Capturing Paris

Rodin_hands_1
I discovered Rodin moved me in real far more thanPicasso
any image ever did. I discovered that seeing Picasso’s paintings in person can be powerful. Alliteration aside, Paris was a complex experience.

Rumor had it that Parisians are rude and don’t take to strangers who don’t speak French very well. Rumor was totally wrong. Parisians were the best part of Paris, especially young men who say "Bonsoir" or "Ca va?" in appreciation as you walk by in the evening.

Wonderful friendly people. Dominique, the lady returning
from her son’s wedding in Austin, TX, who helped me
navigate the complexities of the public transport system from the airport to the hotel onMetro_4
my first day. Hugh, the Goan driver of the funicular railway at Montmartre who shared the cab with me so that I could get the tour for free while we reminisced about Bombay and Goa. The Pakistani panini man with whom I crashed all language barriers by going straight to pure Urdu. The Sri
Lankan internet cafe owners who tolerated my passable
Tamil better than my mangled French. The patient garcons who took my written orders for drinks since I was afraid to open my mouth and pronounce the French after my francophone friend left for home. The world is but a global village, and desis rule OK! 😛

Overheard at Dallas/Ft. Worth airport – "Do you have girl scout cookies in France?" in a thick Alabama accent, to the great astonishment of the Parisienne being so addressed.

Reblimetro
Emerging from the metro at Republique in the midst of riot police and strikers swarmingRepublique
through the streets on the 28th of March, a nationwide day of strikes. Intriguingly different crowd, there was no sense of danger, per se, yet there was a certain ‘something’ in the air. A watchful waitingness, almost, the bystanders curious to see if anything interesting would happen.

Overheard at the Louvre, in front of a statue of Mercury, "That’s the medical god, right?"

Discovering the Mona Lisa is just another painting. But the winged Victory of Samothrace was a powerfully inspiring figure.

[Update] There’s an eyewitness account of what happened at the Place de la Republique just minutes after I ducked into the Metro station.

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3 Responses to Capturing Paris

  1. niblettes says:

    Thank you for noticing that the French are not the rude snobs all the commedians like to make jokes about. My experience has been that they (both the continental and canadian varieties) have all been very pleasant, helpful, and understanding of my rusty attempts at communication.
    I think this is one of those cases where some untruth gets repeated enough it some how becomes the truth for many people.

  2. niti bhan says:

    What is interesting is that yesterday I was chatting with a French intern at a Bangalore based design studio, she’s from Marseilles, and she said, oh, Paris, it’s nice but the inhabitants aren’t. Wonder if this ‘stereotype’ is perpetuated throughout France as well?

  3. Riots are nothing new in France in 1789, when a Parisian crowd was demonstrating furiously in front of his palace, King Louis XVI asked, “Is it a riot?” and was answered, “No Sir, it is a revolution.’’

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