We often read in our newspapers, how the European nations are struggling to find their foot in the current global economic crisis. France is one such nation. People are trying to manage their funds in the right manner; worrying about savings, and most of all what the future holds.
With all those imported clothing costing so much, I thought the French were probably lavish. That was so racist of me. And I am ashamed to have thought it that way. My French visit, for the most part was more enlightening than fun. In a way, it made me appreciate India in all its goodness.
You would be surprised, to see how conscious people are while spending money. They would not waste a single cent, on useless stuff. A lesson that Indians of our generation have to learn. On the other end of the spectrum, you can clearly see that they wouldn’t cheat their government of a single cent. We’re not saints on that front either.
We Indians, especially those of our generation, roam around the streets wearing gaudy t-shirts with barely intelligible words scribbled in a scrawny font that reads, “Ruck Fules”. Yes, we are that cool! Not.
In comparison, The French have rules for everything. Even for filling water in the coffee machine. And every single one of them follow it. Amazing!
What was even more amazing was their sense of traffic.
See a red light? Stop
See a yellow light? Stop
See a green light? Is there a pedestrian waiting to cross the road? Stop, and wave signaling the pedestrian to cross.
Yes, it was that damn amazing!
I was a bit paranoid when I first landed there. I was worried about how the people would react to me, and my being there. I was worried I would feel homesick. I was worried I would have no friends. To summarize, I was worried A LOT.
It took me just one day at work, and a day at the domestic supplies store to lose all my initial prejudices.
From gesturing me to join him in the queue when I was standing alone, lending a jacket for the weekend because it was going to get colder, to showing empathy towards the minor earthquake in India, Xavier(our application manager) epitomized the gallantry the French men in general personified.
Well, the only other race I’ve known being our Indian men, I can surely say that I have never seen a more gallant race in my life.
[Some of our men, stomp you on your foot; don’t ask sorry; whine when reprimanded; and finally mock you on Facebook saying, “You want equality? This is what it is. So deal with it!” In their twisted mind, this somehow is something clever to say!]
At work, people held doors open. Waited for me to enter the elevator.
At the hotel and work, I always had the men working there wishing me good morning, and good day.
Even though I wasn’t any good at French, I was appreciated for the effort that I made at work, and at the hotel.
Every time I lost my way, someone helped me out. After some time, Xavier even taught me how to use color schemes to get to the place I wanted to reach.
I had a total stranger carry around my supplies, because he thought it was too heavy for me.
And when I had no clue as to what to buy in the wine section, I had another stranger help me out.
On board the flight from Paris to Dubai, a fellow passenger helped my get my stuff into and out of the overhead cabin.
At the airport, another fellow passenger carried my hand luggage (that was so heavy) to a table nearby, since I had my hands full.
I felt happy throughout my stay there. Most of all, I never felt alone. I always had someone to help me through. Sometimes, I asked for it. But most of the times, I was helped out without me asking for it.
I am guessing the French men are polite not just to women, but towards men too. It is just the way they are. But this being new to me, it felt amazing.
All these were simple acts of kindness. But they amount to the larger part of my trip to France being pleasant and memorable.
As an added bonus, most of them are smart, funny and handsome 😛