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!


Titaxy said...

hmmm..didn't know it was this bad :-)...but hey, at least you got to see those nice places and have somewhat of a nice time, yeah?...well, thats what matters :)

Morpheus said...

I did indeed see the nice places and spaces..and soaked in the Parisian atmosphere!

Anonymous said...

havent been to paris..
but been to toulouse & madrid...and comparing them to london..
i agree..
madrid was the same.. dirty, grimy.. and grafiti all over the metro..
the only drawback on the london tube is the lack of air conditioning.. in summers.. its too stuffy!