Sunday, 13 April 2008

Paris Diary: 2

One week into my stay in Paris, I meet up with a group of Indian students. Most of them are pursuing post-graduation in Cité Universitaire. They are a helpful lot and especially one of them, Shaji, takes me under his wing. Both of us have studied more or less at the same time in Trivandrum, though we never knew each other then.

Shaji works the night shift in a hotel near La Madeleine. It is a small hotel, Shaji warns me, but, breakfast included, costs only FF 84 per night, whereas I am paying almost three times that in my present hotel. Shaji urges me to shift and I readily agree, the attraction being of course that I will have company in the evening.

What Shaji conveniently forgets to mention is that the hotel is used by streetwalkers to turn short-time tricks and also by amorous couples for illicit liaisons, not that I would have changed my mind even if he had warned me earlier.

So I shift hotels the second week. It is good fun because by the time I come back from work, Shaji will be behind the reception counter. He would have brought with him a small plastic bag which contained stuff for our dinner, mostly the long loaves of the French baguette, sausages and a few cans of beer. There was a pantry behind the reception and we would reminisce about Trivandrum and cook dinner and talk well past midnight, when I will reluctantly, turn myself in for the night. Shaji will try to catch some sleep in a small room adjacent the pantry and would be off to his hostel by 6 am.

Normally the action started after 9 pm. The “working girls” were easy to spot with their heavy make-up and high boots. While the customer pretended to look elsewhere, the girl walked up to the reception and chatted with Shaji. Money will change hands and Shaji will push the key across. Half an hour later, the couple came down the lift and the girl will hand over the keys, again making friendly small talk. It was all very civilised and done with a lot of, what the French call, savoir-faire.

Shaji had an understanding with the owner of the hotel: He could rent out a room two or three times a night and the Patron did not mind, as long as he got one night’s rent.

This was the Patron’s way of letting a struggling Indian student make some extra money.
Photo Courtesy: Emilia. Paris. Picasa Web Albums


gerimox said...

hmmm . . .rather interesting story :P
. . .dis shaji seems to be a very enterprising student!

The Pseudonym said...

Hey people from Kerala are a very enterprising lot anywhere other than in God's own Country.Wish they could work the same magic in Kerala...Rada, French street walkers are they hot???He he he...I should probably move to a place like Paris. Updating my French now... Cheers!!!

Rada said...


Don't start getting any ideas, young man!

Hi Pseudo!

Good point. There are certain aspects of the avearge Keralite which continue to intrigue me even today..

And I don't think it's essential that you know French to have a good time in Paris ! :-)

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.