Of course we’ve all fantasized of touring Paris, traversing La Seine in
boat, shopping and perhaps a romantic date. Yet, Paris is so much more than
this and so little.

While sitting at a corner cafe in Paris, you watch the world speed by
in a blur of cars with headlights on, interspersed with throngs of people
crossing the street with their coats trailing a centimeter behind.  You realize the level of multi-cultural
influences around. You see enough cars to spout out exotic names that your
car-buff friend will be proud of you. And then, you notice the quintessential
gray bicycles that are a mode of public transport. Simple, effective and
beautiful is all you can think about it. You notice business men stopping by
for a croissant, and women flipping their hair while walking to work; all of them occasionally glancing at the stores.  And what a number of stores!
Clothes of exquisite silk studded with crystals, of fine leather, of warm wool
and faux fur. And you even find cotton clothes imported from India!

Indeed, the tiramisu and creme brie were delectable soft desserts
that graced your tongue for one ephemeral pause.  But. Like all things that you describe about
in Paris, this too had its ‘but’ moment. Its portion size was just too small,
to give an apparent air of sophistication. Daring you to take mouse-sized
nibbles like pretentious people.  Served
on a white plate with a trail of raspberry sauce to decorate the empty white,
to give an appearance of the plate being laden with scrumptious soft dessert.

You can spend hours at the top of the Eiffel Tower, looking at
wax-lookalikes and the great sprawl of the city beneath. You can spot the football matches, hear the
din from the 
Sacra Caur Basilica and watch the lazy boats on the Seine. At dizzying heights, you can
feel the pure bliss of winds lashing against your face. You can see
  cobbled-stone roads and the newer tar ones.
They extend
ad inifitum, you think.

And so, with
conviction set in, you follow one of the tiny roads, wiggling out of the city
to a nearby town.

This town, quite
nameless, is a picturesque idyllic setting. Short houses, gabled roofs, pink
walls, shutters and awnings on the stores, and a smell of fresh herbs in the
garden which has hanging flowers.

You see a young
woman listening to the radio. And there are kids running about jabbering in
rapid-fire French that sounds oh-so-magnifique. You see a tiny shop, run by
some young men and an old woman helping around. The local patisserie, they are.
They invite you in; and there wafts a heavenly golden smell of baking mingled
with smell of sugar and spices.  They let
you try samples, at a size that could give the Parisien cafe a run for its
worth.

You use your basic
knowledge of French. A bonjour here,
a merci there, and a
 cestra da licieux. An old woman in a skirt
smiles at you and speaks in French. You reply, with a little hesitation speaking
slowly, pronouncing your words right. You speak of here and there. Of then and
now. Of everything in between.

Soon,
it’s time to leave. You pack some confectionaries, new friends and whole lot of
culture as you say :

Au revoir, mes amis !

(Note: Images belong to Laavanya S.)
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Laavanya Sankaranarayanan

Laavanya Sankaranarayanan

Science enthusiast. Writer.