Paris - The start of a love story
When I decided to make Paris my first-ever international destination, I had no clue it was going to become the second-biggest, second-most-life-changing love affair of my life. I mean, I was expecting to be blown away and all. But this gentle but tenacious grip on my heart - that, I’m not, was not, prepared for. This welt where flowers and memory twist into some kind of delirious dream of rose gold light, bonjour-smiles, the smell of freshly baked bread and yes, the Eiffel Tower.
The husband and I never got to take a “honeymoon” right after our wedding. Work was crazy and we couldn’t get enough time for a quick getaway. So we reconciled to the fact that there would be no honeymooning for us. Instead we trained our sights on a “honeyadventure” instead. And I think I’d take a honeyadventure any day. It suits a couple who was wedded in harum-scarum heaven. To call my marriage with Sahit ‘eventful’, would be an understatement. So far, it’s been a lot of potential disasters changing their mind to be ‘orchestrated-perfection’ in the very last minute before complete-total-kaboom. The heart’s gotten used to leaping to my mouth, only to melt into the warm honey of a relieved sigh. So yeah, honeyadventure is very appropriate in our story.
The day of our honeyadventure dawned bright and beautiful and wildly early in a studio. We were shooting an ad on the very day we were leaving. And I don’t call Sahit ‘Director 52-takes for nothing and I knew for a fact that Sahit would rather miss his flight than not get his perfect shot - so yes, the heart got busy prancing on its trampoline. But the patron saint of good travels grinned and thumbs-upped us and we wrapped up the shoot well in time to catch our red-eye connecting flight to Dubai. Don’t believe me if I try to play it cool and pretend like I wasn’t excited about my first ever Emirates flight. I have no idea why I was losing my s**t over a flight. But yeah - blame it on childhood deprivation or something. My excitement was dampened by the fact that all I could see from my flight to Paris was one gigantic wing, which though it did its job as an airplane wing rather fabulously, but wasn’t much to look at. Imagine not SEEING Paris form into roads and buildings and landscapes from indeterminate boxes of land and map layouts. It’s very well that the food was great and the steward was willing to humour me by taking my non-existent French for a walk. Not the first weird Indian he’s dealt with. Won’t be the last.
We landed on Paris soil and immediately we were initiated into that particular sacred ritual of being a tourist in Paris - waiting in a queue that was stubborn about going on forever. But jokes aside, the immigration officer was so pleasant that I was like “Well Paris, let’s do this!”
First things first - when in Paris, decipher the metro code. I’d sent the husband of the absolutely cute face to enquire about the system. He comes back with more than just intel. He comes back with the holy grail - passes that would take us just about anywhere in Paris for a whole week. We went down to the metro station feeling extremely confident about things. Until I peeked into the train and saw nothing like our destination written anywhere. A nice French man tried to help me out - but obviously I was past help and he had a train to catch. But hello, I have a bone to pick with the person who said that the French are rude. THEY ARE NOT! I call my Airbnb host with hopelessness and she guides me through it with the patience of a teacher. She told me that I needed to get to Paris first. Damn! Moment of revelation didn’t make me feel very intelligent. Meanwhile the husband had wandered off and returned with more tourist gold - the metro map, which would turn out to be our faithful companion for the next one week. The map is to understanding Paris, was what the enchantment was to the marauder’s map of Harry Potter fame. It made the metro reveal all its twisty coloured-line secrets to us. I cannot begin to describe that feeling when you’ve cracked the code and it all begins to make sense. Perfect, crystal sense. We took the RER B from Charles De Gaulle (CDG) to Chatlet
to Neuilly Sur Seine.
Not sure if it was the long journey or the weight of the luggage, but our brains were rendered a little useless and we couldn’t find our host’s street on from a roundabout. We were walking dazed and confused when an elderly French lady walked up to us and enquired “Are you Sahit!?” The sweet woman came down to the street to find us because we clearly sounded so clueless. For the next eight days, Inkerman Boulevard was our neighbourhood. And it couldn’t have been more perfect. Clean roads made more photogenic by rows of London Plane trees, gorgeously-dressed gorgeous people, a boulangerie just a stumble away, quiet that was oft punctuated by the growl of a Ferrari. At night, distant music swirled with faint laughter in the glass of soft-yellow dinner party lights.
It was just enough to make you feel like you were on first name basis with bliss. Like you sent it WhatsApp forwards and it sent you acknowledging emojis and hung-out with you at coffeeshops that played good indie music. It felt familiar - old-friend-like. When in truth, I’d never been abroad in my life and had hankered after it all of my 33 years. But there’s this thing about right things at the right time. And at that moment, my first evening in Paris with this devilishly handsome man, this simplifier of foreign public transport systems and all things life - I truly felt the universe’s infinite wisdom. This moment had been waiting in the wings for a long time. It knew its cues and could recite its lines in its sleep. It had in place an elaborate repertoire of sighs and it was just waiting. Waiting for this boy to show up, so that this moment could reverse domino its self into happening. And he did and it did. And it was perfection.