The last two years have been intense – from surviving a pandemic, and a pretty strict lockdown in India, followed by the entire adventure of applying for the French Tech visa, setting up a company, and getting a French government grant to develop our idea, before we took the large leap of bringing Arya to France…and then sunk in our heels to take Adaptiv from idea to MVP, and finally towards a controlled Beta release.
Did it take superhuman effort to survive the last 28 months? No, but a lot of patience, determination and hard work, that was testing all our limits. So when the temperatures started soaring in France and Grenoble started recording temperatures that I hadn’t endured even in India, tempers started flaring, and for the first time in all these months, I started questioning why we had embarked on this journey.
Could we step back, let go for a brief moment and take a break? Popular wisdom said yes, but even if we put away our devices, would our brains stop working? A workation seemed like the answer to our dilemma. And what better city than Paris for this working break?
We couldn’t have chosen better. Paris allowed us to achieve the right work-life balance. Being in a city as culturally vibrant as Paris, revived our enthusiasm for life. Our days were spent working, sheltered from the heat wave in a charming house close to the canals of Paris, or at Station F, which helped us snap out of the near-burn-out and back into the fast pace of the startup world.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. We stepped out almost every day to explore a museum, or simply saunter in our chosen arrondissement of the day, before stopping for a glass of wine, or dinner somewhere. We also struck lucky with our accommodation, a haven that provided the perfect environment to work during the day, and spend long lazy evenings reading, catching up on Netflix series, or just chatting idly over a bottle of wine and a grazing plate.
Good meals rejuvenate. From the grazing plates in the garden when we decided not to step out, and the picnics by the Seine, to the more elaborate meals in restaurants across the city, every single meal helped bring back our mojo. Some meals were more delightful than others – the classic French meal at Bouillon Chartier, Indonesian street food at Djawa (where I had jackfruit after years😋), the Ethiopian meal in the quaint restaurant close to the Quartier Latin, or the Moroccan food at the Marché des Enfants Rouges.
But more than the meals, the city rekindled the dying embers of my creativity. Living in Paris for a month allowed us to go beyond the popular tourist destinations, and discover the lesser visited museums, visit museums over days (yes, we did that for several of the free museums in Paris), stroll down streets, and soak in the vibrant dynamism of the city. Art at the Centre Pompidou and the Petit Palais, photography at the Magasins Généraux, history at Musée Carnavalet, science and engineering at Musée des Arts et Métiers and the Cité des Sciences, and the complete experience of art in the 21st century at the Atelier des Lumières (this time for Cezanne and Kandinsky), each day brought it with it new pleasures for the mind and the soul.
Finally, Paris helped restore some of my social skills which had started getting terribly rusty during our heads-down-development-phase. What role did Paris play there? If there is one city outside India, where I know more than a dozen people, it’s Paris. From old friends to students and colleagues from the Alliance Française, I was delighted to catch up with those who were in town for summer…each conversation sparking ideas, and inspiring me to keep pushing on towards success.
Back in the capital of the Alps, I miss Paris (never thought I’d say that after the debacle of summer of ‘07), but I’m also glad to be back to a familiar routine with very few temptations, so we can focus on the next phase for Adaptiv.