Another time at another place called Monaco…
Read Part-I here
Monaco was no ordinary country. I haven’t seen a country so hoity-toity in my life. This country oozes with opulence and good-looks. The women here look like they were dropped directly from some place above heaven. And the men look exactly like the kind of men these women would date. The men here wouldn’t drive anything less than a Lamborghini or Bugatti. And the women wouldn’t wear anything-oh no, not what you are imagining, but-less than 6inch stilettoes. When I discovered, how much these cars could set me back, I felt Porsche and Mercedes were dirt-cheap.
Amidst the lavishness and good looks I felt like a malnourished orphan from a poverty stricken country. And if some journalist decides to make a picture of me with the rich and good-looking people in the backdrop, it would definitely evoke some tears and win a Pulitzer.
I took “lose yourself” quite literally and started budgeting some time, often half a day, for it in my itinerary.
As per the plan, I was lost in Monaco looking for a railway station. I had to go to my ordinary, inexpensive hotel in Nice, pronounced as Niece, as quickly as possible.
I made several rounds around Monaco; it’s a very small country by the way. All I saw was flashy cars, flashy yachts, old building and a lot of sea but no railway station. I’ve asked for directions several times and to several people. One more round around the country, I would faint, my head was already reeling and my feet were hurting.
Just when I was about to quit and faint, a very pretty, non-Monacan, 30 something woman with an air of a very kind person strutted past me. I rushed to her and said Le Gare (railway station), along with it tumbled a few other remotely French words with a wince-worthy pronunciation. She was very happy that I spoke gibberish in French. When she asked me to walk with her, I felt like a fish back in the water. I guess she spoke to me about her job, family and friends while we were walking. All I did was say oui(yes), d’accord(ok) accompanied by rigorous nodding. After this incident I connect better with my horses because now I know what they feel when I talk to them.
During our one-way conversation I found out that, if I didn’t make it in time to the railway station I would miss my last train to Nice. As my luck would have it, the French-speaking ticket machine at the station only accepted coins and I didn’t have any. The kind woman once again came to my rescue and bought me a ticket by dropping one Euro in the dumb machine. She didn’t accept any money I gave her. And that’s how I caught my last train to Nice.
Believe me when I tell you that the world is full of good people!
Back in Nice
Thanking Gods for helping me to get to Nice on the last train, next day as a precautionary measure, I pored over the map of Nice and I went on the mission “find flower market.” Only five minutes on the street and I was lost again.
People Running in Nice outnumbered the people living in Monaca. I was the only one walking amongst several runners at that hour. The only way I could ask for directions this time was to run with them, with my camera and bag dangling around my shoulder. And then I have to make a mental note of the directions given to me in the French accent by the palpitating runners.
Just when I was about to run I got a glimpse of a woman walking amidst dozens of runners. I waited for her like an ambush predator waiting for its prey. She didn’t know what was in store for her and walked straight into me. I grabbed the opportunity and quickly showed her the flower market, used a few French words, a few English words and a lot of signals and asked her for the directions. She was happy to know I spoke English and I was embarrassed to realized she spoke fluent English and French.
She was an old woman named Farida. Her family fled Iran and took refuge in France during the war between Iran and Iraq 31 years ago. She had a rendezvous with her friends at 11am. When I asked her for the directions, she said “I’ll walk you to the flower market.” Perhaps God thought that, in a span of two days my stint of getting lost, looking for places exceeded its limit and sent her to me. She was with me till 12pm, 1 hr past her meeting time with her friends. She showed me the city, shot my pictures, hugged me and kissed me.
With Farida in Nice..
The list of my rescuers runs longer than the longest metro line in Europe.
It’s very clear that world needs a lot good people for people like me to survive.
I’ve had several “ok I’m finished” moments during my trips. It’s only because of all the good people I met along the way that I survived and continued to travel.