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How I took part in rally

FRANCE | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [88] | Scholarship Entry

I was in Prague listening to music online and checking news on social media when an advertisement caught my eye.It offered a weekend trip to Paris,a city I always dreamed of visiting at least once during my lifetime.

The price was amazingly cheap - round-trip by bus and bed and breakfast at a four-star hotel would cost me only 35 euros ($46).

I wrote to the trip organizer and discovered there was a catch, but it didn't bother me.The organizer explained that I would have to take part in a rally in Paris for a few hours. He promised the protest would be peaceful and violence-free.

JUNE 20

9 p.m:I arrived at a bus station in Prague along with a friend,a fellow student from Kyrgyzstan.

Most of the "protesters" were young and obviously students like me.I met many Russians,Ukrainians,Czechs,and students from Asian countries who were all recruited via the Internet.

I approached two Russian girls to see if they might have a better idea about the purpose of our trip."To defend the rights of Iranian women,"said one of the girls."To meet handsome Frenchmen,"said the other."Who cares about Iranian women?"

11:12p.m:Finally, the trip organizers arrived and let us on the buses.The journey had begun.

JUNE 21

11:56 a.m:After a lengthy bus journey and a sleepless night,we arrived in Paris.
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JUNE 22*

12:52 a.m.: The hotel was about 60 kilometers outside Paris. We were promised a night in a four-star hotel, but I wouldn't even give one star to the shabby place the organizers brought us to. "Well, what else would you expect for a 35 euro, all-inclusive trip to Paris?" someone said as we stood in line to use the toilet.

1:16 p.m.: The buses took us to some strange place not far from Charles de Gaulle Airport. Cameras were not allowed.

There were yellow-and-purple flags hanging everywhere. The name "Maryam Rajavi" was written on the flags. Well, at least I knew the name of the person behind this massive event.

2:23 p.m.: There were at least 10,000 people inside. Strange music was playing. All the participants were given coupons for a free drink and sandwich.

I suddenly realized that there was a woman standing next to me. She was covered head-to-toe and kept saying, "Allahu Akbar."

Enough. I had to find the exit door.

JUNE 23*

11:57 a.m.: We arrived back in Prague. I was feeling down, and even the souvenirs I bought in Paris could not cheer me up. In thinking about the whole experience, a saying comes to mind: "Only a mousetrap has free cheese."

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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