Meeting Mona Lisa

Writer: Hasan Mahmood Category: ভ্রমণ (Travel) Edition: Dhaboman - Eid 2022

There’s a face that draws the attraction of 25000 people per day and about 9 million people per year. So, what is the mystery behind this smile? Is it a symbol of happiness or sorrow? I’ve always been curious to see the Mona Lisa someday in my life. That opportunity came in the month of November 2019 when my family and I flew for a 9-day trip to Europe. 


Our first stop was Geneva,  Switzerland. After watching all the beautiful scenic views of Zurich in Bollywood films, Switzerland has had my heart since childhood. As soon as we landed, the first thing that impressed us was the aesthetic and cleanliness of the Geneva airport. All the signs were in the French language which was little advantageous to us being Canadian travelers. The next surprise to us was receiving a free ticket for an 80 minute ride by public transit to anywhere from the airport. This is a good gift for anyone traveling to an expensive city like Geneva. 

So, what can you see in Geneva during a short trip?

  • A nice walk by the Geneva-lake to view the water flow from the largest water jet
  • The beautiful flower clock, not too far from the lake.
  • The Science lab where the internet was discovered
  • UN Headquarters
  • An ancient church 
  • And of course, the beautiful mountains


In the book and movies, I have seen the beautiful scenery of Switzerland but standing in front of them is a different feeling. We wrapped our short trip by visiting an art gallery on day 3 and by this time, lots of sweet memories filled up my diary. I remember the awesome dinner hosted by my daughter Tapti at a Lebanese Shawarma place in the heart of Geneva during our last night. And of course, you can’t leave Switzerland without trying the Swiss chocolate.


Our next stop was Paris, one of the most beloved cities in the world. At this point, we split into two groups. Since Tapti has been to Paris already, my younger daughter Obelia and Tapti headed for Milan,  while my wife and I headed for Paris by an evening train from Geneva. Our journey was supposed to be for 4 hours by the fastest train in the world, but it got delayed due to a fall of an animal under the train. We got a little bit exhausted but at the same time many questions were on my mind. What would Paris look like, the most romantic city in the world? Would we be able to visit the Louvre Museum to see the painting of Mona Lisa, the best art piece in the world? It was almost 9:30 PM when the train reached Paris station, and it was 11 pm by the time we reached the hotel.




Our hotel name was Notre-Dame as we could see the Notre Dame Cathedral through the hotel room window and even hear the ringing of the bell from Cathedral. This is really an amazing feeling.

Next morning, we began to explore Paris city. Our first stop was at Louvre Museum. This is the museum I dreamt to visit and now I was here. It’s so big and rich with a collection of arts and crafts from ancient times to modern days. The biggest crowd was in the last room where the painting of Mona Lisa was. It was covered with a bullet proof frame. I was trying to reach as close as I could to see the great painting that has been attracting millions for ages. The famous painting was mysterious to say the least. 


It was 3 pm in the afternoon when we came out from the museum. I looked at my wife’s face and she wasn’t tired at all. We decided to walk again to reach the Eiffel Tower. On our way to the Eiffel tower, we stopped by many places to take some pictures. Now, I can feel why Paris is called the city of love. The buildings, streets and everything has a touch of art and love. After a long walk we reached the iconic Eiffel Tower location. 

It was almost sunset when we climbed the tower. Wow! We could see the spectacular view of the city. The tower lights up at dusk and brings a different feeling and looks at night. I closed my eyes a few times and said what a beautiful world this is! Anyone from the top of the tower can tell why so many writers, filmmakers and artists were attracted to this city. When we climbed down from the tower it was almost 9 pm. That same night, I couldn’t close my eyes to go to sleep. I was trying to find the similarity of Mona Lisa’s smile and the mysteries and influence of women in my life. Women are the most powerful creation of God. When I look back at my life, I met a girl in grade-2 who inspired me to finish my primary school. Then later in my university life, I met a woman who inspired me to finish my university and now I am with my wife who inspired me to become what I am today. Then I have two beautiful daughters who inspired me to be a good Dad today. Is it not true that our lives are controlled by women? My wife turned back to me a few times and asked me “what are you thinking?” I took a long breath and said “nothing, just thinking about our next stop at Amsterdam.”


On day 3, we wrapped up our trip to Paris by visiting a few more places. However, there is one incident that I’ll remember forever. My wife and I stopped by a game table on the street while going to the Secret Core. We didn’t know it was a trick by a group of people and lost $300 dollars instantly. This was the only moment we felt a little down. In life, every experience will teach you something. Sometimes bad experiences make for better teachers. 


We left Paris for Amsterdam by train. My daughters were ahead of us, and they flew from Milan to meet us in Amsterdam. The next day we took a boat ride to roam around Amsterdam city. At night we all went downtown to see the vibe of this city. You can tell why people call this city the entertainment district of Europe.  People have more freedom here for amusement. The one other remarkable thing is the number of bikes in the city. You can see bikes everywhere on the street.


On the day 9, we arrived at the Amsterdam airport to depart for Ireland. This would mark the end of our Europe tour. After we checked in, I found a place to sit down and opened my diary. It was an incredible trip filled with lots of sweet memories but what is the one experience I can share with others? I think about the Mona Lisa. Life is nothing but a mystery and untold story! Suddenly I felt a touch on my back. “Dad, it is time to board for the next destination!”