Friday, June 7, 2013

Paris Metro: A fresh perspective

When you move into a city for the first time, you observe a lot of things about the new environment. But after you have spent a considerable amount of time in the city, the observations that surprised you earlier doesn't anymore when familiarity sets in gradually. This also happens to the time when the experiences of a new visitor to the city takes you back to the beginning, bringing in a flood of nostalgia and many other emotions. Last week, it was my turn to stop and reflect on my beginning days in Paris.

My family was here for a short visit. Although I have been living in Paris for the past two and a half years, they have never visited France. Instead I have flown back to India several times. This was their first visit to France. Like all visitors to this city, they walked a lot and also used the Metro in order to travel around the city. Although we have a similar Metro in Bengaluru, presenting ticket and operating the turnstile was very entertaining for my daughter. At the same time, correcting the way she phonetically pronounced the names of the Metro station was a big challenge for me. The ch in the La Fourche was always pronounced like as in champion. Miromesnil was always pronounced with a prominent s. To top it all, it was Eiffel Tower and not Tour Eiffel.

Once inside the metro, it was different for both mother and daughter. By now, we are all used to couples openly kissing in the Metro. The first time they saw it happening, both of them reacted in different ways. My daughter had a shocked look on her face which quickly turned into an embarrassing smile. She tried to look away but did not succeed in averting the eyes for long. We had to force a conversation to distract her. My wife had looked at me with a sly questioning look. The unspoken question was if I had any idea when the couple would stop doing this in public. Of course, I had no idea. Judging by the intensity of the kiss, I doubt they will take it kindly if I interrupted to ask them the time they intend to stop kissing. Public display of affection is not new for us. For a new visitor, it is.

The other thing you observe in the Metro is everybody engaged in various activities. The majority of the Metro users are reading a book or a newspaper. Then they are people working on tablets or iPads while others are playing games or texting/messaging on their smartphones. This does not come as a surprise to me. Once inside the Metro, I am also busy blogging or tweeting. For a new visitor, these are all interesting sights which tells a lot about the city. I was also a new visitor a long time ago. I remember when I was amazed by all this in the Metro. Now I have lived here for such a long time, I have forgotten what it was like to be a newbie in this city.

Tags: Musings,Paris,Metro,Visitor

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