SWITCH ON THE ZEN MODE
Bonjour les amis.
That’s about as subtle as I can manage, when I want you to know that I am sitting in Paris writing this piece. But don’t worry I shall not gloat any further than this. I’ll just tell you what I found most striking about the city. No, I ain’t going to bore you with how the city is steeped in history and vintage nor shall I bog you down with a cultural tour. I will also suppress my urge to rant about French snobbery (I found it unpalatable but to be honest can’t blame them. This city does give them enough reasons to act uppity)
Before you give up on me, I’ll tell you what I found most remarkable about this beautiful city- The Parisians’ love for talking. Yes… when I say love, I mean it. Wherever I went, I’d see them talking to each other- in pairs or in groups, standing or sitting, while sitting beside a fountain with their feet dipped in the cool, refreshing water or even while lolling in the grass. Unmindful of where they were, for them talking seems as natural as breathing.
I wondered why I found it so extraordinary and then the reason struck me. I’ve lived in Mumbai for the longest time and people move along with the hands of the clock and the timings of their Mumbai locals. The city drains you out so much that by the end of the day all a person can manage, in the name of social intercourse, is a smile and a nod. And then of course there are the smartphones to make up for that. After Mumbai, I moved to Hong Kong. In the one year that I’ve been living there, every time I step out, I see people bent over their devices’ screens. Even as they walk down the street, they are busy on it.
No wonder then that my eyes are no longer used to seeing people conversing. And I must say it was a refreshing sight. In Paris if anything can outnumber its historical buildings, it would be the cafés. The city is dotted with cafés and I had initially wondered about their commercial viability. My worry proved to be unfounded. As evening falls, Parisians stroll down to one of them and merrily converse over food and drinks. So much so that it becomes difficult to find a table.
And the best part is that the phenomenon isn’t restricted to any age group. The cafés bustle with the sounds of young and old alike, men and women in all possible permutations and combinations. I also spotted an unusual chair arrangement in a lot of cafés. Outside the cafés, under those beautiful awnings, the chairs were arranged in a line next to each other (not facing other) with tables in front of them. It looked odd until I saw what I did. When not talking to each other, apparently these people were just happy sitting next to each other, soaking the sun and the company, watching the world pass by.
It was a sight that will forever stay with me. In a fast-paced world, when we are losing touch with our loved ones and even with ourselves, this trip was a wonderful reminder. A reminder to appreciate the fading art of conversation (I realize that here too, I’ve managed to incorporate this month’s theme of ‘appreciation’). Saturday is just the right day to remind you all to reach out to your loved ones. Invite them over, sit and talk or just gaze at the world go by.
Now for those who are wondering about the connection of my title with my write up, please scroll down and read the post script.
P.S.: A piece of trivia- I came across a tile on my phone-‘Zen mode’. In my curiosity when I clicked on it, I realized that it’s supposed to lock us out of our phone for a set amount of time. Only a few functions work but most of the phone, especially the social media sites, are effectively inoperable. We have reached the point where a phone tells us to put it down and focus on the real world- ironical or rather shameful that we have come to this!!!
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