I was in paris last week, the romantic city,as it is billed. I have been there twice before, in different phases of my life , and somehow the city gave me varying impressions , or rather I took away something different with me every time.
It is not just what a place or the people has to offer, it depends on your own perception and what you are willing to take away from it.
The first time was just before we were married, so the city really felt like the romantic capital of the world. The traffic or the noise didn’t matter, we were too absorbed in each other. We took a boat ride on the famous river, went on a night tour of the city ,and marvelled the beauty of the MoulanRouge . The high kicks and the glamour, as I an Asian girl with a conservative upbringing, watched wide eyed! I have never seen bare legs kicked in the air, or cleavages bared.
It was then that I ate fresh figs for the first time, a lunch of crispy fresh bread, cheese and figs ,was all we could afford ,and it was delicious.
The second time we went as a family, both my children were six and twelve ,and we were on a budget. We walked a lot and did all the touristy things, climbing the Eiffel Tower, gazing at the Mona Lisa and going around all the monuments and museums. While the children enjoyed, fought with each other and whined at times,I felt how different my state of mind was. I was pre occupied with making sure they were fed and entertained ,and sites didn’t matter to me at all, I was seeing everything from my children’s eyes.
Making sure that they learnt about things, while enjoying themselves, by the time we got back to the hotel in the evening ,i was exhausted. So that visit I thought was not registered in my memory.
This time I was accompanied with three of my grand daughters and my daughter in law. The girl are aged from almost ten to four and half. The visit started with problems, the train from Cambridge to Kings Cross,deposited us midway at Potters Bar, where ever that may be, Kings Cross and the station for Eurostar it wasn’t. From there they were bussing a train load of men, women and children ,via two rickety double decker buses, only up to Finsbury park, and then how we got to Kings Cross , was it seems up to us! Though we have paid up for our journey to Kings cross. The progress of cars is slow in London, but imagine double decker buses chugging through the traffic, we probably would have got to Kings Cross at midnight.
Negotiating the double decker with three children, push chair and luggage looked difficult,not to mention the long queues snaking to get on. Taxis were only going to take near Kings Cross,but not to the actual place for around £165!
Anyway it was suggested by one cab driver that he will take us to Barnet,and from there we could take a train ,which will take us to Eurostar ,in about 30 minutes. By know we knew that we have missed the connection!
We did manage to get the later train and arrived in Paris around 7Pm, it was not quite sunny but was warm and overcast.
The three days that followed were delightful, and added a new experience to my life ,that of Euro Disney! Though it rained the whole day we were there,but the place was full of children and parents and grand parents.And we all were bent upon having fun,and had fun we did.
We went to the other things too, The Louvre , the museums and the top of the Eiffel Tower. I found that some memories were painful, I found looking at the same things ,I could see myself ,when I was a wide eyed romantic ,and then a young mother ,leading my children through the wonders of the city.
This time it felt as if I was an onlooker , happily watching the next generation explore and be wide eyed.
I have ,I thought have come full circle.