May 27: Clueless in Balham & First Night in Paris
It’s a surreal feeling to wake up & not know where you are.
Doesn’t often happen to me, which makes it even more intriguing when I wake up next day in my second friend’s house in Balham & I have absolutely no clue where I am.
Few seconds later, part of it comes back to me. I realise I had paid my second friend a visit the previous evening. But a question nags and pulls at me like a playful dog at one’s ankles.
“Why is that door in front of me? The last I remember, it was behind me.”
That sense of intrigue returns.
Did I turn my direction around in sleep? I am no sleep-walker and the previous night, specifically, I don’t remember waking up. I was out cold.
Takes a full minute to realise the room has two doors. That was the second door that I hadn’t discovered the previous night.
With the cloud lifted, I sigh and wake up.
Today is the day I leave for Paris. Yep, no cricket again. But that’s because it’s going to be some tennis.
French Open time. Will be starting off tomorrow but it’s always good to get in early and understand how things work in a new city rather than land the same day and then struggle on the day of the matches.
It’s a beautiful Eurostar train ride. I am a bit cramped for room but you get what you pay for.
Two more weeping kids than I can handle. I move out.
We reach 20 minutes late. Traffic congestion. Or it’s train equivalent.
I have booked in a nearby hostel & I check in quickly. It’s a cute, little room with an even more little bathroom attached. To be shared by four of us. I don’t see the other three but you don’t expect people to be in hostel rooms at 6 pm in Paris.
You don’t expect people to be in hostel rooms at any time in Paris.
I need a lock for my luggage. The shop attendant doesn’t understand what’s a lock despite my best attempts at sign language.
Tell you what, try showing a lock and key using signs and it could come out improperly for some.
Fortunately, I am quick to say “cupboard, lock & key” & she is slightly less quick to understand. But she does.
Points me in the right direction.
A Paneer dish. With Garlic Naan. Without an air-conditioner.
Yep, in sweltering Paris heat, the restaurant does not have an AC. No, it’s not like it needs a repair, no sir.
It just doesn’t have an AC. Sense of finality there when the waiter informs me, “Even we don’t use it.”
Or probably he’s just pleading with me to tell his management to install one. I shrug it off. A little more sweat won’t make a lot of difference, I tell myself.
There’s still some work pending when I return back to my hostel. The guy minding the hostel desk at that time of the evening is no older than 25 & after ushering me and a few of the other guests in, returns to watching some football.
It’s the French Cup Final. Probably should have gotten myself tickets for this one. Chance to watch my second football game live missed. The first was a game between NY City FC & DC United in the MLS in case you are wondering. That was a ripper of an encounter.
This, on the other hand, fails to live up to its hype even as PSG get in an injury-time goal to clinch the tie. Our man here sends down a short shriek in excitement before returning back to his work desk.
Not that I know anyone here anyway.