How not to book your International Flight Tickets – The Beginning

Part – I

The two months that I had stayed in my home thinking I would be reading, writing and even perhaps learning how to play Piano had ended. I hadn’t read. I hadn’t written. I had forgotten whatever I learnt about playing Piano. I had spent my youth and my old age waiting in Bank and begging them to take my request for Education loan on priority. I had circled around the court for gathering weird documents for this loan, I had printed all sorts of stuff for my VISA application and then I had spent rest of the days compiling them as per VISA guidelines. And whatever time that was left after all this, I had spent it on “trying to learn” how to cook and bitching about State Bank of India to literally every person I could.

But all that struggle had finally come to an end. My loan had been approved, tuition fees had been paid, I had received my VISA, I had packed my bags and now I was ready to leave.The train to Mumbai was going to depart at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. I had woke up early despite staying up late, bathed, ate and now I was sitting restlessly with my eyes fixated on the minute hand of the clock and butterflies fluttering inside my stomach. The adventure was about to begin. In five hours, I would be in Mumbai. In twenty hours I would be in Norwich – my current city of dreams. Odd – I know – not everybody is aware of this city’s existence, certainly I wasn’t till a couple of months ago. But there I was, dreaming of boarding the flight to the smallest city I would ever live in. I called the cab, one of the last times I would be using Uber and I excitedly hopped into the taxi bidding adieu to my mother.

Day one of my nightmare had officially commenced. But I had no idea it was a nightmare at all.

The cab dropped me at the Railway station. I excitedly strode to the Platform with my “Norwich dreams” only to find that my train was delayed by five hours. This was the first indication of how things were going to go horribly wrong down the road but though I acknowledged that it wasn’t a good sign but I merely deemed it as a minor setback. I had booked tickets with good time margin between them. So the delay didn’t bother me much. At least till the next hour. Then doubts began to spring in my head like weeds in a garden. I made the judgement call. I decided to take the bus instead. For the first time in my life, I used the station’s wifi and searched for the earliest bus cursing Indian Railways under my breath. Fortunately, I did find a bus that was about to leave in twenty minutes. Hurriedly, I made a dash for the Exit. I paid the Autorickshaw driver three times higher than the regular fare to reach the bus stop, booked the bus with three times higher fare than the train’s ticket price and unknowingly stepped further into the dreadful adventure. I boarded the sleeper bus, fell asleep with my shoes on, only to be awakened by the conductor asking me to take them off and shift to the upper seat. Though a bit irritated, I obediently did what he asked me to do and stared outside as the first few drops of rain hit the window. I had heard the news that it was raining hard in Mumbai – first from a fellow passenger and then from my sister who was already in Mumbai since the previous day – a visit planned to see me before I fly to Norwich. I hoped for the best and took another small nap.

My phone, one of the last few times my Indian number shall be used, rang. It was my sister again. “It’s raining really hard here.” she said. “Even I am stuck in traffic. Where are you?”

“Somewhere in the highway.” I replied.

“Okay, turn your live location on.”

“I have run out of my net pack.” Because who needs it when you are supposed to leave the country in about six hours?

“I will get it recharged,” she replied.

I could sense higher level of adrenaline in my blood but there was nothing I could do but wait. And waiting is all I did for the next three days but of course I didn’t know that yet. What I did know was Mumbai rains were going to fuck me over. And that they did. Soon the roads turned into shallow rivers and traffic began to drift excruciatingly slowly. Panic? Yeah, I was drenched completely in it. But the movie had just started. My sister was calling me pretty frequently now. We were both wondering how I was going to reach Airport at all. Luckily, the bus conductor came to my rescue. “Where do you want to get off ?” He asked. “Nearest place to the International Airport.”

“Well, it’s going to be troublesome.” You think so?

