A Walk Around Paris (A poem)

History culture and pride
All of it you will notice…
What is better you can’t decide
When you take a walk around Paris…

The galleries and the cafes
It seems like a sweet promise…
Your eyes will open up and gaze
When you take a walk around Paris…

You will forget your every problem
And smile amid the deepest of crisis..
On every street you will feel welcome
When you take a walk around Paris…

You will discover your own inner artist
Whether you are an expert, or a novice
The warmth makes you forget you’re a tourist
When you take a walk around Paris…

Near the Cite Metro Station in Paris

Near the Cite Metro Station in Paris

Musings in Paris

I love my writings, and now that I call myself a writer, I can’t wait to write after anything interesting happens. While I was in Paris recently, I had a lot of such moments, but since I never carried my laptop outside and was too tired when we got back to our hotel, I could do very little writing. The best I could write was a paragraph each day to capture something interesting from the day. Lack of time forced the writing to be short and precise. I am listing some of such musings below which I wrote in Paris –

“Today I saw two pairs of legs getting out of the metro, and I couldn’t help but follow them. The high heels, the stockings, the red streaks in her blond hair and the clothing breathed of chic fashion from inside out. They walked slowly so I overtook them in no time and turned to take a glance at what I hoped would be faces of two young women. But alas, I was in Paris, and they were at least 60 years old. Yet they had eyebrows properly made, that highlighter type thing was visible on their eyes, and the red lipstick was ever evident. After being in Paris for 4 days now, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Not anymore.”

“I like to walk, and I like to jog. Especially in a new city. Recently when I was in Jaipur, I went out for a jog at 6 am and got reconnected with the city where I once spent 4 years. Today, on a chilly Sunday morning, I got up early at 7 am (late by my standards, but we are on vacations!) and went out for a jog near my hotel. Being a Sunday and that early, most of the shops were closed and streets deserted except the trash pick-up trucks and some fellow joggers. It’s amazing how much you notice in an early morning jog than you would in an afternoon walk.

I saw the pick-up trucks doing their job so efficiently, stopping and picking up waste every 100 meters and then holding on to the back of the trucks and moving on. The fellow joggers – I must have seen people from France, US, somewhere in the middle east, another Indian couple, and some Englishmen certainly today morning. I noticed the construction work happening near a metro station I jogged by, and I noticed the closed Carrefour store as well as a MacDonads and Subway restaurant.”

To Eat Like The French Do Is To Cherish / Enjoy Life

To Eat Like The French Do Is To Cherish / Enjoy Life

“I notice that we are zipping past a lot of Parisians as we walk by. We are used to walking fast, living in Delhi and Mumbai. But here people seem relaxed as they walk. Some couples will stop for 10 seconds and steal a passionate kiss, right in front of us. They walk slowly soaking in the cool breeze and the smell of coffee from the roadside cafes. They seem to cherish life and this exact moment unlike us who always seem to be heading somewhere else. That makes me think – where am I going? And do I have to?”

“I know French, so does my wife. But we speak French like Indians speak any language – in different tones depending on our moods and situation we are in. But it is a totally different experience hearing French words from local people here. At first, I thought they were singing something. They speak so politely and softly, and Francaise anyways is a very phonetic language. Even if they fight (I saw only instance of people arguing), it doesn’t look like an argument.”

“Bonjour, Bonjour – it means have a good day. I was surprised to get this greeting from people walking on the streets, from people in the metro, from shop owners as we walk pass by their shops. This is the norm here, people just smile and wish others for the day ahead. Paris was cold, but such pleasantries made our days warm. Nobody ever got killed for smiling and wishing a stranger!”

“These pigeons are fat. Certainly fatter than the ones back home. Some are so fat they can’t even fly. But they are cute, and lovely. They come near you, and look for food. For Parisians treat them as well as they treat themselves. We gave them chocolates, and they were happy eating it off my hand. They sit, walk right beside you without getting scared. Sometimes they fly too!”

