Let’s go to Paris with Tony Navaid! (Singer, TV presenter, photographer and film critic)
We’ve been spotting our favorite stars vacay-ing around the world and for this week, we’ve got Tony Navaid who’s taking the Social Diary on an exclusive trip to Paris!
- Why did you select Paris for your holiday destination?
I’d heard so much about Paris since my Childhood when my parents visited France and I wasn’t even born. My mom used to tell me so many stories about Paris so I wanted to experience it. That’s why I went.
- You’ve recently traveled to Norway as well. Is traveling your leisure pursuit or is it usually for work?
Well it really depends. Most of the times, I am traveling for work but then I also make some leisure trips by staying on. Usually, my work is for a couple of days but then I usually stay for about a month or a few weeks. It depends on busy how I am. So I went to Norway for a singing concert. I performed over there and then I had a few days so I thought I should stay on and visit another country in Europe. So I chose Paris because it has always fascinated me.
- How was your experience singing at the Colors of Pakistan show in Oslo? What was the event about?
It was a great experience. It was organized by E-Concepts, by Danyal Arshad and I had a great time performing there. My performance was at the finale and I song a couple of songs. The audience was enthralled and I got a great response because most of the audience was from Pakistan and they really loved the songs that I sang. I got an overwhelming response and it was great.
- What do you think is the differentiating feature of Paris with the rest of the world? (Apart from Eifel tower’s existence)
Paris has a certain character which cannot be replicated. The very vibe of the city is very different, the mood and you feel very romantic when you visit Paris. Although, the city is really is buzzing but there are so many things to offer. The history, the culture and the way the French people have maintained the city and the beautiful concoction of old and new buildings is what makes it special. There is so much to do in Paris, there is so much fashion in Paris and there is so much character that I do not know how to explain it. One just feels really special being there; just roaming around in Paris makes you feel special. The vibe that you are in Paris is what makes it special.
- Beef bourguignon and Chocolate soufflé are two of the many famous dishes. Did you try these? What difficulties did you face in general while finding yourself healthy, halal food?
Yes I did try the chocolate soufflé, the croissants and the French bread and all the delicious café’s. Regarding Halal food, when I go to a restaurant that does not serve halal food then I prefer having something from the seafood menu or also from the vegetarian menu. But I do try their bread, the condiments, the butter, the jams and well I had a great time especially having breakfast in Paris. We eat chicken here all the time here in Pakistan so I enjoyed my sea food thing in Paris and my vegetable soup and the prawn chowmein.
- Communicating with the French can get tough at times. How did you cope up with the language problem?
Well surprisingly, wherever I went most of the people were speaking English. Even if they were replying in French, they could understand me. So I felt that everybody knows English but they pretend they don’t know how to speak it may be but they knew English because there are so many tourists who visit Paris. I think things have changed to an extent. Plus, my friend who lives in Paris was with me so he took me to places and he communicated himself because he knows French. So I had really little communication but wherever I went, people could understand what I was saying.
- Where were you staying and was it comfortable enough for you? What do you think is the current situation of the accommodation in Pakistan? (In comparison)
I was staying in Hotel California which is a very good hotel in Champs Elysees and it was very good. It was a five star hotel and I had a good time staying there. It was very comfortable and it served exotic breakfast at a very beautiful patio kind of a location in the hotel. I was very happy with my stay. All kinds of hotels are available. I believe Paris is an expensive city but all kinds of accommodations are available from very expensive to very cost effective. I think there is no comparison as Pakistan still has a long way to go as far as the hotel industry is concerned in Pakistan. And I wish and pray we have lots and lots of good new hotels of all ranges and the cleanliness is maintained just as it is done in other cities of the world.
- Crazy shoppers are always looking for things they MUST have. What would you suggest they should buy and from where (If you know a particular place)?
Well I was staying for one night so I didn’t shop that much. I got a lot of souvenirs from where I was staying. I didn’t go to many bazaars but of course Paris is a shopper’s paradise but I did get a few perfumes ever since my childhood I’ve been reading London, Paris and New York behind a lot of cosmetic products my mother used to have because I felt that I should get a fragrance from Paris.
- What did you enjoy most about your trip to Paris?
Oh my god. There are so many things I enjoyed. Since I went in May the weather in Pakistan was very hot and in Paris it was so good! It was cold and I had to wear a sweater as it was very windy. So I enjoyed roaming around. The combination of the beauty and the weather is what I enjoyed the most about Paris.
- Any funny incident that took place on your trip?
I made it funny myself because I was singing old songs of the 70’s and 80’s in Urdu and in Punjabi everywhere I went and people were really fascinated. While I was walking, I would be singing songs loudly and every passerby was either appreciating or clapping as they knew I was enjoying myself. That made it really funny and the friend who was with me was getting embarrassed because he was thinking that I am getting obnoxious.
- One word to describe your experience?
- One thing you would like your readers to definitely try when they visit France?
They must try the croissants and the French bread. There is so much variety and you will love it!
- Did you bring any souvenirs with you?
Yes as I said earlier. I did buy a lot of souvenirs for my friends and family as presents.
- What is the one thing that you always take with you on your trips?
My camera because I am also a professional photographer and to capture the beauty of various places the way I see it.
- Suggest a few ideas which in your opinion would enhance the traveling experience in Pakistan?
I think Pakistan is a beautiful country with exotic locations. All we need to do is to improve the tourism in our country. Make nice hotels on various locations. There should be clean public washrooms and good food and restaurants available everywhere. And I do not mean the big cities, even the smaller ones like the hilly areas that we visit. I would like the government to make nice hygienic restaurants and clean hotels where people can go.