But the bus conductor turned out to be much more helpful than I expected. I spent a considerable amount of time talking to him and the driver when I sat next to the driver seat discussing Mumbai rains, occasional “risks” of helping people (especially a woman – Well I would rather not comment), about Conductor’s brother working abroad and finally about my plans of studying in England. The driver asked me how English currency looked like. After a moment of hesitation, I handed him a twenty pound note out of my wallet. He glanced at it in fascination and to my secret sigh of relief returned it to me. We had reached as near as we could to the airport. I had to get off now. Since I didn’t have any umbrella, the conductor walked me over to the back of the bus holding his umbrella over both of us. He took my luggage out of the storage and again walked me over to the nearest bus stop. I was walking barefoot with my shoes dangling over my neck. The rain was pouring down hard. Five minutes outside the bus and I was already wet. The conductor left me after giving me rough instructions for how to reach the Airport which I didn’t quite understand. All I did understand was that I needed to cross the road to get a Taxi. While walking towards the Skywalk that led to the opposite side of the road, I had the best stroll of my life with the clouds showering their brutality over me for no reason whatsoever (How dare you try to go to England, you stupid dumbfuck!), with my blurry vision (How dare you wear specs while it’s raining, you stupid dumbfuck!), my heavy luggage (How dare you carry so much while travelling to another country, you stupid dumbfuck!) and my wet clothes (How dare you wear clothes that get wet at all, you stupid dumbfuck!).

I was struggling hard to carry my bag upstairs in the Sky-walk. My plight must have been visible all over my face. It was then that I met my heroes. I almost choked on my mental tears of gratitude for them when they helped me with my luggage, first by carrying it up the stairs and then down. However, my troubles didn’t end there. I still had to get a taxi to the airport. And finding one had been the hardest thing I ever did in my life. Maybe after the loan. And after Engineering. And my job. By the time I had crossed the road through the foot over-bridge – I was already wet to the bone and so were my bags. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to get a cab. I walked up to the middle of the road multiple times leaving my bag into the supervision of a random person, hoping that it wouldn’t get stolen. Nobody stole anything and I finally found a taxi but I paid extraordinarily high fare to the cab driver. I reached the airport – my one and only ultimate goal of my life then. My heart uttered some really creative curse words for the Mumbai rains and the city’s horrendous drainage system but at the same time it brimmed with gratitude for Mumbai people; for all those kind strangers who had helped me. I had been so absorbed in this entire struggle that I didn’t realize that my bladder was very close to a rather embarrassing explosion. I hurriedly entered inside the airport. Duped by the perpetual lost expression on my face, one of the Attendants approached me and asked, “Are you looking for something?”

“Yeah, Washroom.” I said. The same washroom that I was going to use for the coming three days.

*

Part – II

Part – III

Part – IV

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The Two Parallel Lines

“Hello ladies, my name is Charles and I will be your waiter tonight,”he says in his slightly accented posh English.

We like Charles already. After all, being addressed as a lady is a rare thing. We try to return his “Hello” with equal charm. Can’t tell if we succeeded but we don’t have time to reflect on that. Happy hours are ending soon and there is a lot of alcohol to order. So, we immediately proceed to digging our heads into the cocktail menu. Beer is something that we don’t even mention once in our discussion. That is going to be ordered by default. In the midst of our deliberation over the choice of cocktails, I look at two of my closest friends and wonder how mystical and surreal being here with them actually is. But that doesn’t last long. “Six pints of beer, for now. We will order the cocktails soon,” I tell our charming waiter.

I am transported back to the time when we three were discussing oral sex for the first time. “What do you mean you put it in your mouth? They pee with that thing!” “I don’t know. I don’t know how people do that…” We three glanced at each other and let out a synchronous shudder. Now, sitting in a bar, sipping on our beer, it’s funny how we don’t seem to be affected by that shudder anymore. “So, all bases?” I am asked. “Well, you could say that.” I confess it with a surprising casual indifference. I am greeted back in the same way. “Uh! Cool.” Where has our shock been assimilated? How could there not be a trace of it? Perhaps I can find the abundance of it in the faces of twelve year old us, sitting on the bench in the classroom a decade ago. If they would have been sitting with us today, they would have killed me with disgust in their eyes. The pre-teenaged us wouldn’t just have stopped with the look. Next thing they would have done was to throw away our bottles, “What is this that you are drinking! Alcohol? We swore we would never do that!” We are perfectly fine with drinking now. In fact there’s a part of us, who can’t live without it. But we (at least I did) indeed swore that we would never consume this wretched liquid. Same thing went with cigarettes. Same thing went with broccoli. Same thing went with green tea. We have grown into liking both the health saviors and health destroyers at the same time. Well, the equation must be balanced, right?

