I have often been asked what is the reason for my blog or Instagram being called AvrilsFoodJournee – well after 3 years of successfully writing under this banner, I guess its time to reveal it.
I guess the story dates to 1992 – I was visiting Bombay along with my grand-parents , parents and uncle. On a trip to the Elephanta caves I had a long chat with a french couple i came across in the restaurant where we were having lunch. We had such a long conversation that my family by that time had toured the entire place. I remember giving my address and collecting some francs and a pen from them. I came back to Kolkata and continued with my day to day life and almost forgot about the them.
A little after I turned 10 that year (in the month of April) I received a huge parcel in my name , and the address seemed to be written in my own handwriting. I had to wait for a few hours before my father returned home as mom was convinced that this was something which could explode as we had just come back from Assam a couple of years back and she thought that the unrest in Assam could have trailed us back to Kolkata.
Finally, when I opened the box it had a handwritten note, a book called (All Paris), a magic mirror, a watch, a perfume. For a girl of 10 this was the like a box of treasure. The hand note said “love, Pat and Daniel”.
The relationship became much more profound over the years and they became like my “god parents”. That’s what they called me – their God Daughter.They were the globetrotter couple,I was lucky to know. Each city they visited a postcard reached me – with details of their visit.
Now when i am grown up and as I travel , I follow their tradition and post something or other to them and a few others we hold closely to our hearts. I received Tulip Seeds from Holland. A postcard from even Pakistan which is still in my treasure box. This was followed by several trips to Kolkata from Paris. It is this relationship which paved my path to learn French.
Avril in French means “April” and journée means day. Since 2005 when I started working and I had to work with people across the globe, I fancied the name Avril Lachaud (Daniel’s surname was Lachaud. In fact I explained it to Daniel and took his permission).
He is always Papa Daniel to me. It’s he who is the foodie, the chef of the house. I still remember him eating chutney and luchi made by granny or the fish with bare hands the day after my marriage. I still remember visiting the boulangerie and fromagerie along with him in Paris. So, here is the background and context where my blog gets its name from. It was spontaneous. As my blog and I were April born and this is an account of my day to day encounter with food and all other experiences – i spontaneously picked “Avrilsfoodjournee”.
Coming back to this couple, I feel deeply connected to .I always carried a wish to visit their home in Paris which eventually came true in 2008. I met Philippe, Rozenne, Manon and Liam. I spent many Sundays visiting Pat and Daniel’s apartment where Philippe and family dropped in and like a big family, eating, drinking till late evening and then heading back to my place.
They have visited each city I have called home – Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata. They were present in my marriage. I still remember Pat wore a White and Red saree my mom had gifted, and Daniel wore a black kurta. Manon is a now a model and works in and out of India. She was the “nit koney” for me.
In 2014 Pat and Daniel visited us in bangalore, we went on a trip to Hampi together. It was memorable. Later they stayed in Baridhara with me. I showed them around Bangalore. We had bier in Pecos, and they really loved the place. One of the evenings we visited “The 13th floor” and later Ebony. We forgot the number of bottles of wine we finished. It was suddenly like growing up and drinking along with the parents. They told me Bangalore was unlike any of the cities they visited in India. Even in that trip they visited Amritsar, Gujarat, Kutch before reaching Bangalore.
In 2018, my first Live on Facebook from NYC earned me a perk. Rozenne connected them with me as they were in New York too. That was merely my first week and I was dependent on Rajarshee for all communication. R and Rozenne connected with each other and I met Pat and Daniel in the hotel lobby of the Wellington. As luck would have it, we met on a Thursday night and they were to fly back to Paris the next day.
They took us to the The Stage Coach Tavern. That was my first stepping into a restaurant experience in New York. There was a game of football going on – but we continued our discussion.
They had been keeping an eye on my social media handles and we spoke from pin to aeroplanes. We spoke and spoke and spoke.
They recounted their several trips to NYC and how much they loved the city, they spoke about their favourite restaurants.After talking over food and dinner, we bade goodbyes to each other, which is always the most difficult thing. Later each time we crossed The Wellington or the Stage Coach, we fondly remembered that rendezvous. I still thank Rozenne and Rajarshee for making it happen.
This morning I woke up to hear the sad news that Pat left us yesterday. Little did I know that evening in NYC, the city they both loved to talk about will be our last meet. In all the 26-28 years I have known her, she always smelt the same. It was interesting to talk to her in English and she quickly translated the same to Daniel in French, with an accent which talked about her roots. Pat was the one who always knew things happening around the globe. She was from Sheffield and she was very interested in Football and followed it keenly.
2020 so far has been tough. But little did I realize that the pandemic will touch a very near and dear one. Until it affects someone close, we don’t understand the ravages. May her soul rest in peace. Each person of my family today shares the grief along with the Lachauds.