Thursday, January 7, 2010

The cocktail party!

Ka Jo
I attended a cocktail party recently.
I don't drink but since it was arranged by Science Accueil, an organization that helps Scientists visiting France find accommodation, I was suggested to attend it to get acquainted with fellow foreign scientists.
Since my house owner who is connected to organization for many years, was also invited, we planned to go together.My house owner is an old lady of ~78 years old and of Vietnam origin settled in Paris for last many years. She picked me up from the station. We had decided to meet at 5.30 pm at the Station gates.
But I guess even French standard time runs like Indian standard time i.e. everything runs late than expected time. So, as I had expected as usual I reached 20 mins before time and she reached 30 mins late.So for a total of 50 mins I was standing outside the station in cold chilly shivering wind.

Since the party was kind of introduction for foreigners in France, who don't speak one language it started with putting tags to every person with the details of their name and the language they speak.
So, I had a tag:

Kaustubh Joshi
I speak English!

It then started with a talk which went on for some 20-25 mins. They were telling about all the activities organized by them for the foreginers. The talk was initially in French later translated to English by another person.
We were standing in  a big hall with no chairs to sit, apparently considering the later arrangement for the party. So, it was all standing and listening to what two people on dias were speaking for over an hour.

Finally, all the talks were over, and it was the time to begin the cocktail party.
Champagnes and Wine bottles were opened, corks were flying everywhere in air and everybody started rushing to pick their glass.
I had no reason to rush so was standing behind but my house owner, a 78 years old lady jumped into the crowd.
and she brought 2 glasses in her hand offering me one!
I told her I don`t drink!
but it was so crowded and so noisy she was not able to understand. It was all getting chaotic with she putting it deliberately in my hands and me trying not to touch it.
To add to that everybody around started looking at whats happening between us.
That made me feel odd and just to avoid any situation coming up I accepted the glass.
I have heard so much about this red wine that it would have been a crime if I would not have tasted red wine even after visiting Paris. In fact I had to hear words like, "You haven`t tasted red wine, oh, you have all this time living in heaven and not having fun".
So, I thought, "let`s give it a try".
The first sip itself said all.
Forgive me all wine lovers, but I feel it is one of the rubbish tastes I ever had in my life. And you can not justify saying it might not be a good one, because this cocktail party of Science Accueil is quite famous in the area.
I just wanted to spit it out. but couldn`t.
The owner was I guess on high by now and was hitting her glass with full enthusiasm on mine saying "cheers"!!!!!!
         Fortunately these people do not fill glass full as I have seen back in India.
I tried measuring the content with eyes. It was not more than say 10 ml, that is roughly the amount of diluted Benadryl, the cough syrup we take. So, it was just one more sip I had to en gulp.
I hold my breathe and dumped the remaining in mouth and kept the glass on the table with a bang (i felt like imitating the love shattered bollywood hero who bangs the glass on table finishing all the alcohol in one go).
But yes i have had one glass of wine and definitely this act can never happen again. I wonder how people like to drink it one after the other glass !!!
I tried to change the taste with coke, orange juice etc etc, but the bad taste overpowered all others.
On the other side the owner had geared up totally. She was in full flow. The lady serving wine was her friend and so was easily accessible to get her glass refilled.
Very soon she had finished 3-4 glasses. She then asked me "Do you want to drink anymore?"
Well "NO" was the prompt and the quickest answer I would have given in recent times.
Once done with I guess some 7-8 glasses she decided to go back home.
The future was looking gloomy to me.
It was dark and raining heavily outside.
To add to that the Paris roads are very narrow, hardly wide enough for two cars to cross and they mostly run with 2 way traffic.
The owner, now the driver had just finished drinking 7-8 glass of wine and she is a 78 years old lady.
Her glass (spectacles, in case u misunderstand) were not good on this particular day as she informed while leaving the party venue, and she probably will have some vision problem while driving back home.
When we reached for the car,all the window and front glasses were covered with a heavy layer of due, so nothing was clear.
For a moment the driver of bus in movie Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban lingered in my imagination.
The effect of alcohol was soon clear when she tried taking car out of parking, it hit something which i could not see at all, and i guess she was not even aware of!
With the help of people around guiding her with obstacles on way, she finally managed to get the car on track.
I was in no better situation than a scared rabbit worrying about the cloud about to fall on its head.
The task was difficult because it was a long run of ~10 kms passing through a big stretch of highway.
To add to it, she told me, she is not sure about the way back to home.I realized it when on highway, she tried to suddenly turn right making guy behind apply emergency brakes and then again realizing it not being the right turn returning to the highway almost in the same speed, making the guy behind again apply emergency brakes. That was the first I heard somebody blowing horn in Paris.
I realized I can not see anything in front of me because of the layer of due on glass and the vapors condensed inside.
I took a cloth and tried to clean it. Only then did I came to know that this is big road with all the vehicles running at speed of 100+ kmph speed.
To my astonishment, the owner asked me to clean the glass infront of her also because she was also not able to see anything!!!

I started praying for no more shocking news coming my way.
With God`s grace nothing happened further and we safely reached home.
That was the fortunate end of the journey teaching many lessons on the way.

Ka Jo / Author & Editor

Has laoreet percipitur ad. Vide interesset in mei, no his legimus verterem. Et nostrum imperdiet appellantur usu, mnesarchum referrentur id vim.


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