by Maryam Amelie
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim
Men and women are all the same. We all have basic needs. To love and to be loved.
If you have read my previous blog post on the B’Andalusia Collection, you would probably know by now what inspired me to create the Parisienne Collection.
My sojourn in Paris.
After graduation from university, my friend and I travelled to Europe. It was a 30 day tour and Paris was part of it. There were supposed to be three of us, but ended up, one of us couldn’t make the trip so it was just H and me. Prior to the trip, a someone had asked me out, and we had a little movie cum McDonald date. And to my surprise, he came to the airport to send me off and gave me a card. H was so elated for me. Nothing much was said in the card, but to think that he was there at the airport and cared enough to give me a card – gave me that fluffy feelings – the same kind of feelings my protagonist Sufiah had felt about Abdul Matin or Reza, characters in my book, The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane.
In Europe, there were many memories – the good and the not so good – but one of the things that I cannot forget is that I got chicken pox. Prior to the trip, my youngest brother had chicken pox and I think the virus had hibernated in me and decided to run amok during my Europe tour. Perhaps the cold helped because it was not a full blown ugly-looking red spots. Some of the folks on the tour got infected too. Though they made a joke out of the whole situation, there were also stabbing stares and back gossips at me.
However, I made the best out of the situation. Our guide helped to find a hospital but somehow the Germans were not much of a help. The medical professionals were totally unfriendly as if they had a thing against Asians like us. There were some comic situation at the apothecary (pharmacy) in Paris, especially when we couldn’t speak French, and they didn’t understand English. We clucked, and they quacked.
And when H was infected and wanted to do a bed-rest at the hotel, I felt really alone and lonely – walking the streets of Barcelona all by myself.
All is not lost. There was beauty amidst all these. There was so much to see, to experience, to feel joy on God’s earth. God was in the details, everywhere. I didn’t see it then but now I realised how His plans are unfolding for me.
As for the someone who had sent me off with a card at the airport, I came back home to find him being a couple with someone else by then. I was surprised that it was really fast for him. Thank God for a fabulous time in Europe.
My second time in Paris was when I was working as a television producer, producing a highly-rated fashion programme. We were sponsored to cover Yves Saint Laurent, and of course, we ensured that we covered the beauty of Paris too.
When we arrived, we checked into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and lo and behold, I saw someone familiar. I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks on me or maybe it was someone else. Of all places, why would I see him in Paris, and not back in Singapore, where we both were based.
But many months later, I managed to ask this someone when we accidentally met again if he had been to Ritz Carlton, Paris, and he admitted he was. He even asked me why I didn’t call out to him and my answer was that I wasn’t sure it was him.
My answer was good enough for him. He had moved on by then, and it was pure coincidence of us to be at the same place, at the same time, far away from home. Fate did not have its hands in this.
The hotel, Ritz Carlton Paris, was not a typical modern skyscraper but a very Roman-like building with animal statues near the roof. I got a room on the highest floor (7th floor or something). When I looked out of the window, I could see the creepy animal statues just above me. My female executive producer, S, and my female tv host, J, were both located on the same lower floor. J creeped me up when she said the alley to my room looked like a scene from a scary movie, The Shining. She even said the murdered twins will appear and will say “redrum, redrum.” Because of all these, I couldn’t sleep on the first night, and left my room to bunk in with either one of them on the subsequent nights.
But I had an awesome time in Paris, being backstage at Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture show, and covering all the beautiful places in Paris, soaking in the French atmosphere. We even had the chance to visit the home of a celebrity make-up artist for YSL. Ooh la la!
Parisienne Mint-Nectarine & The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane
It was as if an angel had been there with them, and had put divine teachings into their hearts, their minds and their souls. They were now dancing in tandem like the rain falling into the river, becoming one.
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I love watching films and movies. One of the French films I had watched and loved had a pixie-haired character named Amelie. And maybe, just maybe, I felt a bond with her because of our namesake.
Another movie that inspired my writing of The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane was also from a French movie. Though I have no recollection of the title, I love the treatment of the story. There were two angles of the same incidents, just like how I wrote my story from Sufiah’s and Reza’s perspectives. I wished to find out the title of that French movie one day.
Another movie that I love is Before Sunrise, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (who played a French woman). I wanted The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane to have some elements of Before Sunrise, especially the scene at Jim’s Cafe @ Haji Lane.
Romance seems synonymous with Paris. Though I didn’t fall in love nor embrace a probable romantic fate during my Paris trips, my Parisienne Collection had quotes from The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane subtly inscripted onto the Parisienne Collection. It was truly a magical place that I will always remember.