Ashish Jagtiani is the name he was born with, though that is a bit of an urban legend. He goes by the name of Jaggu, a very popular name across the airwaves. Dry, dark and lucid would describe him aptly, where one can only hope that one is not on the receiving end of that unholy trio.
I visited Paris for the first time. Of course, it lives up to its clichés: historical, charming, city of love and all that. But when you’ve lived in Dubai, the perspective with which you view Paris changes. For instance, the tallest thing there is the Eiffel tower, and you can’t even live in it. No fountains at its base, no shopping and no food court. What is actually there? Concrete. Really, just concrete. With a couple of shops
selling sandwiches in place of a food court and trinket sellers in lieu of a mall. How downmarket!
And the place is packed, people lining up for a couple of hours just to get up there. No idea why, its like they haven’t seen a tower before in their lives. Clearly not Dubai residents, these people.
On the subject of towers, broadly
Now, what is a forest doing in the middle of the city? Forests are meant to be in the wilderness. Cities are meant for living, for which you need apartment buildings, taller the better. Paris clearly needs better city planning, and more than a few good woodcutters.
The apartment buildings are nice to look at. They are all low structures designed with some flair, carvings on the outside walls, pretty balconies, well-built structures. Most of Paris slightly reminds me of Karama, but more old fashioned. And I am serious about old. Paris apartments are regularly about 150 to 200 years old, creaky flooring, crumbling plumbing and elevators quite obviously fitted in later, once they were invented. The buildings pre-dated elevators by almost a century, I would imagine. High ceilings, pretty windows and sunlit rooms be damned, how can you stay in a centuries old building, it’s probably a safety hazard and plain wrong. You might argue that all of Paris can’t be wrong, to which my response is all of Dubai can’t be wrong either. There is a reason we live in new apartments in freshly built buildings.
For travelling within the city, the Parisian metro system is wonderful, the entire city is well networked and the whole thing is underground, which essentially means you get where you want to go quickly, efficiently and in the most boring way possible. The most exciting thing to do on
The Parisian equivalent of Dubai Mall is Champs Elysees, except it has fewer shops and restaurants. At one end, they have a small structure, by Dubai standards called the Arc de Triomphe, which is quite literally, a hole in the wall. Going from one shop to another, you are exposed to the elements, meaning the weather, the hawkers, the cracks in the pavement and perhaps even the pickpockets. Do we have any of those issues in Dubai Mall? Not at all. There is something to be said about the sanitised, air conditioned, non-accented tourist experience that we are privy to. Nobody is trying to sell me keychains with the facsimile of the Dubai Mall dangling from it. And if they did, it would have to be a helluva big keychain!
I don’t mean to be cranky and difficult, though some would say that point has long passed. Paris has some great things going for it, such as the aforementioned history, culture and old world charm. It’s worth a visit to get a sense of how other places in the world are different from Dubai, and what more Paris, for instance, would have to do to be called the ‘Dubai of the West’.
Though probably the next time the urge to travel overcomes me, it would be more convenient to simply go over to Global Village.