“So you didn’t come to Trocadéro? I told you, you have to be at Trocadéro!”, exclaimed an incredulous friend of mine, plainly disappointed at my inability to follow his instructions.
“I came by bus, it was the other side so”, I apologized to this enthused French egg. But soon enough I had to submit to his proposal. This view was just perfect: a broad and clear frontal view of the Eiffel Tower. White and marble-paved with geometric floor-works, this spot guarantees a big wow, as you are struck by the golden-copper glimmer of this towering piece of architecture. With 72 names of male French scientists, engineers, and industrialists engraved on the four sides, there is strikingly no mention of the female contemporaries in similar professions. That apart, this place has a lot to offer to the tourists, even when sightseeing by foot. One could walk up straight to the tower, buy tickets to the top and enjoy a view of the city, and then stroll into the garden of Trocadéro, just around the corner, as I did. A good place to sit and relax, unless one walks into the east corner and it smells no good. The statuettes spread all over the garden are something to admire though.
So I began my day at Paris with Arc de Triomphe, right outside the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile metro. For the first time in my brief travels in Europe, I was hugely impressed by what I saw in front of me. Standing tall at 50m on its two mighty limbs, this site was constructed in memoriam of martyrs from the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Reminded me of India Gate!
I spent an effortless 35 minutes on the premises, admiring the carvings on the wall, flawless from the hair strands to the toenail, with the arm and calf muscles distinctly proving their point. But then the trouble began: with 12 freakishly wide avenues radiating from around this spot, I struggled to cross over to the other side of the road. I had to. Because I had spotted the Paris Eye. So I crossed anyway. Guilty and not proud.
At 13, when in High School, I had read “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. The twist in the tale takes place when Mathilde runs into Jeanne at Champs-Élysées. This name had stuck in my head ever since. 15 years later I walked across this street, straight out of the book. Just for the fun of it, I googled Rue des Martyrs, because my High School teacher had taken pains to explain why Maupassant would choose that street to portray Mathilde’s mortification.
Shiny shopping outlets pronouncing the Paris chic and trend would invite you inside if you have a big pocket. But in contrast to many big cities, where green is forgotten in the jungle of concrete and jingle of coins, Paris can boast of a great number of big gardens with trees lining the avenues.
The Seine paces its way through the city in its mirror clear waters. When walking through the streets tired me out, I always found my calm respite at its banks. A ferry full of gleeful tourists, cheering and waving at the onlookers is a pretty common sight. Imagine a sunset on the bridge with a hand to hold yours. Love blossoms, isn’t it? 🙂 Sure enough, a bunch of heart locks testifies to that.
There is indeed a lot to see around Champs- Élysées, and in a couple of hours, I knew how Joe Dassin was so very right! My next big stop had to be Eiffel, who had been stalking me around all this time, not to mention the numerous “Tour Eiffel” ads all over the place. The pride of Paris. The Eiffel stands all tall and glimmers in the midst of green. If you do not have a ticket to the top, but patience is your virtue, you might consider standing in a long queue. But since I had none, I thought it better to move on to the Louvre Museum. On my way to the Louvre, I chanced upon the Academie Nationale De Musique. They speak of little joys in life, and this one made my day. The performer and his little girl were singing to the cheering crowd. I could simply sit there all day listening to the duo, and with a score of Spanish tourists there, Despacito was bound to show up, and it did! A good thirty minutes later, a little reluctantly I got up, for the sake of my Disney dreams. No, not Disneyland (not this time sadly), but The Grand Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Once at the cathedral square, I found flocks of pigeons happily pecking away on the ground and one kind young woman throwing around handfuls of corn for them. Well as kind as playful. This unsuspecting balding man was scared out of his wits when she planted some corns stealthily on his head, and poor him got clawed on his scalp for a full minute. Lol. It was outright comic, and I was not even sorry!
A little walk down the street past the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation brought me to the cozy square next to the Palais de Justice. It gives a small town feel in the hustle of the city. Just right. Small souvenir shops and little eateries are lined up on each side to give you some happy hours. The souvenirs were a bit too much for the pocket, so I bombed my money on food! No side effect of guilt trips once you are full. Just run a mile. Or not. Whatevs.
My feet were hurting from all the walk, but I dared not to miss the Luxembourg Gardens, guaranteed both by my friend and Google to be a place of charm. It is ever so beautiful, with wide acres of neatly mowed grass and well-tended trees. The grand palace, the green promenade, the fountain, the little boats on the water, and the chatter of children bring forth the heart and soul of this place. Creates the perfect weekend evening that you are most likely to cherish. Only that I wish, here I had company. Or an ice-cream bowl.
So anyway, I had decided to wrap up my day with this when my two friends visiting the Formula E planned on visiting the Eiffel again. Seems like one simply cannot get enough of it! So off we went to Trocadéro again. But even then we missed the oh-so-pretty lit-up look of the tower because in May may the Sun not set before 8 at night.
Had I made my way to the tower top, probably I would have known what the big deal about kiss-at-the-Eiffel-top is all about. Guess I will have to hold it up until the next time when I have company to put a heart lock with, on that fairytale bridge over the Seine.
A right turn. Then a left. Again a right. Now straight. Still does not feel right. Another of my insomniac nights. It is 3 in the morning and I still cannot lull myself to sleep. It is summer and the cool waft through my couple-of-inch-open window sends me playful cues to let it in. I take the hint and throw open both the wide panes to welcome the soothing gusts and drench in it. As the wind races through my hair and ruffles my bangs, I sit up to admire the perfect full moon beaming down on life below.
