It was exactly 7:07 when our bus came to a halt at Cimetière de Passy. To be honest, I wasn’t excited about visiting Paris. For some inconceivable reasons I always felt that the city of love was perhaps, over-hyped. I thought that with crowd bustling all around the year, maybe the city has lost its charm. Often I wondered is it possible to be alluring even after a millennium, or has it been smudged with the ages?
But as I walked towards Palais de Chaillot, my preconceived notions started to fall apart like a pack of Jenga cards. The sun was rising, and the marvelous tower was slowly becoming visible to me. I stopped midway.
Have you ever seen a beauty which takes your breath away? I became oblivious of the group of six clicking pictures in every pose conceivable, or that a couple with their best friends were doing a post-wedding photo shoot amidst mirth and music. I simply stood there and let myself get dazzled by the beauty of the scene in front of me. If I were a painter or a wordsmith, I could have described it more dextrously. For the first time in my life, I regretted not indulging in art of any kind. However, a guy in black turtleneck tee probably foresaw the plight of likes of me, and hence I could capture the moment to relive it time and again.
I made my way towards the Champs-Élysées, to see the Arc de Triomphe. As I looked at the arc, Le Départ de 1792, Le Triomphe de 1810, La Résistance de 1814 and La Résistance de 1814 – the four main sculptural groups on each of the Arc’s pillars, my mind wondered is it possible to be a Gil from Midnight in Paris and perhaps visit the 1800s? A nudge from my traveling partner brought me back to this century. But by this time, I was completely exhilarated by Paris. I was realising why over the years a plethora of filmmakers and artists chose the city as the muse.
I crossed the Pont Neuf to reach the Notre Dame. When I was entering the cathedral, it dawned on me that I was irrevocably falling in love. This fantasy of Paris was far too captivating for my heart to not cave in. The streets, the buildings, the architecture, the music, the smell of Crêpes mixed with self affirmed nostalgia for the late centuries made me recollect the famous words of Robert Ingersoll.
“The time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is here.”
There are a few moments which define our life. They pave the way for your life ahead. These moments or these chance encounters are sometimes very hard to perceive. Sometimes if you miss them, you wouldn’t even notice that you have missed but for the rest of your life, you will know you are missing something. Had I not been cajoled into coming to Paris, that sense of incompleteness would remain.
As I reached the Eiffel Tower, I realised its beauty is not from the beams of steel or the sheer height, rather it’s from the idea. The idea that anything is possible. The entrance to the World Fair of 1889, which was ridiculed for its design at that time, is now an iconic structure of the world. The most epic stories have the humblest of origins, and the proof lies in front of my eyes.
I stood under the tower and became conscious that how inconsequential my life is in respect to the wonders of the world. How trivial is our own ego, selfishness, petty hatred for each other and we become embroiled in destruction. We lose sight of what’s important – love and hope. How difficult is it spread a little love and encourage each other to live a little better?
When I will be leaving Paris, I will be in love. In love with myself, with art, and of course with the city itself.