When You Meet Wine and Women of France Together

Continued from previous blog: Chinese Wife of the French Ambassador

Dinesh Wagle in the wine party organized hosted by the French ambassador in Kathmandu in his residence to taste the Beaujolais Nouveau Pic by Girish Giri

I was wandering around looking for people to talk to. I see this celebrated TV personality and former editor standing whom I had quoted in the beginning this story about the life in Thamel. “I read your story,” he says. [And says it was nice.] Then he charges me of removing one word-also- from the quote that I had attributed to him in the story. “But I had said you might ‘also’ meet celebrities,” he says. “Where is the ‘also’? Don’t put your words into my mouth.”

“It’s good to visit Thamel once in a week,” a famous TV personality and former editor had told me this a few years ago. “You might encounter celebrities from around the world.”

I should have written, he says, “…also encounter celebrities….”

“Well, I don’t really remember you saying “pani” or “too” but if that’s what you had said, then I admit my mistake,” I say. “I try to put exact quotes as far as possible.”

“Okay,” he says, “I am going now. Pani, pani, don’t forget pani!”

I meet Girish Giri, fellow reporter in Kantipur, talking to a guy. (Girish, Shekhar and I had gone to wine party together in Shekhar’s car) He introduces me with the person: Ramahari Khakurel. To my surprise, Khakurel is very much excited hearing my name. I think that’s the wine effect in him and I take it that way. “Reporters whose byline I see in the newspapers are Gods for me,” he declares. Wine effect, I conclude. I found him very nice man, with moustache, good sense of humor and a lot of things to talk about.

“But unfortunately you are saying this to the demons,” Girish Giri replies to Khakurel’s God comment.

“Yea,” I say and put my hand on my chest. “I mean demon. But he is a nice guy.”

“Now he is being diplomatic,” Girish remarks.

“Just look where he is,” says Khakurel. “This is the residence of a diplomat.”

After a bit of chit chats, we shake hands with Ramaharil and say goodbye.

I am still looking for someone to talk to. I keep moving here and there, studying the faces of people.

Ramahari sees me and says, “Oh…Dinesh ji. Come, come. Let me introduce me to….”

He is with a lady. Her name is Pauline Pretet.

“Pauline, he is a very very good journalist.” I forget all the praiseful words that Ramahari used to introduce me to Pauline but I somehow managed to interrupt him to set the record straight.

“Don’t believe on everything he says,” I tell her. “I am not that good.”

“She is a trekking guide. She is also learning Nepali.”

Okay, why not interview Pauline then, I think, take out the notebook, explain her about the story I was planning to write. I ask her name- the spelling (and the pronunciation of course.) To my surprise, Pauline writes her surname Pretet in Nepali on my notebook.

Wagle with RamahariWagle and Ramahari Khakurel

Around that point in time pops up Shekher Kharel who already knows Ramahari. As soon as Ramahari introduced him with Pauline, Shekhar starts the conversation in French. I am the one who doesn’t understand what’s going on there. Ramahari is surprised to learn the fact that Shekhar also speaks French. “Dai, I just learned the new secret,” he says. “I didn’t know that you speak French too.”

So I was trying to interview Pauline. How did you grow up with wine in France? Ramahari explains my question to her in French. She is thinking. My impression is that because of Shekhar’s humorous twists of her statements, she is little bit nervous. These two Nepali reporters, after drinking glasses of wine, flirting with me here or what? I quickly reframe the question. When did you first drink wine? She is thinking but Shekhar already has the substitute question.

“Do you know why he is asking that question?” Shekhar says when I ask Pauline Pretet when she started drinking wine.


“That way he will calculate your age. And his next question will be ‘do you have a boyfriend?’ And if you say no, he will say ‘come and drink wine with me’!”

We all roared into laughter. I though the interview was hijacked by the wonderful wit of Shekhar Kharel.

“You want my phone number?” a smiling Pauline now joins the conversation with her own wit.
We all laugh.

“Well be careful,” I tell her. “He is speaking all for himself. Actually he is trying to ask you those questions question.”

“I am a man with two kids,” Shekhar quickly responds. “Feel safe with me!”

Another round of laughter.

“There are two Ws that the French are proud of,” says Shekhar. “Wine and Women!”

And we have both of them right here in this beautiful garden of the residence of the French ambassador.

As we were laughing out loud on the wit of Shekhar, Girish joins us.

After listening to us for about 40 seconds, Girish extends his hand to Pauline and says, “Well, they didn’t introduce me to you. So here I am.”

Then I intervene. “Another reporter here. Girish Giri. Actually both of these guys are filmmakers as well. He (Shekhar) has made two documentaries and he (Girish) has made one.”

“I have made two,” Girish quickly corrects me with his eyes on Pauline. Then I remember that he has recently finished his second documentary film that hasn’t been screened publicly. His first film, Team Nepal, drew impressive crowd in the South Asian Film Festival two years ago.

“What your film is about?” Pauline asks Girish.

“That’s about a football team visiting India. Let me also tell you that film won a prize in Italy.”

“His documentary is 30 minutes long,” Shekhar intervenes with his humor. “He till take 40 minutes to describe.”

Another round of laughter. It was time for us to leave. “Let’s be in touch!” Shekhar screams as we enter his car. How about exchaning contact cards? Well, I didn’t see if that was done.

Meeting Pauline was one of the best things about the wine party, we conclude.

With that, I also conclude this series on Wine blog.