Going upstairs to Sacré-Cœur, I see a man selling bracelets and keychains. I look at him, he looks at me, he is already holding my arm.
I am clueless but fortunately, S knows better, she shouts and pulls my hand away. I can still feel his grip on my wrists. ‘That was close,’ she says. ‘Yeah, what was that?’ I ask. ‘They will tie the bracelet to your wrist and ask you to pay for it,’ she replies and continues, ‘Absurd amounts – 10, 20 Euros. And they just won’t let you go.’
Isn’t that a form of attempted robbery?
I am reminded of the time I was in London. A middle aged man approached me, smiled and gave me a rose, ‘This is for you, pretty lady.’ I took the rose, blood pumping to my cheeks.Wow, London is nice. Meanwhile, the man asked my friend to pay for it. Okay, maybe not. I tried returning the rose to the man. ‘No, just give me 10 pounds!’ He demanded. ‘No,’ we said. Ultimately, the man had to take the rose back. My friend is from Delhi after all.
Enjoying the view from Sacré-Cœur, S and I are talking about things. We always do, it can range anything from woman centric porn to democracy. Most of the times, our discussion don’t have any conclusions. I think the answer to most abstract questions is the same – Moderation.
Sun is shining and Paris has treated us well, mostly. We have enjoyed eating macaroons, and also talking to the guy who sold those macaroons, had the best cheese sandwich, worst Beef Bourguignon , enjoyed the theatrics of crème brûlée, fell in love with soufflé, saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night, witnessed a boy proposing to his girlfriend at the Montparnasse Tower and experienced jealousy like never before and photobombed a random family at Notre Dame – S pretended she didn’t know me while I continued making faces. People actually laughed it off. Later, S took to photography and I took to modelling. Paris had inspired me to dress well and put on a face.
‘You look nice with makeup. You should do it more often,’S told me.
Thanks but no thanks. I want people to be used to my ugliness so that whenever I look nice, they will appreciate it more.
We need to leave now. We are searching for the nearest metro station. Google maps is fucking with us. According to it, we are already AT the station. Station for wizards, google? There’s a young man sitting at the stairs smoking a cigarette. S says, ‘Go, ask him.’
Neurons in my head are running with their arms in the air, screaming, ‘WE NEED TO SPEAK FRENCH! WE WILL HAVE TO SPEAK FRENCH! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! M’AIDEZ!’
I try to calm myself, ‘This is our moment to shine.’ All those hours I had spent practicing (which aren’t many), it’s time they are used, it’s time I carpediem the fuck out of this.
Tentatively, I approach him. ‘Excusez moi!’ I say, incredibly conscious of my accent.
He looks at me, it seems that he understood and is willing to listen to me further.
In my head, I am forming sentences, ‘Ou est..Tu connais?…’
And then it strikes me. I knew what to say.
S is standing a bit far away. I return to her smiling, ‘So we need to go straight and then turn left.’
‘Nice! What did you say?’ she asks me.
‘Oh well, you know, stuff in French.’
‘Yeah, what stuff? I want to learn too!’
I smile, look around thinking of a way to change the topic but I know she will bring it back.
‘Okay…you really want to know?’
‘Yes, tell me!’
‘Parlez vous l’anglais?’
‘And what does that mean?’ she asks.
‘You speak English?’