I was scrubbing dishes late into the night. It had been a tiring day like any other. Wiping the perspiration from my forehead I egged on. My mind kept racing back to what had been the talk of the town. Every one in the village had said they would be there. They had been preparing for a whole month – sewing new clothes, buying shoes, eating less in the hope of looking better… That night all the shops had stayed open late to entertain the excited crowds.

I looked at the pile of dishes, the mess around me and the untidy floors and sighed. My clothes were no better – old rags literally. Even if I managed to go somehow, how would I look? They would mistake me for a maid surely. I had seen some of the robes the women had gone to great lengths to ready. They were exotic and sparkly and elegant. Their hair looked stylish and so did their skin. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

I decided I was not going to lie in wait for a fairy godmother this time. She can’t be there forever 😉

Putting together some decent clothes and shoes and makeup, I forgot about my chores and walked down the street to see what it was all about. The palace glowed in lights of purple, red and gold. There were tall dancers dressed in white welcoming people and swaying to classic melodies. I walked in admiring their beauty and watching all the men and women transformed gracefully by the ambience.

Within the walls, the palace was huge with a dark red corridor leading in. It was lined with portraits of old kings and queens. At the end it opened into the grounds at the center of which was a large barn with food and drink. Everyone was there enjoying it all and dancing in their loved ones’ arms. I grabbed a drink (or two) and danced for a long time. On either side were lounges for tired legs to rest and more food and drink. It happened to rain every now and then. But nobody noticed.

Over a 1000 people had assembled that night. I made many new friends and reconnected with some old ones from the village. There were people from other towns, even from faraway lands who had come hearing about the grandeur of this place. The time flew by and somewhere I heard the clock strike 3. I realized how tired I felt and decided to retreat. It was still drizzling. Walking back to my humble home down the village, I turned to look at this dream one last time. It looked as majestic as before, still glowing like a big jewel.

I tried to find words to capture that night. But nothing did justice. So I call it whatever everyone called it – “The INSEAD summer ball, Chateau of Fontainebleau”

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The entrance to the chateau and the tall dancers.
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The lounge.
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The corridor leading in.