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India Unbound

Photo by Erica Simone

India Unbound

Parler Paris…
Your taste of life in Paris and France

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Monday, February 19, 2007
Paris, France

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Both the Conference Call and Group Consultation are hosted by Adrian Leeds and the French Property Consultation Team.

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

The headline on today’s paper and the intense stare of the young child begging at our car window couldn’t have expressed our sentiments better. Less than 24 hours from the time our Air France 747 landed at Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi, where thousands of new arrivals waited in line for over an hour to pass through passport control, did we discover that the chaos, extremes, ironies, dichotomies and sensory overload was to what we would become accustomed.

Our host hired a driver, first to pick us up at the airport and another to chauffeur us all around Delhi the first day, neither of which spoke any English. Staying at a B and B in Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi, at 1:30 a.m. after a long day of travel, we passed shanties, crumbling buildings, construction sites, modern skyscrapers and mega-malls silhouetted by undernourished cows, wild dogs and rickshaws. It was all a bit frightening for our first 30 minutes in India.

There are no words to describe the intensity of life in a land as contrary to France as India. On the roads and highways, bikes, motorbikes, rickshaws, both manual and motorized, cars and trucks of all sizes blend haphazardly with humanity. Men have their hair cut roadside in front of mirrors hung from trees. A man bathes himself in front of a sea of motorized vehicles under a veil of dense pollution. Beggars approach the car at stop lights with the most pathetic of offerings, stories and gestures. While our hearts pour out and we want to reach into our wallets for a few rupees, we know that once we surrender, we will be harassed by many more…so we try not to look back and deny their very existence, as everyone else seems to do.

Within moments traveling along the roads in bumper-to-bumper chaotic traffic, the landscape can easily change to the most poverty stricken shanty-towns to the most elaborate and beautiful monuments and perfectly tended gardens. On the grass surrounding the India Gate, the children are taught to defecate while shoes must be removed to enter the lotus flower shaped Baha’i House of Worship. Women are dressed elaborately in stunning silk crepe saris and Punjabis (Indian casual wear), wearing glittering bangle bracelets and delicate shoes while riding side saddle on the back of motorbikes.

The advertising along the roads and on the buildings would make Madison Avenue shutter – tag lines such as “Adding Colour to Your Life is a Good Idea” (for what product I don’t remember) and “Hi, I’m Pooja. I am buying a home in Gaur Grandeur because it is very special”– I loved this one best of all.

A “Bollywood” movie was being filmed while we visited the Mehrauli Archaeological Park which houses the Quth Minar, the world’s highest single tower (and we thought it might be the Eiffel Tower!). Under the domed arches of the ancient temples, w

hile visitors strolled among the ruins, businessmen talk on cell phones – almost everyone has one. A flutist charmed a cobra right out of his basket and when he didn’t perform on cue, the well trained snake got a smack on the head. Dogs are kicked when misbehaving, yet we found the people of India extremely friendly, polite, soft spoken and particularly gentle.

At the INA market where hundreds of stalls are crammed under a ramshackle roof in a maze of alleys offering everything from spices and foods to clothing and frivolities, the merchants are assertive about getting you in their “doors,” but are willing to bargain for less than half of their starting price. For 400 rupees, less than $10, we purchased two three-piece outfits, embroidered with gold threads and equipped with sew-on sleeves. The shopkeepers were ready and willing to be photographed, smiling broadly for Erica’s camera and anxious to see the results on the tiny screen. Not for a moment did it feel dangerous, although we were warned about pickpockets. I joked to our host that we were quite familiar with pickpockets in Paris – about the best in the world. Delhi wouldn’t seem too threatening and it didn’t.

Our first meal in Delhi was only after a preparatory dose of Pepto Bismal to coat our virgin stomachs at a traditional Indian restaurant along Connaught Place, named Volga’s. It was filled by 95% businessmen drinking large bottles of beer and is appointed by dark red velvet chairs with back cushions in the shape of hearts. For 500 rupees, about $11, we savored four vegetarian dishes, garlic naan, mineral water and chai tea. At the large circular town center designed and built by Robert Tor Russel to honor the British Empire, we spied a man relieving himself in the Ladies latrine, guards standing watch at the automatic tellers and hawkers promoting free maps of the city if you’d just step inside their travel agency doors.

Erica never took her fingers off the camera trigger, attracting would-be models wherever we went. She downloaded almost 400 images taken in less than 24 hours and we talked all day about the lack of logic anything made. So unlike La Vie Française, where every detail is so precise and every landscape so pristine, nothing seems to follow a sense of order of any kind.

Perhaps by the end of our twelve day stay, we will have put all the pieces of the Indian puzzle together. Tomorrow begins four days of wedding ceremonies before we head to the cities of the Golden Triangle to see what more of India has to offer that France has not. For the moment, our vision is…as the newspaper reported…unbound.

