Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The French Are Coming

I've just come out of a meeting with a potential client, who also happens to be French.I booked the venue, which happened to be my favourite eastern restaurant, called The Taj Palace.
I took the liberty of ordering on his behalf. Theres no greater joy than trying to convince a foreign investor that local slate tiles are far superior than the imported variety from his hometown, whilst having him disarmed of a reasonable argument simply because his too focussed on maintaining composure while eating his chicken vindaloo. A vindaloo I might add, which had him turn every Plascon shade of red, perspire like Hugh Grant picking up a hitchhiker at night, and shift uncomfortably in his seat which reminded me of Jacques Villeneuve being overtaken by Michael Schumacher for some reason.

Halfway through the meal, he cocked his eye at me and asked why I was only having a salad.
Hot Chicken Vindaloo : 75 Bucks
Ceasar Salad : 35 Bucks
The look on his face when I said "Oh.. the food here is really too hot for me!" : Priceless!

The meal aside, the meeting went pretty well.
Not that I understood much of what was being said.
Pierre spoke volumes, when he wasnt wiping his forehead. But it felt like a scene from "Lost In Translation". I didnt fully understand half of what he was saying, and the half that I did understand sounded like a Bob Dylan song.
I think the problem was that he was trying to sound African with a French accent to an Indian guy. There were just too many variables there to deal with for one's vocal chords.
What made it worse was that he would always end a phrase with a very punctuated "Dyuu undastaand wataam sayeen?
"Of course I did. But only those 4 words. Everything before that was a haze.
So i'd just politely nod and hope I was reading his body language well, which said to me that everything was just fine. Except for the sweaty forehead and the shifting in his seat, of course.

Have you ever walked away from a rather lengthy conversation, and asked yourself "Damn.. realy, what was he saying?"
Thats what it was. I could have dozed off halfway through the meal, and still be as confused as when we first sat down.
But I couldnt of course let on that I didnt get him. He'd think I was a moron, an incompetent one at that!
So I imagined it was an episode of "Days Of Our Lives."
I imagined that I had missed the previous 15 episodes, but as with all daytime soapies, 10 minutes into it and youre up to speed with what transpired over the last 3 seasons!

We came.
We ate.
I conquered.

Or so I hope.

I've either got a really great contract all wrapped up.
Or he thinks im a salad-eating moron who cant speak any English.

The French are coming!
Secure your women and children!
And bring your translators!