Paris sounds all beautiful and dreamy, yes. But it can also be a scary place. As I had not imagined it to be. In India, I’m always asked to be careful with my belongings and also the men who stare. But it was quite stupid of me to think that Paris would be different. I was under the impression that it would be safe, and their won’t be thiefs and rapists walking around in the crowd. But well, somethings about the world you only understand when you’ve been there and done that.
So this incident occoured a few weeks ago, when I was going to a friend’s place around 9 pm. Me and my friend got off La Chapelle station, and as soon as we got out, there were men crowding at the entrance of the station, selling packs of cigarettes. I found that quite wierd actually. People selling cigarettes on the road!
Anyway, I wasn’t really paying attention to much around me since I was kinda low and lost in my head. We were walking towards our friend’s place and apparently these two guys were following us (as my friend later told me). He said that they had been pointing to your legs and passing some comments, but he ignored it, thinking that they must be just checking me out. Well, no, they were not interested in the legs, but the phone that I was carrying in my hand. I wasn’t carrying a bag that day, and my coat didn’t have a big enough pocket and I was wearing a dress, so no pockets, and thus I was carrying my iPhone 6s in my hand. Later I would regret using an expensive phones. Its literally like carrying 800 euros in your hand instead of a small device. Dangerous, dangerous I tell you!
So, well, this is what happened next – We crossed the road and my friend pushed me to the left, since he knew that the guys were behind us. But unfortunately the signal on the left was green, so we couldn’t cross the road and we stood their waiting. Within two second, one of the guys pushed my friend from the left, and said ‘pardon’, and I too looked towards him, trying to listen to what he was saying. Ofcourse all my concentration was on them, and within that moment, that weak moment, when my attention was to something else, the other guy on my right snatched my phone and ran.
It was dark and not many people were there, so nobody really paid attention to what had happened. I didn’t even waste a second in waiting their or telling my friend as to what had happened. I just ran after the guy on that dark empty street. My friend was still standing there, with the stuff he was carrying, not knowing what had happened.
I was running for sometime, not knowing what I was running for. Ofcourse I wouldn’t be able to catch him, I thought to myself. I was no runner. And I wasn’t wearing sports shoes either. I was dressed up for a party, and I was running behind a thief. And I was shouting in English. Well, when your mind is blank and someone stole your phone, you even forget which country you’re in. But then I saw my friend running after him, and since he’s better at running, he quickly ran past me. Luckily enough, it wasn’t a straight road anymore. It was kind of a perimeter of a garden that we were running along, and suddenly when we got to the other side of the street, it was all lit up. There were people, bars, and lights, and everybody saw that three people were running after each other. And thankfully my friend was in his senses enough to shout in French. ‘Monsieur, s’il vous plait’, ‘Monsieur s’il vous plait’ (Sir, please! Sir, please!). I was quite pissed as to why he was saying please to a thief! But well, that worked!
After running non-stop for quite sometime, the guy stopped, turned back and handed the phone to him, saying ‘C’est bon c’est bon’, ‘its okay, its okay’. That when we realized that there was another crossing ahead. If he ran any longer, a car would have hit him, so he had to stop, otherwise we would have caught him anyway.
I was literally dead after all that running, but when I got back my phone, well, that feeling is inexplicable. Though, I couldn’t get this incident out of my head for daaaays, but I was really proud of myself for not becoming weak in that moment and atleast trying for it. You never know, sometimes the effort is worth it! As they say – God helps those who help themselves!
Well, now I am much more careful when I’m going out in Paris. Always carry a sling bag even if I just have a phone to carry. Always paying attention to who is walking behind me. Not taking out my phone in public if not urgent. Phew, quite a lesson learnt!