See you again!
At the Ambassador’s Travel Awards Soiree recently, presided over by the Ambassador of France, Francois Richier, the Mumbai travel industry as well as a clutch of travel writers and journalists bade farewell to Catherine Oden, director of Atout France. The sentiment of sadness and regret was palpable as people who had grown close to her in this, her second stint in India, said their goodbyes even as champagne flutes clinked with typical French hospitality. Oden will be sorely missed, that is certain. For there are few who have immersed themselves in portraying their own country while delving headlong into the resident country, in this case India. She embraced India with love and made us love France in return. Even on this evening of goodbyes, she sported a red embroidered kurta and churidar with a flair that could only be French and a comfort that was remarkably Indian.
Oden has graced the pages of Verve on many occasions and has been a friend to the magazine and to the Verve team. Her innate efficiency, her perfect charm and her ability to make France a part of the Verve experience have endeared her to us. Her attitude to life in Mumbai can be understood in this quote from an interview in the magazine in 2010, nine months after she embarked on her second India stint. “India is quite overwhelming,” she said. “….with experiences of all flavours – spicy, sweet and sometimes sour. But I would like to keep the sweet ones forever in my memory. Some experiences have been very hectic and challenging. And yet, everything seems to fall into place even if it is at the very last minute. So, one must have a very strong heart….” And while Oden kept a firm and strong heart, she melted those of the people she met and worked with, ending up with friends rather than colleagues and business associates.
We wish her all the best in her next posting in China and hope to follow her inevitable success there…. So, Catherine, this is in fact au revoir and not goodbye! See you soon!