The silver light is just right for romance. Not only lovey-dovey-romance, but the romance in exploration, the romance in stepping out or even the romance in simply looking deeper. I, with my narrow band of tolerance for “gooey romantic crap” (I am quoting a friend here), had forever found the link between lovers and moonlight supremely clichéd. But this time, maybe because I was crushing on a fellow human, I could appreciate why generations of poets and lovers found their inspiration in this bliss of a night. I have been in love before and we had our share of hand-in-hand walks in neon lit pavements. But the moonlight weaves a fairytale. If you think you need to be calmed down, if you think you need space from your partner, if you think you are about to commit something stupid, allow yourself this luxury of taking a pyajama-and-slippers stroll on a full moon night.
That night was one of several sleepless nights of being restless and indecisive, owing to my joblessness. I cannot simply not work, I have to wake up to a productively planned day. To work or not to work is my (in)discretion, but I require some job to look forward to when I wake up each morning. But things happen when they do. And I become restless-well, like always. But I can always count on the Moon, all silvery and beaming when I lay down at night, turn off the lights and look through the window.
I was born and brought up in a metropolitan of the 90’s. As I reminisce about my childhood days I find my best memories in summer evenings. There was a huge field right behind the house, and a huger pond bordered with Neem and Mango trees all around. The breeze whistling through tree leaves, the croak of the old frog and then the familiar tinkling of a bell. Right at 7, the ice-cream wala dada would call out “Mishti didi” for me, and ring his string tied bell. I would go hop-skip-and-jump all merry and free and indulge myself in a variety of popsicles. Orange-green-pink-even black! It was Happy Holi on my tongue every evening.
But one thing was amiss from the perfect picture. I could never, ever see stars in the gray sky. I was very little when I remember seeing a skyfull of little stars. And then again when I was 26. In Aachen, my current home. I just have to wait for it to be dark and simply look at the sky, and there they are- millions of them- winking at me. The first time I found my long lost stars, I sat through the night, looking at them. I had honestly forgotten that stars could be seen in a city. I think I even wrote a little poem about it.
Few years back when I was coping with a bad fallout with my bestie, I found my pill in ice-creams at 2 in the morning. But because of my recent broke girl status owing to no job and marginal savings, stocking up yum ice-creams for every night for 4 months is a desperate luxury. But walking in the moon bathed front yard comes at literally zero cost. Also you don’t go on a guilt trip on a nightly basis for consuming 414 calories, because lazybones as you are, you can stamp and seal that you would never work out. Plus inhaling night air makes you feel lighter even if you are on the wrong planet. So basically the returns are much higher than what the deceptive box of choco-chip butterscotch with walnut and honey encrusted with Nutella shell has in store. Get a grip. Don’t drool. Slip in your slippers and slip outta that door. The silver maiden and her twinkling girls are right there waiting to sweep you off your feet.
It was mid-June, past midnight. The perfect full moon, making the Mediterranean waters glow a soft silvery-white. Except for a dimly lit alley some 50 meters away, the only light in sight was that from a distant point source of a lighthouse. The sheer elegance of the brilliant silver beauty millions of miles above me and her twinkling company made the ambiance magical. The cool summer breeze caressed my skin and playfully ruffled my shoulder-length tresses. I inhaled deeply. The mild waft of the night made me feel so light from inside. It was silent all around, not a soul in sight. So I lay down on the shore, hands beneath my head and removed my glasses. I closed my eyes and let the sea waves do their thing. The breathtaking beauty. The chime of the sea waves as they flirted with the shore was a melody in itself. The Opera of that night. And I was the sole audience. As blue as ink-kissed water, the sky with its glittery adornments resonated with the sea, while the Moon stole the show. I lay there, stupefied by the sound of the silence, eerie and beautiful at the same time. Sparkling silver dots on blue and the soft hush of the waters that occasionally wetted my bare toes made me fall in love with the night.
It was straight out of the fairytales. The song and dance of the wavelets, the frolic of the breeze, the starglow and the enormity of the sky above blessing the earthlings with the touch of the moonbeam. Time seemed to have taken a stop too. Who could but not be enchanted by the magic woven? I did not bother taking a picture, knowing well that it would be a futility. No camera could ever capture the frame. I felt so alive and awake, and soaked it in with all my senses.
Nearly an hour had passed, when I reluctantly got up to return to the drabness of my hotel room. I could not bid it an immediate goodbye. It was like breaking up with an old lover. You cannot stay but you cannot leave. Its silent beckon holds you back for some more, that which can never fulfill your longing heart. I looked back and drank in its beauty with my impoverished eyes. Far away in the sea, a ship was sailing past. Although a beauty in the gleam of the moonlight, its enormity seemed so trivial from the shore. I was left to reflect how mighty these dark waters are: a mood swing and gigantic toys abreast could be reduced to nothingness in moments. How treacherous and deceptive these little playful waves at my feet are! One call from the mighty storm and all the drops in this expanse would rage in unison. Respect out of fear, I really felt that.
It was dangerously beautiful. Enriching. Endearing. Supremely bold. Something I had never experienced before. I felt so much at peace. I touched the waters for one last time as I got up to leave. I walked away, never turning back, hoping to return and delve in this luxury again and again.