I have just arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport, France, and pick up my luggage and being a nicotine addict rush outside. It is dark and the weather is icy cold with no wind. The slush of the melting snow is thick and hugs the road curbs and the used-to-be-green grass is covered white. I am confused and ask the time to a man smoking next to me at the exit.
“It is 7:30” he replied after looking at his watch.
I take a couple of drags and
“Sorry, is it in the evening or in the morning?”
He gives me a weird look. “In the morning.”
I am seriously confused since I have my own internal clock and it is always dark when I wake up or go to sleep. Yes, I have patterns of insomnia and that’s why I need to know if it is AM or PM.
France is expensive so I take a bus to the center of Paris. The ride is soothing; the traffic is moderately heavy until l’Etoile. I get off at my stop and see the “Arc de Triomphe” an imposing monument that sits like a rock at the center point of many avenues.
I take a taxi to the workplace of a friend to fetch the key of his flat where I will be staying for a while. He works for the fashion house Dior on Avenue Montaigne. I had never been there before and the whole block is an array of Dior’s boutiques about Dior for this and that. I visit three Dior boutiques with clerks dressed in full fashion telling me to go to Dior’s main building which is always, but that’s not true, next door.
Finally a receptionish which is of help. “Of course, he is here. Let me call him for you. ”
I meet Pascal; he is not a clerk but one of the person who creates what the fashion house designs.
We kiss on the cheeks, we are in France remember, and he gives me the keys with “I will see you in the evening”
It is a nice neo building; the apartment is a one bedroom with all the convenience which you can dream of in Nairobi. Everything works from the flick of a button and it even has wireless internet access and a washing machine able to dry clothes if you wish.
I am tired and take a shower and just like in America the water, to the temperature of my desire, pours down with pressure. I am told to help myself to anything I want and the kitchen is … better than a diamond mine.
The fridge is full of cheeses, yogurts and jams that I don’t even know the name of. I am a serious coffee drinker and open a jar of “Bresil Sul de Minas” pure Arabica ground coffee. The smell, the aroma, the bouquet makes me sit down while I sip. I decide to sin and take two cups. Hmm! South American know how to grow their coffee.
I dress up and my curious nature takes me outside. I see an African woman, too lazy to meet her counterpart, conversing with a building intercom while two pass her by with the latest fashion from downtown Dakar. It is a weird contrast and specially the warm lemon green boubou outfit against the icy cold melting snow.
Well, it is not much different from the women, in the plane, going in sari from America to France. It is blending without integrating, the bride or groom is still chosen by the parents and they only eat Indian food. Only the children integrate, they eat burgers smothered in mild curry ketchup. It is surprisingly good actually; it is sweet, tangy with no chilly heat. I recommend it.
I go to a bakery and buy a baguette, a croissant and a chausson aux pommes (apple turnover) and next shop I get some nice blue cheese and pâté de campagne.
Walking back, a man riding a motorcycle with three wheels makes me smile. Not the man but the motorcycle, it looks so stable and you don’t have to put a foot on the ground when you stop. A leash-less small dog crosses the street alone followed by his master.
All right! I am in France.
- 60 Years Later: Inside Christian Dior’s Haute Couture Atelier (blogs.forbes.com)