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My first evening in Paris

I came to Paris for the first time with a palpitating heart- full of expectations and the prospect of being in THE PARIS- a city, that to me, was a symbol of love and romance, of joy and beauty, of high fashion and luxury, of cafés and high-end boutiques, of fashionable women and of the divine sin....







I was welcomed at the airport with a bouquet of two dozen big red roses- quite a lovely sight compared to the measly and malnourished Indian roses i was used to seeing ! Hmm...The French sure knew how to make their roses luscious and mysterious enough to convey the sweetest of feelings known to us mortals....My lessons in the French education had already begun, although unwittingly !

I almost flew over the clouds instead of being driven in the car on the way from the Airport. That heady feeling of anticipation of the days ahead- of discovering life à la française and that to me was la vie en rose (as seen by my oversized rose coloured glasses!) My trip was to last roughly three weeks and I already had an agenda good enough three months to choke in.



After doing some administrative formalities, i was the centre of attention at the afternoon tea hosted for me. Despite not having slept for a full day and night in transit, i felt energetic. I was generous, and happily so, to indulge my hosts for a short walk to the neighbouring pony club as well for compliments. Coming back to a steaming hot cuppa, as it turns out, France is not a notorious tea-drinking nation, compared to its northern neighbour Great Britain. The latter holding, almost single handedly, the sovereignty over this tradition since centuries. Yet, my hostess was gracious enough to prepare Chai in the Indian way (boiled with cream and sugar) with a supply of cakes and short pastries. That could very safely be termed the beginning of my love affair with the patisserie française for which the flame burns as strong as ever in my Indian heart. My companions relished their café over an equally delectable, if not aromatic, conversation.

The French are very particular about aesthetics and form- be it in their actions or the objects around them, I am at a loss for better ways of expressing. To the French, beauty and its aesthetical expression is a second nature. From the care in serving the tea to an Indian guest in a fine porcelain set bought in India to the 'ritual' of being gathered around the table, engaging in conversation that would almost seem too politically correct to my unrefined senses, the form and content is too evident to miss. A carefully placed polite gesture here to a suppression of an impulse there, the French, it would seem, can never go wrong in a social situation given the high importance 'decorum' has in their internal dictionary.

Over a period of years, i have retained that child-like amazement with which i watched French people around me behaving in picture perfect scenarios. This is not to say that i have not been in situations where tempers fly off the handles or the ugly underbelly of human nature raises its French head. Despite all, I am wont to believe that the French are artistically an elevated lot, difficult to discern for an untrained eyes on where the conditioning ends and the true nature takes over.

I shall come back to my French memoirs one of these days. à la prochaine!