Jet – setters and french etiquette

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Summer evenings in Delhi are usually unbearably hot. But on the exotic dinner at my friend’s House. it suddenly turned plesant. His elegantly cosy apartment in vasant kung – opens onto a vast lawn. There is a wisp of a wind blowing about as we sit outside. This is not one of our host’s packed-to-the-brim soirees. Many of the usual suspects are missing:the summer exodus hasalready begun. A couple on our table who are leaving for a cruise along the Turkish and Greek isles that very night,gulp down dinner before discreetly making their way to the door.
Naturally, the topic of conversation diverts to travel plans, this summer and beyond. And, out pops the strapped-down competitive streak. Name-dropping is rapidly being replaced by place-dropping. Now that burgeoning middle classes are on the move( the-have-money-will-travel syndrome)the snobby sort, who recoil from places the hordes have already “discovered”, haveto ferret out ever more elusive and exclusive destinations.It’s not easy for these avant-garde travellers, currently suffering from the ” been there done that” malaise: a certain fatigue has set in.Where are the poor BTDTs to go when it is increasingly difficult to go where few have gone before?
Doing Turkey and Greece,Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises and even Alaska or Scandinavian fjords,was the big thing a few years ago for the more cosmopolitan
lot.(I must add that the couple that night was not embarking on the much-trammelled route: for them, only the out-of-the-way, least-frequented isles would do.)A slow boat down the Mekong in Combodia; following the Ho Chi Minh trail between the two Vietnams; a quick sortie to Xion in China to see the army of terracotta soldiers in the wake of the recent, marvelliously curated exhibition in the British Museum in London; might separate the BTDTs from the rest.But only for a brief spell before the others catch on: their pockets might be new but they are as, if not more, deep.
So, where is the tony lot now heading to? Whenever I want to find answers to questions like this i turn to my good friend, a jet-setter with insatiable wanderlust. “Look,it is so crowded now,” She says, with a sigh. ” Airports have become like train stations.Ooofs, those arrival and departure lounges, terrible.The only way out is to go by private jet or corporate-share jet”
These few corporate houses has made the difference. The world has certainly become their oyster,just as the British before the sun setdefinitively on their empire. The international elite used to follow the seasons,converging at the same happening spots on the shrinking globe: Cape d’Antibes, St Barts, Mykonos…….
Well, mare wealth,especially freshly minted, won’t get you into the inner sanctums of the elite. Nor will it give you a permanent seat in this rarefied circuit. There are unwritten rules of the game – of codes of behaviour, to be cracked to move up social ladders of all kinds.
Savvy entrepreneurs have cottoned on to this need. A relatively new breed of experts playing Cinderella’s fairy godmother to the upwardly mobile, both men and women, are also flourishing.It’s not just about looks and grooming and getting accents right. These wands are being used to change the way people conduct themselves – from the way they walk, talk and converse.
it’s not just Indian thing. A French friend who spent many years in Delhi as the spouse of aFrench diplomat recently opened an Ecole Francaise De La Courtoisie( French Courtesy School) in the heart of Paris, initially targeted at globtrotting businessmen and professionals(including Chinese and Indian).
It increasingly caters to the French to reclaim the old social graces and etiquette that are rapidly disappearing from much of French society.


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