I literally ran away from Germany. At Cologne, I had to change trains and in 2 minutes I had to sprint across the platforms to get on to the Paris train. With one backpack in front and another one in the back, I pushed a lot of people on the way but managed to hop on the train just in time. The French travel in style - at least in first class. Great food was served throughout along with some nice wine and nibbling on some cheese and sipping wine, watching the countryside and dreaming about Paris was a nice feeling.
B was at the station to meet me and it felt funny to meet after more than 3 years. His girlfriend, M, had cooked a great meal and we were up for a while chatting and catching up. My backpacks occupied a prominent part of their living room but they have guests all the time and they didn't care much. I've been here for 4 days now and in that period they've had 4 other guests stay over. It's been fun, sitting up till late eating, drinking and talking. Their house is in a chaotic state because of all the guests and we've all gone out a lot but nothing seems to faze them.
Woke up early on Friday and had lined up 5 appointments to see studios in different parts of the city. I'd visited Paris about 5 years ago but saw it like a tourist. This time, I explored a lot of neighbourhoods I hadn't seen earlier and it was fun to walk around and see how close the grocery store, the subway station, etc were from the flat. A couple of them were too far, one a bit shady (the girl who was subletting it was doing it because she couldn't pay the rent) and another one was too smelly.
The maths dept had put me in touch with an agent who was German. Went to his office and he looked like a hippy with long hair, an unkempt beard and colourful clothes. It was a remarkably old fashioned office, with paper cards, a typewriter, post-its and old maps lying around. He told me he didn't like Germany because it was too white and he loved Paris for its diversity. Almost wondered if he'd read my blog. When I said I'm from India, he smiled and said he visited it in the 60s as a flower-power teenager and spent a year living with other hippies. Said he can't imagine how much it must have changed since then. He took me to the studio and along the way pointed out things about the city and the neighbourhood. It was in the Montmartre area and it was easily the nicest, cheapest and cleanest place I'd seen. Decided to take it the next day and will be moving in on Monday.