Texte de Deborah Moggach


« Ravi hadn't seen his cousin Sonny for years. The man lived in Bangalore(1) for one thing; they had grown up four thousand miles apart. Besides, they had nothing in common. When they met they regarded each other with mutual incomprehension. But Sonny was in London for a couple of days, en route to somewhere or other, and none of the other family members was around to pick up some stuff he had brought over. They had arranged to meet in the lobby of the Royal Thistle Hotel, Bayswater. Ravi spotted his cousin straightaway - a portly man in shirt-sleeves, pacing up and down and shouting into a mobile. The fellow had put on weight. Hard to imagine that he was once a playboy, bopping the night away in the Lotus Room at the Oberoi Hotel, Bangalore, in the company of Bollywood starlets. Still talking, Sonny snapped his fingers at a waiter. "Bacardi and coke, plenty of ice!" Ravi's heart sank. Sonny was a wheeler-dealer, a businessman of boundless energy. Ravi had forgotten how sapping(2) that could be for someone in a fragile state. He longed to go home. Sonny turned. "Ravi old chap!" He barked something into his phone and clicked it off. "Come over here! You look terrible, you poor fellow. Overworking as usual?" "No-" "Don't know how you stand it, your hair's gone grey. You should try the stuff I use, Tru-Tone, I'll get you a bottle, you'll feel a new man." Sonny snapped his fingers again and ordered Ravi a drink. "And you should lose some weight," said Ravi. "You're storing up trouble for later." "Aye, aye, doc." His cousin's face was shiny with perspiration, he had always been a sweaty man. "Think of your heart." Sonny patted his chest. "Sound as a drum." He heaved over a carrier bag and dumped it at Ravi's feet. It said Surinama Silk House. "Mangoes for you and your lady wife. Brought them from Lalit's farm - remember Lalit, your uncle's cousin? The best mangoes in Karnataka." Ravi watched two men cross the lobby. They fetched their keys from Reception. Suddenly, the thought of checking into a clean, empty hotel room was so seductive he nearly swooned. "Flying to Frankfurt tomorrow," said Sonny. "You know Meyer Systems? They're relocating to Bangalore, to our very own Silicon Valley - these tekkies(3), they have their heads screwed on, they all want a piece of the action. You wouldn't recognise the place, yaar(4), you know how much software we're exporting? We have the satellite links, we have the know-how…" He counted on his fingers. "Motorola, Texas Instruments… The world's shrunk, my friend…" Ravi's temples throbbed. Outside an ambulance sped by, its siren wailing. Today he had failed to revive a cardiac arrest. Asthma attack, a young man with newborn twins. The drinks arrived. Sonny was still blathering on. Ravi took a sip of orange juice and put down his glass. "Sonny," he said. "I'm having a terrible time." That he confided in his cousin of all people, a man not overly interested in others, took him by surprise. Once he started, however, the words gushed forth. "Pauline's father's come to live with us, we can't get rid of him and I'm going out of my mind. Last week he set fire to the kitchen. He was boiling up his revolting old hankies in my Le Creuset saucepan, nearly burned the house down. I can't tell you how disgusting he is." Ravi's voice rose. "He strains his tea through the fly-swat(5), he never lifts a finger to help, he drops biscuit crumbs everywhere, I can't stand him, I can't get any sleep, Pauline and I are quarrelling all the time, sooner or later I'm going to have to move out, I can't stand it any more, I think I'm cracking up." »
Deborah Moggach, These Foolish Things, 2005

a) List the characters present in the scene.
b) Among them, identify the main characters.
c) What are their respective jobs? (10 words maximum)
d) How are they related? (5 words max.)
a) In which city does the scene take place? (10 words max.)
b) Explain in your own words the reasons why the main characters are in this city. (15-20 words)
c) Where are they exactly and what are they doing there? (15-20 words)
Focus on the passage from "Ravi hadn't seen…" to "think of your heart."
The narrator portrays Sonny through Ravi's eyes.
3. What can the reader deduce about Sonny's physical appearance in the past? Answer in your own words using elements from this passage. (25 words max.)
4. Describe each main character's physical appearance now. (20 words max.)
Focus on Sonny. Pick out sentences showing that:
a) He is noisy. (1 quotation)
b) He is authoritative. (1 quotation)
c) He is restless. (1 quotation)
d) He is self-confident. (1 quotation)
6. How does Ravi react to Sonny's attitude? (5 words max.)
Focus on the passage from "Sonny patted his chest." to "I'm having a terrible time."
a) Is Ravi paying attention to Sonny's words?
b) What is he doing? (Give three elements) (20-25 words)
8. What does he decide to do at the end of this passage? (10 words max.)
Read the whole text again.
9. Does Ravi's decision come as a surprise to the reader? Quote three elements to justify your answer.
a) Four other members of Ravi's family are mentioned.
Among them, which one is Ravi's main concern at the time of the story?
b) Choose four adjectives from the list below which best apply to that character and justify each chosen adjective with a quotation from the text.
  • dangerous
  • desperate
  • caring
  • dirty
  • uncooperative
  • friendly
  • intrusive
  • rich
c) What incidence does that character's attitude have on Ravi's mood? (10 words max.)
Les candidats de la série S choisiront de traiter l'un des deux sujets au choix (200 mots).
Les candidats de la série L devront obligatoirement traiter les deux sujets (300 mots au total, soit environ 150 mots pour chaque sujet).
1. Ravi comes back home and decides to talk to Pauline's father. Imagine their conversation.
2. To what extent have new technologies changed the world? Give examples.
Seuls les candidats de la série L réaliseront cet exercice.
Traduire en français le passage de "Sonny turned…" à "… trouble for later."
(1)Bangalore : the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka.
(2)Sapping : demoralizing.
(3)Tekkies : experts in technology.
(4)Yaar : (Indian) my friend.
(5)A fly-swat : a flat object for hitting insects.


