Trying to organise a surprise barbecue in France I discovered this weekend, is both a tricky and delicate process.
- Firstly there is the surprise element... The surprise victim was Canadian party organiser Court. Unfortunately it is rather difficult to keep a serial party organiser from organising a party when you're trying to organise one for him. I think he smelled a rat or two when I very tactfully asked him to meet me outside a shop at 6pm (about 4 hours earlier than our usual rendevous) and wouldn't tell him why... When I did actually meet him, he then went on to tell me exactly what he suspected we were doing this evening, and hit the nail on the head. He had every detail right, right down to the exact location. Impressive considering...
- we had a few problems getting everyone together at the same place at the same time. Especially when 3 people are doing the main inviting, and all of them tell folk to invite whoever they want. The set barbecue place was at the Bastille (for those of you who do not know Grenoble that is on top of a big hill in the middle of Grenoble). Now there are a lot of possible BBQ spots on top of a hill thus it was decided that meeting on the bottom before getting the cable car up would be a better idea otherwise we would just get lost and waste credit trying to find one another again. Now trying to get people turn up on time was always going to be a problem. People don't eat in France on average till at least 8. In fact restaurants aren't even open until 7 in the evening. But we were wanting to start while it was still daylight. And then there's the face that in France when you tell people to meet you at a certain place you have to add another half an hour on in your head. The Germans were the only people to arrive at the arranged rendevous on time... :)
- Then there was the getting hold of a BBQ and getting it in a tiny cable car up to the top of a mountain. Unfortunately disposable BBQs don't seem to be too common here, so after a lot of ringing around we thought we'd got hold of 2, and then lost them half an hour before expected rendevous. Our fortune turned when we stepped out of the tram in front of Monoprix (the Marks and Sparks of France) and decided to go in "just to check" since we had 5 minute till rendevous time.
- Now the weather in Grenoble has gotten ridiculously warm of late. Yesterday in the afternoon the temperature was over 30 degrees celsius. A little too much for a Scot like me (even one with Sri Lankan genes). We were expected good weather for the BBQ but climbing up the mountains as the sun began to set, winds began to pick up in both directions, which meterology expert Hannah informed us was normal due to hot air from the valley coming in contact with cold air from above (or something along those lines :P) I had to hold my couscous down with my fork to stop it flying off my plate.
- Oh and just so you know, there are no lights in the mountains.
All in all a quality experience, a good meal, 10 nationalities represented, awesome view... doesn't take much to make me smile :)
Surprisingly all that organising (followed by silly dancing till silly hours) seemed to have little effect on my level of awakeness at church the next morning, managed to maintain wakeful cheeriness in fact until that awful post-lunch period. Unfortunately I spent several hours lunching with three generations of an Italian french family and thus was very very very well fed! Weighed down by the contents of my stomach I struggled to maintain adequate communication levels in conversation on this hot Sunday afternoon, acutely aware of the rapid deterioration of my french linguistic skills, and trying as hard as I could to concentrate on adult conversation whilst being highly in demand as chosen playmate for the only member of the third generation (age 3).
If there's a lesson in any of this ramble it's this... When you organise a BBQ in Grenoble, tell everyone to come an hour earlier than when you actually want them to come (everyone that is except Germans), don't have it in a mountain and if you make it a surprise for someone, don't pick the habitual party-organiser. There is a time to be silly and a time to be sensible (re:bedtime).