“They wore black dress with armor, which looks similar to the ones I wear when I go long distance on my motorcycle. They had guns too. But the best accessory the French Police was wearing, was their smile. They were on motorbikes, on cycles, on horses and in cars and vans. One child was crying in the Tuilieries Gardens, and two policemen turned around their cycles to check on the guy and his dad. How sweet and poetic!! “

Paris on Foot – Walking and Exploring

After spending a week in Paris, one thing I enjoyed most was exploring the city on foot. Given my liking to long walks which I developed in Bangalore, I loved to explore and observe all the little details of Paris which is possible only when walking. The luxury of walking without a time line and a destination makes it such a fun activity. You can stop anywhere you want, stare at whatever catches your attention, get into a conversation with locals, or just continue walking. Below are a few highlights of Paris which I explored by walking around.

We could see people from almost every country

We could see people from almost every country

Walking by Siene
The river Siene is Paris’ lifeblood. It flows right across the center of the city, and most major landmarks are situated around it. A stroll along its banks is the best way to discover Paris anyday. There are numerous bridges along the length of the river, each of a different architecture and historical significance. On both sides of the bridge, there are tourist spots as well as numerous cafes and restaurants. Every pillar, piece of rock or metal is beautifully designed and it is difficult to keep our eyes (or cameras) off them.

One of the many beautiful bridges across the Siene

One of the many beautiful bridges across the Siene

The Cold Wind makes Walk feel even better
Considering Paris is rather cool throughout the year, there is a cool breeze always blowing. And if it rains, like it did when we were in Paris, the winds can turn to chilly. Walking is the best way to get some body heat and enjoy the beauty that Paris has to offer. It is always refreshing to take detours into the little alleys and absorb the little details.

A Souvenir shop, discovered only because of walking

A Souvenir shop, discovered only because of walking

Walk-able City
In contrast to our cities back home, Paris comes across as a walkable city. Most of the main sights are close to each other. The streets can be small but there is always a foot path to walk. There are numerous cafes along the way so you can always drop in and take that cup of coffee or beer if you get tired.

This is arguably the most famous shopping street in the world

This is arguably the most famous shopping street in the world

A queue outside the Louis Vuitton store

A queue outside the Louis Vuitton store

Arc De Triomphe to Champs Elysees to Tuileries Gardens
One of the best stretch we walked in Paris was from the Tuileries Gardens to the Arc De Triomphe. The garden is right next to the Louvre, and there were people of all ages relaxing in the sun. After that, we walked on the avenue des champs-elysees which is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the world. We walked there, stopped to see the various branded shops we saw there. There were people from almost every country out there, and I must say it got pretty crowded in the evening. At the end of the avenue we have the Arc De Triomphe, with its unmistaken similarity to our own India Gate.

Arc de Triomphe - find it familiar?

Arc de Triomphe – find it familiar?

The Beauty of Paris

Paris is often called the “most beautiful”, “most romantic” and the “most artistic” city in the world and I can testify that it did not disappoint us (me and Snneha) when we visited Paris for 8 days last month. When talking about Paris and beauty, it is something very difficult to describe in an article, yet I am going to try. If I have to sum Paris up in one word, it would be “SPECTACULAR”..
Eiffel at Night

Eiffel at Night



What makes Paris spectacular?

Everything about Paris is artistic, so well designed that you can’t believe some of the details. The perfect blend of modern technology with art with the keen attention to detail – from the Eiffel Tower to every croissant or cappuccino or chocolate you treat yourself with in its numerous roadside cafes.
Things which we take for granted, and won’t even notice in our own cities are designed with so much attention to detail that will make you stop and stare at them in astonishment. The exact same design of the branches of each tree on Paris streets makes you astonish in wonder – Is that by design? Details, details and details – they are not overlooked in Paris and that is what makes the experience so magical.
If you are a food lover, the choices you will find on Paris streets are endless. From the coffee to the chocolate to the croissants to the cheese, you will be left asking for more every time. The patisseries, the bakeries, the wine shops and open markets all add to its charm. And you can’t leave Paris without tasting their crepes.
Fashion in Paris

