What must I write about a city that is in all likelihood one of the most written about cities in the world? What further must I write about the city that Ernest Hemingway had immortalized in his ‘A Moveable Feast’? What more can I write about a city that has inspired, and continues to inspire, poets, authors, artists, sculptors through ages? Should I capture the essence of love that this city has accentuated by adding subtle and happy nuances to the very definition of love? Should I liken myself to the jolly picnicker gazing out at the turquoise waters of the gently flowing Seine, who then smiles to herself at the awestruck men and women being ferried across the bosom of the river on the several blue and white boats? Should I liken my joy to that of a lone walker lost in the lively streets of the city, shaded by trees, lined by the sandy hued rectangular buildings and cathedrals, intricately carved, spread across the city as it grows spirally outwards along the several arrondisements?
Or should I narrate to you the account of a nine year old who had fallen in love with the city after chancing upon a picture of the Louvre on a calendar? The picture of a golden pyramid against the backdrop of a majestic architecture, the name in Italics underneath that picture, a name that he mumbled to himself-Paris. Smiling proudly to his siblings who agreed that the picture splashed across the page of his birth month on the calendar was indeed the best, he began harbouring the dream of Paris. And about two decades later when he did see the magical golden pyramid shining, glittering before his eyes, he knew that dreams do come true!
Call me silly, call me naïf but Paris was a city that I kept dreaming of, virtually navigating through the several streets inside my head, losing myself to the magnanimity and the beauty! Devouring every work of literature I could possibly lay my hands on, watching every film that were filmed in the City of Lights, from the larger than life, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, the enchanting ‘Midnight in Paris’ or the serene ‘Before Sunset’ I am unapologetically obsessed with Paris. I am accused of having my face light up, my eyes glitter every single time Paris is mentioned! Moreover, the hopeless romantic in me always imagined Paris is a city that I would discover with my special one, so much so that I surreptitiously planned a holiday when Cupid struck my silly little heart, only to watch, later, the reverie crash soundlessly. Nevertheless, it took a broken and wounded heart, a mind encapsulated in layers of frenzy to take the giant leap and set forth for Paris alone! (‘Queen’ much, my friends joked, a film about self-discovery where the protagonist decides to venture out alone on her honeymoon when the to-be-groom calls off their wedding!)
But the magic of Paris unfolded to me the secret that I were my special one all along. Paris was my dream and sharing it with anybody who was not me would be a grave sin!
With a sparkle in my eyes, my A1 level confidence in French and the uncontrollable urge to devour pain au chocolat and croissants I found myself in my favourite city in the entire world last August! Oh, the sights I have seen, and the grin with which I walked across Paris still makes me joyous and I smile without warning much to the amazement of any hapless stranger looking at me with absolute wonder! I am not a bit ashamed to narrate that I cried like a baby when I saw the Tour Eiffel, majestic and grand, rising before me, for the first time.
I wandered through the empty galleries of Louvre sitting with painters who dexterously captured the nuances and intricate details of the several marble sculptures on their art books while I fell passionately in love with the chiselled wonders.
I walked along the Seine, immersing and submitting to the sights and sounds of Paris.
I prayed at the several cathedrals, the sound of silence and serenity therein, rushing through every vein, every atom.
I wandered on paths trodden and paths where the autumn leaves had gathered, rustling when my happy feet crunched their crispness. I was the sole wanderer by lonely creeks watching the trees reflecting themselves perfectly upon the hooker’s green slow moving water, brown leaves and twigs floating in ecstasy.
I treated myself to tarte aux fraises, picking out the sweet-sour strawberries one at a time before digging into the creamy richness!
I crossed several bridges, a book in hand, sat on the several benches on the boulevards listening to ‘Lover’, which Taylor Swift (a Swiftie that I am) had coincidentally released on the same day when I had reached Paris; and much like an amorous lover I serenaded to the city, ‘You are my, my, my, my Lover’! I rambled through the alleys of Père Lachaise, reading the names on the elaborate gravestones, listening to an enigmatic breeze, rushing between the tombs, narrating to me the story of the nobles, the valiant men and women, authors, musicians resting their weary souls forever in the sweet earth of Père Lachaise.
I solemnly witnessed the sky turn pink, the distant Tour Eiffel, glittering gold, towering above trees, at Place de la Concorde and a devilish temptation took over me, much like Andrea Sachs who had dropped her phone one of the Fontaines de la Concorde, to throw something inside the rushing water!
A phone was too precious to let to go, hence I chose to drown segments of bad memories therein, smiling to myself, the smile of a cleansed soul, saluting the indigo sky!
It has been more than six months since my rêve de Paris but I can distinctly hear the cathedral bells chiming, echo of metallic sounds in the air. I can hear laughter, banter, and the splash of boats mooring on the banks of the Seine. I can hear the flip of pages inside book stores, the wispy sound of journals folding at the little cafés complementing the grating sound of chairs upon the cobbled pavements; I can hear the clang of silvery balls that the happy men rolled in an indulging game of Boules. I still see the manicured gardens, the little ponds and the innumerable museums proudly displaying their jewels.
I can smell the captivating smell of une petite tasse de café, the buttery smell of croissants and I still taste the lingering bitter sweet taste of un verre de jus d’orange. A kaleidoscope of memories, emerge and re-emerge, while myriad twinkling pink-purple lights, warm yellow reflections on the Seine light up the corners of my mind, the enchantment of the magical city of Paris, the City of Lights.