A week in Paris: Life on Montmartre hill

A block down the Montmartre hill from the cute place in Paris we had booked was a little bakery. Every morning the owner was ready with a delightful assortment of goods. Buttery fluffy croissants, some of them chocolate-filled, quiches with mushroom and cheese and meat, fresh baguettes and lovely fruity tarts called out from the tiny window. This bakery was our first stop as we stepped out of the warmth of the house into the shades cast by the tall houses on either side of the Rue Lepic.

Montmartre hill in Paris was the centre of the artistic scene in the last century with artists and writers living on what was then part village. Right opposite our bed and breakfast was a well preserved wind-mill, now part of a private property. A couple of houses downhill was the house when Van Gogh worked. As we took one of the small cobbled streets during a long morning walk, we passed by posters describing the life of this passionate artist, who was  keen on continuously developing an improving his personal style, and so keen to have experiences that would refine that style. On top of the hill, close to the Sacre Couer, were the gardens dedicated to Renoir (he had lived and painted here). Nearby is the museum de Montmartre, which houses paintings by most of the painters that have lived and worked in the area.

The most famous place in Montmartre is of course at the bottom of the hill, near the Anvers station – The Moulin Rouge, with a red windmill at its entrance. Home of the cabaret and the French Can-Can the Moulin Rouge is the perfect place for an extravagant night out.

In the midst of all this hectic activity though the Hill still manages to have pockets of silence and quiet. Beyond the crowds that gather to watch the sunset from the Sacre Couer, away from the main stations of Anvers, Blanche and Barbes Rochecourt, are the small gardens and bylanes that criss-cross the hill. These tranquil spots are the places where artists, rich with muses from the interesting life around them, sat and painted.

Sit at one of the outdoor cafes in Montmartre, order a coffee and croissant, and watch the Bohemian Parisian life unfold before you.. there is no better place.

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Why do I travel

I have asked myself many times,

Why do we travel? Why can we not stay still?

Are our wishes like those of the birds,

Those that travel across wide seas and beyond borders?

Do we  travel with our wishes, beating our wings and flying away in search of something?

The birds are looking for food and shelter.

What do we need?

Are we curious to know.

Do others live like us? Do they eat what we eat?

Do they live and love like we do?

Curious creatures we are, but beyond that too.

We are something more.

Because when we get up in the morning,

Don’t we open the door and look up first,

At the open sky outside?

And fly even if for a flitting second?

Translated from the original Assamese text as published by Shri Dinesh Sarma in his travelogue, The London Eye.

(with changes and thoughts of my own, similar yet different from the original author, my Dad).

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The London Eye, travelogue by Dinesh Sarma

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Dinesh Sarma and Bily Devi at a museum in London, 2013

Return to blogging

Happy to start writing again. After a long long gap (couple of years), the desire to write and express my thoughts in black and white has come back.

The last few years has been full of events that has shaken my world view, blasted my world, and forced me to think really hard. Dad passed away after 5 years of cancer treatment. Just few months after he passed away we learnt that Mom too has cancer.  Daily hospital visits drained my physical and emotional energy.

I started developing anxiety issues and did not realise how bad it was until one day I had to go to the hospital emergency with a BP of 180/120.

Me and health problems? Me the fitness freak. Me who ran multiple half marathons? It was very very difficult to accept.

Its been more than a year now and this year has been such a journey, it surpassed the Everest Base Camp Trek and the Stok Kangri Trek put together.

I will be blogging sometimes about this journey, maybe to just put things together in my own mind, maybe also hoping that it will help somebody else who is facing similar things in Life.

I will also be blogging about our Europe trip, the places we see the things we do. The people we meet.

Looking forward to lots of writing.