Saturday, September 20, 2014

Farewell to France

Last day in France. The following day I fly out. Packing, rushing all over Vienne taking last minute photographs. Afternoon, Blandine’s mom has called me over for a farewell lunch. Blandine has made fish casserole for the sendoff party. A fishy farewell.
I take a last look at the Rhone. It has been like a friendly neighbor, all these three months. It is virtually a hop away from Blandine’s house. I had taken a walk on these banks virtually every afternoon I was here, to clear the head after I had written 1000 words of my new novel. The only river I’ll have back home is the endless stream of cars below my bedroom window, late into the night.
We drive over to Blandine’s mom. We take a last look at Blandine’s farm and Edouard the ass and the goat with no name.


The fields are bright with sunflowers.

Damn those sunflowers. Those fields have been green most of my stay here. They chose the last day of my stay to bloom. As if I wasn’t feeling sad enough.

We get to Blandine’s mom. Clara and Alexi, Blandine’s kids, are present. As is Alexi’s fiancée.

And a bottle of Dom Perignon.

Clara had gotten this bottle for me. When she came down from St. Martin, where she had gone on a working holiday. Of course, the bottle must have gotten to St. Martin from France, in the first place. So it is a bottle of champagne that has seen the world. I had been saving that bottle up for this day.

I am asked to open the bottle. I refuse. I’ve never opened a bottle of champagne before, and as someone who reads Tintin comics, I know that opening a bottle of champagne is a venture fraught with peril. Captain Haddock can never open one without the cork going of like a cannon ball and doing damage. But everyone insists it is my job. They say there is nothing to it. I open it. The cork pops like a cannon ball. Luckily, I manage to save most of the champagne.
My first sip of REAL French champagne. Dom Perignon, one of the very best.
The only ‘champagne’ I have had before is Sekt, the German answer to champagne, during my stay in Germany. And bubbly white wine from Grover vineyards in India which is loosely called Indian champagne.
Dom Perignon is particularly dear to me: I often mention it in my novels, and once even in my comic strip (refer episodes 76 to episode 81 of Good God! -- where the Holy Spirit gets kidnapped in a bottle of champagne). Now I am going to get to taste the stuff. I am deeply grateful to Clara for all the expense and trouble she has gone to, to get it for me.

*****
So how was it, my first sip of Dom Perignon?

I dunno… Let me put it like this. I had imagined the moment I took the first sip, I would slide gracefully to the floor, a beatific smile on my lips.

I took the first sip. And the second, and the third.

I was still firmly seated.

I finished the first glass. And the second. And the third.

THEN I slid gracefully to the floor, a beatific smile on my lips.

*****

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