Tag Archive: the hindu 2010



One cannot see all of Paris in just one trip…as it seems to reveal a new side each time you visit.

Le Louvre (most famous for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa) is an art-lover’s paradise
Tourist’s delight: Arc de Triomphe.

I never figured exactly why Paris was called that till I set my eyes on this beauty that they call the most gorgeous city in the world. Ok so officially it is called ‘ The City of Lights’ but I prefer the love name over the lights, simply because love all but ricochets off every square inch of the city. I felt a flutter in the pit of my stomach even before I took off and I had certainly done my fair share of travelling so it had to be pure excitement.

Landing at Charles de Gaulle was an experience in itself; the quirky mélange of a dozen lingoes is so contagious I promptly traded in my jet-lag for lustful observation. Luckily for me my husband Chirag having made visits here several times for work, knew the map by-heart; which truly is the clincher in Paris. Always make it a point to talk at length to people who have either lived there or travelled often to make the most of your Parisian experience rather than just a run-of-the-mill touristy one.

“Breathe Paris into your being like a Parisian” my French teacher would always say and I recalled that standing at baggage claim. The metro at the airport was the coolest thing I had set my eyes on (strange as it sounds). As I drank in my first sight of this magnificent place, my husband whisked me into the metro and we were on our way — Paris was waiting for me to explore!


For anybody with a limited budget, or not wanting to splurge on accommodation since anyway in a place like Paris you’ re not going to be hanging around your hotel too much — Quartier Latin is your calling. Why it’s perfect is because it’s like this young, hip, artsy corner of the city bustling with students, artists and dancers — with a fusion of languages, music and banter; it’ s a peppy space and any among the string of hotels for you to choose from should suffice.

Street life in Paris and Le Louvre.

Ok so everybody has to make that compulsory visit to one of the seven wonders— so do that, enjoy the view at the Eiffel Tower and once done head to other destinations most tourists don’ t get the pleasure of. Le Louvre (most famous for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa) is an art-lover’s paradise. Even me, who doesn’t have one artistic bone in my body, spent like two full days just glancing at the etchings by world-famous names.

Also try and visit other lesser known ones like Arc de Triomphe or Chateau de Versailles (only if you’ re someone with an artistic eye though). But what truly stood out for me was taking the night cruise on the River Seine (which cuts across the city) then uncorking a bottle of blush right by the river thereafter.

There is a ‘Paris by Night’ option for the ones whose wallets go deeper. Basically though just wake up early and use your feet in Paris, you just never know what majestic sight you might stumble upon. It is a city of layers; she’ll only unravel to you if you really probe.

Wear it, eat it, drink it

Now what’s Paris synonymous with? Fashion, right?! Gosh if I thought I had seen it all as a fashion writer, Paris was my mother ship.

So Champs-Elysees; as though a fashion collection set up just for moi sent me on this delightful trip, with my husband reminding every minute, no, every second that we couldn’t afford even a shoe lace from there so to waste precious time. But was it worth just the peeping or what?!

Another thing that you must do for sure, is visit at least a couple of bistros (Parisian cafes) daily and just spend some time basking in the sunrays and observing Paris walking by; it’ s the perfect way of imbibing the true soul of this city. As for your taste buds, Paris is a gastronomic delight; meat lovers can sample away! A must-try is this meat chain called Hippopotamus (ironic as hippos are veggies) but the succulent noises coming from the hub, showed me how delicious the preparations must be.

Also there being such a heavy influence of Lebanese and Moroccan don’t miss this cuisine that will drive your taste-buds insane with its delectable delicacies.

Friends of the carnivores like me do have to look a little further for vegetarian, but the host of Indian restaurants makes it easier, and if you’ re not fussy the salads are yummo! But it’s always a smart choice to carry some dry munchies just in case. Oh, and even the weight-watchers absolutely ‘ have’ to bid adieu to their diet charts and dip their fingers into the sinful fondue that Paris is oh-so-famous for; don’ t worry your daily walkathon will take care of the calories. Don’t come to Paris and miss this ‘magic in your mouth’; my personal nickname for it. Yes it’s that good!

Paris comesm to life

Paris is a city with no agenda; you have to assimilate into the feel of the city. The metro here is a masterpiece in itself; public transport due to this becomes a piece of cake.

Easy connectivity to every nook makes the city completely accessible even to first-timers. But what’s really worth a mention; the aspect that highlighted itself in the city (and not just because I’ m high on the green cause) is the ‘bicycle drive’; this intricate network of bicycle stands all over the city that one can rent from any point up to any destination of their choice; making transport just so convenient for citizens and tourists alike. I just pray more cities would have the sense to undertake such an initiative, only to battle global warming if nothing else.

