As we were bidding farewell to our landlady at our first holiday destination in Provence, her French - Belgian friend Monique pointed at our youngest daughter's T - shirt that had about sixteen faces and accompanying emotions / states of being drawn on it. She pointed at the word "hungry" and said that she had seen a British man walking about town with a similar phrase written on it, what could it be? When I, after a short bit of soul searching, suggested the word "grumpy", she exclaimed "Oui! C'est ca!" It said 'I am a grumpy old man'.
Buried deep within the weekend's Times, amidst all the articles on the sheer glory of the Olympics' opening ceremony, is an article by a kindred spirit, someone called Giles Coren, if not a grumpy old man then at least one with similarly acute powers of observation. Start following him dear readers, on the social medium of your choice, Twitter or Google +, for there is at least one other person out there sane enough to observe "…when Ban Ki Moon appeared on massive screens it all started to feel like a vision of Britain in 2012 conceived by George Orwell on his deathbed as a place ruled by a softly spoken Korean dictator whose program me of de-urbanization has forced us back into the Middle Ages".
Speaking of the Middle Ages, we are now in the South Western part of France, bang against the Spanish border in fact, in a town called Sorede, in an otherwise lovely holiday home that has just one small itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini of a problem: it has no functioning television, i.e., should I wish to see re-runs of Paul McCartney singing "Hey Jude" (I have already suggested in a mood of grumpiness to the family that I think Paul McCartney should sing "Hey Jude" every day, to all of us; that should be the prelude to the 9 'o clock news), I can't. The witless woman who works for the agency that got us this house said by phone, "most people come to France to enjoy France", i.e., not to watch television. If you can't watch the Olympics once every four years, then what can you watch, I ask you? India may be winning a gold medal as we speak, and I would not know of it, not be part of the experience.
As a result of this non availability of television or wifi (did I mention that we don't have wifi?) I am expecting Jeffersonian productivity from yours truly. I always wondered how America's Founding Fathers managed to achieve so much in so short a lifetime, unsupported as they were by the NHS or Obamacare, but now I know. They didn't have France 2 to distract them with images of prancing Olympians, just the odd letter from Descartes. "Ben, I've been thinking, it's all about Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité, you follow?" And then complete silence for the next three months.
Mira had decided within the first hour of arriving in France that it is to be the country where she wishes to settle, and that Marseille is to be the city where she wishes to live, and has no desire therefore to rush back to Mumbai. There's no love lost between Kumud and Mumbai, and once the initial logistics of getting here have been surmounted she's happy to be in France (or Goa a year ago). I like being here but will as always enjoy being back in the thick of things. Tarini, our youngest, has been peppering her conversation with memories of Mumbai for the past several days now. Today, after reading the Time of London and struggling to gets its pages back in place, she sighed wistfully, "I miss the organization of the Mumbai Mirror. To each their own. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.