The trees around the Elysee Palace seemed particularly confused. For some of them, it was autumn, and the leaves had turned a vivid orange. For others, it was already winter and the branches were bare, for the rest, it was early spring! Fresh , green leaves were beginning to sprout and I spotted several butterflies hovering over bushes in full and glorious bloom! The official Indian Women's Delegation to Deauville's Global Women's Forum was welcomed into the hallowed Elysee Palace.... but alas, Sarkozy had more important things on his mind - like the Georgia situation. And Carla Bruni was not around. We had to make do with a senior diplomat who took his job very seriously, indeed. But the rasberry maccaroons were terrific.
Deauville was as glamourous a venue as legend describes it. The olde worlde hotel on the sea front ( Royal Barriere), has hosted the world's best and brightest over decades, including big name Hollywood stars, from Paul Newman, Michael Douglas, Brad Pitt to George Clooney. The suite next to my room was dedicated to Lauren Bacall. And the cabins on the beach were named after international Cinema's greatest. But.... there wasn't a single cabin reserved for any of our stars! So..... I'm guessing we still don't rate in international cinema!
The three day jamboree was a treat. Imagine 1,200 power ladies from across the world net -working like maniacs. Scarey. But since I wasn't there to 'make contacts' or sign deals, I spent my time observing, watching, listening , chatting. Met some wonderful people, attended a few stimulating sessions, enjoyed listening to Vital Voices ( a play staged by seven exceptional women narrating their stories of abuse and eventual victory), and generally indulged in some much needed 'me time'. Over Nespressos and Pommery, I thought about the future - my own and the world's. But one cosmic question lingered - why do the french like their coffee tepid and bitter? The milk (if added) is invariably cold. And the famous coffee, entirely unsatisfying to desis who prefer their cuppa steaming hot, sweet and milky.
I got back to the disturbing situation in Mumbai, post-Raj Thackeray's arrest. It was back to business as usual, I sighed resignedly. But at least, I'd be able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee.... and spicey daal -chavaal. Froid people. Froid food. Go figure.