If a Rotaractor is to travel the world, he or she is bound to meet a Rotaract friend in any corner of the world, especially when the “Rotaract Couch” Facebook group is making millions of Rotaract connections. So, when myself and my partner Rtr. Himantha decided to visit Paris, we too posted in ‘Rotaract Couch’. We got several welcoming replies and some Rotaractors were even willing to help with accommodation.
One of the cheering replies were from Rtr. PP Sakshi Anand (Rotaract Club of Delhi Akash) who is studying in Paris. Much to our surprise, and hers, Rtr. Himantha and Rtr. Sakshi had a letterhead exchanged between our clubs when Rtr. Himantha visited India for Rotasia 2020. Rtr. Sakshi suggested her colleague Rtr. Dolphy Chawla who was also made an acquaintance then would like to meet us. So, we were all excited to meet again in a different land, flourishing the old friendships even more.
Due to the tight schedule we had, we were limited to spending a short but memorable evening on the 10th of April with our Rotaract friends. Initially, we planned to meet at the Eiffel tower, but due to time constraints we decided to take the Paris ‘Big Bus Tour’ from Notre dame cathedral to ‘Arc de Triomphe’. Two of us had quite a trouble stepping onto the bus because we couldn’t find the correct big bus stop and Google maps made us take rounds for nearly an hour. When we were almost thinking of giving up and turning back, luckily, we caught the much-awaited ‘big bus’ ride.
Finally, we met at Arc de Triomphe, the great monument in Paris dedicated to fallen soldiers. It says that beneath the Arc there is a Tomb of an Unknown Soldier from World War I. We watched the daily 6.30 PM rekindling ritual of the eternal flame torched in remembrance of those who defended France.
Along with Rtr. Sakshi and Rtr. Dolphy, it was a pleasure to meet Dean Simons, the beloved brother of Rtr. Craig Leon, the lovely moderator of Rotaract Couch. We didn’t miss the chance to take photographs in the middle of the street posing with the iconic monument. ‘Arc de Triomphe’ was just as glorious as we heard it to be, colored by the golden dusk by the evening sun.
After the warm greetings and introductions, we strolled down the elite street of Champs-Élysées. In French, Champs-Élysées’ means the mythical Greek paradise, the Elysian Fields. Today it is renowned as the third most expensive street in the world with high-end shops and cafes. It is also famous as the site of the Tour de France’s final stage and holds the annual Bastille Day military parade.
Our hosts of the evening suggested that we taste the best of Falafel in town at LA’s. Falafel is a Middle Eastern cuisine with deep-fried ball shaped made from chickpeas. It is commonly served in a pita or wrapped in a flatbread. There are many flavours and ingredients, which you can select upon your liking. We took Metro Line 1 from George V metro station in Champs-Élysées to reach Saint-Paul metro station. We then walked for about 5 minutes to reach LA’s.
At first, we were wondering why this specific shop, but when we reached there, we realized why it is. Though there were other Falafel shops on the street, this shop had a very long queue and we had to wait around half an hour to grab ours. One member from the staff came to us in the queue and collected our order, while enabling us to make the payment as well. Then once we reached the front of the queue, we were able to customize the Falafel by adding different ingredients & flavors. After staying in the queue for almost one hour, we tasted a scrumptious Falafel treated by our new friend Dean. We tried the vege spicy flavour and it was one of the best Falafels we ever had.
The clock ticked very fast as we chattered endlessly about our interests, countries, culture and how Rotaract connects people together. It was indeed a very lively and memorable evening and with promises to meet another time we bid farewell.
Penned By: Rtr. Prabodha Chamarie