30 September 2013

But it happened in Paris

Last Wednesday I ground my heels to a pulp and exhausted my hamstrings on my visit to Paris, which was my first. 

Paris intimidates me. I mean, it overwhelms me. I could have gone sooner, but I postponed because I always felt there should be a purpose for me to go to Paris for the first time, a vector that would define my direction amidst the streets laid out with millions of stories and more crumbs and keep me grounded in the constant flow of bon jour, oh la la and oui oui mixed up with the scent of yeast every other block and expensive perfume.

My good friend Morgane was going to hold her art jewelry exhibition in La Ville-Lumière.

I woke up in the depth of morning to catch the 6.34am train to Paris. The darkness seemed unfriendly. My brain and body weakened by the soft pillow and blanket, I felt against the trip. Anthony was supposed to go with me, but had gotten sick. I was at an arm's length from telling Morgane that I, too, won't be coming, but she cleared her schedule to wander with me, and her show was the main motive for my little grand tour. Still, I got out of bed at a quarter past five, half an hour later. I secretly wished to miss the train. Slowly I got ready, as if daring the clock. I poured myself a bowl of honey granola, the rustle of the grains against the porcelain, but left it undisturbed. I tucked the remnants of a chocolate bar in my handbag and made my way outside. The roads and sidewalks kept quiet, the stillness calmed me. I arrived at the train station early and gave Anthony a call. How are you feeling -- any better? I'm still not sure if I should go alone, I'll decide the last moment when I see the train. Try and get some sleep. 

The train pulled in on time, my carriage right in front of me. I stood there tormented by uncertainty when a conductor reached out to see my ticket. I stepped in. The bar carriage was next to mine, it pleasantly smelled of coffee inside. At 9.40am I was in Paris, and I had nine and a half hours till my train back.

I took few pictures and didn't see the Eiffel Tower. The famous Rose Bakery's (46 rue des Martyrs) carrot cake -- plus a carrot salad and a muffin with fresh figs and blackberries -- check. Admittedly the best falafel sandwich -- eaten on the street (L'As de Falafel, 34 rue de Rosiers); cool infrequent rain drops on our faces in contrast with the fiery sauce on our tongues -- in Paris, check. Six hours of pure walking, check. Gold, Butter & Ripe Lemons -- thoughtful and stylish -- check. I saw necklaces, brooches and penchants by six different artists, and a lemon-shaped brooch that Morgane made out of plastic and that had more bubbles in it than the most sparkling water in Paris. 

It was a hot day. Apart from a pack of stray rain clouds in the late afternoon, the sun showed confidence. Those with jackets and coats on had to take them off. Walking down the hilly roads away from Montmartre, we were about to cross over when a shuttle bus slowed down at a stop and obstructed our way. As we walked around it I felt the heat of its exhaust fumes around my bare ankles. No smell, it felt soft and pleasant, like a human breath. I thought, it could have happened anywhere, but it happened in Paris. I liked it.