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Interesting (and frightening) Episode in Paris

Interesting (and frightening) Episode in Paris

In one of the previous emails, I said I will write about our trip to France. The motivation behind the trip to France was the famous Saint Marie Aux Mines Gem and Mineral Show. We have never been to that show. In fact, we wanted to see the show with the intention of evaluating it and considering the possibility of selling our Apophyllite mineral specimens at that show.

This is the first time we have visited Paris. The show dates were June 20-23. We flew from India to Paris on 19th June. We took a high-speed train (they call it TGV) from Paris to Strasbourg. The train ride was a good 3 hours. It was a great experience traveling at high speed. The scenery was gorgeous. We arrived in Strasbourg on time. Our destination was a smaller town called Selestat. We had to take another train for that. Luckily, we found an officer who spoke English and helped us get to our local train to Seletat.

After a 30 minutes ride we disembarked in Seletat. It was a quiet place. After a short wait we found a taxi. He was Khaleel from Morrocco. He also spoke English which made it easy for us to communicate. Our AirBnB was less than a mile away. I took his phone numbers so I could use his service for the next 4-5 days. That made it easy for us.

After checking in at the AirBnB, to our dismay we found that the place didn’t have any air conditioning. They provided a small table fan which was hardly enough for cooling the air. We had to keep all the windows open the entire length of our stay. On 20th morning we arrived at the show place. It took about 30 minutes’ drive time to get to Saint Marie Aux Mines. Our plan was to spend 4 days at the show scouting the entire show and then spend two days in Paris. Our return trip to India was on 27th June. We bought multiple entry full length pass (paid handsome). We got past the gate and went into the show.

Well, soon after we got to the show, the heat and the narrow isles and lack of proper air conditioning, something whispered into our ears that this is not a place we can survive for 4 days. Perhaps we are spoiled by the comfort we experience in the USA. We met a lot of our friends who do shows with us in Tucson, Denver and other places. We also met a few good vendors who could be our suppliers.

After abandoning the idea of going back to the show, we used Khaleel to take trips to surrounding places and cities to take advantage of the free time we have. We could not go back to Paris as the AriBnB was paid for 4 days in advance.

After the stay in Selestat we arrived in Paris. Here wanted to explore the Metro train rides. We enjoyed the rides until something interesting and frightening happened. I carried my bag pack in all the places we went. This bag pack had my wallet, both of our passports and some other important documents for getting in and out of India. After the first few days of the stay in France, we decided to leave all the Passports and documents in the hotel as they did not seem to be of any use while we are in the country. That was a good thing we did. We thank God for that.

On our second day in Paris, we hopped on a metro train from a museum visit in Paris back to our hotel. As soon as we both got in, Thafseera found a seat inside and made her way to that seat. A teenage girl among a group of four teenagers blocked my way preventing me from reaching Thafseera who is already sitting by this time. At first it appeared that the kids were also tourists who were confused as to whether they got in the right train or something of that kind. They were talking to each other while I was blocked. I had no clue what was happening. First, I felt sorry for them.

As soon as I got an opportunity, I slipped past her and found my way closer to Thafseera before She blocked me again with similar innocent looking maneuvers. This time I got a little upset and looked at her a bit angrily as she is not allowing me to move forward. By this time, she came bit more closer to me and started staring at me and was holding a piece of cloth or her hat in front of me to prevent me from looking down the floor. For some reason, my glance fell on the floor of the train, and I saw my Wallet on the floor. I took it immediately, not knowing how it got to the floor. She moved away from me, and they found their way out to the station where the train stopped by this time. I went to Thafseera and before I sat down next to her, I took the bag pack from my back and saw that the bag pack had been opened completely. Now the bell rang in my head as to what was happening. These kids were doing all these dramas to block me and open my bag which they did. They also succeeded in taking my wallet from my bag. To this day, it gives me chills when I think about this incident. How did I get the wallet from the floor after a group of four teenagers stole it from my bag? I say Thank God. He protected me. We were relieved also by the fact that we did not carry our passports. What could have happened if the passports had been stolen would be something unimaginable. This is the interesting episode I wanted to share with you. Please be very careful when you travel. It does not matter whether you are in a western country or a underdeveloped country. There are people out there who do not give a dime for your inconvenience.

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