Service the French Way
A trip to Paris is the discovery of autonomy for these Indians
“On July 23rd, 2016, I landed in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. It was my first time on a plane…
Both take-off and landing were amazing! Once my friend Mandeep – who was on this adventure with me – and I made it into town, the first thing that shocked me was that cars drive on the right! And there was no way we could add a fifth person in a 4-seater car… We did insist and played it “Indian”… but we were unsuccessful!
Around 8pm, we went out to walk around after having dropped off our stuff at the hotel. We had not imagined that stores and restaurants had such strict opening and closing hours. Without any Internet connection, we didn’t know where to go to find a place where we could buy something that was open.
We ended up finding a supermarket where we could buy a bottle of water amidst thousands of cakes. We were surprised to see no one served us and that, in the store, we had to take the products ourselves. Back in our hotel, we realized that the bottle we bought thinking it was mineral water, was in fact a bottle of sparkling water. “Is this how water is here?” asked Mandeep. Impossible for us to drink it… We remained parched and hungry all night long (we didn’t know that water from the tap was drinkable…). Jetlag and our strong desire to visit France kept us up most of the night… We must have slept 3 hours… The next morning we got up at 6am and headed back into town. We met an Indian who held a fruits and vegetables store in the 19th arrondissement (neighborhood). We bought him fruits and returned to the hotel, eager to taste our first French breakfast. Sadly, at 8:15am, it was impossible to have breakfast! They only served until 8am… It wasn’t easy surviving in this city!
Our check out was at 11am. This time, we were determined to get it right… We left our room at 10:30am to be sure not to pay an extra night! We were shown the basement where, once again, there was no one to help us! It took us half an hour to figure out how the lockers worked!! Our friends finally came to get us and helped us out… The remainder of our trip went really well because we were always with someone and we got a SIM card…
I’m still in awe of this ‘service, the French way’ where one has to do everything on his or her own. On the one hand, I find it very good because it yields independence. On the other hand, I regret the lack of human relations.”
Who's Telling the Story?
Vishal is Indian. He studied French at the French Alliance in Delhi and now works for the French Lycée.
He shares his impressions of his first trip abroad.
Place : Paris, France
Date : 2016
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