Now I know the secret behind the voluptuous French women (who were the object of my constant envy); they practically walk or bicycle for a living, no wonder! The smell of freshly baked bread even today will always transport me to the streets of Paris; the patisseries (bakery) leave me speechless!

The concept of stepping into a bakery even if to bite into a soft, warm freshly baked piece of bread is alien to the rest of the world. I could’ve survived on just the bakery products in the city, if not for the terror of my trainer back home. Paris is simply ‘unique’ in the true sense of the word; if it is at all possible to contain this maze of wonders in one word.

A passionate globe-trotter, incidentally a travel host today when referring to this city always recounted ‘You can never fully explore Paris; she will open up a new side to her persona with each visit’.

I was overwhelmed with my first one and I honestly can’t wait for adventure number deux; whenever that might be. Paris; je t’ aime beaucoup; I add.


* Travel

Paris is a city best seen on foot, it lets you discover a maze of wonders evasive to most who don’t probe. But the metro makes public transport a blessing for longer distances. Also their meticulously organized bicycle stands across the city is an option for the planet lovers.
* Lodging Quartier Latin – this hip yet affordable part of the city is your solution.
For the ones with the bucks, Paris is your haven, But since most of us are on shoe-string budgets.

* Must-see

The French romantic cabaret ‘Moulin Rouge’ is a spectacular experience in itself. This internationally famous show that threw its doors open in 1889 is unquestionably one of the highlights of your Paris tour.

* Must-munch

Paris a gourmand’s rapture, presenting every kind of delectable cuisine. But it’s the Parisian bistros that are the hidden treasures. Eat your way around these innumerable bistros that dot the city.

* Shopaholic’s delight

So Paris is for the shopaholics. And granted it is criminal to indulge in retail therapy here. But still, for those with a penchant for fashion; save on something else and do take back a style souvenir from the glam capital of the world!

Museums and galleries

* Le Musee des Arts Decoratifs
* Carnavalet
* Centre Georges Pompidou
* Cit‚ des Sciences et del’Industrie
* Cluny
* l’Eglise du Dome
* Delacroix.
* M‚morial de la Shoah
* Jacquemart-Andre Museum
* Picasso Museum
* Les Invalides
* The Louvre
* Mus‚e de l’Orangerie
* Mus‚e d’Orsay
* Mus‚e Marmottan
* Mus‚e National de la Marine
* Rodin Museum
* Mus‚e en Herbe

Don’t miss

* Chartres – The 12th century cathedral of Notre Dame
* Versailles – The Sun King Louis XIV’s magnificent palace
* Giverny – The house of the painter Claude Monet
* Disneyland Resort Paris – In the suburb of Marne-la-Vall‚e
* Fontainebleau – Historical town south of Paris


One of the greatest gifts my father gave me — unintentionally — was witnessing the courage with which he bore adversity. We had a bit of a rollercoaster life with some really challenging financial periods. He was always unshaken, completely tranquil, the same ebullient, laughing, jovial man. I learned that life will go through changes — up and down and up again. It’s what life does. –   …………………..  reminds me of my father

Scriptures state that the only knowledge worth knowing is the nature of the Self because it is by this knowledge that one can attain salvation — reaching that state from where there is no further return to this world of joy and sorrow. This knowledge confers the state of enlightenment.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna refers to the unenlightened person as one who is yet to transcended the effects of the sense of I and Mine, said Sri N. Veezhinathan in a lecture. A majority of individuals belong to this category and go through the cycle of birth to fulfil the effects of their individual Karma. They fail to perceive the difference between the Self (Atma) and the non-Self (Anatma). In contrast to these people, an enlightened person has perfected the yoga of union with God, that is, he is always steeped in thoughts of God and no worldly pulls attract him. Such a person beholds Him fully in all things and is thus not tainted by any trace of ego sense.

To attain this state of enlightenment, one has to seek refuge in the Supreme Brahman by means of the Higher Knowledge. This knowledge makes us behold the Supreme Brahman who is the Primordial Being and who is the cause of this entire universe with its process of birth, growth, decay and death. The Lord cannot be seen or seized, has no root or attributes, no eyes or ears, no hands or feet; and He is eternal and omnipresent. His effulgent abode is beyond the world of light or illumination caused by the sun, moon, fire or lightning. In fact it is by His power that these are able to illuminate the universe. To Him belongs all the glory in the world.

