Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Coincidences and a Tokyo billionaire at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris

When you travel as frequently as we do, lots of things in life happen in airplanes and at airports. In our case, we end up bumping into friends we never see elsewhere. But on two visits to France sometime back, living a #Travelife, I ended up meeting the same person at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. What are the odds of this? Read on.



So there I was one day at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, living a Travelife and killing some time before my Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

I'd just had two wonderful weeks of a summer in Spain and France, filled with great restaurants, so many memorable moments, and some of the most beautiful hotels in this part of the world.



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I LOVE NUXE OIL

I was headed back to Asia and thinking about a million things including work and a couple of upcoming trips that still needed to be sorted out. After checking in, I also made a beeline for the pharmacy at the airport to stock up on Nuxe oil. I'd been seeing Nuxe oil all over France on my last few trips but I hadn't lifted a finger to buy it simply because I already have too many beauty products from all over the world on my dressing table.



NUXE OIL 
AT THE GRAND HOTEL DE BORDEAUX

But I'd tried Nuxe Oil at the spa of the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux one day on another trip and then I bought a bottle somewhere. Then after using it a few times, I'm completely hooked. So I just had to buy a few more bottles at Charles de Gaulle airport...



HEADED FOR THE LOUNGE
AT CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT

Anyway, after making my purchases, I went through the Acces No. 1 line at Charles de Gaulle. The Acces No. 1 lane is the priority lane for business class that gets you through French customs and immigrations in about 1 minute instead of 20 minutes via the regular line.




Then I headed for the lounge as I wanted to get online and send a few emails and post some photos on Instagram.

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SECOND TIME AROUND

I was seated at a table with my customary glass of mineral water when someone approached and called my name.

What do you know? It was an old friend from Tokyo, and the last time I was at Charles de Gaulle Airport in April, I'd actually bumped into him as well. Talk about coincidences here. 


A BOTTLE OF SALON CHAMPAGNE



On my previous trip to France, I'd bumped into him at the Duty Free Shops below, as he was waiting for a flight somewhere and I was waiting for a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul.

And he was carrying very conspicuously a bottle of vintage Salon champagne, which I suppose he somehow found at the Duty Free shop. But then again, this was before airports became so strict with carry-on items and wines were still allowed as part of carry-on luggage, especially out of France.

At this second chance meeting in Charles de Gaulle airport, he walked up to me at the lounge and said: "Have you now made Charles de Gaulle your home? Or are you actually working here and just not telling me?"


A RARE MOMENT OF SPEECHLESSNESS



I have to admit that I was speechless for a few minutes.

Being at a loss for words doesn't happen very often to me in my Travelife, but I was completely taken aback by this chance meeting. Wouldn't you be shocked if you were in my place?

How could two people who live in two different countries meet twice at the same airport in an entirely different city halfway around the world, in a span of three or four months? If I had been less speechless, I might have shot back exactly the same thing to him. Perhaps he'd taken a job as the Paris Duty Free wine shop manager, I might have said.


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SHOCK AND HUMOR.
AND A BIG PURCHASE.

But I only thought of this smart rebuttal afterwards. In reality, I said, without even replying to his question: "What are you doing here?"

He answered, with his usual dry humor: "Waiting for my flight to Tokyo.I continued: "I mean, in France. What are you doing here in France?"

He replied, and he wasn't joking either. He said: "I just bought a villa in the south of France. Near Cap Ferrat."



I looked at him.

He's a very famous and successful businessman who I've known for a long time; and since I moved out of Tokyo, I usually only get to keep track of him via the newspapers. 
When I read about him in the international newspapers, he's either doing a deal or making some pronouncement on the world economy.

Come to think of it. I really should ask him about the future of Bitcoin since it seems he has a prediction for everything that happens in the financial world.

A VILLA IN CAP FERRAT



And St. Jean Cap Ferrat, which many people simply call Cap Ferrat, is one of the most beautiful places in France, with many amazing villas.

But I teased him: "Couldn't think of anything else to spend your money on?He laughed. "It's nothing major," he replied. "Just a regular villa, but it's got one of the best views of the sea."



"For a holiday home?" I asked him. I'd seen some of his other homes in other parts of the world and they're all pretty amazing. And he's not at all the modest type, like so many of my other friends who try much harder to sound like normal people. This one had no problem being exceptional.

So it was hard to believe he was getting a regular villa as a holiday home in the glamorous south of France, of all places. There are many places where you can enjoy a vacation quietly in a modest holiday home -- but Cap Ferrat is not one of them.


RELYING ON A RUSSIAN

He shrugged and said: "I liked the views, and it's near one of my favourite restaurants. And who knows? I'll probably sell it to some rich Russian for triple the price in a few years."

And before we could go on any further, it was time to board, and I had to say goodbye and head out for another flight in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife. 




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