Memories are made of this

For the first time this term, our entire class of 50-odd was seated in the most uncomfortable of amphithéâtres yesterday ready for instruction by a particularly pompous professor, who likes to talk a lot without saying much at all. We spent half an hour listening to him explain how to form appropriate tutorial groups – it really could’ve been condensed into a one-second sentence, “Two groups, please” – after which he thanked us, stood, and said jovially, “A deux semaines plus tard, si l’université existe encore !”

WHO welcomes students back just to form tutorial groups and to say that he’ll see them two weeks later, if the university’s still standing?! Franchement, ça devient ridicule. I almost prefer last year’s strikes, when at least we weren’t fooled into expecting an education. Back then, if the crazy student union body wasn’t barricading the doors shut with their crazed bodies, it was because riot police in fully-articulated battle gear were standing guard around the Sorbonne’s entrances. Like ludicrous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles extras, they stopped people from entering, first kindly, shrugging and blowing raspberries in commiseration with the students, then threatening to throw cameras away if people took pictures of them.

Ah, nostalgia. Thinking about what seems like our very own dedicated CRS (Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité, a company in the police force – they were there so often in such great numbers, I felt quite flattered for my school) reminds me fondly of a friend. She was once overcome enough by their masculine presence to forget basic vocabulary. In as conspiratorially friendly a tone as possible, she asked one of them “Vous êtes chaud ?” All rigged out in protective plating as he was, she’d meant to ask if he felt hot, but had ended up asking him if he was horny instead. “Euh… Oui.. ? ” he ventured.

Heehee. Well, well. Even despite the many fruitless trips to and from school, it’s a great time to be here. An oriole just started singing outside because it’s past 6 pm and the sun’s still out! (Wow! …) Really though, on the way in, I spied tendrils of springtime green creeping bashfully across the courtyard pavement. How nice that the worst of winter – also the worst of winters in what, 30 years? – is finally over.

Kind of ironic, then, that once exams ended last semester, I hurriedly hied myself a continent away to the harshest period of an even colder winter. I’m hardly complaining though! Because in addition to spending precious time with people dearly missed (and besides learning what -4 degrees feels like in Fahrenheit – Centigrade’s for wimps!), I also learnt how to skiiii…

The quickest way to learn how to ski is when your alternative is to fall off the slopes and die. It’s also when you desperately want not to embarrass yourself in front of your instructor/slave-driver. With my spectacular (ie horrifying and pouffy) red ski suit and snow-spewing spills, I certainly didn’t succeed in not embarrassing myself. I also contrived to get my long-suffering host knocked over by the ski lift, winding him thoroughly just for good measure. Haha! I’m so sorry! That was Really Embarrassing. =[

To be fair to me though, none of this would’ve happened if he hadn’t duped me onto the ski lift in the first place. “You’re a natural! I want to bring you up to the top – it’s really beautiful. Don’t worry, you’re ready!”

Such a sweet-talker, my friends! I didn’t even understand the extent to which I had been suckered until one of his house-mates almost fell off her chair, learning at dinner that he’d brought me up to the intermediate slopes within our first two hours. He himself had only gone up the beginner slope on his third ski trip..

Hahahahaha. I’m only eternally grateful of course. So instructive, his instructions; so encouraging, his encouragement! =] It must’ve been quite a puzzling day; I had to concentrate on figuring out how to remain vertical so much of the time that I hardly said a word. It was great fun though to observe the seasoned skiiers zipping down the slopes almost lazily, or the racers making hairpin turns around markers in their time trials. I spent the first few hours tumbling off ski lifts and eating snow by the catapult-ful while the very young and the very old whizzed by, with my ever-patient instructor waiting ever-patiently. He even managed to somewhat answer his friend’s question about homework before reception gave out (“Actually, I’m skiing, call you back later?” HAHA) while I extracted myself from knee-deep in a snowbank that I’d skiied confidently into.

By the end of the afternoon though, I could adopt a semi-crouch approximating a proper skiing position, push off down a long slope, knuckles white and knees trembling, trying my darndest to concentrate on the figure elegantly gliding his leisurely way down just ahead while the wind whipped the hair in my terrified face. I reached the foot of the last two slopes not having fallen once: a jelly-soft mess, but an exhilarated, contented jelly-soft mess. The quickest way to learn how to ski after all is not to be afraid to try, and he certainly taught me that.

The view from up there – worth every toe, thigh, back and upper-arm muscle ache. It was such a brilliant day too; we got pleasantly sunburnt. Okay this photo doesn’t do it justice at all, but I didn’t dare get any closer to the brow of this black slope. Snow’s slippery!

So that was how I spent my first weekend in Ithaca, going up and tumbling down and around the mountainsides. Actually, getting to and back from Geek Greek Peak was an adventure in itself, but that’s one of the things I’ll save for my other, top-secret diary.

(It doesn’t exist.)

(At least not online.)

Ah well, good times, good times. =] And so beneficial too! I’m off to Venice and the Italian Alps this Saturday, well-prepared for a week’s skiing only by his infinite patience and indulgence.

Dangle, dangle. Muffled by the bountiful snow, everything’s so quiet way up there, you could hear a heart sing..


~ by grossomodo on February 18, 2009.

2 Responses to “Memories are made of this”

  1. hmm, so much fun, and such spectacular views, knowing what little justice a flat, 2-D photo does to the real thing…
    and more on the way…
    sounds like this sideline is becoming like main line, and main line (of work) becomes byline, what with pompous prof, hot & horny riot police, and still feeling quite flattered, for good measure…..
    after Italy, maybe a little bit of main line again??
    meantime, have more fun…


  2. HEEHEE =D Thanks Daddy my faithful commentor! Just got to Treviso and had a marvellous Italian dinner.. Venice tomorrow! Will concentrate on school after that.. after skiing after that.. after eating tonnes of pasta and pizza.. Heh can’t wait till you guys come back to Europe!! ❤

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