September 16, 2010
Boarding School Indulgences
The other day, I couldn't resist taking a sip from my son's Ovomaltine. I hadn't drank one in years. It is a Swiss chocolate malt powder drink that my parents used to encourage us to drink because it allegedly has 13 vitamins! They used to order it for breakfast at their hotel when they visited us in Geneva,where we were at boarding school. We used to sneak a few extra sachets to enhance our otherwise boring cafeteria breakfasts. Today's Ovomaltine sip reminded me of those small indulgences in boarding school.
Another one was going to the corner grocer on fridays, on our way from the dorms to school, to buy a sandwich of Tomme. Tomme is a Swiss type of Brie. Those sandwiches replaced the mandatory fish that was served on fridays in a Catholic school. These tomme sandwiches also made for a good iftar, hidden beneath our desk in study period when we looked at our watches that finally indicated sunset. On the way to the corner grocer was a residence with a garden and a dog. The big dog was always locked up behind the gates and would always bark at us. I would bark back and tease him, till the random day the gate was open and I ran for my life in the snow, the dog coming right after me.
Indulgences were not always food related. Throughout my three years there, and long before I read Le Monde voluntarily (my economics professor used to quizz us on distributed articles taken from Le Monde), my father subscribed me to Paris Match. I was very adamant about being the first one to read the weekly gossip. My girlfriends would snatch it from me right after I finished.
It was these little pleasures that made living far away from family more pleasant. Sharing them with close friends was what brought us more intimate in our very first experience of independence.