“Forgot to ask, how was it though?” one of my friends asks. “Ah, what sex? Comme ci comme ca. Okay, I guess?” I reply. And like that we go back to our drinks. We are perfectly fine with boys asking us out. Back in school, that was a big deal. I suddenly get the flashbacks of some of our conversations from school – “What do you mean, you are chatting on messenger?” “Well, we have been doing that for past two weeks. Every day.” “What do you mean every day?” “Well, every day.” “Do you have a crush on him?” “No” my friend said blushing. “Is that a yes?” “No” My friend said nodding affirmatively. Wow, back then it used to be huge. “What happened to the guy you met on Tinder?” I ask her. “Meh” she replies. “Still talking even?” I ask further. “Yes” she says. “Then?” I ask. “Meh.”

By now we all are sipping on the last few drops of beer left in the bottle. Our eyes are droopy and our voices heavy and our conversations solely in English. “I am not drunk okay” my friend says. “I am never drunk okay,”the other friend replies. Yeah of course. English though – Ah! It gave me such a hard time in school. All those people with their fancy education in private high class schools spoke such fluent English. I envied them deeply. It was devastating because it took a toll on my public speaking skills. I was so scared of English. That insecurity is lost now. There are greater things to worry about.

It’s surreal in a way that we three are still this close. There were so many other people back in school with whom I had felt I had a ‘deep connection’. They are nothing but a name in my Facebook friend list now. How weird is this. I think you don’t choose friends but life chooses them for you. There are people who connect with you and to each one of those people there stand thousand others who don’t. It’s a bit tricky to find those people who know you like their favorite book. You might find a connection in some moments with a particular person but you have little control over its expiry date. People enter in your life as intersecting straight lines. They come, converge, intersect and diverge. On the other hand, there are people who never intersect but they run parallel with you for the rest of your life.

“Three Classic Martinis, please.” We have finally decided on the cocktails. Charles nods and throws a brief glance at the empty beer bottles at our table as if wondering whether we should be drinking more. Fifteen minutes later, he would be serving us another round of Martinis. The beer has already got our heads buzzed. We are laughing over stupid jokes. We are endlessly taking selfies. We are wondering how painfully overpriced the french fries are. Soon, we will head to the dance floor and dance for three hours straight with basically everyone present in the club. We are going to discuss this night for weeks, maybe years. We are going to be amazed how amazing it was. But for now, I just look at these two people and cringe at my cheesiness but it’s true – they do mean the world to me. These two fuckers are my parallel lines.

*

Things that I don’t understand – IV

      1. Fluid mechanics. Office politics. And heart
      2. Black holes. Black-heads. What existed before big bang. And heart.
      3. X-men movie timeline, Donnie Darko and why I suck at receiving compliments.
      4. Complex philosophical theories. The Tree of Life movie. And my procrastinating habits.

I glance at my phone again. Its screen is plain black with light reflecting through its cracked edges and it is idiotly smiling back at me as if it doesn’t understand my irritation at all. Why aren’t you blinking with a notification? A telephone under a chat circle or an f under a square? Why aren’t you quenching my curiosity? But I thought you wanted me to be silent and not disturb you. And now when I am doing exactly that, you have a problem? Again?

I and my smartphone are in an abusive relationship. My palms have huge holes and they are pretty fond of providing free fall experiences to my phone.

Even with its bruised and malfunctioning screen, my wounded and weak phone can still torture me effortlessly. In fact more now.

If you hate me so much, why don’t you get rid of me? I don’t mind being sold. You can go back to using landlines. I know you terribly miss them.

I don’t know how my phone learnt sarcasm but certainly it’s more fluent in it than I can ever be. “I should do that. I should sell you.” I retort.

I am proud of your decision. I am sure you won’t find it hard to let go of all the applications you are fond of using.

All the applications? Facebook? Twitter? Maps? Gmails? Uber? Chrome? Camera?

Yes, you can ‘clearly’ live easily without them of course.

Whatever. What matters right now is not this stupid argument but the question,”Why aren’t you blinking yet?”

Blinking with what. You need to be specific. You meant the drop-but-actually-a- fire thing?

Shut up. I wasn’t asking for that notification.

