I finally publish

Monday, October 30, 2006

Loving and Leaving Paris

Fragrances of various shades and intensities waft around. Women and dogs of fashionable clothes totter around. Ok- so this is what makeup is. I scold myself for staring. What would mom say? She with her prim manners and primer ideas on ‘genteel’ and ‘ladylike’ would have outdone the women by ignoring. But Indians are normally very curious and I am very Indian.

Champs-Elysées is one of the prettiest walks ever. The French have no doubt, it IS the prettiest. I do not disagree.

Jean Paul maintains a pleasant flow of conversation. French history is better heard when from him. I am amazed when he dashes of dates and years associated with places. The non-believer in me wonders if all of it is correct. Both eyes on the road, one ear listening to him and the other listening to my thoughts…

We take the Parisian customary photo in front of the Arc d'Triomphe. I make a note to myself not to get a copy of it.

Souvenirs hold no interest. They are forgotten memories one insists on trying to remember. Blurs of smells, sights and sounds... I fool myself by forgetting. These days I forget even the forgotten.

Jean Paul once visited India. I took him around Pondicherry. He knew not a word of English and I knew few French words. Suffice to say it was a disaster. Most of the silence when we bicycled or sputtered around in my Kinetic was dispelled by coughs, cleared throats and while in quiet places, by shuffled shoes. He gave me a French book on parting hoping I would learn. In the years that passed, he learnt English. People have been suffocatingly kind to me.

Shopkeepers who returned more change when I bought clothes. And after painfully counting the coins and stretching back the rest, a conspiratorial wink and pressing my fingers back to enclose the cold circles.

Strangers who stopped cars and stood on gelid pavements while first determining the handwriting and then the address on the crumpled paper.

The day I left, the Chinese good luck doll that I got. A French guy who gave a Chinese doll to an Indian girl.

Universe. Globalization. Kindness. Or a bit of it all.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Huh ha!

Parties extend normally longer than they are expected to. You usually miss the part when the hosts begin to keep quiet and wonder how to get this all of a sudden too noisy crowd out. They push the unwashed plates, the remaining food and disarranged stuff forcibly out of their mind. I have done it.

So we were returning from the party. The lipstick remained in traces. Part of it on wine glasses. Partly on people’s cheeks after I’d downed more than necessary. Mostly on the glass I’d say. A girlfriend once told me that you should discreetly lip the side of the glass so that your lipstick doesn’t transfer. That I found terribly undignified. Nowadays non transferable lipsticks are the answer. But I do wonder where it al then goes.

I hope he didn’t count the number of times I switched glasses. I hate this cheating. But I love my peace better.

I worry if my thoughts can be heard by him. I search for a suitable music station. Ah, jazz. I like jazz. I don’t know anything about it but just that I like the sound of it. A friend once told me that you need to understand music to appreciate it and understand it better to love it. I wouldn’t still agree. Jazz makes me feel sophisticated. Mind you, that’s not the only reason I like it, though I have a sneaking suspicion that it counts for a large share.

He finds the music repetitive. But I like jazz.

Se, this is what happens when I have too much to drink. My thoughts shift patterns like my fickle friend. Well, she would change boyfriends more times than… I can’t find the right analogy. But you get what I mean…

His voice is jarring. I wonder how I once found it suave and cultured. I am sucker for such things. Before when we didn’t have so much money, I would walk through stores and find the best bargains. Then I would buy la-di-la labels from the sneaky little Indian guy and sew them on. Like careful little Chinese seamstresses. And make sure that people noticed. Ah, I was once very cunning. These days I am quite out of touch with the general cunning I had. These days, I use it like Chanel no.5. On special occasions, lest he catches on.

‘You don’t laugh at my jokes these days’; his whining voice sounds like an instrument out of tune.

I wait a moment before I laugh uncomfortably.

Apparently, that wasn’t meant to be a joke.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Haute couture

At the coffee machine.

Coins clanking when they touch another metal. Settling with the familiar, which we do not hear. But they exist am sure.

Bonjours and kisses in the air.

So I pick up my cup and stand by the window.

The window is to be shared I see, when someone walks over. I move to accommodate.

We sip our coffees in silence after the smile of unfamiliarity and civility.

Nice shirt, she says.

I smile and say thank you.

Unfortunately I do not find anything to reciprocate.

I look at her colorful shoes a second longer than necessary. Red, blue, yellow and was that green?

She laughs. That’s my daughter who wanted me to buy them. They go with none of my clothes, but well...

I laugh too.

How old is your daughter?

10 almost.

I smile.

As I go back to my coffee and open window, she asks, 'Do you have children?'

I tell her, 'I'm not married.'

Once again I almost return when her expectance pulls me back.
I see her question has not been answered.

'Oh. No. I do not have any children'

The French!