On that evening of the fall of 2008, when I had long forgotten Minitel and Europe Telematique, what has brought me back to Lyon is that certain indescribably magnetic pull and the deep impression left on me by the place. The sun has set and as I step out of rue Saint Jean 70, I find myself in the middle of an incredible bubbling of energy. The old town bustling with the cluster of restaurants, charming Bouchons famous for their down home cuisine Lyonnais. Narrow alleys and the passages featuring small shops and boutiques in animated and lively pedestrian zones.
But before letting myself disappear in the crowd, I take a long walk and marvel at the two parallel rivers flowing through the middle of the city and the strings of the lit up bridges connecting the different districts, all lined up symmetrically, gleaming in the confluence of the calm waters of Saône and Rhône.
Hungry and tired, I return to the crowded little alleys and small squares of vieux Lyon swarming with the people, the sights and the sounds and all those little bistros and bouchons wafting delicious aromas of their house specialties. The sidewalk tables unfolded and the people squeezed together shoulder to shoulder. There is no chance of me being able to get into one of those exquisite but small and cramped eating establishments. But I do. Thanks to Mrs. Breulih’s recommendation, the kindly maître d’ Dominique at, curiously named Happy Friends Family (now Jérémy Galvan), and yet as provincial French as can be, welcomes and escorts me to a cozy table by the open kitchen, overlooking rest of the crowd. He even speaks English and describes every item on the menu and recommends what I may like. Satiated, I walk around and watch the crowds thinning out – the hubbub silently simmering.
Feeling a bit weary, I slowly climb back six stairs and up to the third level of my apartment. I am about to turn on the light – but wait! What I see through the large window by my bed is breathtaking. I see a huge globe of the dome of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière all lit up like suspended fireworks. I peer out of the window – take in the whole church exquisitely and artfully illuminated. Glowing with the warm hues of yellow and orange, I feel showered in the luminous gold. I know it’s some distance away up on the hill, and it still feels like I could touch it. I undress without moving my eyes from the dome and fling myself on the bed with my gaze fixed on the dome and fall asleep perhaps around the same time as the lights begin to flicker off.
© Haresh Shah 2015
Illustration: Jordan Rutherford
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