No? So I suppose you are asking for notifications of the news app you never bother to use?

Okay, the telephone under the circle thing. Now you know, go blink.

No. I won’t.

Exasperated I return to my book. Sure, actually it’s good I am away from all those distractions. I can concentrate. Two lines into the paragraph, some idiot in my head speaks,”But why hasn’t he messaged you yet? Is he ignoring you?”

“Does it matter?” I ask back.

Silence again. Fifth line into the paragraph, the idiot speaks again, “But why hasn’t he messaged you yet? Are you not interesting enough?”

“Does it matter?”

The question works again. I tell my brain, rather I request my brain for his kind attention on the words that I am trying to read. It obeys. For three minutes. Then I go on a date, with the same guy who did text me back in this dreamworld. He had apologized. He said he was too busy with work. But he also said he would make up for it by a dinner in a good Sushi restaurant. Ah! Sushi. How did he even know I love Sushi? Now we are in this fancy restaurant, eating the most delicious Sushi ever made on the face of the Earth. And I have finally learnt how to use chopsticks. There’s a huge platter of Sushi in front of me. There are so many varieties and each one is equally delicious. But if you ask which one’s my favorite–

My phone blinks with the telephone thing for real. I snap out of my date-but-increasingly-transforming-into-food daydreams. Has he finally texted? You are blinking, my love. You are finally blinking.

Hold your horses, young lady. How can you be so sure that I am blinking with his text.

Ah no. Don’t say it. Don’t imply it. Don’t jinx it. No. It has already been jinxed, hasn’t it? Yeah, it’s not from him. It’s a message on the school group – another useless GIF.

You do know I can’t make him text, right? Stop being stupid.

You are stupider.

Oh really? Let’s check your search history on Google, shall we?

How does my own phone gets to speak with me like that? You are supposed to be my servant.

And you are supposed to be worthy of being served to. I will tell you – Here’s what is going to happen now. You are going to continue gawking at me for like 12 straight hours. Then you shall finally give up only till you send him a drunk text like an hour later. He is going to reply with a conversation-ender. Suddenly, your ego that you had carelessly sold in your drunkenness will come running back to you. Horrified, you won’t reply. You will archive/delete the chat and resolve you are never going to text him again. That resolution will end in exactly two hours and twenty seven minutes. Then you are going to start obsessing again. Be better than this obsession cycle, your highness. Be better.

Okay duck him. Let’s scroll through our Facebook Newsfeed again.

You did that like 27.25 seconds ago but I am happy to comply.

I need to read but a quick glance through twitter?

Of course.

Facebook again?

Of course.

WordPress?

Of course.

Twitter…?

Of course.

Two hours later, I finally decide to turn off my phone and return to my book. The words don’t make sense initially but I continue to read anyway. Somewhere, along some paragraphs, I finally immerse in the text. The black screen of my phone still keeps radiating temptation in the background. My smartphone pretends it is not doing that on purpose. Evil bastard, I resolve not to fall into his trap again. Twenty two minutes later, I am watching some random shit on YouTube. How and why exactly is what I don’t understand.

*

How’s life in England?

“So, how’s life in England?” My phone notifies me of yet another text bearing the same question I’ve heard daily since the past two months. And I am left wondering, yet again, how the hell do I answer this?

How’s life in England? Each day, I wake up with a slight hangover because somehow I have developed a habit of mistaking beer for water. The morning begins with me brewing a tasteless tea and slicing an apple, often along with my fingers. Then I connect my phone to the speakers as I eat my so-called breakfast and start preparing my lunch. Two months back, cooking was my least favorite task and now it is my top choice for procrastination. I chop vegetables while dancing to some 2000s rock. I still don’t know how I manage to pull that off. The day progresses as I finish cooking my lunch which is almost never completely consumed by me. I leave some curry for my flatmates. And by the evening, there’s no trace of it left. My utensils are cleaned and neatly placed back in my shelf. Cooking a little extra so that you don’t have to clean? I figure it’s a pretty good strategy to go by. But this is not what you want to know, do you?

