After spending a week in Paris for the Genomes 2008 conference, the last day of this great stay is over. It's been a long one, starting late at 11 in Animesh's friend Joshua's apartment in Pyrrénees. After some adventures including locking myself out when going out to buy the daily croissants and pane au chocolates for breakfast, I headed off to see the Père Lachaise cemetary. This locking-myself-out business got a little more interesting due to Joshua's next door neighbour interfering whilst walking back from the toilet in the hallway. (Apparently this is one of the very last houses in Paris with some apartments still having external toilets). Anyway, while unsuccessfully banging on the door she started off an aggressive monolouge in French that I could only understand parts of such as "nobody lives there", "go away" and "who are you looking for?" followed by "nobody with that name lives here" when I tried to answer. Finally she gave up, leaving behind only a strong stench of piss, that in all fairness might have come out from the toilet below, but it did not help my breakfast appetite much. Even later, Animesh heard me and let me in. Later I learnt that this particular neighbour is raving mad and had once chased Joshua out from his own house with an axe. I guess I got away very easily.
During breakfast I learned to appreciate chai, which basically is just black british tea prepared the Indian way. Normally without cinnamon and other strange Western tea additives. The trick to it is simply to boil it together with the milk for a really long time, instead of just poring in some luke warm milk into a cinnamon infused herbal tea and calling it "chai-te", which seems to be the method in most fancy Scandinavian cafés. One should pay close attention to the milk so that it does not boil over and leave a burnt, smoking and soggy mess on the stove though, which is something my friend Animesh the chai-connoisseur missed this particular time.
Père Lachaise turned out to be a fantastic place perfect for a meditative walk in the spring sun, just like I had pictured after hearing about it, especially in the beautiful documentary Forever.
The multicultural neighbourhoods I passed on my way through Belleville were also quite perfect for a walk. And for catching a fallafel for second breakfast (or any other Arabian, Jewish, Vietnameese, Indian, Japaneese or French treat).
Later that day I joined my friends to visit le Louvre and walk up Champs Elysées, thus making our Paris visit complete. In musee du Louvre's Egyptian section we found some very amazing and surprising evidence of the ancient roots of rock music. More on that may follow in a later post.... We also caught a glimpse of Mona Lisa, of course, and I learnt that Freddy Mercury is actually Indian, that the Arc de Triomphe looks just like the India Gate in Dehli and that macarons has nothing to do with macaroni, or macaroons for that matter.
It's been a very interesting visit.