entry using the free wifi.