Paris Vignettes – Part 1

Despite the misfortunes which have struck Paris in the recent years. It remains a place of beauty and love in my mind, and the minds of many others whose lives have been changed by it. Hemingway’s description of Paris is by far my favourite, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

Though my stay in Paris was short, “un petit mois”, as the French put it, the memory will last for a long time, perhaps a lifetime. I have never witnessed so much beauty, kindness, and love in ordinary life, as on the streets of Paris. Don’t get me wrong, Paris is far from perfect, but its faults and insufficiencies are minuscule in the radiance of its beauty. My heart brimmed with joy during my stay there despite the many things which went wrong and kept going wrong. Something pleasant always appeared at the right moment, something subtle, yet powerful: a kind gesture, a soothing word, or simply a pleasant scene on the street. Here, I recount some of the scenes in Paris which have brought a smile to my face. I hope they will do the same for you.

In the elevator

The Hotel I stayed at was in an old building on Boulevard Haussmann. Its rooms were actually situated on the fourth to sixth floor of the building. Upon entering the main building, one must take an elevator to reach the reception on the fourth floor. The space was small, but it was decorated with stylish furniture and every inch of it was put to good use.

Due to my poor French at the time, I never started conversations with anyone at the hotel. Though everyone was friendly, I sensed the same hesitation from them. Thus, during my daily elevator ride in the mornings, most encounters began with a friendly greeting and ended with a smile. It was a nice way to start the day nonetheless.

One morning, the elevator took unusually long to arrive and more people than usual were leaving at the same time. First came a young mother with a tall baby carriage, inside sat a pouty toddler fiddling with a pair of bright pink sunglasses. Then came a middle-aged couple, modestly dressed. Could all these people fit into that tiny thing? Normally I didn’t mind, but that day I was running late for class.

When the elevator door finally opened, a few people stepped out, and the small crowd quickly packed itself inside the tiny cube. Soon, we found ourselves inside pressed against the walls.

“CLANGGG!” The piercing alarm sounded as soon as the elevator started moving. Great! Now we’re all going to be stuck here. I shifted my shoulders involuntarily.

“Hahahaha!” The pouty toddler burst out laughing. He stared at me with curiosity and delight. Then I realized the loud alarm came from behind my shoulder. I had accidentally hit the ‘alarm’ button. I smiled at the toddler and shrugged off my clumsiness. His mother was embarrassed and tried to quiet him. But he burst out into hysteric laughter every time he looked at me, as if I just did the funniest thing in the world! The older couple smiled at each other, then at the rest of us.

Soon the elevator stopped and we were all relieved to see the door open. The young mother exited first with the carriage. The happy toddler kept looking back and laughing from his carriage. His mother wished me a nice day with a satisfied smile.

I dashed towards the Metro Station, smiling.

3 thoughts on “Paris Vignettes – Part 1

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