A pinch of Paris

“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!

DSCN0580
Arc de Triomphe

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.

DSCN0605
The Paris Eye

DSCN0608

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.

DSCN0720

 

Sliver of Silver

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.

11401098_871786296208322_3273392541927067873_n

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.

You take My Breath Away

DSCN0037

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.

Just Jokin’

Some jokes are so funny that you cannot stop yourself from ROFLing. Some others are so bad that that it becomes funny and you cannot stop yourself from ROFLing. In fact it is the Type 2 ones that never lose their flavour. You tell and re-tell them and they never get old. You recount it, and there you go LOLing again. It is pure fun to make fun of the unsuspecting mind and the uninhibited mouth that let it off as a joke. Especially for people like me, for whom strong friendships are built on the pillars of IBH (Insult based humour) it is food for the soul. Also be warned, this category of people (count me in) are very quick to notice any slip-of-tongue or any stupid or funny or stupidly funny gesture one makes. They remember it and at times when it is okay -or so they think- to embarrass their friends in public, they just let it go, and derive devilish pleasure out of the situation that their red-faced yet amused friend has been plonked into. Laughing hard with friends is one of the bestest feelings, but laughing AT them..wins hands down!

Type 1 , the genuinely funny ones need not be elucidated. We had all had plenty of those. But they are tricky, because they get into the skin. I don’t know about you, but I take the (dis)credit of disrupting a pin-drop-silence or a seemingly grave ambiance, with an abrupt HAHAHAHA and then coming back to the senses and being civil again. All thanks to my wandering and inattentive mind that out of the blue, decides to take a stop at a decade old memory that has got nothing to do, even remotely, to the present. Naivety. Agreed. But its a bother to keep a check on the self , when the self is physically in the present, but mentally at her much loved funzone. I choose, usually naivety over being discreet and usually pay the price by being banished from the said place.The little pangs of guilt are very soon and shamelessly forgotten though.

Among the rest are few of these:

  1. Agreeably funny (HAHAHAHmmm..)
  2. A-little-funny (HAHA, fullstop and silence)
  3. You-are-so-funny!-ask-me-out-please? (*all giggles*)
  4. His-crush-is-approaching-pretend-he-just-said-something-funny (Pity Laugh)
  5. You-are-so-naive,kid!  (Affectionate laugh)
  6. When-you-feature-opposite-RanbirKapoor (I don’t really buy it though)
capture
Source: RK-Laugh

Jokes are healthy. Joking is wise! Free you up, don’t they? And aren’t they even more fun to recount?  So even if you don’t have an apple a day, get your free shot of fun and I promise it will work like magic ! A happy mind can do wonders. So keep LOLing and every time you feel not so great, try recounting the nonsense that can make you laugh. It feels good, so good!

PS: Feel free to share your views. Cheers!

 

 

 

Mishti and Me

One of the toughest things I had to do till date was to leave the first love of my life behind as I shifted base to an alien city in North India. It was challenging, and I missed ‘us’ all the time. Some days it was so bad that I would call up home and talk about nothing but our eternal love story, and how happy I was then, and how crappy I feel now. But I learnt to survive, and gradually my heart settled for what I was too snobbish to consider earlier.

But honest to God, you have no competition. I miss you sorely, dear Rosogolla.

I drool as I begin to write on the undying love I profess for all things sweet. SwEEEter, the better. Yes, with capital E’s. Give me a box of candies anytime, and you won’t find a happier soul. Better still, treat me to a platter of sweetmeats, at any odd hour of our twenty-four, and I will consume it with unadulterated relish. The little bursts of sweetness, and the mushy sounds made when these heavenly delights crumble in the mouth, soothe my being. Not to forget the mellow aftertaste that lingers behind. I love sweet. With my mind and soul. I live to eat- Mishtis.

Back home, not a day passed when I did not treat myself to a handsome amount of mishtis. It was either the boon of Rosogolla or the double delight of KheerKodomthe mouth-watering Chhanar Payesh or the delectable Lyangcha; the yummy Sondesh or the potful of chilled Mishti Doi, only to mention a few. Sunday mornings were incomplete without my plateful of scrumptious Jalebis  which I would savour bit by bit, happily munching on till sweet was the only taste my buds could tell.

Birthday celebrations, in every Bengali household begin with a customary big bowl of Kaju-Kishmish encrusted, Kesar laced delicacy of Payesh prepared by Ma with all her devotion. And you simply cannot say no to that. Or even put it off. She takes it as a personal offense, mind you. It has got to be the first thing you taste on your birthday. Bengali moms be like, “it marks a sugar-coated beginning to your new life”, though I guess, it has got more to do with the feeling of contention she experiences when she sees her child well fed with food she so lovingly prepared.

