Sunday, September 27, 2009

Its time to let go.

I saw you and thought I could love you and get something back also perhaps. I could find love and warmth within you. I thought I would be secure and comfortable. In you I would find a haven of peace, away from the big bad world, confident of being secure and warm. I could call you mine and introduce you to all those I love and like. I could be myself. I could rest. Worn out and tired and cold..and I would come to you..looking for everything and much more. You were my identity.

Finding you, was such a relief. I could finally stop looking, checking, meeting, fixing, booking my diary, calling various numbers. When I found you I thought this would be end of my hunt. The looking, checking and saying 'pass' to get to the next one. The never ending lacking, the eligibility criterion set by me..were not met by all. But you, you were the one I would want. I could put money on it.

But you were cold. Empty. Dark. You gave little. You made me shiver and you made me sad. You made me worry and you brought me bad news and bad luck. I could not change you, no one could change you. You will always be cold. It did not work. And while I wish you no ill, I wish good luck to whoever, should anyone ever, wants you.
The song playing on repeat inside my head now says...This is the end, my friend, the only friend, the end. long..was nice being here, but its time to move on.
Indeed it is..time to move. To pack and move. To find another house to love and cherish.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You dont know who you are, till you are out of your pond.

I did not know how English I have become till I went to France.
Lovely architecture, great weather, very good wine (i dont like cheese so wont comment) and very stylish people. Yes the city of Paris had an atmosphere of a certain kind.
But..yes there is a but. was dirty, the pavements had junk, the streets had graffiti, the subways had water (I do hope it was water) leaking across platforms, the metro stations stank like public toilets!! Uff..and no, before you say London is the same and so are other European cities... this is not the outskirts I am talking about..this is near the Champs Elysees, near the Louvre, near the Notre Dame cathedral..oh boy. I was surprised.

It does not end here. The English it seems have made an art of queuing up. It only needs two people to stand one behind the other to start the formation of a queue here. People will join in an orderly fashion, wait and shuffle along (patiently in most cases) to reach the end of the queue. It is not unusual for people to bring along books/ newspapers to read if they know they shall be in the queue for a while. It is almost an institution to queue in the UK. So was I surprised to find people not queuing in Paris? Yes! They stand on the side, they push past you, they wriggle past you (shoulder shrugs used in vast quantities here) just to get ahead. At the Eiffel Tower this was most evident..and a city known for its museums (and therefore queues) it can put you off.

It does not end here either. The tube in London is used by thousands of people..well maybe not just thousands..but its mostly clean, its worn out and tired looking sometimes but it does not smell as much as the French RER & Metro. Oh boy..there was chewing gum, what I think was water, dust and grime!

Am I sounding like I am complaining? Well read on coz I am not done yet.

Well, having flown to many places, many times, I am well drilled in the check in process, check in, clear security, get rid of liquids under 100ml, sit in lounge, board and go.Right? Well it seems that at CDG, Paris..the boarding/ waiting lounges past security have no toilets. No siree! If you want to use a toilet, you need to leave the lounge, go and come back in only after clearing security all over again. Guess who was smart enough to drink enough water to need to toilet, and therefore spent all of 2 hours in a queue (the flight was delayed! thank heavens!).

Phew. Rant over!
I loved the city, the architecture, the food, Buddha Bar, Ferragamo store, Louvre Museum, the top of the Eiffel and La Defence. So though its incredible..its has sides of it which were unexpectedly and disappointingly poorly maintained and organized.

