October 2014 \ Arts & Entertainment \ Book Excerpts
Tale Of Two Cities

Delhi and Paris are cities with a past, going back to a few millenniums. Each has captivating monuments. Much has been written about both cities. This brief narrative is, however, an attempt to understand the elements which mould the conduct and some of the social traits of the two people. They present a study in contrast in many ways. This, however, is not meant to extol one at the expense of other, or to condemn either of them. If it gives that impression, then it is unintended. It is just an attempt to juxtapose the two, as they have appeared to me, objectively. In that process I have also been critical of both in many respects. But that does not affect either my admiration for France or my attachment and love for India, with its spiritual traditions, composite culture, amazing variety in almost everything, some exasperating traits of its people notwithstanding . Readers in any case have freedom to draw their own conclusions.

I must clarify that it is not a work of research. It is too short to be one and I am not qualified for that anyway. It also does not offer anything by way of facts about the two cities or their people, which is not already known. So rich is the corpus of written material already available on the two cities, that it is difficult to add anything to it.

What I know of India, comes from living there a lifetime. What is written about Paris and its people in these pages are my impressions and conclusions based mostly on what I experienced and saw during my stay of a little over two years in Paris between 2010 and 2013. Admittedly the period is not long.

No written material can be a substitute for personal experience, though the former can help in supplementing it. As each individual is different, his experiences, and the way he looks at people and places, are also invariably different. For that reason these pages may have something to offer.

The facts gleaned from my personal experiences and observations in Paris, have been supplemented by some basic books on the subject which I read during my stay there, some help from internet, and a few masterpieces of French literature, which I had read long back.

—The author is a retired civil servant.