The Sound of Paris

Paris sounds like trouble. There’s always a piercing siren call about. I can’t tell whether it’s the cops or the ambulance till they pass me by, the little blue light swirling around in manic urgency.

My first few hours in the city were punctured with bouts of anxiety. I’d look away from my guidebook (or my pastry) and wait for the sirens to get closer: cop or not? I wondered who was hurt, who was in trouble, and if it would all work out in the end.

But one learns quickly to adapt to place and to accept the background tapestry. Over the following days, these sirens blended into one another, fading, becoming familiar and less distinct. Now, I could sip on white wine at a snooty cafe, and not be bothered by that incessant noise. It was all very Parisian.

On our way out of Paris, we were held up by slow moving traffic in one of the city tunnels. Around us two wheelers used the gaps between lanes to speed away. One such bike came rushing at us and violently knocked (and cracked) the side mirror on my side out of its hold. The thud was pretty loud; I wouldn’t want to be the hand that caused it. On either count, there was no siren to be heard.

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22 thoughts on “The Sound of Paris

  1. Paris is one of my LEAST favourite cities because of the noise & rubbish & touristy hoo-ha, so i was very happy reading this 🙂 Love the pic though!

    • Oooh! Really? I loved Paris. But then I love big, noisy cities. I thought it was really pretty and clean for the number of tourists around.

  2. Love love love this. You totally capture the sense of urgency and anxiety. Funny, because I’ve never thought of Paris as evoking that…

    • It’s weird because I didn’t see the French rushing away (as you do in say London) except when they got into their cars and drove like they were on fire. But listening to the city you’d think something horrible was up.

  3. Dear Neha,

    I love the way sirens sound in Europe. They remind me of that Metro of Love song from the 80s.

    In any case, enjoy the lovely pastries and all the white wine… and try not to get knocked down by impatient people!

  4. Very interesting. Paris and sirens. It’s a combination I’ve never heard of. Of course, it takes you to notice what other people don’t. 🙂

    • You say the nicest things Sabina! But really, it was so in-you-face, I had to write about it to get it out of my system …

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