And the strange feeling of relief when I landed in UK was unusual for me. Yes this has been home for a while..and though I miss my friends etc when I am away from here, I never really see things for what they are when I am here. Sure I moan about the over crowded tube, sure I moan about needing to stand in queues and hate flying anywhere from heathrow. So this whole compare and contrast and therefore by default appreciate was most unexpected!! I dont tend to do this comparison in other countries ever..I dont know if the England Vs France hatred has permeated subconsciously? or its just the surprise of being in the 'beautiful city of Paris'..I dont know. Not sure. But leaving my pond to see another non familiar pond was a good critical thinking exercise!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Problem with Being French

Is that you speak English with a strange accent...
Is that your long features and aquiline noses make you look like a snob...
Is that you have the ability to speak through shoulder movements alone...
Shrugging can depict: yes, no, maybe, dont know, dont care, forget it...
A scrunched up nose can depict: funny, yes, no, maybe, dont know, dont care, forget it.
You do the 'bored' look effortlessly...
You might be known for the 'passion' but you dont look like you would enjoy the thought...
You look cool, but not as cool as the Italians...
You look hot, but not as hot at the Spanish...

- And that ladies and gentlemen is based on the French stereotype + observations of a few French friends and colleague over the past few years. But then...I met and saw some of this stereotyped category recently when I went to get a visa to get into France. And while I waited..I watched, not stared but watched and was amused by how much truth lay in the stereotype!

Must say, they were quick, despite the language barriers.
They were efficient despite the gallic shrugs and the nose scrunching.
They looked cool, despite the large amount of black in the room, sharp haircuts and statement making eye wear.

And now I am Paris. To see the one city which I have managed to miss in my 10 years of living in Europe. The one city which I want to see, but did not want to do it alone for some strange reason (talk about stereotype). And not in the summer (have visions of wind blown walks on a rain slicked Avenue des Champs-Élysées). The paintings, the sculpture, the architecture....have read a large amount about it, have heard painting described in loving detail by my grandpa. Have studied French History at a grad level and now. Now I get to see some parts of it! whey-hey!

Image Credit: Benh shall use it till I can get some of my own or from Marooned

Friday, September 04, 2009

Notting Hill

And despite a pact to never go again..I did go to the Notting Hill Carnival!

Yes, it is Europe's largest street party. Its loud, its open, its funny and it is full of people peddling drugs like any other party/ festival. There is alcohol to be consumed and jerk chicken to be savoured, celebrities to be spotted, all fun.

Part of the fun is also having people brush past you mumbling, 'get me, 5 rolls for a tenner, get me!' and then there will be yet another who shall walk past quickly mumbling, 'weed, grass, marijuana, e, speed - cheap'. Different strokes for different folks..whatever you speak, you would get what you want there. No problem.

Yet another element of fun were the glass pieces on the floor..with 1 million people pushing through London's narrow streets, its often hard to see where you are going. Mix glass shards with horse droppings (from the Met police on horses) and you get a unique mix of stuff that can screw your flip flop clad feet in more ways than one.

The fun also comes for many in the form of amazingly skimpily clad not in the parade..but watching the parade and shaking their...booties (for lack of an appropriate term) in time to the music coming from the steel bands going past. Some of these skimpily clad women and men were this time around coated in much of could smell it at a distance! Some of them were not clad at all..! I had much fun watching the starer and the stared.

What was not fun were the 222 arrests made in 1 day of people causing trouble..peddling not just drugs & alcohol, but also those carrying knives and guns, wearing bullet proof jackets..using the notorious for its high level of 'danger' to the common person. Riots are known to break out during the carnival as gang wars find a place to be executed. Therefore the police was out in large numbers too! Which was comforting at some level..but slightly disturbing as always.

This does sound like a report of the was not meant to be. I am sure most carnivals have drugs and alcohol as part of the atmosphere. So I am down to my pet peeve..guns! Held by an officer - intimidating, held by a criminal - upsetting/ scary. But guns in a carnival - pathetic, depressing, annoying..its meant to be a party of good music, dancing on the streets, dressed up people, good food and many smiles. Yet we have people with guns walking around..and not just the police.

Am I being naive/ pathetic myself by being upset? Are guns now a part of our so called 'society'? Or is this just so in UK/ US? and does not happen in Rio? or in Bombay for visarjan? Anyone been part of the Ganpati visarjan crowd for a whole day? I want to hear from you.