Beaujolais Day in Nepal: Wine Talk With a French Teacher

Continued from previous blog: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!: French Ambassador’s Wine Party in Kathmandu

I am basically an introvert (except on the web of course), and I find it quite difficult to sustain with phony smiles and extra courteous talks in many social gatherings. But then there is another person in me who is a reporter (journalist, you know, newspaper guy? I work for a newspaper and am trying to write something out of this gathering this evening. Would you like to talk to me for a few minutes? Hell yes, why not? Kantipur? What’s that? Oh, I read Kathmandu Post. That comes on my desk every morning. Oh.. yea? Then just keep this in your mind that Kantipur is the Nepali edition of the Kathmandu Post -which is not entirely correct but then what the hell, you are already drinking wine and I have already finished first glass in my life.) Yes, many a times, a reporter has to start conversations to make a story out of an occasion. Some people get frightened by just hearing the word journalist and run away, some try to avoid very politely some talk a little bit hesitantly and some become really glad that a reporter is talking to them. These people make me really happy.

So I am standing in front of one of the wood fires and find myself facing directly at this woman who is part smiling, part shy and part drinking wine, part staring at the fire, part glancing at me, part enjoying the gathering, part waiting anxiously for her friend to show up, part….. I smile at her. The plan wasn’t that I was trying to strike conversation with a lady but what could I do, she was right in front of me and I was just about to finish my first glass of wine. I was looking for someone to start my interview. Man, you are a reporter. You can’t discriminate against women and ignore them for your interviews! Start talking, may be take out your notebook and start throwing questions at her! No, you got to have different approach this evening. What about talking about weather? She must be European, if not a French. Hmm, no stars in the sky, fire in front of us, heat coming from the glass of wine that we are holding! Am I still holding that glass? I am not sure. No, weather talks won’t work here; there is no moon in the sky.

She is French! I mean she is French (without that exclamation mark). Very suitable character for my story that I am thinking to write in my newspaper. I mean suitable for my story. She is working in the French School in Kathmandu as a teacher of alllll subjects. So cool! Wish I was a student in the French School? No, being a reporter-in-duty is fine with this jyan at this moment. Came here in Nepal a couple of months ago at this charming age of 29, oh no 30 (she corrects herself and I assure her by saying ‘slightly older than me’).

So the interview starts. I take out my notebook. How it feels to be grown up with wine? A lady, later I realized she is a Nepali, shows up babbling in French. Fine, you want to hear the interview, hear. So the madam starts responding to my questions. An experience reporter in me has already sensed that this lady isn’t entirely okay with talking to me, especially the ME who is holding a notebook and pen. I guess, she was fine talking to the ME who was holding just a glass of wine. Can I reverse my actions and continue the conversation by holding just a glass of wine? That’s a good idea but let me not implement that right now, right here.

“Everybody drinks wine [in France] all the time,” says Ines Zouaghi, 30. “We have wine in all regions [of France]. We have very good wine, not bad wines but okay wines.” She puts this one, Beaujolais nouveau, in the okay category. “There are better red wines than this,” she says. “Young wine is not very good. That’s my opinion.” And my opinion is, I say, young women are very good, what do you say? He, he, he. Okay, that’s the French smile. “Yes, I agree.” She remembers celebrating the Beaujolais Day with her friends in university back home.

She is talking about her Head Miss of the French School who is also in the party. “Wait a minute,” she tells me and heads toward her Head Miss. After about two minutes, she comes, followed by an elderly woman (I guess her as the Head Miss). “We love it, we are French” the lady says. “I don’t find French wine in Nepal. I don’t drink wine all the time but today is special day. I prefer the taste of Everest beer.” The Head Miss didn’t tell me her name as if telling that would defame her name but if head miss was the word used do describe the Principle of the school, then thanks to the web site of the French school, her name is Monique Dehon. So you can put the title of this blog something like this: Monique Dehon Loves Everest Beer. Everest is not produced by Gurkha Brewery, so what was Rajendra Khetan doing in that party? Did he meet Monique Dehon and tell her about Tuborg or San Miguel beers that his company produces?
Can I take picture of you women? Monique Dehon runs away, as if I was a paparazzi, and Ines Zouaghi follows her. No photos. The interview is over. I must find other people to continue with my story.

Continued to next blog from same wine party: French Ambassador’s Wine Party: The Dutch Guy With Helvetas