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The tribulations of a Parisian turned Mumbaikar in Paris...

I usually need some time to get back to the French reality, to recover from the night flight and more, perhaps, from the months spent in India (yes, India is tiring: all the senses all the time stimulated: so many people, so much noise etc.): I spend around twenty-four hours after landing asleep!

And then I rediscover some stuff I had forgotten that bring me joy and discover some stuff I got used to and kind of miss… 


Ah the joy of being a tourist in Paris (the most beautiful city in the world ;) )! Especially when I arrive in March and it’s springtime: the sun is out and the sky blue! I love wandering the Parisian streets for hours without anything to do but look around me, look at the monuments, the people, the full moon behind the clouds... The authorities warn us that there is a peak of pollution? I do experience some throat pain but I think it is mainly due to the dryness (in any climate below 80% of humidity I now have my lips chapped after a few days): peak or no peak, Mumbai is at least 3 times more polluted than Paris*! And impossible to just walk around in Mumbai: Indian cities have not been designed for pedestrians. But, once my feet have well pounded the pavement, once the night has fallen, dragging along the temperatures, I regret to be unable to just hail a rickshaw, or (let's be crazy!) a taxi...

The joy of being able to sit at a terrace and order a Croque-monsieur, or in a bistro and eat fry foie gras, snails and veal sweetbreads and finally a chocolate fondant! But how surprised I am when the bill comes (even in not-so-fancy restaurants): we are always close to hundred euros per person – who eats well drinks well and I (re)discover the taste of the French for wine! I recently invited three friends in Mumbai and the total bill, with 5 dishes, half a bottle of wine and a pitcher of beer, came up to less of 35 euros! My wallet is not the only one to suffer... My stomach, or my liver, went bluntly on strike! I must say, I have almost become vegetarian, out of convenience.

The joy of taking the metro (outside rush hours) and mingling like a sheep in the herd. Nobody stares at me as if I was some kind of E.T.: I am again A-NO-NY-MOUS... But I easily lose control of my staring-at-people (bad) habit: there are so many so well-dressed people everywhere, tourists, students, beautiful people, ugly people, I don’t know where to look! – and I end up drawing up attention... And how surprised am I when, after refusing a taxi ride 30 metres away from home, the driver asks me to at least take his number because he finds me cute!

The joy of understanding what is happening around me! Of being able to listen to the conversations at the neighbor tables! But then, fast enough, the feeling of too-much-information that makes me “disconnect” from my own conversations comes back and I find myself in that bubble I escape to when I don't understand anything about anything around me and I can let my imagination wander free there... For the story, I once took a rickshaw in Kerala with a colleague and he was amazed by the fact that he could hardly communicated with the driver (who didn’t speak Hindi nor English, only Malayalam). I could only wish him welcome in my world!

The joy of being back with my family and the old and good friends! And the sadness of leaving a piece of my heart in India…

The annoying rediscovery that shops are closed on Sundays in Paris and you have to reinvent your activities. The joy to spend quality time with the family on Sundays (because the shops are closed)!


* Mumbai has an index of 92.7 and ranks 15 of the most polluted cities whereas Paris is 115 with 62.5 (source: )) ;Peak at 82 these days in Paris: In 2008, the annual mean concentration of particulate matter of less than 10 microns of diameter (PM10) was 38 micrograms per cubic meter vs. 132 for Mumbai (source: ))

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