The Jivatma comprises the gross and the subtle — the body and the Self. At every birth, the Self, carrying along with it the senses and the mind from the previous birth, attains a new body until it reaches the state of enlightenment. Only the realised Self is eligible to reach this abode of the Supreme Brahman.

The Lord explains at length the need to understand the fundamental dichotomy between the body and the soul. Steady determination and striving to distinguish the ephemeral from the eternal are needed on the part of the seeker.

The passage of years

Pranay Gupte

I was not quite 19 when I left shores of my native India for the promise of America, an only child of accomplished parents whose ambitions for their son did not necessarily embrace the possibility of his going away from home forever.

But that’s what happened. It wasn’t as though I never returned to India — but those were occasional visits, mainly on journalistic assignments. I was, however, never to make Mumbai my home again. Never again would I live in my parents’ apartment overlooking the Arabian Sea, never again would I wander aimlessly through the clangorous byways of the city where I was born not long after the British Raj ended. Whenever I visited, there would be a purpose – a story to be pursued, a book to be researched, perhaps an important birthday of a close friend, and, saddest of all, the deaths of my father and mother in the same year, a quarter of a century ago.

The choice to move my home was, of course, entirely mine: I completed college in the United States, I began a career as a reporter and then a foreign correspondent at the New York Times, I became a columnist for Newsweek International, I wrote profiles and investigative stories for Forbes, I produced documentaries for public television, and I published a newspaper on environmental and sustainability issues for more than a decade.

That choice was driven by an ambition to succeed, no doubt a characteristic that I’d absorbed watching my mother develop into an acclaimed academician and a widely published author in Marathi – one of India’s major languages – and my father apply his legal training in the field of banking. There’s a major square in Mumbai named in honour of my mother, and whenever I’m in my native city I make it a point to walk past the plaque in silent admiration of the sheer courage that it took Charusheela Gupte to lift herself out of poverty into the limelight of a public career.

I realize in those moments, and also at other times, that while I am her son, that while I am also the progeny of my father, Balkrishna Gupte, that’s where the linkage stops. They had far fewer privileges than I did while growing up, they had far fewer opportunities to traverse the world, and while their own lives exemplified the enduring values of tolerance and understanding, they never quite got the chance to study intensively how those values played out in societies such as the United Arab Emirates — where I currently live — which exquisitely embroider diversity into their national fabric.

So it would be fair to say that I’ve been far more fortunate than my parents. But it would also be fair to ask, has my life been as fulfilling as theirs? To what extent has my work in journalism and public diplomacy been a catalyst for change in the societies where I’ve lived and worked? Has my life made a difference to those around me?

There are surely those who’d contend that my presence in their lives was less than salutary. My painful divorce would be testimony to that argument. The estrangement between my son — an only child — and myself would also suggest that my parental behaviour might not have been a role model. Along these many years since I first left the shores of Mumbai, so many friendships were lost — lost not necessarily on account of disputes but because of disregard. I rarely apportion blame to others, but I readily accept responsibility for my actions.

I reflect on these matters now because I’m about to attend a very big reunion of my college class in America. I haven’t kept up with very many of my classmates — my loss entirely, to be sure — but I have, from time to time, marvelled at the temporal triumphs of some of them. I also confess to dismay over not having sustained the narrative of our collective youth.

That youth was tested and tried in the cauldron of major social and political upheavals in the United States: my college years coincided with those of the waning years of the war in Vietnam and Cambodia. The bodies of young Americans sent to a senseless conflict were being brought back in coffins; I covered that conflict not in the jungles of Southeast Asia but from Boston Commons, where students staged massive protest rallies. The anthem of our college years was “Fire and Rain,” that haunting composition by James Taylor that has been the soundtrack of my life in the years since.

Where did those years ago? I know where I’ve been, but did I sufficiently recognise the places that I visited, particularly those lodged within myself? Did I ask the right questions, especially of myself? What explained my judgment calls, notably those that proved unwise. Did I love enough? Did I care enough? Did I give enough of myself to those who extended themselves for me? Was I kind enough? Was I considerate enough? Did I show up on those occasions when my presence would have provided solace for those in distress?

So many questions swell within me as my class reunion approaches. But my former classmates aren’t going to be able to address them; they, too, would have their own inner demons and danseuses that inevitably gather force with the years.

I realize that when I see the men and women I went to college with all those decades ago, even more questions will arise about the life I —and they — have led. I realise, too, that no one but myself will be able to offer the answers, at least about myself. There may well be time to put off those answers until another big reunion comes our way. But, at my age, I also realise that I’m really not so sure about that either.