Paris steps up cultural shock

Namaskar darlings, the Queen of Bandra is back after a whirlwind trip to Paris on business.

Everyone I know seemed very impressed when I announced that I was off to France a fortnight ago. They all said how lucky I was and how they wished they were also travelling to the capital of love.

I tried to get myself excited about leaving but all I could think of was the logistics and flight times from point to point.

And let us not forget the cold. I kept asking myself why I was not as excited as everyone else about the trip to Europe.

It was baffling but I decided to ignore my feelings and get on with it like a good Queen should!

When I stepped off the plane at Charles De Gaulle airport, I was hit with an ice cold wave that seemed to instantly invade my body.

It was such an alien feeling.

After six months in India, I was feeling the cold again and I was not so sure if I liked it. To go from 31 degrees in Mumbai to -9 degrees in Paris within eight hours was a shock to the system to say the least.

I was missing my damp sweaty patch between my shoulder blades like a baby missing the blankie. Possibly worse. What a baby!

As I layered up and headed out into the cold to catch my TGV train down south, I felt very strange. It all looked so dark and foreboding.

Cool Parisians

Where was an auto rickshaw when you needed one? Nobody had smiled or spoken to me in the elevator on my way down.

Everybody looked busy, pale and highly stressed.

When I finally dragged my over sized suitcase into the train and collapsed in my seat, I felt such a relief. Now I could enjoy myself and relax.

I smiled at the woman sitting opposite me and was returned with a quick glance away in the opposite direction. Fine.

Then more people arrived quietly and settled into their seats in a very orderly manner. Something felt wrong. It was then that my phone burst into song with ‘The Dirty Picture’ hit song “Oh la la” playing loudly in the cabin.

It was like a breath of fresh air that seemed to brighten the stuffy carriage immediately. I smiled apologetically but was frowned at and ‘shushed’ by everyone on board.

God, Where was I? Why did I feel so out of place? What was that bizarre feeling in my stomach?

I will tell you what it was; everyone was in culture shock at its best.

No it couldn’t be though? I mean I own a home in France. One of my children was born there! Could it be? Yes. Yes, it could be.

After a brief six months in Mumbai it had already become my home.

I was home sick! I missed the hustle and bustle and chaos of the Mumbai traffic and missed the warm vibrancy of the beautiful people.

Love & hate Mumbai

I missed sevpuri’s from Punjabs, getting a sweat from climbing a couple of stairs.

I missed chillies, curries, and sarees. I even missed SRK and ‘Ra-One’s hit song ‘Chammak Challo.’

I missed India. I smiled to myself and realised that was Ok because I was the lucky one out of all those sitting on that train that day.

In 11 days, I would board a plane and eight hours later be back where I had just discovered I belonged – Mumbai.

Those Parisians belonged there. That was their special place they called home and mine was Mumbai. Mumbai meri jaan.

So I unveil the new Queenie profile picture to all of you.

I now think the red bindi belongs firmly in the centre of my forehead to represent the new me.

India has made its mark on me and I am proud to show it.

The rest of my trip went on to be a wonderful experience. Paris is a great place to visit. But for me, Mumbai is the best place to come home.

To keep up with me regularly visit Queen of the Suburbs@blogspot.com

About the Queen Bee

Why is Bandra dubbed Mumbai’s Queen of the suburbs?

Leaving her familiar and more than comfortable previous life behind her, Queen Bee (she calls herself ‘Queenie’) endeavours to take Mumbai and all its offerings by storm. Her rollercoaster ride of experiences while being rather humorous soon displays some home truths.

But will Queen Bee be up for the lesson?

Time will tell!

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