“It was the best of times and it was the worst of times”. An apt quote to describe the days of vacation. I was with best of people and in best of places yet all these memories reminded me more of my hometown. The farther I am from my home the more I am reminded of the love and care I get from my French friends.
Our stay for the vacations was planned with the families of students of La Roque Rodez. I got the opportunity to meet some of the nicest people I have known. For me, they are like a like the movie Bienvenue chez Les Ch'tis. Each family has their own exquisite way of greeting us and we felt being on top of the world as their guest. Vacations were majorly an explosion of partying, laughter, culture exchange, food fiestas and dreamy siestas.. :P.
Our first stay was with family of Thomas Py. A wonderful and caring friend and equally caring was his family. I got a taste of French as well as Italian hospitality when we were invited to stay with his Italian Grandparents in Little Italy in Albi. Visit to the local truffle market was the next best thing that happened to me during that stay.
At Margaux’s home we felt like meeting my own family in France. We visited the capital of Toulouse, Cité de Carcassonne. It is a medieval fortress restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853 and added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. The place still have new remnants of the lost Roman empire popping up after almost every excavation. At her home we celebrated the birthday party of her kid brother with French and Indian foods with great pomp and show.
We were then welcomed by the Wiorowski family. We visited many famous laboratories of the region and then we enjoyed one day in Perpignan with Christophe Groell by singing and dancing and next day we headed to Collioure near the Mediterranean sea to celebrate Neeraj's birthday.The place has a beautiful fort constructed by the same architect of Carcassonne. It was really wonderful to enjoy the chilly sea on a sunny day.
Then we received a warm welcome by the Elisa family.The previous day we were on the beach and next day walking in the high mountains of Prairie. It was really a roller coster ride.The beautiful view of the mountains will be always cherished by me as a thing of beauty is a joy forever.It was flourished by lichens growing in the trees as an evidence of the freshness of the environment.
This weekend was in Nimes a historic city set by the roman empire.It was great to see the arena and Pont du Gard.It was a short stay but we made the best out of it.We saw the bulls and the special white horse specially trained for bullfighting.This place is a little Spain in France.I truly felt the part of history here.
Finally, we were with Mathilde home at Le Puy valley.I enjoyed traveling on the lovely mountain tracks which reminded me of Uttarakhand.A beautiful place famous for its cathedral, for a kind of lentil, and for its lace-making.
Franklin D Roosevelt quotes, “When you reach the end of a rope tie a rope and hang on it.”
As I prepare for the end of this wonderful and one of its kind experience, I am tying up knots of friendship, memories, laughter, love and sisterhood across all the encounters during my stay to hang on it throughout my hopeful next visit to this wonderful country.
In our scriptures, there is a saying “वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम” meaning we the people of this world are all connected. I want to say that I really understood the meaning of this phrase only after meeting all these wonderful people here who made me believe that though our culture, customs, and language are different, we are all connected through love, smiles, memories, and all sweet sour emotions which we express in similar ways across this tiny blue dot of the Universe.
I just want to end with “Thank You” to the people of France and my home nation India and all the concerned Institutions and people for creating this wonderful opportunity for us.
It's time to say goodbye with the sweet memories in mind
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