Rupali in France, 2016
It was a “Dream come true” when I was selected for the Culture Exchange Program 2016.
Visiting France had always been my Dream since I started studying French in School. In School I had learned about the magnificent monuments, French habits, culture, traditions and foods which I would now will experience!
On 6th May 2016 we all boarded the Ethiad Airways flight to Paris.
We reached Paris on 7th May and were welcomed by the members of Perspective Asiennes (Danièle, Michèle, Anne-Marie, Dominique,…) and were guided to our respective host families.
My host Anne-Marie was wonderful and lovely lady and we both could relate each other at first instance.
In Paris we visited all the famous monuments. Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, Palais de Versailles, Montmarte, Sénat and Opéra Garnier the most magnificent monument I had ever seen. Beautiful architecture. French architecture is incredible!
At the top of Eiffel I was feeling on the top of the World. Boat ride along the Seine river was a wonderful experience to see all the monuments along the River. Notre-Dame Cathedral is indeed so beautiful.
After spending the whole week in Paris, we celebrated the Indian Evening in Paris, all dressed in Indian outfits, prepared Indian cuisine and presented Folk Dance, Lavani, Garba, Bhajan for our French hosts.
It was heart breaking to depart from them and then I sang the song “Chalte-Chalte Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna” first in Hindi, then English “Never say Goodbye” and finally in French “Ne Jamais Dire Adieu”. The hosts and all the guests were so overwhelmed by this gesture.
Lastly I had the privilege to impart our thanks in French – that also had been my Dream to speak in French in front of French people.
The next week was at Le Mans and we reached Le Mans by train to be received by the host families on the station.
Sandrine my host at Le Mans was an affectionate, lovely and sweet lady. Being of the same age we became very good Friends.
In Le Mans we visited Sandrine parents, her Aunt who stays nearby Le Mans.
At her parents place I was impressed to see the family bonding and love for family relations and traditions. I would not have experienced this if I would just have been a tourist.
I also visited a village Fair and could see their Folk Dance with dancers in French traditional Outfits. It was very good experience and I was amazed to see the way they maintain their culture and keep fairs like this, so that the new generations can know about the ancient traditions, outfits and dances similar like we have in India “Jatra”.
I also attended African dance and music class along with Sandrine. We spent a nice time learning new dance steps. I was delight how well Sandrine was managing her passion for dance and music in her busy Schedule, and was enjoying every moment of her life with family, friends. Unlike me too busy in work with no time for hobbies!
In Le Mans we visited a Agriculture Farm, Dairy, Claas Tractor Factory, Château de Chambord, Car Museum, a School and a Jazz Show. Le Mans was a nice experience at France Region side.
The visit at the Mairie of Le Mans was informative, we got to know about the Population, Elections, Governance, Responsibilities…
The week ended with the Indian evening in the same manner as we had in Paris.
The last week of our tour was in Poitier. It was a wonderful and surprise Welcome and the Words ”We are waiting for you since 30 Years” overwhelmed us.
My host was musician, he had his shop of Making Musical String Instruments. It was a nice experience to visit his shop and see the Instruments being made.
The entire week at Poitier we spent visiting the various ancient and magnificent monuments. We went to the Futuroscope, enjoyed the Rides, 3D Shows etc. The one day visit to La Rochelle, a sea coast near Poitiers, where we were welcomed with another members of Perspective Asiennes, was a good time. I attended my host’s Accordion Music Class, she plays very well. I even learned one French Song “Margerita Margerita“ and also sang our Hindi Song “Jaha daal daal pe chidiya karti hein Basera” which they enjoyed a lot when I explained them the meaning and nice interaction by exchange of Indian-French Music.
The Visit to School For Mentally Challanged and the University of Poitier was very Informative and useful experience, and I could make the difference with our Education System. We had an interaction with the students and professors.
The week ended with the Indian Evening in the same manner as Le Mans and Paris, but here we had a true culture exchange of music as we and the host families enjoyed dance and music.
The tour finally ended with our train back to Paris. All the host families at Poitier gathered at the station with CD Players playing the song “ Kabhi Alvida na Kehna”.
It was a heart breaking and we all departed with tears in our eyes. This culture exchange program gave me a wonderful, informative and treasure for my entire life.