Sunday, April 6, 2014

The French Lover


Ever since I started to learn French, I wanted to go for a date with a "French Lover" because people say they are are the best lovers! I also imagined a Date with one of those romantic, passionate & handsome French lovers, floating on a boat in Seine river, looking at the dazzling Eiffel tower at midnight, holding hands. People also say that we should aim the Moon so that we can atleast land among the stars. Here I am, landed in Aix- en provence, 800km away from Paris, without the sight of any river or a tower but just a big fountain in the city. It is all water, that is how someone should be positive in life!

So, we met by accident on a dating site, because he wrote to me in such elegant French words that I had to scroll through Le Petit Robert & verify again in Harraps dictionary for Beginners, to find the real meaning of his message which in simple terms suggested that we might meet for a Dinner Date ! I , myself was elated at the idea because I was already so tired of the many boring profiles of the young French bachelors who asked for the size of the breast & the hips, the colour of the eyes & the salary of the month which discouraged me, at least to talk with them. I told him that I was a feminist ( eventhough it is not a job), ardent follower of Simone de Beauvoir which impressed him without any doubt. He must have thought  that I was a  powerful woman activist from Asia.

The happy day, arrived. I wokeup rather jumped off from my bed to get ready for the big day ahead of me. I thought I was going to make history on this day. After having read many useful articles on how to get ready for a date because I had never been on a formal "date" in European Style, I chose the best clothes, the best perfume , the best shoes & the best handbag bought at Monoprix eventhough they were all counterfeits. Make up was simple with bit of powder here & there learnt from Youtube tutorials & hair style was less complicated than the French girls because I did not want to scare him away at first sight. I also checked an Indian restaurant in the City centre which has Happy hours and Set menus. I already felt powerful because I was going to pay for his dinner. I wanted to be diffrent & radical even with a French Lover!

Things were pretty good at home with casual fallings & stumbling, breaking glasses & throwing away the horrible clothes which made me forgot the last bus which carries me to the City Centre. Bad omen. I was determinded to walk 2 km even with tight heels which I hardly wear in normal days , just to see this wonderful creature. Meeting at the railway station at 6.30pm. I managed to arrive at 6.45pm just to find out his train was delayed in one hour. Second bad omen. It means there won't be any Happy Hour, but Nervous Hour because I will have to pay the normal price for everything.

While the heart beat accelaretad and the mind was not working properly with the calculations, 

He arrived.

I was expecting a man in full  black suit with a bow tie like in a romantic movie. Instead I saw a man getting down from the train with a black jacket & denims carrying a back pack! I wished the gurads atleast opened the door for him. He was tall & rigid looking and did not smile at all. I thought it was the first sign of a gentleman behaviour. How do we know the behaviour of French lovers? They never taught us that part in the class.

" Hey girl, How are you ? Nice to meet you then "

Such romantic words, I literally melted!

"Yes, I am doing good, actually really good , Let's go straight for Dinner because I have a strict diet discipline "
Eventhough I eat only sandwiches at night on other days, I kind of pretended that we should eat correct food on correct time while I was thinking if we reach the restaurant by 7.55pm  we will still be inside that Happy hour scheme so Drinks would cost less. Five minutes is still Happy hour. But, I need to order quickly to avoid unnecessary lateness which might cut us away from the privileged group.

He was so enthusiastic with tingling eyes, perfect French lover, I said to myself, who followed me dearly. As soon as we arrived at the restaurant , to my greatest surprise or to the horrible shock, we found that it was closed due to an unprecedented situation. I wanted to keep calm, like the Tsunami eventhough I was infuriated. What could possible happen in a restaurant ? Did Indian cook burn his mutton ? Did a French lady scream from pain after eating too much Garam Masala in her dish ? Or , did some one die eating too much from their Thalis. It is the universal stupidity in these Asian restaurants !

" Don't worry , Girl, let me find a good French restaurant around , Isn't it cute you give a French dinner for a French ? "

" Yes, absolutely cute ! " while guessing perfectly what was on my way. I was praying all Gods of Hindu Krishna, Vishnu & Ganesh to make him think of a cheap restaurant in this highly provincial town of Bourgeois where we have to pay atleast 5 euros for a 5ml cup of coffee.

French lovers have a very good taste, I think it was Too elegant. He chose the best. The restaurant Deux Garçon built in 1792 ( I sniffed some French revolution there),  which is the most expensive restaurant in the town, reputed for its highly delicate food. Coincidently, it is next to my ice cream shop where I work as a waitress, my part time student job ! My heart beat again accelerated because the waiters at Deux Garcons know me quite well, and if they see me with a guy alll dressed up they would definitely come to say hi. Should I be telling him that I sell ice creams in the neighbour shop ?  Is it a good job for a woman? What a turn off  for a first date !

So, We sat. The waiter came. ( Thank god, a new waiter)

" Do you need Red roses around you sir ?"

" Please ask Mademoiselle, she is the one who decides" 

He seemed to be perfectly respecting women by giving them the chance to decide. Red roses ? Am I going to eat roses ? My tongue was itching to say.

"Yes, please"  I said like a lady.

"Candles too Miss ?"

Don't they have electricity in these developed countries ? How can I see what is in my food when there are only candles around me ? Then again, I stopped the bitter words.

"With pleasure"  with a sweet smile.

"What is for Hors d'oeuvre, Mademoiselle ? "

Such a big name for a plate of food ! Now these waiters ask so many questions, I don't have a degree in French food science , Get me something to eat for twenty euros for two persons, I just wanted to say.

" Please bring the menu."

