Saturday, July 14, 2012

Paris Chronicles- asking for directions

I watched an old Sex and the city episode on the flight, where Charlotte is explaining to the girls how everything happens for a reason. Which is so true! I did not get on the BA flight so that I could have a fabulous flight on SQ.

Great food- as I always ask for Indian vegetarian even though I eat meat, I could have hot upma, sambar and vada for breakfast. Soul food! And watch good movies*- though I expect a better selection. And I had the whole row to myself so I could stretch out the sleep very comfortably. Could not have asked for a better long haul flight.

I was very impressed with CDG airport in Paris. No immigration forms to fill, no queues, immigration checks happened in in less than a minute- which is even faster than Changi. And completely unexpected. But then real life took over and baggage claim took over 40 mins. I knew it.! No airport on this planet (or even alien lands) is more efficient than Changi.

My cousin gave me great instruction about the bus and it was a very smooth and only a 10€ ride.

And then armed with a google map print out I set to locate my sisters place, which should have been a 10 minute walk, but I took nearly 30 mins as I kept walking in circles and asking English speaking people for directions.

So...I don't want to add to the female stereotype, but well, when it comes to map reading, I am one of them. I rely on 2 ways to get around-

1) get lost and finally find one route to get to your destination. And then NEVER EVER change your route

2) ASK for directions. I do it shamelessly all the time. Tip- in Bombay panwallas Are the best direction providers. It used to be watchmen but since that business got commercialized, they are just bunch of dummies who have no clue what the next building is called. And in Paris it is the newspaper vendors on street corners, who don't speak English but when I smile sweetly says 's'il vous plait', point at my google map print out and finally end with an even bigger smile and 'merci beaucoup', it's all good!

Another way to give direction in cities is to go the 'brand way' which hence worth will be called the 'Seema way' to give directions. E.g. If my cousin would have told me 'after you get off from the bus stop, look out for the Apple store at the other end of the street, walk to it, turn right at Zara and then walk till you come across H&M, turn left and you will find Uniqlo and voila! I would be able to find my way in a jiffy.

Side bar- iPad is super annoying when it comes to typing Hindi or French words, it keeps bloody Auto-correcting. So if you come across any words that make no sense, blame auto correct.

Also reason you can't see pictures is that iPad does not allow uploading pictures on blogspot. Will need to find an app. Pain in the neck!

And yes, Chinese tourists are rude in Paris too. They don't reserve that for Singapore alone. I have a feeling I will find the same with most Indian tourists also. Hopefully I won't have to find out.

Finally I reached 13 Rue Therese, struggled with my luggage to the top of the steps only to find more winding steps, and finally reached an adorable and beautiful apartment. Now would it not have been wonderful to see what it looked like? But sadly I can't show it to you here :(

Heena had left sweet post-it's in her lovely handwriting to let me know where everything was. And she had prepared lunch. Fabulous mozzarella, basil, cherry tomato baguette, salad and my welcome pressie- box of macaroons!I resisted the urge to eat them all. And with great self restraint only had 2...and then 1 more.

Lovely meal, warm shower and a cozy bed.

It was simply perfect, until I was fast asleep, I felt something on my bed. OMG! It was the landlady's cat! On my bed! And it was Friday the 13th which I noticed when I changed the time on my phone in the morning, that just freaked me out only more.

A girl came up to take the cat and she did not seem French but I did not want to be presumptuous about anything so politely I asked her name and as soon as she opened her mouth I knew she was the Filipina house help. We chatted like old friends and she said how she has many friends in Singapore. It was at the tip of my tongue to ask if she knew Rose, but then I thought better of it. Of all things i was surprised to find in Paris a Filipina house help still ranks the highest. Second is Ikea. Don't know why but I felt Parisienne's will be too stylish for Ikea so it does not exist in Paris. I was wrong.

It was a rainy evening, but my first one in Paris so I did not mind. Was lovely walking on the Pont de Neuf, looking at the glorious Eiffel Tower gleaming amongst the clouds and seeing the Lourve by night.

Ate French food, drank lovely French wine...

And while we walked back home, I was shivering and walking so slowly as I was terrified of slipping on the wet footpath, a stylishly dressed man approached us and asked "are you two together?" followed by "do you have a condom?". Heena managed to keep a straight face and politely reply no, while I just giggled uncontrobally.

That ended my first day in Paris.

Let's see what adventures await us on Bastille Day today! Heena just mentioned a firemens ball. Now that sounds interesting!

Au revoir!

* watched Vicky Donor. Was hilarious!! Anu Kapoor was superb. As was Dolly Auntie. Too funny!

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