My taste buds have now adapted to the flavor of  North Indian sweets. Though mostly on the drier side, except maybe, Gulab Jamun, I enjoy them nonetheless. I sometimes skip dinner for a veg burger and a ton of Jalebis.  Gajar ka halwa, soan papdi (ranging from orange to strawberry to chocolate flavored), gujiya, besan ka laddoo, doda and what not! But sweet shops are not as frequent over here as I would  love them to be, and so my diet of sweets gets curbed, though not so much, thanks to the occasional solitary sweet that I get to have with my office thali at lunch. Call me selfish if you will, may hail and storm come, but I cannot get myself to share my sweet with others around the lunch table. Though, I wouldn’t say a no, if you offered me yours. I can have Rasgullas anytime I want, but sadly, here they do not come with the divine smell of syrup soaked earthen pot (which Rosogollas come in, in contrast), that drenches your olfactory senses with unparalleled satisfaction. I can never forget that smell, even if I tried to. I have grown up with it, for it.

I hear from my Ma that I have always loved eating sweets. Even as a tiny tot, I would ask for mishti, and not fries or chips, like my peers did. I even remember that shop beside my kindergarten school, where Ma would take my sister and me for our daily treat of sweets after a four hour gruelling session of “A for apple, B for ball”. I mostly used to choose a swan shaped sweet which had this thick sweet syrup sealed inside.I imagine that is what heaven must taste like!

photo-31
Haansh Mishti

……………………………………………..

Maybe because of my love for sweets, my grandma chose to call me Mishti, to celebrate the relationship my senses share with this one thing that can never fail me. Even when things go wrong and life seems messy, one chunk of this sheer goodness can bring a smile to my face and a smack on my lips!

I came. I saw. I did a little shopping.

Women. And their undying fetish for shopping. I belong to the same race, and like a majority of my kind, have a firm faith in the excercise. To the rest it may be acquiring goods in exchange of cash, but to us, it holds a broader picture and a deeper meaning. It is a therapy! And it works. Every. Freakin’. Time.

Pupils dilated from staring at the screen of your desk(lap)top. Eyes are sore. You need a break. You need a Kit-Kat. You plan to buy it from the cafeteria downstairs. Buy.. Buy! Long time since you bought a dress. Let’s do some shopping! You forget your Kit-Kat and sink back into your chair with a tiny surge of excitement building up inside you. Jabong, Myntra, Abof, Flipkart, Amazon, YEPME..and what not! You have so many options to explore. Spoilt for choice.

Omygawd I love these dresses! This pink princess look or the bold red one? The tangy green or the nascent beige? Nope, this royal blue one is out of the world. So is this golden one. Uh-oh. Maybe I will buy all six. But whoa..the prices. But maybe it is worth it? Or maybe it is not as great as it looks? Worth a shot?  Well, maybe I will save up for a couple of  months and then I can get it, but I must have it at all costs. You drool on. As you mentally try on that little black dress, you cheer up a bit. I will pair it up with strappy stilettoes. And a stringy silver anklet.What about the handbag? And the head gear? Maybe I will go a bit Gothic. All black. Smudges and tans. Thick lines of Kajal. Look at me! The Glam Doll that can make the busiest heads turn. You are smiling at the thought..smiling..till you are grinning from ear to ear! Yes I will definitely buy it. Or them. The mere prospect of owning that great dress rejuvinates you. You get back to work, now refreshed, mind you, without that Kit-Kat.

featured-image2

Every girl, well I guess quite a many, dream of a wardrobe full of clothes, each more classy than the other, and a closet full of matching shoes and of purses to go with every look she wants to carry. We fall in love with shoes, and dream about it for days on end.Sometimes I get the feeling that this shoe is meant for me, just like Cinderella’s little glass slipper. We try them on, click ourselves in them and relish the pretty picture right at our feet. And in a tragic turn of events, finally when we do muster the courage (and cash) to claim it, it goes out of fashion, and the whole world seems a a big fat lie.But on the other hand, when you get the same item at a discounted rate (it must still be in fashion) you feel like it was worth the wait. I have infact seen girls thank their stars when they finally manage to get their hands on a long cherished item, which has recently come within their scope of purchase.Girls are that crazy about shopping!

Shopping soothes us. Makes us happy. Just like the smell of a new book, or that of freshly cut grass, or the smell of rain soaked earth, that churns your insides so melodiously that you fall in love with it. You yearn for it. Fresh shopping smells similar. Weaves into our senses.And it becomes an experience.