a) The characters present in the scene are Ravi, Sonny, the waiter and two men.
b) The main characters are Ravi and Sonny.
c) Ravi is a doctor/ works in a hospital.
Sonny is a businessman.
d) They are cousins.
a) The scene takes place in London.
b) Ravi probably lives or works in London whereas Sonny is there for a few days for business (on his way to Frankfurt).
c) They are meeting in the lobby of the Royal Thistle Hotel, Bayswater. They are talking while having a drink.
3. Sonny was probably/ must have been thinner/ slimmer, physically very fit and attractive as Ravi remembers him "a playboy, bopping the night away… starlets".
4. Now Sonny is rather fat, full of energy whereas Ravi looks tired/ unhealthy/ unwell/ unfit and has grey hair.
a) He is noisy:
–"… shouting into a mobile"
–"He barked something into his phone…"
b) He is authoritative:
–"Sonny snapped his fingers at the waiter…"
–"Bacardi and coke, plenty of ice!"
c) He is restless:
–"pacing up and down…"
–"… a businessman of boundless energy."
d) he is self-confident:
–"You should try the stuff I use…"
6. Ravi is depressed/irritated/demoralized.
a) Ravi is not paying attention to Sonny's words.
b) He is watching two men crossing the lobby, thinking of his day at work and dreaming of checking into a clean hotel room.
8. He decides to tell his cousin about his problems.
9. Yes, Ravi's decision comes as a surprise to the reader:
–"… they had nothing in common."
–"… mutual incomprehension..."
–"… a man not overly interested in others..."
a) Ravi's main concern is his father-in-law.
b) dangerous:
–"… he set fire to the kitchen."
–"… nearly burned the house down."
–"… boiling up his revolting old hankies…"
–"I can't tell you how disgusting he is."
–"He strains his tea through the fly-swat."
–"… he drops biscuits crumbs everywhere…"
–"… he never lifts a finger to help."
–"… we can't get rid of him…"
c) He cannot stand it any more/ any longer. He's cracking up. He is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
1. Il faudra penser à présenter le travail sous la forme d'un dialogue (tirets, guillemets, retour à la ligne lorsqu'un personnage prend la parole). Ne pas oublier ce qui s'est passé auparavant et respecter la psychologie des personnages.
2. Obviously new technologies have changed the world, but this is not new. We can say that throughout the ages whenever a new technology was found it changed the world and this is still true today.
Nowadays, when we refer to new technologies we mainly think of new means of communication which offer a wide range of possibilities. The Internet is probably the most important one since it is now available almost everywhere in the world and many people are equipped with computers at home. Sending an email or receiving one doesn't take a long time. Furthermore, if you want to send documents such as photographs or information, you do not have to write a letter, put it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it and go to the post office or find a letterbox to send it and wait a few days for the answer. This can now be done in a split second which is much more convenient, quicker and time saving even if you send it to the other side of the planet.
Moreover, you can also use the web to phone for a very low price compared to wired phones or cellular phones. But, phoning is not the only thing you can do, you can also see the person you are phoning to thanks to the web-cam. Keeping in touch with parents or relatives, whether you simply travel or work abroad is fast and easy.
Not only can people communicate, but they can also find all sorts of information and read the news thanks to their computer.
It's also possible to check bank accounts, look for a job or apply for one and do numerous other things.
Needless to say that for companies, students and individuals, the Internet has changed life and it would be difficult to manage without it now.
Sonny se retourna. « Ravi, mon vieux ! » Il aboya/ vociféra quelque chose au téléphone, puis raccrocha. « Viens un peu ici ! Tu as une sale mine/ tête mon vieux ! Tu travailles trop, comme d'habitude ? »
« Non… »
« Je ne sais pas comment tu fais pour supporter ça. Tes cheveux sont gris maintenant. Tu devrais essayer le truc que je prends, Tru-Tone, je t'en donnerai une bouteille, tu te sentiras un autre homme. » Sonny claqua des doigts à nouveau et commanda un verre pour Ravi.
« Et toi, tu devrais perdre du poids », dit Ravi. « Tu te prépares des ennuis pour plus tard. »