Monday, May 5, 2008

Day 82 – Uno!

After the soccer match Julie and Thierry came down, together with their friends Sara and Jacques, to play Uno. You all know this game, right? What you may not know is that the family has taken Uno to new levels of sophistication, and they are so devoted to the game that they had their own cards printed a few years back. In the back you see many of their names, and the photos are those of the family! From top left in the clockwise direction you have Yvette and Roger in the number 8, Alexis in the 0, Loïc in number 1, and Auréle in number 2.

They have also added many new twists and rules to the game, to make it faster and more challenging. The one that had me floored is “plus vite que toi”. Say there is a 5 red on the table, and I am getting ready to put down a 5 green on top of it. Someone else who has a 5 red can bypass my turn by slapping the card on the table while saying “plus vite que toi” (“faster than you”), or they can slap an 8 red and a 3 red while saying plus vite que toi sustraction, or a 2 red and a 3 red with the sing song plus vite que toi addition, or 8 red/3 red combination followed by a 2 red/3 red combination while saying plus-vite-que-toi-sustraction-plus-vite-que-moi-addition. The end result is a frantic game in which everyone is shouting in super fast French, hands and cards flying everywhere. I had no chance playing with the professionals. There were times when Thierry and Alexis would dominate the game, exchanging turns like ping-pong players, while everyone else waited paralyzed for a turn to play. Of course the whole event was animated by raucous laughter and lively discussions about the many additional rules, so it was no surprise that the game extended to 4 am. Wow!

In the photos you see Sara, and Jacques and Thierry (they are cousins).

Alas, there was no chance to sleep late, because Auréle was expecting the arrival of a friend, Samir, who was coming from Paris to Geneve to attend a congress. He arrived, and we were getting into conversation when Nura called: she had spray-painted the chairs of the kitchen, while still in the kitchen, and now there were flecks of paint all over! Auréle made consoling noises and said that we would come help, so we sent Samir to his congress and got La Coccinelle out of the garage to combine driving practice with the rescue mission. But we had underestimated Nura’s independent spirit. She called as we were living, saying that she was not quite ready for us, and would we please take an hour driving practice before coming to her place. OK, so we drove around for an hour, and then arrived with our bucket and cleaning implements. I had expected to find her in jeans and an old t-shirt, scrubbing at the walls. Nope! Her apartment was immaculate, all traces of the bright pink paint she had used had disappeared (except maybe for an unusual pink tinge to her feet), and she was dressed all chic and ready to receive visitors. A most remarkable young woman!

To celebrate the return to normality we went for a drive in the countryside. It was absolutely gorgeous! The peculiar thing about Europe, and characteristic of Switzerland, is that you can be ten minutes out of a big city like Geneve and suddenly you are in a dreamland rural setting. Narrow roads take you through fields of flowers and quaint little hamlets, which shine against the background of the snow-clad massif of Mont Blanc or the Jura mountains. Unfortunately I forgot the camera at home (you see, we were ready to spend a few hours scrubbing paint), so you don’t get to see this wonderland.

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