Fashion in Paris


While heading back to the airport, we decided to go via the Metro and RER. At the interchange, we had 3 big bags of luggage to tug along the many different staircases on the Metro station. At each and everyone of these, we found a local Parisian who voluntarily (without asking) picked one of our suitcases and carried it over the stairs for us. That speaks more than anything else.
Paris is a historical city, and how they have preserved their heritage and culture is a lesson to be learned by many other cities. The numerous museums, cathedrals, palaces are icons which are integral to what Paris is. It is not just the tourist attractions, even a glance at the hotels and apartment complexes around Paris will make you realise that there is something unique about them in the way they are designed and constructed.
Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Any description of Paris can be incomplete without Shopping and Fashion. Among the top 4 cities of the world for shopping (along with Milan, New York and London), it is home to numerous global brands like Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chloe, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, L’Oreal and Sephora, among many others. You can notice the affinity for fashion among its citizens if you take a stroll across any Paris street. And it is not just the younger ones, and a sight sixty year old women in a mini-skirt and with make up all over their face is not uncommon at all.
More to follow..

The Perfect Road Trip

I believe that there is no better way to see and experience the beach, the snow clad mountains, or the plains than from behind a automobile, be it a two or a four wheeler. With every glance of a long weekend, you know the time has come to pack your bags and head off in one or the other direction. Sometimes it is the destination that matters, but most of the times it is the journey that makes the drive worth it. The sheer sensation when you feel the cool breeze turn into chilly winds as you ride up the hills, or the experience of breathing fresh air that you can never find in cities is unmatchable. Needless to say, the best way to experience rain is get out of your vehicle and get drenched.

My idea of a perfect road trip has three components – the vehicle, the company you have and the where and how of reaching your destination.

The Company
If I recall my most memorable trips, it has been because of the people I have for company. The fun I had with my colleagues at Jim Corbett Park in 2006, then with a different set of colleagues at Mashobra in 2008 was unforgettable. My recent trip to Paris with my wife also ranks high up because of the wonderful company I had. It is the company which decides how many memories you will carry back and how you will remember a trip after a few years. My idea of a perfect company could be two – One with a group of friends/family and another with your partner/spouse. One could be about adventure, fun and leg pulling while the other can be about romantic walks and quite evenings. While one can be crazy, the other can be mesmerizing. While one can be loud, the other can be serene. While one can help you feel the thrill of living each moment, the other can remind you of the beauty that is love and to enjoy the various serendipitous moments it might offer.

The Scorpio can be your ideal vehicle for a drive up the Himalayas

The Scorpio can be your ideal vehicle for a drive up the Himalayas

The Destination and the Journey
The second most important component to any trip is the where and how to reach there. Precisely, where is the destination that one is heading to, and how are you going to reach there? Sometimes it is the destination that builds the whole excitement, like Paris yet at other times it is the journey and the path you take to your destination which builds up all the excitement. My perfect journey would be from Delhi to Leh by road. One could take the route from Srinagar while going and return via Manali, experiencing the best of the Kashmir and Himachal. The drive through some of the most beautiful and scenic mountain ranges, and the thrill of seeing cliffs on one side is a sight not to be missed. The fresh air, the clean and cold water flowing in the form of rivers and small rivulets which turn into waterfalls at every fall will make you imagine the scene even while reading this. The stopping at various photo points, interacting with locals and knowing their culture all adds to the experience of the journey. The Himalayas let us soak and absorb its beauty into our soul, and not just our external senses, and that is what makes a trip to Leh from Delhi the perfect road trip ever.

The Vehicle
After you have finalized on the destination, the route and the people whom you are traveling with, the last (but not the least) important component of a great journey is deciding on your vehicle. The above two components have a big say in deciding what kind of vehicle you choose. There is a altogether different kind of fun in going together in a bus (with a group) or in a small hatchback or sedan if it is just the two of you. My ideal vehicle would be a SUV which can be multi-purpose and can serve as a private space for the two of you while also as the perfect vehicle for a group. For my dream trip to Leh, a Mahindra Scorpio (which I have had the pleasure to drive on many occasions) would be just the perfect choice. It can navigate the plains with potholes as well as the climb up the mountains on tricky surfaces with equal ease. Apart from the versatility of the Scorpio, the height of the driver gives you a commanding view of the landscape and the road.

Apart from these components, there are other stuff like a navigation device, extra pair of batteries for mobiles and cameras, maps, local currency in cash and the knowledge of the local language goes a long way in eliminating and reducing any discomfort or hiccup we might encounter on the way. To sum it up, nothing could be better than a trip to Leh on a SUV with either your friends or your partner (or both) for company.