Monday, August 28, 2006

The Magic of French Villages

I don't know what I expected in Switzerland...since my images of it were tied to Hindi movies (with a fully jacketed hero and a heroiine in filmy chiffon, prancing in the snow; picture postcards; meadows and Interlaken)and old, black and white family pictures from when my grandfather was posted there as the Indian ambassador. So, it was a strangely familiar and yet totally alien place.

I saw Mont Blanc on a miraculously clear day when rain was forecast. I was on the outside looking in....the beautiful scenery, the swaddled black Arab women and girls, the Arab men, slick and arrogant in the Maseratis and Lotus's. The different colors and races-- I expected Geneva to be uniformly white.

And then, it became merely a conduit to a magical evening. Heading down the highway, crossing over into France (the easiest border crossing ever), taking an anonymous exit, driving across the serene French countryside just before dusk, stopping at an un-named French village. Just at dusk, that magical moment hanging for a while. That strange stillness I had till now only found in certain, small Indian towns. Small American towns seem restless or sullen, never just...still. The mountains had a certain grey-rosy hue behind them.

The restaurant whose name I don't remember was populated by locals and one black dog, who consented to being petted but refused to linger inside. He was outside chasing some ducks and then coming inside to stare at a large group of diners. I expected them to be ooh-la-la French. But we were not in Paris, so we cobbled our little French with the waitress/owner's even more little English and ordered a delicious meal. Hearty, country French cooking at its best.

Who knew France had rednecks with mullets? Who could even guess they would be polite and wish us a pleasant bon soir as they sauntered out? Who knew they would not stare as if we were freaks?

The sun had set by the time we started back. Darkness cloaked the roads and the mysterious ruins we had seen on our way to the village. Just as well. For this was perfect. I didn't want markers that would lead us back. No landmarks that might take us back there. This was not be should remain a moment in time, not a future destination. This way, it was ours, a treasured moment to celebrate 12 years together (though a couple of days belated).

We will have more together. And this one was as it should be.

1 comment:

temporal said...

amen to that!

duas and pyar