I dreamt of the Parisian scene where I would be surrounded by stylish women, Chanel bags, long trench coats and cafés lining the sidewalks. I was not too disappointed, though I probably should have been more reasonable with my expectations. Of course it wasn’t an active runway where I had to swim my way through 6ft models or businessmen and women moving swiftly to their offices, but it was calmer than I had expected it to be. When using their version of an overground train from Disneyland, bag checks were required before entering the Paris station. We were checked quickly before being greeted with a smile by the security, but I was again reminded of the pain that the city had been experiencing. I didn’t know whether to feel anxious because of the possibilities, but I knew the security had been stepped up and like my mother said when I expressed my reluctance to the holiday, “you can’t live life in fear.”
The Metro and station was instantly a big difference. In ‘Mile to Mile’ by Reginald Piggott and Matt Thompson, they describe how people are “flying out of Metro stations like flocks of startled birds”, yet my experience seemed almost hushed. It’s not that there wasn’t anyone using the trains – most of the seats were occupied by bodies – but everyone was in their own world and accustomed to the way of life. You could, however, tell who were the tourists and visitors: my family of seven. For some reason, my father and I decided to stand on a bending area that was the only clue signalling the different carriages, but the little platform that was so obviously moving was where I decided to stand. Going at what felt like 150mph when you’re standing, the platform made me feel like I was on a taster course for Total Wipeout. I felt as if there were a sea of calculating eyes on me, especially since everyone was out in the open, wondering if I was truly dumb enough to stand on the curved part of the vehicle, but no one made any noise to indicate their amusement or annoyance with humanity. The mindless thoughts headed to nowhere and soft chattering of others was covered by the sudden intrusion of music playing. It was the stereotypical French music that almost made me giggle. An accordion accompanied by guitars, violins and a piano softly lulling us to relaxation. Soon we approached the Louvre – Rivoli staton. It was like an introduction to a museum. Though I was encased behind the glass and doors, the darkness of the tunnel seemed only to help showcase the sparse statues and paintings on the wealthy marble walls. This is what I recognise to be my real welcoming to Paris.