Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Metro Encounter

This morning was beautiful and I never want to forget about it.

10:40 A.M. – I leave my flat ten minutes later than usual. I walk downstairs to the metro station and I notice loads of people waiting—which isn't normal. I usually wait for the next metro by taking the first seat available near the stairs. For some reason, the first few seats don’t feel right. So I keep walking. I notice an old lady in a red coat and red lipstick, hair tied up neatly, seated on one of the chairs. The chair next to her is available and feels inviting. So I sit there. She makes eye contact with me, almost smiling. (FYI—my flat is in the 16th arrondissement, the district in Paris where most wealthy Parisians live in. So any sort of interaction like this is uncommon, especially in the metro).

I sit next to her and I hear her say something to me in French. I can’t really understand what she’s saying…
So I say, "Je ne comprend pas, désolé" (I don't understand, sorry).
She replies, "Français ou en Anglais?" (French or in English?)
And I say, “Anglais.” (English).
"You have beautiful hair. Don't color it anymore. I see your natural color and it is so beautiful. I love it."
"Merci beaucoup!! It is Armenian know, us Armenians—well most of us—we say 'merci,' too. We have our own word for thank you: shnorhakalootyoon. But it is way too long, so we just say 'merci,'" I said. We laughed. Then I asked her, because I know that it is nearly impossible for a Parisian to start this sort of interaction with an obvious foreigner, "Are you from Paris?"
"Originally, I am from Toulouse," she said. Toulouse is in the Southwestern region of France.

Our metro—line 9, Porte de Saint-Cloud—arrives and we get up to walk inside. I see two seats far from each other. I assume she is done talking to me, and I’m ready to give her back her Parisian privacy and sit away from her.

Then she says, “Come, let’s sit here.”
Shocked but also relieved and rejuvenated (despite the fact that I hate mornings), I don’t reject her offer. I’ve made a friend in the Paris metro. T’rès cool!!!

We spend the next twenty or so minutes chatting about France and America. She tells me about the few years she’s lived in New York and Chicago. Quite believable, because her English is great and she’s so friendly, I notice. She tells me about how much she loved the open-ness of American culture. But we agree that the formality and politeness of Parisians is also commendable. She then recommends I visit a few places in France, including Alsace and Loire Valley. Not surprisingly, she shares that her favorite region in France is Bretagne (Celtic Brittany)—which is where I was this weekend and also where my homestay family is from.

Mid-conversation, I notice her looking through her purse. She takes out her business card and hands it to me.

“You know where I live—near you. So write to me and I can see you again. My daughter is 29 and she is half American.”
“I would love to.”

Then we continue sharing experiences…

This 71-year-old woman in a red coat and red rouge made my Monday and reminded me, yet again, that Paris truly is a wonderful city and it can be for everyone, not just Parisians. Oh wait, I guess I have the right to call myself one now!


side-note: I tried rabbit for the first time today with my homestay family—amazing cooks! Woohoo!! #TastesLikeChicken

1 comment

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