Monday, January 19, 2015

Je t'aime Paris

Paris is like A. R. Rehman songs.

When you hear (see) it for the first time, you wonder what the fuss is all about. The hype causes disillusionment. You start hating it. But you grudgingly continue to listen (explore) it. It’s an A.R. Rehman song (Paris) after all. Then hate turns into apathy. You seem to develop a sense of tolerance for the song (city). And on one of those days, while you are still listening (exploring), you give that song (city) another listen (chance) with an impartial mind. That’s when you realise that you like the song (city).  Before you know it, you are hopelessly in love with that song (city).

My first interaction with Paris started when my roommates and I tried to get an apartment in this city. Man, it was difficult. Our student budget, extremely limited information about the city and the fear of muggers thronging the Parisian streets made this whole exercise an ordeal. We ended up with a belle petite (beautiful little) apartment. The Parisians know how optimize space like no one else.

This whole apartment hunting prepared me for this big bad city which was difficult to manoeuvre through. And this fear of mine came true. The moment we landed in Paris, one thing became quite clear. Knowing English in Paris was as useless as Hindi in Chennai. The Parisians positively hate people who start a conversation in English without any signs of apology on their face. If you start a conversation without the customary Bon Jour or Bon Soir (Good Day or Good Evening), you have committed a cardinal sin. The French have two response to such situations. Either they interrupt your monologue with a “Bon Jour” and stare you till you reciprocate or they ignore you and walk away as if you were nothing but thin air.

This language barrier made the navigation in Paris in the first few days a nightmare for me and my friends. However, it was a temporary discomfort as we became comfortable with the basic ‘systems’ in Paris. Paris public transport system is one of the best in the world and you don’t need French to navigate as most of your conversations are with the ticket vending machine which speaks (displays) chaste English.

Taking walks in Parisian streets was one of my best memories from my Euro Trip. One is bound to stumble upon quaint churches, roadside cafes, museums, canals, bridges, jardines (gardens) or the view of the graceful Eiffel, every time you take a turn.

There is something enigmatically positive about Paris. And to experience this, one needs to spend a certain amount of time. This post comes nowhere close to expressing my feelings about this city. It was painful to see this city go through the turmoil that it did in the last few days. May peace prevail.  

Tour de Eiffel. Arc de Triomphe. Champs Elysees. Sacre Coeur. Notre Dame. Versailles. Je t’aime.

Follow sushantkoshy on Twitter