Robbed in Paris
[Name of Writer]
[Name of Institution]
It is surreal to have heard something beautiful being described to you a million times in your life and yet when you see it, the physical experience of it surpasses any imagination you could have forged. I felt this way when we headed out for our first recreational night in Paris during the summer of last year. As I have already recounted, the city is stupendously beautiful. I was there with my family but that did nothing to dim the romantic charm of Paris nightlife. I would simply like to add my own testimony to the millions who have already been to the city and narrated its magic.
We were in Paris for vacation. Europe is a long plane ride away and once we were inside our hotel room, Mother declared that it was impossible to go back outside until we had rested for at least a few hours. Looking back, I can see how smart it was since Paris at night is not something you would ever want to miss out on. Taking a simple walk through the streets and getting to witness the Eiffel Tower in all its glory was a mesmerizing experience in itself. Fully covered in lights, the tower glowed like an unearthly beacon. I remember being slightly disappointed that it was very crowded, but we managed to get tickets. The view from up there was worth the crowd. There is a lot to talk about in this context. I will, however, talk in more detail about the one incident that has reshaped my thought process more than any I can recall.
It was the second and the last night that we spent in Paris. By the time evening fell, we had already been to the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. The sky had slowly transformed into a dark sheet of inky blue which contrasted fabulously against a sea of lights on the ground. There were thousands of photos in our phones, there were countless memories that we could laugh about and there was spellbinding beauty all around us. The only thing left to do before we went back to our hotel and packed for our flight home was an unforgettable dinner at an exquisite Parisian restaurant.
As we prepared to cross the street, a group of people started gathering in neatly arranged rows. Most of them were wearing colorful costumes and they were smiling at the onlookers. People started to clear space for them and within seconds the crew had organized itself into a slick arrangement. Soon a crowd had formed full of Parisians and tourists alike. One of the performers touched the screen of his phone and music started blaring from speakers that I had not even noticed until then. Costumes full of feathers and sequins are enough of a distraction to not let you look elsewhere at something as drab as a speaker anyway. The dance performance began, and dozens of phones were instantly capturing every second of it. Beyoncé started singing Formation and I noticed that all the performers were women. The song began to reach high notes that the dancers captured skillfully and soon I was tapping along and clapping enthusiastically. Just as I jumped in glee at an extraordinary dance move, it happened.
A man not much older than myself rammed into my left shoulder and started to apologize profusely in French. The man was persistent in inquiring whether I was okay. At least I hope that is what he was saying. My attention was getting divided between the dancers and the weird man who would not let it go. His concerned face and wandering eyes had started to make me uncomfortable. I gave him a thumbs up and resumed dancing. The man finally walked away, and I thought nothing of it.
Not checking my pockets right after that was the second rookie tourist’s mistake I made. The first one was exchanging my American dollars for Euros and keeping it all in my wallet. Unfortunately, I was blissfully unaware as we happily watched the spectacular dance and ate an amazing dinner right after.
Swearing by every rule in the ‘tourist handbook on how to behave in Paris’, we had decided to end our adventures by stopping for a while in a souvenir shop on Champs-Élysées on our way back to the hotel. I picked a beautiful metal replica of the Eiffel Tower and also took out the choicest items of themed stationery available. Our adventures in Paris were to go straight into my new Paris-themed journal. It was only when I stuck my hand in my pocket that I realized what had happened. All my money, a total of a hundred and fifty euros, was gone. Five seconds of shock later, another wave of total despair engulfed me when I realized that all my credit cards and my driving license were also in my wallet. On the verge of crying, I gestured to my Mom showing her my empty pocket. Before I could have left the shop embarrassed out of my wits, my mother paid for everyone. I got back to my room in the hotel and thanked every star in the galaxy that at least my passport was with the rest of the family’s passports: safely in Mother’s purse. The flight back home was a dull affair.
Even though the financial loss was mild and reparable, it managed to teach me several lessons. The first thing I learnt was paying attention to tour guides who warn us of any routine mishaps that might happen to us in a foreign city. Trusting that the guide knows the city better than me was an instinct I realized I still had to learn. I say this because the tourist guide that showed us around mentioned it no less than five times that we had to pay attention to any cash we might carry as pickpocketing tourists was common in Paris. She also paid special attention to the fact that tourists must never carry all their cash in one place. The money should be divided and kept in different places so even if a person is robbed, the loss is minimal. Keeping an eye open for thieves was also mentioned in her speech. Just as one would absentmindedly register lessons in school, I did no attempt to actually act upon anything the tour guide so expertly requested us to do.
However, as I wrote this specific entry in my Paris-themed journal; I especially reminded myself to be sharper and smarter for the countless other travel adventures that I hoped to experience later in life.
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