At HEC Paris, mvlti svnt vocati, pavci vero electi!

Monday, January 28, 2008

To Lille and back in a weekend

Well before I set off to England for my IPP, my wife and I sat down and discussed when and how we should meet and where. We figured it would be easiest to meet in Paris but, for the first meeting, we wanted to visit some place new, and halfway. So, we picked Lille, the old capital of Flanders. With the new line from St Pancras, the journey only took 90 min or so for me and an hour for my wife and son. Three weeks, yes, three weeks I have not seen my son and even though we videochat everyday, nothing could have made my son jump the way he did when he saw me at Lille station! :-) In that fraction of a minute, I knew it was worth all the planning and preparation. And, the expense! :-)

The weather in Lille was very agreeable with no rain or chill as here in England. We spent the first afternoon sitting and chatting in a restaurant, then checked into our hotel and spent the evening shopping. Oh yes, no escaping from that...and more good food at dinner! The next day, after checking out of the hotel, we did more sightseeing, walking around the old part of the city, visiting the old baroque style stock exchange built by a Spanish king to trade clothes (for its textile industry, Lille was the Manchester of France), the river, and just wandering around before lunch...and catching our trains back. The place is a seamless blend of the old and the new, with a very young and hip crowd - bet they are students from all the grand schools and universities there - and local delicacies to devour in the restaurants (but no mussels for me). Below are some pictures to give you a virtual tour - hope you like them.

In a post dated May 25, 2007, I said how one could end up bumping into interesting individuals on the Eurostar...and this last visit was no different. On the way out, I met a gentleman who proclaimed hiself as a "failed artist" who was on his way to the art museum in Lille for the we chatted all the way about various things like how a friend of his, starting from nothing, had made his way up the insurance industry and now funds art galleries in the US. On the way back, I sat next to an Investment Banker from one of the banks that took quite a hit in the recent, and ongoing, sub-prime crisis. She was returning from Brussels following a short home visit and was nervous about future prospects in her current bank. So, we settled that, worse comes to worse, her boyfriend would have to value more artwork - something about art and the Eurostar to/from Lille - to meet their expenses and he would also have to get used to seeing her more often! :-)

So, Lille was a short, sweet, trip and it was nice to see family again. Now, I am waiting for next Wednesday when I will be returning to Paris for my IPP lectures and some quality time with my family.



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