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  • Writer's pictureAditi

Bonjour- Namastey!

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

“Laurent, lunch is ready,” Archana called from the kitchen.

“Ok, Jaan, I’ll be there in a second,” Laurent replied from the study room.

“Bébé à table,” Laurent called out for their daughter, Aurélie. She had her nose buried in a book for over an hour.

“Aurélie, please set the table,” Archana said.

“Alright Mamina,” Aurélie smiled.

Aurélie calls her mother, ‘Mamina’ instead of Mumma. When Aurélie was little, her mother used to call her ‘Babina’. As Aurélie began to talk, she would call her mother ‘Mamina’.

Aurélie and Papa stood at the dining table and stared at the delicious Chole-Bhature Archana had lovingly prepared.

“Jaan, can I help you with anything?” asked Laurent as he entered the kitchen.

She pecked him on his cheek and said, “No, Darling, everything is already on the table.”

“Why didn’t you call me? I could have given you a hand,” he replied.

“It’s fine, dear, I know you have a big meeting coming up and you need to prepare for it. Now let’s eat before everything gets cold,” Archana smiled.

During lunch, their daughter, Aurélie asked, “Mamina, what is the special occasion today? How come we are eating Chole Bhature?”

“Well, Darling, today is August 26,” Archana beamed.

“What’s so great about August 26?” she asked curiously.

“Today is the day your Papa and I met for the very first time,” she said, looking at Laurent, squeezing his hand from under the table.

“Oh! Wow! How did you both meet anyway?” Aurélie asked widening her eyes. “I mean how on earth did a French man end up marrying an Indian woman?”

“Aurélie, why don’t we first finish eating this delicious lunch, and we'll talk about it over dessert,” Laurent suggested.

After eating a scrumptious lunch, the couple helped each other clear up the table and wash the dishes. Laurent was known to be a kind, loving, down to earth man who tried his best to help his wife is whatever way he could.

Soon, the family of three sat in the drawing room with a big tub of vanilla ice cream. One by one, they took a bite and passed the tub around.

“Now can you tell me the story,” Aurélie pleaded.

“Yes, yes, of course!” Archana smiled and looked at Laurent wondering if he would like to share their story.

“No, you tell her our story, Archana. You’re more dramatic than I am,” he laughed.

Archana rolled her eyes and said, “Well, it all started in February 2006. Your papa arrived in India for work. He was a scientist working at an MNC. And he was somewhat lonely and wondered how to make friends. So he registered himself on a matrimonial website called Bharat Matrimonial. One day, he sent me a private message on the Bharat matrimonial website. I guess he was impressed with my profile,” she giggled.

“What was written in your profile,” asked Aurélie.

“A degree in psychology and an MBA. Parents are from an army background. But you know what Aurélie, the first thing that I noticed on her profile was her smile,” Laurent said.

“Then what happened?” Aurélie said.

Laurent and Archana exchanged looked and grinned at each other.

“Well, I gathered all ny courage and finally I sent her a message, but I didn’t get a reply,” Laurent explained. ‘I patiently waited and then after a while your mother finally replied. I think she was just being cautious. I guess her curiosity got the better of her and she just couldn’t resist. After that we spoke every day for the next six months. I have to admit she did find it difficult to understand my french accent.”

Aurélie sat on the couch, all ears and grinning like a Cheshire cat, “Then what happened?”

“Then we decided that it was time for us to meet,” Archana added.

“We met at the Dwarka Hotel in Hyderabad. I still remember your mother was wearing a pink salwar kameez and had gracefully draped a pink dupatta along with it,” continued Laurent.

“But you know the funny part is, I got cold feet. I didn’t tell your Nani and Nana that we would meet a man who could turn out to be my husband. I took them along with me, and only forty minutes later I told them about your Papa,” said Archana. “So, Nana was left with no other option and agreed to meet him.”

“They must have been so taken aback!” Aurélie said excitedly. “Then, what happened?”

“Well, then I saw your Papa for the very first time in person. I thought to myself, Wow this guy is so fair, cute, and so teddy bear-like. He looked extremely handsome in his beige trousers and light yellow shirt, which made his face glow even brighter. That’s when I decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Nana spoke to him for about an hour and your Nani didn't as she couldn’t speak in English,” Archana said.

“But I was very confused, your Mamina didn’t tell Nani and Nana about me. I got only 5 minutes to speak to her alone and that was scrutinized by both of them,” Laurent sighed.

“Go on then! What happened next?” Aurélie asked anxiously.

“Then we thought we would meet the next day. But Nani said that we are fasting for Karwa Chauth, so no food, no water, and for me going out in the sun will not be good as I was not in very good health because I was in the hospital for three months for having bad attack of Jaundice prior to our meeting,” replied Archana.

“So you both never met after the first meeting?” Aurélie asked, sounding confused.

“You see, darling, Nana made it very simple. He requested your father for a week and as they had another proposal in mind for me,’ Archana said.

Aurélie immediately turned her head towards her Papa, “Then?”

“So I worked my charm, and I started calling Nani and Nanu every day to check how they were doing. I even spoke about my side of the family. That did the trick,” Laurent grinned.

“They were convinced that your Papa is a family-oriented gentleman, and he won their hearts. And a week later as promised by Nana, he called up your Papa and said YES!”

But what about Mamy and Papy (Laurent’s parents)? Asked Aurélie.

Laurent smiled and said, “They never intervened at all!”

“Wow! And then three years later, I was born,” Aurélie beamed. “I wonder how I could find my husband.”

“Oh darling, you’re only ten years old. You have a long way to go!” Archana said as she kissed Aurélie on her forehead and gave her tight cuddle.

As of today, Archana and Laurent are happily married for the past thirteen years living each day and celebrating their devotedness in France. Their wedding was a wonderful amalgamation of Indo-French cultural traditions with all the goodness of both worlds. Archana can now converse fluently in French although at times she misses the vibe and homemade cooked food from back home in India. But she does add a bit mirch masala here and there; after all, a little desi tadka is mandatory.

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