12-07-2017

Sarah Abbas, winner of the 2017 Costa Debate, on her trip to remember.

Paris, je t’aime

It was ten past nine pm in Paris. Mom and I had just arrived to Trocadéro, the most famous viewing site of the most famous monument in Paris, or should I say the world: la tour Eiffel. I would like to claim that for mom and I it wasn’t just another touristy trip; this one had a particular significance. But the truth is, every one of the hundreds of tourists standing there taking selfies must have had a significant story of their own.

Twenty years ago, almost to the day, was our visit to Paris. I was fifteen years old and I had been selected to represent the UAE in the Children Summit organised by UNESCO and Disneyland Paris in June 1997. I was ecstatic! I thought it must have been some Tinker Bell magic dust that made my wish come true. But I guess I needed more of that dust because things got complicated afterwards. Not that convincing my parents to let me travel alone wasn’t enough of a hurdle, there was another issue; I did not have a passport! I was listed with my other five siblings in my mother’s passport. The only timely solution was for her to accompany me. At fifteen, that scenario was not the most thrilling one.

At thirty-five, and living two continents away from my mother, that scenario is the sweetest memory of me and my beloved mama. So sweet that I hoped for an encore.

Sarah (right) and her mother at the Eiffel Tower

A few months ago I was selected as the winner of a Costa Debate. The prize? A trip for two anywhere in the world! This time it was no Tinker Bell. Emirates Airline Festival of Literature not only made my dream come true, but also made it come just in time to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of my first and only trip to Paris with my mother.

The organisers of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature were so kind, professional, and attentive to details. Travel and accommodation arrangements were taken care of so mom and I could enjoy five amazing days together.

On our last night in Paris, we were both sleepless and decide to go out and see the Eiffel Tower from a new viewing spot – this way we will have five down and only hundreds to go :). Sitting on a public bench, staring at the glittering tower, I wanted to make the moment even more special for my mom, so I asked her to plug the headphones in her ears and I played her favourite Umm Kulthum song on my phone. She was over the moon!

The next morning, we went opposite ways to different terminals at the airport, her flight back to Toronto was almost around the same time as my flight to Dubai. We left the City of Lights with lots of love and lots of memories.

Follow Sarah’s adventures on Instagram: @sarahdubaidiary