Hauling Sherlock from London to Paris

{Written en route the Eurostar from London to Paris}

I’m sitting cross-legged on top of my suitcase, Sherlock (named so as it looks like an old man’s tweed coat) across two seats of the Eurostar train from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. Allow me to explain, such that you don’t decry me as absolutely ridiculous – though I do accept that this particular instance is a little along that memorable vein.

The venture of hauling Sherlock – as well as Potbelly, my portly trolley bag – onto the train from the platform seemed rather daunting until I became aware of the bantering Indian couple behind me arguing whether Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge had been filmed at King’s Cross or St. Pancras.

“I think Aunty’s right on this one, Uncle. I’m pretty sure this platform is exactly where DDLJ was filmed,” I venture.

“There! See! I told you so,” exclaimed the women victoriously.

I have never been so grateful for my mother’s love for Shah Rukh Khan until this moment. These winning words won me the woman’s immediate insistence that I take the porter services of her son and within a minute my bags, baggage, and I were on the train. I hoisted Potbelly onto the stand amongst the dozens of tiny luggage easily enough, and then turned my attention to my dear cumbersome Sherlock. It was then that I looked up to inspect the surroundings of my carriage which seemed to get narrower and narrower before the doors to the next carriage slammed shut as though to say Dead End.

The calamitous lack of stowing space struck me, blanching away my previous gleeful expression. The ensuing ordeal of finding a spot for Sherlock quickly involved half the concerned Europeans and quietly supportive Englishmen in the carriage. If you must ask, the other half stared at this circus most judgmentally. We tried everything from smooshing him under seats to chaining him to the overhead racks, but to no avail. Sherlock was either too wide or too tall to fit the slender Eurostar trappings to suit the petite figures of the anticipated European luggage demographics. Desperate, the People of Carriage #1 and I concluded that the best solution to the predicament at hand was to haul Sherlock onto the seats such that I could sit cross-legged on top of it, which is just what I did until the buff Greek guy across from me found a way to make Sherlock half-stand on the seat such that I actually could utilize a seat and mini-table, and no longer tower over him.

With a sigh of relief, I was just beginning to pen this blog barely noticing that the Eurostar had stopped at its sole stop between London and Paris at the brink of the English Channel, when a shadow darkened my page, interrupting the flow of my fuchsia pen. He couldn’t have spoken worse words:

“Excuse-me miss, but I do believe that’s my seat.”

I can assure you that half the cabin wanted to throw him overboard. The dismay, almost anger, in (half) the carriage was palpable. Suggestions for luggage placement and daggered looks at the “gentleman” flew, and the Greek and I finally shoved Sherlock into the space between the carriages, where we discovered the sneaky judgmental individuals of the other half of the cabin had tied their grotesquely humungous baggage. In any case, now that I was assured that Sherlock was in good company I could come back to writing to you and ignoring the now surly “gentleman,” who in the meantime had succeeded in shutting the long window on the head of the woman seated behind us, causing brief uproar in our absence.

Anyways. I cannot believe that I’m actually en route to Paris, the city of love, lights, and apparently pickpockets. Like all students hoping to study abroad, I’ve spent months running between various registrars and bureaus, calling and conferring with my program provider IES Paris, and chasing after the French Embassy and more-so after the SMU Abroad Office. United in our quests for college department approval signatures and finding the perfect abroad programs, Kayla and I red-pen-edited each other’s applications and kept our phones on speaker back in our dorm such that we could laugh over how moronic bureaucracy can be, in order to stay sane through the crazy process of our calls being routinely transferred from one individual to essentially the person at the desk right besides them. But now with the storm of paperwork a mere memory, I can muse over my wonderful time at the Oxford program and summer in London with my family that have now also drawn to a close. I fiddle with my phone: Kayla’s Snapchat filters already boast Barcelona.

As I look past the “gentleman” to my left, through the contentiously reopened window curtains, I see the French countryside race past and my Vodafone signal beeps to intonate that I’ve officially left England and entered France, as my signal switches to a foreign-looking SFR. A minute later, my one-way ticket to Paris has fulfilled its purpose and the Eurostar pulls into the Gare du Nord along with Sherlock, Potbelly, and I.

P.S. If you are a true Bollywood fan and know the answer to the question about DDLJ’s filming, do comment or message me. I’m now actually curious.

Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

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