By Shani Gilchrist
Strangely, my grandmother didn’t enter my thoughts on my first journey from London to Paris. Instead of having my face pressed against the window as I rolled into the city for the first time, I was consumed by the novel I was reading when the train pulled into Gare du Nord. When my husband and I exited terminal we had to rush to a nearby restaurant for a meeting he had scheduled. My husband’s Midwestern boss and an ebullient French salesman were waiting for us at a table that had been converted into a riotous range of files, product samples and wine glasses. The Frenchman launched into his pitch after our glasses had been filled, pausing first to advise me not to order bouillabaisse because Parisian chefs don’t understand the regional nuances of such a soup. I sat back and nibbled on my salad and listened to the salesman’s mixture of humor, self-deprecation, hard data, and bullshit, stricken as I realized how familiar his performance was to me. All around us there were tables full of businessmen conducting conversations in a similar manner, and I fully understood the world I was occupying.