A la prochaine…


Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. The charming “Le Provençal” Studio is still available from March 19 – 27 and May 1 – 6. Photos and more details, are available here: /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/provencal.html


Save money when transferring from dollars to euros!

Make sure your money goes as far as you do… HiFX takes the pain and guesswork out of currency conversion. The ideal solution for transferring money for your French property mortgage and more. For more information, click here: /frenchproperty/insider/currencyonlineconvertor.html

French Property Insider Consultation…your complete solution to finding, buying, renovating or renting your new dream home or apartment in France. /frenchproperty/consultation

The Traps to Avoid with the Preliminary Contract


This Week in French Property Insider…

WHAT YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE THE SIGNATURE OF A MUTUAL AGREEMENT (PROMESSE OR COMPROMIS DE VENTE)… According to article 1589 of Civil code: “A promise of sale is equivalent to a sale, when there is mutual consent of both parties on the matter of the thing and the price.”...FPI Subscribers Read On…

Learn how to buy property in France. French Property Insider is an e-mail newsletter from the editors of Parler Paris. Learn all the insights, recommendations, and discoveries about buying and investing in real estate in Paris and France that French Property Insider readers get every week.

To learn more, visit /frenchproperty/insider or go directly to subscribe at /frenchproperty/insider/subscribetofpi.html

We wanted better guides.
So we wrote them.

Insider Paris Guides are a series of electronically published, downloadable guides about Paris and France written by journalists and writers who live and work in, and love, Paris.

We cover specific, niche-interest topics that are difficult to find anywhere else. Get an insider perspective on Restaurants… Making a Life… Black Culture… Expat Writers…

For more information, visit

Cooking Up a Storm on Rue Tatin
Cooking and Food Writing
April 1 – 6, 2007


Cooking Up a Storm on Rue Tatin is a unique opportunity for you to explore the fascinating relationship between cooking, writing, and creativity. We’ll be Cooking Up a Storm with food made from the freshest seasonal and local ingredients and words inspired by the creative surroundings of Normandy, good food, the fabulous wines selected from the old cellar, and lively conversation around the dinner table. When you leave On Rue Tatin you’ll take with you a passion to cook for yourself, a newly energized confidence in your writing, and a stronger creative identity.

For more information, email: [email protected] or visit

You can trust the team at Parler Paris Apartments

Email: [email protected]

Welcome to your home in Paris. Home is how you will feel in a private apartment in Paris that has the “seal of approval” from Parler Paris Apartments and me, Adrian Leeds.

Parler Paris Apartments offers high quality accommodations to make your stay in the City of Light as enjoyable and memorable as possible. We at Parler Paris know each and every apartment owner or manager personally, and stand behind the quality of those we represent. We understand your needs and desires, all the small details that make a rental apartment a warm and welcoming home – and a much better alternative to an impersonal hotel!

Parler Paris Apartments is administered and serviced by the same great team as Parler Paris, French Property Insider and French Property Consultation. You can trust that Parler Paris Apartments and all those with whom it is associated will do their best for your 100% guaranteed satisfaction.

*** “Le Provençal” Studio

Located in a very charming and quiet 18th-century building in the heart of Le Marais, this sunny studio is perfect for one or two seeking ultimate Parisian calm, flavored with the beautiful colors of Provence. Available March 19 – 27 and May 1 – 6.

Pictures and more details available here: /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/provencal.html

*** Le Florentin Studio

In a charming Parisian style building, this superbly furnished studio, wonderfully decorated with a mix of French provençal with Italian florentin style furnishings and antiques, will suit all the needs for 2 people who want the typical Parisian experience in the heart of Le Marais. Available now until March 3, and March 10 – 31.

Pictures and more details available here: /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/florentin.html

Parler Paris Après Midi

Come for a drink and to meet and chat with other readers in Paris:

The next gathering is March 13, 2007

So mark your calendars to be sure not to miss it! See /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more details.

Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group

Practice speaking French and English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily. Meets three times a week — come as often as you like!

* Tuesdays 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Upstairs at La Pierre du Marais
96, rue des Archives at the corner of rue de Bretagne, 75003
3rd arrondissement, Paris
Métro Temple, République or Arts et Métier


* Wednesdays 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and
* Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
13 passage Dauphine (entrance between rue Dauphine and rue Mazarine), 6th arrondissement
Métro Odéon, Saint-Michel, Pont Neuf

SATURday, MARCH 17, 8 P.M.

Come out and celebrate the 9th Anniversary of the
Parler Parlor French English Conversation Group at La Pierre du Marais!

(corner of rue des Archives and rue de Bretagne, Paris, 3rd Arrondissement)

Menu: Kir, Confit de Canard, Gratin Dauphinois, Salad, Moelleux au Chocolat, Wine and Coffee
All for only 25€!

Plus, take advantage of these special anniversary prices:


[email protected] or

Subscribe to the PARISMARAIS monthly newsletter FREE

The Art of Living Guide to Le Marais.



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