When the INSEAD programme started in September, there were still four weeks before my wife and our two daughters were scheduled to arrive. The house we rented in Héricy across the Seine would not be ready until October, so I needed to bridge the gap by living in a little one-room flat in the Hôtel Albe. However, this room was only accessible through a larger room assigned to a Danish participant, and a sumptuous and spacious bathroom.
Half of the hotel was empty when I arrived and people were only gradually moving in as it was the very first day one could do so. I learned from the nametags on the door, that Bertil Byskov and Ilan so-and-so were expected, but Ilan did not show up at all (which is why I could take his place) and there was no sign of Mr. Byskov either. Apparently he has not yet arrived. After flinging my luggage into my room, I fled the lonely compartment and – who would have guessed – had a beer or two in the Café Glaces, where I made friends with some other freshly hatched INSEAD nestlings who were equally lost, far from home and mama.
At about half past eight in the evening, less than three hours later, I got back to the hotel, only to find a note on the door: “Hello, Ilan! Please knock, I’m not alone”. Passing through his room in discreet rush I could not help noticing eight beautifully lacquered red fingernails from a girl’s hands holding up a linen to cover whatever arrangement there was underneath.
I don’t know if anyone keeps statistics on achievements of this kind, but I am pretty certain that Bertil still ranks among the all-time top ten for efficiently attracting female company in the Departement Seine et Marne.