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Catching a Moment - Lasting Impressions

FRANCE | Friday, 5 April 2013 | Views [882] | Scholarship Entry

The reflection of the lights flooded the granite wall in front
of us. Behind us, the dinner cruise boat glided side by side with its mistress, the Seine. Notre-Dame gazed upon the play with an approving eye. Both river and boat moved on; just another couple passing by in the late April night. The light grew dimmer until the ten o’clock sky regained its proper value. For the rest of us, our eyes were still adjusting from the sudden on-pour of light, the lasting effect of a boat of tourists declaring “We were there!”

Three of us sat upon a stone wall; the breeze of the water
behind refreshed our bare necks and shoulders. My feet throbbed inside my open-toed flats; we had coursed through Paris in five days, feeding our passions with Rembrandt and Cezanne and feeding our vices with linden studded leather bags. Over our shoulders, in two months time, the purses and other impulsive buys would call out to our friends with
a nostalgic glee, “We were there!”

The taste of vin blanc still lingered on our tongues and our
words eased from galvanized lips. Our voices carried and they became part of a larger harmony of other small groups, couples, tourists, and natives; all background to the tranquil melody of a man, seated cross-legged, strumming carelessly along the strings of a mahogany sitar. Its song transposed us to a different place; we only hoped we could remember the spirit of that moment when our train drove a slow decrescendo back into the nine-to-five the following morning.

My friends chatted and I sat fixated watching the hypnotizing
strokes of finger to string. I realized the young man, dark-skinned, with a head full of black hair falling just below his ears, was still rather young. His face was narrow and smooth, his eyes large and inviting. He caught my glance and I turned my gaze lower, as if inspecting the engraved leaf patterns across the gourd of his instrument. When I felt it safe to look back up, he was still staring back, smiling. Our heads lulled back and forth to the current of the music. We never spoke; we didn’t have to. But two years later, when I looked back on the single photograph of the man hunched over the sitar, I remembered the moment distinctly—two strangers becoming one chord in the same melodic measure of a spring Paris night. We were there.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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