So What Do I Actually Do? (Final)

By Paulo Coelho
For The Bali Times

Here I bring to an end the description of a typical week in my life, in answer to requests from readers who feel that, despite the hundreds of interviews and a biography, I say “very little about day-to-day activities.”

Thursday: 1] Breakfast with Mônica, my agent and friend, who spent less than a day in Paris and 10 hours talking to me (in the same place, for she hates walking, despite the beautiful autumn day). She goes off to Barcelona, and I go to the computer to check my emails, requests for authorization, invitations (all already duly filtered by the office). Reading the emails sent by my readers.

2] The idiotic part of the day is thanks to Frei Betto, a Brazilian religious man who up to a few minutes ago I considered my friend, but who is the author of a column published in a newspaper in the interior of the country, where he attacks me gratuitously – or rather, attacks everything that means “popular culture.” With the internet, we know everything. I send an email to him cutting off any bond of friendship. For the sake of precaution, I send copies to all the friends we have in common so as to be sure that it will reach him.

3] Juliette arrives to borrow a sound system I was given when I was in St. Moritz, in Switzerland. It’s for her husband’s surprise party (he’s turning 40 – everyone around me seems to be turning 40). The sound system looks like an electric toaster, but it really emits digital impulses, which allows the music to be heard with the same intensity and volume in a room filled with 200 people. I have never used it, but at least it is coming in handy for a friend.

4] Walk for an hour, as usual. Practice some archery, as usual. Write my weekly column (which you are reading right now).

5] Dinner with Chris in a Japanese restaurant. I ask for the same dish as always. I don’t know why, but whenever I go to a new restaurant and like what I eat, I end up ordering the same food the next time. Lack of imagination, I guess.

Friday: 1] Breakfast, computer, walk. Update the daily blog.

2] I take my newspaper and go for a walk in the Champ de Mars, near my apartment in Paris. I look at people getting ready for the winter: most of them are taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower or talking on the cellphone. I pass a museum (the Branly), see that there is no queue and decide to go in. An exhibit of the Indian art of several continents – I begin to imagine that there is something wrong with our civilization, for these tribes and people are capable of doing far more interesting and striking work than what we see today in the art world. But it does no good to complain or write about this – there are theses and more theses on contemporary “artistic concepts,” including a cow soaked in formol (sold for US$30 million) and two walls made of rusty iron (at a price of around $5 million). I think that Frei Betto, in his new incarnation as an avant-garde intellectual, probably also has a thesis defending this.

3] I go back home. The bags are packed, the driver waiting, and the car heads for Charles de Gaulle airport. The flight is scheduled for 22:15, but the modern torture chambers known as “airports” demand that we be there ages before take-off.

4] Take-off at 23:50 (a one-hour delay). I am going to spend 20 days in Brazil before going to Frankfurt. But as usual I won’t go to any of the “in” restaurants, which means that soon I’ll be hearing the same old question: “When are you coming to your country?”

As far as I can understand, if you don’t go to “in” restaurants, you just don’t exist.

© Translated by James Mulholland

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