How’s life in England? Well, mostly it’s the blue sky and chartreuse grass spread across remarkably vast stretches of land. Each day I discover a new breed of dog. Each day I come across those cars that I never thought I would see in three dimensions with my own eyes. Each day I meet different kinds of people. And almost each day, I write about them in a small cafe with a small blackboard placed at its gate happily flaunting the beautiful handwriting and the supposedly reasonable rates of different kinds of coffees. Hours pass by as I type random stuff on random things and before it gets too cold (and it’s not even Winter yet!) I return to my kitchen to enjoy a multi-cuisine dinner cooked by flatmates. My kitchen is not a particularly attractive one. The dining table is almost never cleaned. Sometimes, the refrigerators stink. Noone is ever able to find his/her plates or spoons or coffee cup on time. When one of us burns food accidentally, we don’t pray for our own safety. Instead we pray for the inefficiency of the smoke detector. I look at the small exhaust, the electric heat stove, the rarely used oven, the toaster that partially works and the silver platform that’s turning grey – This kitchen is as ordinary as it can be. I look at the people I am dining with. This kitchen is my favorite place. But this is not what you want to know either, is it?

How’s life in England? Whenever the sun shines outside my tiny window my heart swells with happiness and hope. And then I think of the pending work, my spinning head and my heart immediately sinks. My table is splashed with my clumsiness. I am running out of clean clothes to wear. The bedsheet of my bed is beginning to stink. The mattress has given me a permanent back ache but I love my tiny little corner. My cupboard is bare but surprisingly, I don’t hate my limited collection of clothes. I am slipping below the poverty line slowly but steadily. However, somehow I don’t hate my depleting financial state. I am not sure why I am here sometimes. To write life? To live life? Sometimes my room haunts me too – to make it more eerie, there are unexplained bruise marks on my limbs. My financial burden haunts me. My insecurity and uncertain future haunts me. My dreams haunt me. But I am here anyway, I guess, happily haunted.

Days in England – It was clear sky a second ago and it’s suddenly raining. And despite the unpredictable weather, I can safely predict that it would never rain when I do have an umbrella with me. The cloudy night sky is bit of a shame but at times when it is clear I can almost get lost among the diamonds shining above, along with the silhouettes of the trees caressing the edges of the river. And then there’s the moon. The same moon I wrote a letter to saying that I would do what I love to do and in some surreal way I am still keeping that promise. I like to picture myself looking at this satellite somewhere someday in the future and instead of the moon, I like to believe that I would be looking at my own present self. We would briefly acknowledge each other, smile and whisper, “It is going to be alright.” The moon is my imaginary time travelling machine. When I look at it now, I suddenly see myself searching for it through the clusters of buildings back in Vadodara or strolling under the moonlight through the peaceful beaches of Goa during my final undergraduate year or picturing nose or eyes on it during my kindergarten days.

How’s my life? Each day I am going older. Each day I am learning something new. Though I can’t specifically point out the change but I can still feel a certain kind of novelty running through my blood. Life in England – It’s the walks among the pretty homes in red bricks. It’s playing with the amber leaves lining the footpaths. It’s being marvelled by the sparrows with orange necks. It’s walking through the trails lining the river. It’s catching a brief experience of forest and making an escape from urban life during those walks. Living here is modern and ancient at the same time. I am simultaneously falling in love in Swedish beer and cutting masala chai found in the streets of India. I am simultaneously falling in love with butter croissant and Latte and also with freshly cooked potato paratha made by my mother back home. I am amazed by the quiet and peaceful locality but at the same time I sometimes miss the crowd and the cacophony as well.

It’s writing, so much writing, reading, scribbling, dancing, drinking and being terrified of the fact that these days are disappearing much faster than they should and also the fact that I would miss this more terribly than I can ever imagine. My life in England? Well, honestly, life seems to be chasing me instead of I chasing it for a change. At first it was overwhelmingly surreal. Now, it’s overwhelmingly busy. Like the gas compressed in a cylinder, it seems like a whole lifetime has been squeezed into a couple of months. Weeks are long but yet they fly by. And sometimes all I do is breathe and watch yet another sun explode into thousands of shades of Crimson and Magenta and all those hues that I can’t even name.

“So, how’s life in England?” My phone is still beeping with that whatsapp message.
“Good.” I text back.

