One of the advantages of joining this class, which we didn’t realise at the time of signing up, was the fact that classes were conducted by real French people – sometimes dashing young men and other times by women who were equally fascinating with their eccentricities and fashion and je ne sais quoi. So when we walked into class, we were struck by the fact that our teacher was an Alain Delon look alike. It was no wonder then that we didn’t miss a single class and gladly attended all the Quatorze Juillet functions that were held at the Taj’s Crystal room to celebrate with French wines and cheese and the city’s ritzy glitzy.
And with each passing July and tomes of French literature, my desire to visit France in general and Paris in particular was assuming epic proportions akin to a pilgrim’s desire to visit his place of worship. It took me a long while to get there…….almost quarter of a century before I made this much awaited journey to the promised land. And sadly, what a disappointment it was. The romance of the Rive Gauche, the grandeur of the Champs Elysee and even the hauteur of nouvelle cuisine paled in reality. Paris in October was a dreary city where the taxi drivers were rude, the streets dingy, Montmartre far from poetic and the Tour Eiffel a miniature bronze thingamajig that looked strangely comic.
So when I saw Google’s doodle commemorating the 126th anniversary of the opening of this iconic tower to the public, I was reminded of my disappointing French pilgrimage. Sitting on the upper deck of the Hop On Off Bus, I was horrified to find that the tiny tower didn’t get much larger up close. It looked tarnished and tacky and so unlike the beacon of hope and glitz that it was in my mind. Alas, this was one time when I wished I had not made my dream a reality.
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