Ambassador Writes U.N. Catnap Guide
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The United Nations is known for its marathon talkfests that can put even the most seasoned diplomats to sleep. Now there’s hope for an antidote.
Former French Ambassador Alain Dejammet has done a service to all his colleagues by writing a 14-page, tongue-in-cheek guide to the best places at U.N. headquarters to escape the boredom and catch a catnap.
``Sleeping at the United Nations,″ a pocket-sized guide in French with a little kitty on the cover, was one of Dejammet’s parting gifts before leaving the post in March for a new assignment.
In the book, the dry-witted ambassador ranks 12 lounges, consultation rooms and sitting areas around the U.N. complex on a scale of 1-20 for their comfort, light, calmness and frequency of use.
Dejammet then gives an overall ranking, ranging from ``ill-advised,″ (known by its symbol of !!!) to ``exceptional″ (which gets a ranking).
``Impression of being in an abandoned monastery, in spite of the snores,″ Dejammet wrote of the periodical room at the U.N. library, which got three stars: very agreeable.
The conference room of the European Union liaison office got high marks for comfort: ``Abundance of coffee and delicious little cakes.″
But it lost points for calmness. ``Even without meetings, a nap can be interrupted at any moment by the sudden arrival of an Eurocrat demanding details of the French position concerning the promotion of rights of young girls in crises affecting landlocked countries,″ he explained.
The U.N. Meditation Room, which sits across the street from U.N. headquarters, got the worst score. Its blue Chagall windows evoke a ``draculesque crypt,″ while the squeaking sneakers of tourists allow for little meditation, he wrote.
Only the French office at the United Nations, which is used for private consultations, earned four stars and the unflinching praise of Dejammet who evoked a Matisse masterpiece in saying it was where everything was ``luxe, calme et volupte.″
``One speaks of old ministers who never reappeared after a conference in the `little bureau’,″ he said nostalgically.
It got marks of 20 all around, ``but the price to pay was the risk incurred of being a member of the French delegation,″ added Dejammet, who himself wasn’t known to have dozed off during long debates or conferences.
The book could be a best seller among U.N. diplomats _ but Dejammet hasn’t disclosed whether he plans to publish it. He first shared it with the French newspaper Le Monde.
Deputy U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg said Wednesday copies had already been circulated and discussed among council members and that she considered it a ``whimsical legacy″ that Dejammet had left behind.
``Every time I go into a corner of the U.N. I will think of Alain Dejammet with renewed delight″ she told reporters. Dejammet was one of the hardest working diplomats at the United Nations ``and no one begrudges him a moment’s rest in a quiet corner where you all can’t find him,″ she said.