An Ode to the Deadlines

So long I had postponed
Owing to the mispositions of stars
Or maybe just the urgency to complete utterly unnecessary tasks
A day after another after another after another
Until you came finally,
As you had, once upon a forgotten time, forewarned
So, here’s to the panic
to the parade of chaos that you have brought along
to the adrenaline rush
to the songs of forbidden words
to the regret of wasted yesterdays
No, no prayer is to be sung to the goddess of procrastination today,
No! Don’t you dare, you treacherous mind…
Today isn’t a good day
Today is the DEADLINE!
The day where the work of 10 months is compressed in 72 hours
So, here’s to the supernatural productivity
To the last minute shortcuts
To the funny gods
To the funnier prayers
To the fake promises
To a distant dream of equal work division over time
Commutimism as they call it
And finally to completion of the since long incompleted
Scribbled, battered, stitched along the odd edges
Ugly, with gruesome scars of laziness
But who cares about the beauty though?
At least the end is here.
We will start the next project tomorrow.
Or maybe the tomorrow after tomorrow
Or the tomorrow after that
But for now, we are done.
Ready to repeat our mistake all over again
With a false and yet believable hope let’s completely forget the stress and pain,
Of course, we are going to be alright,
As long as we celebrate the ending and not the perfection
My lazy ‘this-would-do-just-fine’ success brought by an odd hero of mine,
What would I do without you my beloved deadline?

***

 

How NOT to learn F.R.E.N.C.H. for dummies (like me)

Chapter – I

The one with the counting

It was a warm ordinary day of Octobre (October, and yes it wasn’t a spelling mistake). The month that brings us the beautiful season of autumn. Autumn, the oldest poets creating factory, is the most jolie (lovely) season of all. That is, in the rest of the monde (world). Not in India. Here it’s simply a sequel of summer, without mangoes. Indian trees don’t give a single damn about the fall. Bien sûr (Of course), they might show some minor symptoms of this season but that is the beginning and the end of it. Anyway, back to being in that warm day of Octobre, as I sat in my cubicle passively framing yet another courriel (e-mail), I am flashed with one of the deeply moving scenes of the French film- “Blue is the warmest colour.” I am still not sure about the origin and what possibly might have caused that flash. But it was enough to dig out that obsession on to the surface which had gone into hibernation for past one year. And with it came a memory of a small desire I had expressed then – I want to learn French. Like a good employee (Ahem.) I ignored all of this and continued to scroll through my inbox. But the show starring the two voices in my head had already commenced. “Tu dois apprendre le français!”(You must learn French!). What’s that sound again? Certainly someone doesn’t want us to attend to our mails (Ahem. Perhaps our procrastinating habit) But what’s the harm in learning it? You have the time. You can manage. You can learn French. In fact you should. En fait (In fact) you would!” But tu vois (you see), turquoise ink, you don’t have what it takes to learn a language. Wait, wasn’t it your suggestion in the first place? Like a second ago? You are going to lose interest and then later you would forget everything. Merde! (Damn!) What a chameleon you are brain! I would definitely learn it just to prove you wrong!

In the background, my cœur et tête (heart and head) hi-fived, mouthed a thank-you and danced back to the exit.

So the same day I went to a language institute. I enrolled myself for French classes and there began my incredible journey to…nothing. But that’s what makes it a good ignition spark for my procrastinating habits.

A few jours (days) into my class and I stumbled upon the day that was going to change my vie (life) forever.  It’s a normal soir (evening). I arrived at the class straight from my office. I was a little tired but my excitement (or rather the fact that I had paid the fees and I felt a dire need to compensate for it by being regular in my classes) didn’t let me succumb to temporary tiredness.

“We will learn counting today” she said. “Counting till ten is pretty easy. What makes it easier is that the pronunciation of some of the numbers resembles the way we say it in Hindi.” I nodded, opened my notebook and uncapped my pen indicating my readiness to make notes which actually I never did. “So, let’s begin …Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre, Cinq, Six, Sept, Huit, Neuf, Dix!” she said slowly with hand gestures.I noticed that some numbers indeed resembled the numbers in Hindi (Deux – do, Trois – teen or Sept – saat, Huit – aath, Neuf – nav, Dix – dus and six was six in English except you pronounce it as sees)

I repeated after my French tutor. Pretty proud with myself, I asked her to go ahead in the series. She taught me the numbers till twenty (Onze, Douze (Now you know where the word dozen came from), Treize, Quatorze, Quinze, Seize, Dix-sept, Dix-huit, Dix-neuf, Vingt). Slightly alien terms but I managed just fine and repeated the figures correctly. Then she continued, “So, the rest of the numbers continue on the same rules as English. We just need to learn thirty, forty, fifty and sixty. After that it gets slightly different. But we will come to that later.” I nodded excitedly, completely ignoring the importance of the phrase – ‘slightly different’. “Trente, quarante, cinquante & soixante” she said.

