Paris – An Amazing, High Definition Virtual Tour
I lived just outside of Paris, in Louveciennes (southwest of Paris), from September 1968 to August 1969 and went to school at the ‘English School of Paris‘. It was a fun school. During the year that I attended, it was famous for three things. The Basset Hound that was being used in the ‘Hush Puppies‘ advertisements, Cleopatra, belonged to the Bursar of the School, and came to school each day. The legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker’s son, Charlie Parker Jr., was a student there. He and I, though three years older than me, became fast buddies and we got into a whole bunch of mischief in and around Paris. We were BAD! Then there was Dr. Mike Rees, a NASA physicist on a sabbatical in Paris – who taught me physics. What a man. A very low key, unassuming, black gentleman. He changed my life, irrevocably.
In 1968, realizing that my eyesight precluded me from becoming a commercial airline pilot, I had my heart set on becoming a high flying aeronautical engineer. There were only 2 of us doing physics at the school that year. So it was like private tuition. So, Dr. Rees, obviously, heard about my aspirations to become an aeronautical engineer. Working for NASA he knew a thing or two about the industry. He asked me if I knew about computers. I had heard of them but had never seen one. Towards the end of the Summer term in 1969 he sent a not home to my parents. He wanted to visit us at our apartment. My parents, noted for their hospitality, immediately invited him for dinner. They were not sure why he wanted to meet with them. I was somewhat nervous. Though I did well at school I was constantly in trouble and was to be soon expelled from that school (the first of my two expulsions) — this time because I refused to get my haircut for the forthcoming prize giving! Dr. Rees came to dinner and told my father: ‘computers are the future. Anura wants to do aeronautics. Try and get him into computers instead’. That changed my life. In hindsight I wish I had attended that prize giving. I got 3 prizes: for English, math and physics — the one for English cracking me up since there were all these British and American kids at the school, and me, a heathen, was getting the prize for English! The lady giving out the prizes was Lady Soames — Churchill’s daughter. I was 16. I knew of Churchill (though in those days history wasn’t something that interested me). I had seen a film, a few years earlier, before we left Ceylon, on Churchill’s funeral. But, at 16, I was not going to get my hair cut just to attend a prize giving. My parents went and collected my three prizes and had a nice chat with Lady Soames.
My parents moved back to Paris in 1978 and lived there till August 1992 — my mother dying in Paris. During those years they lived close to the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides. So the scene shown below reminds me of all the time I spent in Paris, with my parents, during their long stay in Paris. My father worked for UNESCO and was then the Sri Lankan Ambassador to France.
- Posted in: Pictures
- Tagged: advertisements, Anura Guruge, Basset Hound, Bird, Ceylon, Charlie Bird Parker, Charlie Parker, Churchill, Cleopatra, Dr. Mike Rees, English School of Paris, Hush Puppies, Lady Soames, Les Invalides, Louveciennes, NASA, panorama, Paris, son, Sri Lankan Ambassador to France, UNESCO, virtual tour