CHENNAI: Gayatri Shantaram’s husband may not be alive if he had been a few minutes early on Friday night. The Frenchman was headed to a bar to meet some friends near Avenue de la Republique. “Luckily they were all a little late.” says Gayatri, holed up in her home in Paris.
The Chennai girl who went to Stella Maris and has been living in France for some years now gives us a sense of the sombre mood that prevails post the attacks. “We are all in shock,” she told Express, pausing for a long moment. “We feel like our whole way of living here has been attacked. We cannot go out to eat, we cannot go out to a concert after this without feeling afraid.”
Those who are following the news reports would know that the locations under attack included a concert at the Bataclan theatre and the outside of Stade de France where a friendly football match was underway. Avenue de la Republique, where Gayatri’s husband was going to down a few drinks also saw shots fired. Over 120 people have been declared dead so far.
Far from the fear that haunts the streets of Paris, there are residents right here in Chennai who remember those streets only too well and resonate the sentiment of shock. Sreyas Kotcherlakota who was in Paris just a month ago for a friend’s wedding recalls, “I would get off at the metro at Charonne every day of my trip to walk to our B&B, and this morning I heard that there was a killing there.” Dismay and disbelief seem to be other emotions that followed the #prayforparis that raged through social media all through Saturday. “At first when I saw it on Facebook, I didn’t believe it,” admits Madhulika Sundaram, a chef in a city-based cafe, who only a couple of years ago followed her love of French food all the way to its capital.
With national mourning for three days and emergency, this Paris is clearly not the same one these Chennaiites remember. But they send their prayers for a peaceful tomorrow.