I repeated perfectly except for the minor pronunciation mistakes. “And what about the rest of the figures?” I asked.

The turning point of my life had finally arrived.

“Seventy is Soixante –dix” she replied.

“Okay…”

“Eighty: Quatre- vingts

“Whaat…”

“Ninety is Quatre-vingt-dix

“..the fuck?”

My mind exploded. “Are you telling me that seventy is called as sixty-ten? Eighty as four-twenty? And ninety as four-twenty-ten?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Are you really sure?”

“Yes.” And you may be over-reacting. And also what do you mean if I am sure! I have been speaking French since I was a kid, you bitch!

“What nonsense!” I exclaimed.

“Well, it is what it is.” You reaction, my friend, is the real nonsense.

Why? Why? Why would you call a number that way? What can be the logic behind this? I asked this question to French native speakers as well (There’s an app called ‘Speaky’ which lets you do that) They replied the same, “It is what it is.” But I couldn’t accept it. What is the point, really? Don’t cross that border, honey. We can’t figure out the point of our lives and you are asking about some puny nombres (numbers)? 

But I was indeed deeply baffled by this and at the end of it, I simply couldn’t accept it. So, I coined new French terms. I know I sound bête (stupid). But I will present my inventions to you anyway;

Seventy would now be called, the term is inspired by Joey FYI, Daplupoint (pronunciation:  da-plu-paw-nt)

Eighty – Paplupoint (pa-plu-paw-nt)

Ninety – Laplupoint (La-plu-paw-nt)

Of course, I haven’t put this proposal formally to the world yet. But whenever I do, I am hoping for the successful inclusion of these terms. Until then, do keep these new terms in mind, they might pop up in the French dictionary anytime. And yes this is how you SHOULDN’T learn French.

Merci beaucoup! À bientôt ! I will be back with more blogs on this soon!

Glossary:

    1. Octobre – October
    2. Jolie – Lovely
    3. monde – World
    4. Bien sûr – Of course
    5. Courriel – Email
    6. Tu – You (Informal)
    7. Dois – Present Conjugation of Devoir which means must
    8. Apprendre – To learn
    9. Français – French
    10. En fait – In fact
    11. Vois – Present Conjugation of Voir which means “to see”
    12. Merde – Damn
    13. Cœur – Heart
    14. Et – And
    15. Tête – Head
    16. Jours – Days
    17. Soir – Evening
    18. Vie – Life
    19. Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre, Cinq, Six, Sept, Huit, Neuf & Dix – One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine & Ten
    20. Onze, Douze , Treize, Quatorze, Quinze, Seize, Dix-sept, Dix-huit, Dix-neuf, Vingt – Eleven,Twelve,Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty
    21. Trente, Quarante, Cinquante , Soixante, Soixante –dix, Quatre- vingts, Quatre-vingt-dix – Thirty, Forty, Fifty, Sixty, Seventy, Eighty, Ninety
    22.  Nombres – Numbers
    23. Bête – Stupid
    24. Merci – Thank you
    25. Beaucoup – Very much
    26. Àbientôt –  See you soon

***

Sex, Orgasm, Atoms and the Universe

“I bet you get a lot of action.” I winked at her expecting her vibrant blush. Instead she replied as if it was a matter-of-fact, “True. It’s like a habit now. I can’t even remember when it all started. You know, I can’t even count my ex-boyfriends anymore,” she chuckled. “Wow. That many?” I replied.  “Yes and there are those guilty flings as well.” How could she say things like that in such a casual manner? I looked around ensuring that nobody was overhearing our conversation. The café was practically empty and the sole waiter was busy ogling at this girl who was sitting on a faraway corner. “Wow! So, with so many options what’s been your best experience so far?” I asked her teasingly.

