...then slowly the Lake Geneva and the distant mountains came into view. It looked serene. And the green, grass filled plateau, and hills with huge houses and acres of land surrounding, green and bare(no trees, no garden. Just bare green grass). The whole country is hilly. We changed train at Bern and slowly moved towards Interlaken. Interlaken, between two lakes and the distant snowcapped mountains all around had a tranquility it. We took the next train to Grindelwald from Ost and slowly climbed from 500m to 1050 mts. There was Grindelwald village quietly lying in lap of Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau. Small wooded houses and the small town look. We were late and so missed much activity the first day. We utilised the time to find out what we can do the next day and found out that we need to either take a Ski class or rent Ski equipment and go up to First. We chose the latter. The night atmosphere was sleepy, a small town at night with all the shops closed and people strolling sleepily to there hotels. Suddenly out of nowhere a group of people materialised with all the band instruments. They stopped right in the middle of the town and started their music. The whole atmosphere changed. People stopped and gathered around the band, people in nearby hotels came out to the balcony to see that the hell’s going on. Well unknown people, undefined, loud music, some dancing, foots tapping and reverberating sound. I felt this was life. Un-analysable, undefinable. Just existing and nothing more. Life.
Got up early, got ready and went for a stroll. The mountain ranges at dawn, the quiet atmosphere. Posted some postcards to home and relatives.
Rented Ski equipment. Understood how to wear it etc. Bought the SkiPass. Then went up the Gondola to First. First trip on a Gondola!!!! It takes you to heights so fast. Took a lot of photos. At First the view was spectacular. Snow everywhere. Glistening in the sunlight. Huge mountains, heights, depths and covering snow. Tried skiing and fell once, twice, thrice and gave up. Forget Skiing.
The ambience there was unbelievable. People, experts in Skiing, taking the lift up and Skiing down and immediately taking the lift again for the next round. Before starting back talked to one Andreas who owns a bungalow, portions of which he rents. He advertised a bit about his place and spoke also about his trips to Kerala, Trivandrum and Kochi. His parting comment was about Business: "We are not good businessmen. Bloody, you Indians should make damn good businessmen. More than even the Jews, I have seen. An Indian family will arrange everything and finally when they land at you place and they will say "Let’s discuss the price once more. You know I have these kids to feed etc"
Oh my God! I just picturised that. These Indians, touring Switzerland talking about trouble to feed kids.
Returned to Grindelwald and took the train back to Geneva. Called up home and conveyed a verbal picture of Switzerland, knowing very much how limited words can get.
Walked to the lake at Geneva lake and back to the Airport. Back to Brussels and normal life. Life goes on..
In the 4th country at the age of 23!
From the moment I landed I saw a different picture of Europe. More people for starters. More filth, dirt, cracked streets, cars passing red signal without another thought. Compare it to Brussels where as in many other countries, on zebra crossings without a signal, the cars have to stop for pedestrians! The two faces of Rome were intriguing. The Caesarian Face and the Catholic Face. The interesting thing being the Roman who pursued Christ and Christians and who crucified the Lord, had in later part of history, seen the city connected to their name inhabiting the power center of Catholic Christian world - The Vatican. I loved viewing the Caesarian Collossium and the Catholic St. Peter's Basilica. One impressive by it's age and the other it's visual magnificence, the talent of Michaelangelo et al. Will never forget the tiring climb to the Cupola (dome) of St. Peter's Basilica - round and round the dome through a stairway narrow enough to just let one person go through. From up there whole of Vatican can be seen - the smallest state in the world.
Paris city looks good from up here. The vast city, the Seine snaking through, the tall buildings of the Esplanade, Arc du Triomphe, and the infinite small and big buildings. All visible from up here. I am on top of the Eiffel Tower. Standing at just below a 1000 feet, theory says I can see 42 miles in either direction. Theory is not exactly what is in my mind right now.
An Indian comes to Belgium Coming out of one's own country is good in many ways. It probably widens one's outlook. It shows one new ways of life, new people. It gives one reason enough to change and to come out of that conservative shell that becomes the normal way of life. Since I have been changing cities in India every five years, it is not entirely new to me. India with it's diversity has more differences than maybe in the whole continent of Europe. But still it felt great landing in Brussels, the center of Northern Europe. Not a bad time to start blogging. :-)
Brussels is not historically a great city. Belgium has an interesting similarity to India. India or parts were ruled by Mughals, British, Dutch, French, Portugese...
Belgium too was ruled by almost everyone in Europe. Well not something to be proud of. But it probably explains the city’s cosmopolitan nature. It is but now slowly gaining stature - It's the capital of Europe, European Union - The headquarters, the Parliament. The geographically central location, the Presidency of EU. A Belgian was recently elected the Olympic commission chairman etc etc. One third people in the city are foreigners. It surprised me to learn that the first king was from Britain and most of the following kings have married from other nations - France, Sweden, Italy.