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Getting back to France

About the things that strike me whenever I come home, and that I then forget...


After the first minutes of confusion (especially after a night on the plane), I breathe. I am home. No need of a house, a "home", just the sense of "belonging", of being among people like me. A feeling to be enjoyed in silence. Because as soon as I open my mouth, my illusions vanish. My experience as an expatriate visiting my country makes me someone different, with other references. Therefore I quickly feel lost in conversations. And I never stay long enough to find my place with my people.

But as long as I don’t have to open my mouth, what a relief to be in France! To no longer be a circus freak being photographed or solicited non-stop! *


Beyond these considerations, there are a few things that impressed me during my recent trip to France:


1.     No one will help you with your luggage, and  there is no ramp nowhere (hotels, metro, train etc.). Be healthy, eat fruits and vegetables and then break you back!


2.     In each train there is the bitter woman that as soon as a person answers their cellphone will show the sticker "silence" to her husband grimbling that “it is written that phones are forbidden, people are unbelievable, no education, go Darling, go tell her to switch it off."


3.     It's beautiful, it's clean, it’s quiet. The climate allows you to breathe.



France - June 2012



4.     Men are beautiful. Okay not all of them. But it is still a delight for the eyes, globally. And then police men... Ah police men... We are far from the Indian policemen who impress people just for their moustache, fat belly, pants up to the chin, and bamboo stick!


5.     Let’s talk about pharmacies. Caves of Ali Baba! Where it is good to hang around between ultra-hydrating creams (just hydrating lotions are passé), anti-blister bandages and other sweet things. And then the supermarkets. This time, I only went for an order: baking chocolate. That's all. And I left with six kilos of food, at least! Madeleines, grenadine, sausage, peppermill, wine, and still I could not take yoghurts. Temple of consumption mayby but temple above all for me who is twenty kilometers away by rickshaw by 45 degrees to find one-thousandth of those goods.


6.     Speaking of consumption, a piece of beef accompanied by a glass of red wine, and good company, in the backyard of a restaurant in Nîmes took me too heaven. Did I find it so picturesque because it is so rare now?


7.     I was asked a number of times during this stay, and countless times during the last six years, why it is difficult to live and work in India. And whenever I am in my natural environment, I can’t remember. It is already so far away! In general, twenty-four hours on the Indian soil suffice to refresh my memory. I have therefore decided to take notes from now on!


* I often wonder how "extraordinary" people live their difference. Any time I meet one of them, I ask the question. Children of migrants for example, or giants, etc.


The Delhi monkeys

 This story has nothing to do with real facts. Any resemblance to persons having existed was fortuitous.


Imagine a dozen Indians, who left their native land the time of a weekend in the French Alps. Past the first fears (such as missing a flight connection), the first culinary disappointment (not only French food has no taste but above all there is only red meat), here they are, paddling in Alpine rapids.


Is it necessary to say that none of them know how to swim but that only one has had the courage to say it, and moreover not to sign the swimming certificate? After this adventure and a tomato (this is the only thing they found edible in the picnic), they are asked to participate in accrobranche (“a sport in which you climb on trees, and the trees are bounded by ropes, bridges in wood, sometimes you have to get through barrels hanging in mid-air”)!

The organizer is clear: those who have never done it and those who are not in great physical shape, should go for the blue route. For the others there is the red and black (very difficult). I barely have the time to turn that all the Indian team is equipped with harnesses and ready to attack the... black route. But of course. When did you do sport for the last time? Never?? This morning?? Good. No whatsyourname, climbing coconut trees when you were seven does not count. So my friends, now we are going to do the blue track and there is no discussion. You crazy people!!


Good. I turn my back again and they went to the red track, minus two who have already abandoned - an obese one and a shrimp (for them it was the black route or nothing!). This time I don’t interfere, otherwise I'll really offend them. Let us not forget that we have a beautiful brochette of Indian males who are prohibited to show their muscles, jumping in the trees, by a white woman... I reluctantly abandon my blue track and follow them, you never know...


At the third tree, while I am already shit scared and exhausted, we are stopped by a traffic jam. Guess what happened? Nope, it is not my Indians. It is just a big fat South African blonde, who was rappelling down the tree. At the fourth tree same thing. But this time, I witness one Indian, then two, then three, then four, being carried towards land! They are abandoning! Fuck their ego, it’s my turn to have some fun:

  • "Hey guys, so you are giving up??Who told you you should have gone for the blue track huh?”
  • "We are tired, our arms are paining because of the rafting.”
  • "And why exactly do you think I told you to do the blue route?? You don’t think I am also tired?”
  • "So get down too.”
  • "Ah no, I never give up."

And boom this one is for you!!

So I go on with this bloody activity.


And a new Indian colleague has just join me on the red track. I did not know her, so I had not dared telling her to let the black track to the big guys. And yet... She is catastrophed because she had to abandon the black course after two failed attempts at climbing in the first tree. She goes on repeating the same thing until I get irritated and tell her that it’s okay, she had nothing to prove to anyone, we are here for fun.  And finally, while she is clearly exhausted, she chooses the "difficult" option on the last part of the route. She ends up crashing into a net suspended in the air (this was part of the option) of which she proves unable to get out (that is not part of the option). Poor little fly struggling in a net... Someone had to go to her rescue…


They don’t do things half way these Indians!

And needless to say that the French are crazy, they hardly eat anything (and in any case nothing bathing in a sauce full of fat) and they do tough outdoor sports!


A story of transportation with no end…

I take off from Mumbai on December 19th and land in Paris just on time (8h10) after a good night sleep… It’s snowing…Yeeeeeeees !!

But… 4 hours later… We are still here: 



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