12.9.08

I'm going to start blogging more, I promise! And I apologize for the lack of funny videos... haven't made it to un vrai francais bar yet.

I arrived in Paris early last Saturday morning after almost missing my flight from Delhi to Abu Dhabi. Yes, I know everyone is advised to arrive at l'aeroport at least two hours prior for int'l flights...but I had bigger fish to fry (aka powershopping) and arrived 20 minutes prior to takeoff. Evidently Etihad Airways and Jet have some codeshare agreement going on, which is unbeknownst to me at the time. So I arrive with an email printout telling me the time I leave and arrive, and that's all. It doesn't say the airline, which is OK, b/c I booked an Etihad flight.

"Your name isn't in the system," the Etihad check-in lady tells me.
"Well I booked it and here's the gmail saying I did," I say.
"Do you have access to the internet...we need something with the flight number on it," she says.
"Do YOU have access to the internet? Because I'm in your airport and the flight leaves in less than 30 minutes," I say.
She looks at me like this is news. Why the hell would they have internet access in an international airport?!
"Isn't there some like airlines network where you can type in my name and find where I'm supposed to be?" I say.
I'm a little frazzled at this point b/c they are acting so calm, knowing that my flight is already boarding.
"Yes ma'am, what you can do is buy an Emirates flight and take the next flight to Dubai and buy a flight for Paris. When you have access to the internet you can email Etihad and see what went wrong," I'm told.

Seriously?!

Luckily an upset white girl attracts beaucoup attention at Indian airports, and soon the head honchos were leading me through security to my JET AIRWAYS FLIGHT. You'd think that airlines with a codeshare would be able to figure stuff like this out.

OK, so the flight to Abu Dhabi was good. Jet is by far my favorite Indian airline, if not my favorite in the world. The food is actually very edible, the service is perfect, there is enough leg room for ogres like me, and they still enforce the weight, height, and beauty standards for hostesses. Actually, I think the USA is the only country that allows 50 year old redneck women with poofy hair to be stewardesses. Asian countries do it right.

Abu Dhabi's airport is small, but really nice. Mosaic tiles form the entire complex and the duty-free stores have lots of pretty stuff I can't afford. As I was sipping a cappucino awaiting my connecting flight, a group of Muslim women with full burqas asked me what lipstick I was wearing. "Healthy Lips by Laura Mercier," I tell them as I pull the tube out of my purse. They want to get some. I wonder...when exactly will they wear it and for whom?

Flight to Paris is good. I arrive at 7:30am with no plans for where to go or how to get there. I find the lone computer with internet access in the airport and start googling "hotels in the Marais." Jot down some street names and Voilà, I'm ready to roll. After eavesdropping on an English-speaking couple behind me I decide that they are definitely tourists and therefore may be of some use...

"Ummm do you have a Lonely Planet?" I ask.
"Yes indeed," they answer, pulling it out of their rucksack.
Hells yeah...so I wrote down some more hotel names and proceeded to get in one of the Mercedes taxis lined up outside. First indication that I'm not in India anymore.

Can't remember my driver's name, but he was Portuguese and didn't speak any English. So I got to practice my francais right off the bat. I was really impressing myself. The words were flowing. "I'm better at French now than when I studied it in school," I think to myself. Finally we get to the Marais area (my fave in Paris) and go to hotel #1. Booked. #2, booked. #3-15 booked. Seeing my desperation, the receptionist at random Marais hotel #15 called a friend one arrondissement over (#1) and found me a room. I hugged him and went on my merry way. The hotel did indeed have a room. I don't know if it was worth 107 euros...and I definitely don't think the taxi should have cost 75 euros...but I was tired and sick of looking. Paris makes America look cheap.

Later that day I'm munching on a croque madame and drinking some wine when I meet some fun locals. I tell them that I don't really quite know what I'm doing in Paris, but what I definitely need to do is buy a phone. So they take me to two phone stores, we compare prices...they translate for me...and voilà! I have a French phone. At this point I'm scared to get in touch with my employer because I assume there is a reason he hasn't responded to my latest emails. I decide to not call until the next day. Besides, I need to do some shopping first.

Thank the good Lawd, he answered! And was happy! He thought I wasn't coming anymore. Hallelujah. So I go to the Gare du Nord, hop a train, and get my butt to Chantilly. (Update: he tends to delete emails written in English or sends them to spam...)

Since then I've been living with the most wonderful family, riding polo horses daily for a couple hours, eating fabulously fattening food, and attempting to translate French press releases into English. It's truly wonderful. The family I live with has two children- Adèle, 7, and Arthur, 10. They also have a German/Czech au pair, Caroline, who is so much fun...and really makes me look bad as she is fluent in German, English, French, Czech...can play the piano...dances...can cook, etc. I'm just really happy to be here.

Yesterday evening my boss had a polo match. After each checker in a polo match, the players change horses. All together, there are three or four horses. My job yesterday was to keep each horse warmed up between rides and adjust the tack for the game. Polo is fast paced (each checker only lasts 7 minutes) and very intense. I was jumping on and off horses, galloping in circles, and tightening girths...good times. Then it started raining...and it's freezing cold here, by the way. Lucky for me I had decided to wear an almost see-through white button-down. I don't know if it was out of pity or because I was creating a scene that another groom gave me his thick sweater. It didn't keep out the rain, but it did help in the modesty department. Finally the game was canceled (after 2 of our horses had gone nuts and broken their halters) and we rode the horses back to the trailor, took all the tack off, loaded them up, changed into dry clothes, and headed back to the house. "Are you missing India now?" Pascal asked me. Which is an interesting question that I'll have to answer in a later post. Right now though, I'm LOVING France.

2 comments:

Pam said...

I take offense to the 50yr. old redneck comment...

macdaddy said...

That is why they tell you to get to the airport early. Things do not always go smoothly. You were lucky. I admire you sense of adventure.