Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Paris on My Mind: Flights of Fancy

What's a human without active imagination that allows for flights of fancy? Erm... Very successful? Maybe in terms of money amassed yes, but, is this person as stress-free as someone who can shut off all reality and go on an Everest expedition if nothing's working out in real life?

The answer, is not easy. It will vary from person to person but, for someone who does not know what's a lucid dream outside of the dictionary it may not cut ice. However, for someone who uses imagination to hibernate like me, it is the best and the most heavenly de-stress exercise ever.

Having a strong imagination has huge advantages. Whenever bored or irritated by a power cut or a droning voice in a boring meeting on a sultry afternoon, I can happily  imagine myself at far away places doing things that can only be imagined!

Please don't start smirking yet. Have you never read Calvin and Hobbes? What I meant was things like wearing a bikini and emerging from a tranquil sea at Casablanca or eating gelato in Rome at an exquisite piazza with pigeons flying around me or winning huge amounts at a casino in Las Vegas and drinking champagne from a glass slipper in Paris!

Somehow I find my imaginary self slipping in to Paris pretty often. It is not unusual since there's hardly anyone with overactive imagination who does not imagine waking up smelling roses and drinking coffee looking at the iconic Eiffel Tower. (Here I must tell you that I detest coffee and tea is my poison but, in an imaginary situation...)
But, sometimes I imagine more. Much more. I imagine walking down a quaint rue and bumping into a street artist who then shares a sandwich with me and tells me about the underground art districts. I sit around chatting with him (though I speak not a word of French) while he makes a very flattering picture of me.
Van Gogh's Paris Cafe at Night
I often find myself strolling off to small street-side cafes to drink the house wine with cheese that the waiter suggests while smiling at absolute strangers who may think I'm slightly crazy or shrug indulgently (here I imagine a very Gallic shrug). I often see myself walking down a bridge looking down at the mighty Seine and staring at the blue sky while listening to Dido sing Paris in my ears. Sigh!
Dido: Paris (Listen to this!)
I sometimes see myself at the front rows of high-end fashion shows wondering with one raised eyebrow on who wears such unwearable clothes and walking out mid-show to go looking for arty boutiques that sell style that can be worn with elan at any place and in any decade. I would of course be wearing impossibly high heels in all these dreams without getting a killer backache. I'd also be at least a good six inches taller than my real 5'2". My ankles however, remain mine because they are very nice as they are.
To my heat or cold-strapped mind (depending on the season in Delhi) Paris is often the chic place where I write this supposedly huge epic thriller with loads of swashbuckling adventure and buckets of intrigue and espionage mixed with high-octane action!

Sometimes just strolling around and smiling at strangers is not enough. Those days I add adventure to the mix and solve a Da Vinci Code-type mystery and meet a really mysterious guy who whisks me into a world of crime and quest. Well...
Once the book is out and an international bestseller, everyone thinks it's a great story to make a movie and it gets adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster with Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck in the lead roles. Didn't I tell you this is all imagination. Death is never a deterrent. I even met Marty once. Marty who? You gotta be kidding folks! Marty McFly! Back to the Future! Come on!!!

He wanted to take me on a ride in the time machine but, Doc Brown wanted Marty to take him somewhere in the past and fast. I of course, never have the time or patience to wait in a lucid dream. So, I never got to travel in time. But, I know I will - soon.
My best moments in Paris are when I sit sipping wine with Van Gogh while he tells me how no one understands him while I keep quite because he is from the past so, I cannot tell him about the present. Mostly I am happy that he got to off-load because he needed to - all his life. Maybe I did get to ride with Marty. It is very difficult to keep track of how and why in a dream!

There are thousands of adventures I've had there and I know there are millions that still await me as I walk through the two iconic bookshops on the Left Bank, Shakespeare and Company and get to be awed by the charisma of Earnest Hemingway while browsing banned literature! Oh! did I say, "...as I walk through...?" Sorry, got carried away multi-tasking! You know writing and dreaming are so interconnected they could be twins!!!

I know that at this point, many of you would be itching to call the shrink in with a thought to putting me in a  straight jacket but, believe me, imagination is something you should never block. Once you stop imagining you also stop dreaming. Simple happy things that don't cost a bomb and give immense joy and lift you up just because you know you have beaten all odds to achieve what others spend a lifetime just planning to get for a few days or weeks! You can do it any time and have it your own way.

Try it sometime on a hot Sunday afternoon when the heat is frying your mind and making you sluggish. When you can no longer concentrate on the book in hand and your eyes keep straying at the air conditioner remote to see if it increased the temperature on its own. When your eyes are drooping with sleep because your body needs to maintain its normal temperature so, needs you to hibernate. Then you are ready to embark on an adventure to a strange city that you've only read and seen on celluloid but, never set foot on. Go on try it. It's awesome fun! You can think of Paris in the rain or even a snow covered Notre Dame!

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