the flight to paris was three and a half hours late, so we had prepared ourselves for the long haul at the waiting lounge, using our favorite tool to kill time, anupama and me think on same wavelength on this issue. started with ice cream and moved on to tea and chips when we the heard the boarding call just half an hour after the scheduled time. the announcer was not so sure and would stop in the middle, so we ignored the first few announcements as a mistake. but after the third one they could not be ignored further and the flight did actually start just after an hours delay. looks like we are going by road, anupama commented sleepily as the plane taxied for almost an hour before taking off.
the delay in the flight left us with little time to catch the train to Rennes from the train station at the airport and we first had to search the station in the vast airport. arrived totally out of breath at the station and there was a large screen showing dozens of trains, located rennes on the giant screen and read some numbers and followed some directions and
found myself pulling our heavy luggage up the stairs when anupama reconfirmed with someone and he pointed in the opposite direction, downstairs he said. anupama stared at me with a " i told you so " look but there was no time for arguments.
train to rennes, the ticket clerk repeated my sentence in an animated and offensive way. she was irritated as i did not know french, although i found her even more irritating and offensive i managed a smile and somehow the transaction was completed. the train was dot on time. being on time is considered normal here, not an achievement, and the train tracks were clean too. just some garbage and a lot of cigarette butts. nothing compared to the organic and inorganic mix found on our railway tracks. we were seated with families with a lot of kids and it was so refreshing to see their antics. it just strengthened my belief that humans are basically same in all parts of the world. same expressions and same habits everywhere.
it was our second visit to rennes and we managed to find the taxi stand, the hotel was good, staff unexpectedly helpful and polite and
the ladies knew english too. this time we had come fully prepared. computer printouts of the hotel name and address and even a list of Indian restaurants of the area. took a walk in the evening and found one of the Indian restaurant, that really cheered us up. anupama would be busy in her business meetings and i would be travelling around rennes and planned to spend time on the internet, it has almost become a habit for me with so much time on the computer on my desk in delhi.
thats when two roadblocks stared at me in the face. the point to charge the laptop was such that the plug wont go in. took out my scissors and managed to drill a hole in the plug and somehow i managed to get the connection. then the internet wont connect to the hotel wi-fi. hours of fiddling with the computer settings, i had been sullen and foul tempered till i could somehow got everything right and good food and a few drinks made life worth living once again.
a visit to mont st Michel was relaxing and refreshing. beautiful scenic french countryside on the way. the monument
itself is huge . and very popular with the french people and to tourists all over the world. a huge number of families with a lot of children, narrow streets bustling with people and full cafes and bars. thats my idea of life.
rennes is systematic, cool and quiet. a lot of food and drinks on display. felt like living in a vast fridge. i am somehow used to the heat and sounds of delhi. a lot of students in rennes, and a lot of booze and smoking too. also observed some rowdy behaviour and even a few beggars on the streets, but it is almost miniscule to what we see in delhi. life in delhi prepares us for all climates and for all types of crowd and traffic conditions, including total lack of traffic rules. France is like an empty space in comparison, very safe and very decent. if only the locals here could understand the value of what they have and not fret it away in alcohol and smoking.
the clerk at rennes station too didnt know english, and even failed to recognise all the details i had written on the paper for our train to
paris. i think it was dumb of her not being able to make a ticket with all the information written before her, people sometimes just shut their mind if they have some at all. i could not manage a smile this time and we just stared at each other when the clerk on the next counter called me, he knew english perfectly well, he had a positive attitude and a smiling face, he would have been able to understand me even if he didnt know english, its a smile that makes all the difference, but it should be on both sides. smiles and frowns are same in english and french and in any other language.
it has been a mixed experience in rennes, while most of the people are helpful some would run off saying no no as if i was going to eat them alive when asking for directions. still it is safer here for tourists, and men dont ogle and taunt at females going around. all said and done, i would prefer Delhi any day.
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