August 29 2005

On that date, Katrina hit New Orleans and destroyed major parts of the city. Reports counted 1.600 dead and 30 bio of insured dommages - the costliest nature disaster in American history.

Four years later, the city is but a pale shadow of its former glorious self. Sheer incompetence, and total indifference in high places did the city in.

I have some fond memories of that city : I celebrated by fiftieth birthday on a Mississipi riverboat. The trip was offered to me by colleagues present for an international seminar. The band on the boat was outstanding ; the food was dreadful. But the ambiance and company will never be forgotten.

I also remember I had some outstanding food there - including the original Oysters Rockefeller - at Antoines in the French Quarter, and that I broke my denture op a piece of toast at breakfast - luckily that was on the last day of my visit.

In "Nau-lens", I also committed one of my most stupid acts ever. I had been completely and fairly warned. Still, under social pressure, I drank two of Pat o'Brian's Hurricanes in one evening. The consequences of the divine drink were absolutely awful and were felt for a couple of days !

And, I wrote about this before, I will never forget the fabulous music in Preservation Hall.

By the way, the much renowned French Quarter is one of the most garish neighborhoods which I ever visited. And that being written down, I have a confession to make. I almost never felt unsafe in any American city I visited. New Orleans was the big exception : wherever I went, I never felt really at ease and safe in that former pirate city. I still wonder why.

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