“Sexually?”

“Uh-huh…”

“Hmm…Let me think”, she thought for a moment and resumed excitedly, “So there was this time; the best night of my life. In fact that night changed my life.  And I am not exaggerating. Ugh! That orgasm! That orgasm surpassed anything I had ever felt. It was more amazing than amazing, you know! I mean you cannot just call it amazing. It was beautiful beyond imagination.” She looked at my face and tried to ease my confusion, “Let me try to elaborate…What’s the smallest thing that you can think of? A dust particle? Now, they tell you that your smallest thing is nothing compared to atoms. In fact a dust particle houses thousands of atoms. You nod. You are like okay. But can you really imagine that? That something as small as a dust can house thousands of even smaller particles! But they don’t stop there. Atoms have further smaller particles! What the fuck! But wait, this doesn’t stop here even! Atom’s smaller particles have further smaller particles. These things blow my mind. I can’t imagine it. I can’t go beyond the bloody dust particle. For me, that is atom.”

I sat mystified by how my question about sex had her discussing about quantum physics. As if knowing exactly what I was thinking, she added, “Worry no more. Here comes the analogy. We take facts for what they are even when we can’t see it, even when we can’t imagine it. That night…that night I could finally imagine the unimaginable. I could finally magnify that scale. I could finally see beyond the dust. Until then orgasm had just been this supposedly amazing thing. Then it became the amazing thing. It stopped being the dust; it went on to become the atoms, the protons, the neutrons, the quarks.”

I was finding it a bit hard to digest the analogy but she continued anyway, “Okay, I will leave physics out of this. I will tell you the best part – that night, I laughed like a mad man. I know it’s weird and it has never happened to me before and since – but I was indeed laughing so hard and this spasm, this colossal spasm simultaneously traversed across my body. And it coupled with my laughter in such a way that the waves resonated, you know. So, the amplitude got even higher! I climaxed along with my cheek muscles, my weird chuckling voice, my lips, my stomach movements – you know, how your stomach moves when you laugh, my heart beats – my laughing heartbeats! It went on for a long time.” She paused and closed her eyes for a moment as if savoring the memory and continued, “But it wasn’t the end of it. I came again. And again. And again. And again. I exploded like a big bang. Pieces of me scattered all over me like the pieces of universe. Never before had I witnessed something so beautifully shattering. I was ready to die with that explosion and it felt as if my life was complete. And in that moment it really was. Nothing could match the emotions I felt then. Happiness, hope, love. Love – one of the rare times when I actually felt it. I cannot describe the intensity. I fell in love with myself then. It was madness! My orgasm ricocheted not just across my loins, it was the origin of it, yes, but it traveled all the way up and down; from my head to my toe. To my navel, to my chest, to my heart, to my thoughts, to my dreams, to my self-esteem. It traveled to those realms as well! Can you believe that? Those were not merely repeated convulsions! Those were much powerful than that!  I had no idea that I had the capability to feel that way. And you know how the astronomers say how there are traces of big bang still spread across our universe? Like that I have traces of that night spread across me still. Often it invokes in me a feeling of longing. And I often wonder what if I never experience something like that again. But I am okay with that. I mean I would love it if I could go a level up too and explore further but I am not going to pressurize anyone or myself. Most of the amazing things happen just once in our lives, like this day right here, that’s what makes it more special. Doesn’t it? So, I am okay with this separation and linearity as well.  The memories mostly inspire me. They tell me that I am worth being sunk in those gigantic waves. That I am worth witnessing that power. That I am worth feeling that way. I deserve nothing less. It’s ironic – this statement. But it keeps my spirit high and makes me respect myself more. Ah, that night though! That night – it was infinity. It was the circle of life. It was subatomic particle. It was the eternity of universe.”

“Boy!” I muttered as I sat enraptured imagining what I couldn’t possibly imagine. ‘Atoms’, you know, as someone would like to call it. But I kind of wished that she had explained the whole scenario from the beginning and not just the end point. So, I added quietly hoping that she’d address my remote but yet influential perverseness as well by giving a few insights on how to traverse and find the road whose destination was so magical, “The guy, the guy that you slept with that night, MUST have been really good.”

“Absolutely! Except that there wasn’t one.”

***