There you go, instead of a small leaflet kind of thing, he brought a book , a book of Menu, with long descriptions which needs to be read at leisure during a vacation by the beach.

"I recommend you to order battered snails, I think you would love them."  Jean said.

Snails ? My heart sank & my mind ran back to the small snails sliding in the home garden in Sri lanka full of shiny liquid. I have never eventhought of touching them because of their gluy butts. And, now he suggests battered snails ? How can I refuse because I am here to learn their culture & mix with them.

"Oh, cool, I would love to" . I said all approvingly. 

If I ever knew that snails had a value I would have started an export business, it is rare women in business though. 
Now, I restarted the calculation, how much for one battered snail, it cannot be more than one euro, is it that expensive a snail ? If he eats three snails, and I pretend to eat one snail, it would be four euros for both of us. Mathematical enigmas are indeed a problem.

Instead, the waiter came with a huge plate full of tiny escargots. And Jean absolutely dipped in to it with garlic sauce.

"How tasty they are, I can eat hundreds of them"

"Yes, you are right"  said I suppressing the nausea for food & for the hundered Euro note.

"What would you like to drink Sir ?"

"I would go for Redwine, for lady I think White."

When He said white, I also became white because my red blood cells started to cease.

"Which year sir ?"

" Bring us wine from 1900s'"

I sighed gaily.

The French has a thing for old, expired stuff, the more it expires the more it has value, even for food! It is us who never keep anything beyond two days even in a fridge. Now, I will be drinking rotten wine and paying for this expired stuff eventhought he says quality comes from the antique ! Why don't these old women have much value today ?

"You should eat crispy frog legs too, none can ever beat them."

World started to rotate, and frogs went jumping & hopping infront of me.  How can I possibly eat that green, slimy frog legs in the name of Love? Am I in the hell with the Devil ?

"Oh later, not now . These days I am on a diet, we should not eat a lot for dinner. You know Ladies !

"Ha ha ha" he laughed.

Yes, Frogs are not hard to find, later , later !

"Then, Why don't you try Foie Gras?  Let's order that, because I love to see you enjoying french food.

Foie Gras?  I think I have heard this term somewhere. I typed immediately on Google search pretending that I got a SMS.
Apparently, it is a duck liver fattened from over feeding and is one of the most expensive food. Now, I am pretty sure this French man is the disguised Devil directly sent from Hell to pay for my sins up to now !

"Go ahead, let's give a try. I am flexible, you know open to any suggestions. You look so handsome when you pronounce the word Foie Gras. Music to my ears"

Eventhough  I wanted to tell him that he looked like a pig who wants to be over fed  & while I was feeling exactly the pain of a over-fed duck due to its high price.

"One portion of  Foie Gras please" .The waiter approved.

"Why so ? You don't like to try?"

"Oh, no let's share because sharing is caring. We should always practice it from the very beginning."

He even approved, not knowing that it would cut the bill.

Foie gras arrived, I tasted , it was divine to the tongue. Actually, it was divine than the man himself and I cursed myself for not coming to eat Foie Gras all alone , now that I have to share it by half, I gave a disgusted look when I saw him enjoying the rest of the Foie Gras which was supposed to be mine, all to myself !

My tummy was already filled, I thought to move on with the conversation. Because, I did not get to talk about women empowerment and the equal rights project which I have on my mind. As soon as I was about to talk about it, he asked:

"What would you prefer for Entrée ?"

Your head!  Words stopped again.

"What is entrée Jean ?" I asked ignorantly.

"Oh , I thought you knew it.  After Hors d'ouvre, then comes the main dish ? Let me choose again for you because I understand you don't know these thing very well"

"Of course, choose, the choice is all yours today"

"As you don't know much, let's try Boudin Noir with baked apples."

"What?  Boudhha Noir ?" I thought about Black skinned Bouddha. Is he a racist too?

"Oh no, It is a sausage made from blood."

"Great, Bloody sausage !"

I dig in to the bloody sausage as one stabs a knife in to the heart. Blood was in my head too, I was already loosing the appetite and legs were paralysing. While he serenely swallowed what was offered, I started to calculate, numbers could not stay in one place they were flashing in front of the eyes and he was all focussed on his plate.

Again the waiter came, with a plate of salads, I ate the leaves like a cow, rather grazed them while perfectly talking about the benefits of vegetables & leaves on a diet.

Again that black suited man came, with a plate full of Cheese, with green puss on it, they stinked from far like he was bringing a plate of poop directly from the toilet pit.

He did not stop, again he came, this time with tarts, small cakes & ice creams, they all lied ahead of us happily.

The question at the exam papaper came to my mind:

Should women pay for the fist date ? I imagined writing an answer, they should pay from the second date. Atleast , Asian women should start to pay from the second date!

The black dressed Faustus agent came this time with steaming black coffee as if I was not going to digest what was eaten tonight.  If he ever knew that I burn more calories thinking than eating.  Do brain celles burn calories ?
The plates came & went , he ate, my heart stopped temporarily.
He came with the bill, I saw him from far with my fading eyes, I was almost fainting, and smiling, rather grinning.

312 euros. 

Exactly the rent for my room!  As if my house owner has told him. I paid, card inserted, took only two seconds.

What do you for living Jean?

"Actually, I am unemployed, living on allocations. I would love to be a househusband oneday. Where shall we sleep now?"

"On the road !"  Words splashed out, thinking how the Landlord chase me out from the house for not paying the rent.

"You are a funny feminist. I just love you." He said darlingly.

"You are my perfect French Lover!"  I said daringly.

By Jahooli Devi

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