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A good year spent in the land of cheese and chocolates!

Last week, I completed a year’s stay in the land of Alps, cheese and chocolates – Switzerland!          

It’s been the longest I have stayed away from India, even though I have done crazy relocations to different parts of the world earlier. I have no clue where life will take me next, if I do move again, but I do know that this last year has been a very significant one in my life.          

Not everything about my life in Basel, Switzerland is rosy, but the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.  I truly believe that our lives in any place are a function of our attitude to embracing the change, and the people around us. I have moved cities, countries and continents, and have always found wonderful people where I went.  With some of the friends I value, I could live in some godforsaken desert and still be happy 🙂    

I was also very lucky to be born in such a wonderful country like India. I think Indians are inherently capable of appreciating any new place, making a social circle there and adapt to their new environment.          

That said, it is a good time to look back at all the things I like, nay love about Switzerland and Basel (some may apply to most European countries as well).   

I would move from general observations to personal experiences. I would also draw a comparison to India from time to time, and this is not meant to suggest that life in India sucks. Switzerland is hardly the size of Goa, and it is not possible to replicate anything and everything that is good in a European country with far less complexities than India. I could write a book on what I love about India, but it would feel so much better to hear an outsider’s appreciation.          

This is just to have a light-hearted banter,  and to appreciate the good things a foreign county has offered me so far.          

A study in tourism       

The first thing that struck me upon arrival in Zurich, and once I got into a shuttle train that connects the airport to the station, is a sound. It is a sound that I found weird for a nano second, and then broke into a laugh; thankfully it was pretty much the same reaction for other first time Swiss visitors in the train.          

It is the loud moooooooooo sound of a cow, with the sounds of bells to boot! The Swiss let you know without wasting any time, that they are going to play up to the image of the land of cows, cheese, and chocolate 🙂 . It happens only in Switzerland!          

To state that the Swiss are among the most tourist friendly in the world, would be an understatement. This is a country that knows how to market its splendid natural beauty and culture well, but also knows how to expect, plan for, and meet every potential need of every kind of traveler. And do that in a friendly way.          

It is possible to take a train to some random town, land up at the tourist office without a clue on what to do and where to stay, and put your trust in the friendly and well-informed staff at the tourist office.          

It is possible to land up on some trekking trail somewhere, lose your map, and still find your way in  a short while without any fuss.          

If you have more time to plan, you could use a plethora of resource, my favorite being Myswitzerland.com, an excellent portal to plan your Swiss travels . We have these very good “Incredible India” ads, but how good is our tourist infrastructure? It is worth pondering.         

Convenient transportation          

It was’nt that long ago, when daily commutes to office meant a good 1.5 to 2 hours jostling for space in a bus, soaked in sweat and dirt and bearing the noise of honking vehicles. This could apply to most Indians, but to Bangaloreans I can only say Hosur Road, and you know what I mean!          

These days I have a 10 minutes’ walk to work, and a few tram stops covered in 10 minutes to get to the city center. It is a luxury beyond my wildest imagination! Most Swiss cities are fairly small by Indian standards and are incredibly well-connected by train, tram and bus. They almost always run on time, and you could plan your journey online using the SBB website, and be assured of a convenient and comfortable ride to your destination.The trams themselves are fairly old and rickety, but that only adds to the sense of the charm.        

The Number 11 tram at Marktplatz

 

The trains are excellently maintained, spacious, and the wide windows ensure a lovely view of the scenery.          

Train entering Locarno station

 

They have a range of passes and offer cards (called Abonements, or simply abo), that make sure that you don’t spend a fortune. The day I landed in Switzerland, I took my friend Vineet’s advice and got a half fare card, which ensures that all public travel in Switzerland is half price for me. Almost everybody here has it, in addition to other Abos, depending on your frequency of travel.   This public transportation is the backbone of their tourism industry, and as somebody who has always relied on public transportation, Swiss life is a dream come true. (For the record I rate the Delhi Metro, and the BMTC Volvo services in Bangalore as close to international standards among cities I have visited, and the Tokyo metro as the best metropolitan transport system I have ever seen, but Switzerland is the most incredibly well-connected country I have been to!)       

Appreciation of the nature and environment          

I wake up every morning to watch a series of programs on HD Suisse, which I would never get bored of watching.   They have a program called “Swiss View”, which is a view from a camera on a plane or helicopter that just moves slowly across the Swiss mountains, lakes, rivers and villages.  There is another program called “Sunrise Earth” which takes you to a farm or a pasture, in the wee early morning hours. There is no music, but the chirping of birds, or mooing of the cows, as you watch the crimson sun rise.          

As I get ready for a big day at work, I listen to a mild and soothing music, or the chirping of birds, and watch breathtaking images of places that are hardly an hour away. It reminds me every day that I am incredibly lucky to live in one of the better looking corners of our incredible planet.  It also brings back very fond memories, of watching the short “Vande Mataram”, or the slightly longer “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” clips on Doordarshan, way back in the 80s.   

We seem to have very few such clippings on our T.V now that show case our natural beauty. There are few places on earth that can compare to the barren landscape of Ladakh, backwaters of Kerala, colorful desert life of Rajasthan, or the un spoilt beaches on the Konkan Coast.   

How many of us watch the visuals and images on a daily basis, let alone go there?      

This is just one of the many examples to show the appreciation the Swiss have for the land they are blessed with.  

There is very little pollution, garbage littering, cutting down on trees for the sake of industrial expansion.  The lakes and rivers are squeaky clean and the water so sweet to taste.   There is a lot of socializing and partying that happens on the river fronts, or the shores of the lakes. In Basel, we are lucky to have a large and winding Rhine that divides the city into two, interspersed with quaint old bridges. Sitting by the many parks and establishments on the Rhine is a big part of life here, at least in the spring / summer. People take a swim, or wade the waters, but nobody throws junk into the river, or abuses it in any other way.    

They live with a sense of pride for their land, and admiration for its natural resources.        

HD Suisse Swiss view, Wallis:          

Sporty and outdoorsy life         

The Swiss come in various sizes and shapes, but almost all of them get involved with some sort of sports / work out. Most expats here are also bound to do something outdoors / sports oriented, just to fit it, even if you are a lazy bum like me!    

Spring / Summer is usually  a time some for water sports such as swimming / diving, and mountain sports such as trekking / Nordic walking. I am not into water sports, but love the mountains. I did quite a few treks last year, and have started this trekking season last week.          

But the most enjoyable time of my life here was at my tennis club last year (Casino tennis club). Most courts here are clay courts and shut down during the winter, add   most clubs re  – open   around May. It is quite difficult to get into a club, find partners and get slots to play. But once I put in the time, effort and money, and showed some level of skill, I found that people were willing to play with me quite regularly.  

My doubles partner Alex and I , bonded well, and did pretty well at a fun tournament we had at the season end. We even had a poker tournament  and a party to close the season, and by then I knew most members of the club and it was fun. I learnt the rules of Poker that night, and by the time we finished playing the next morning, I won the entire lot of plastic coins. If only that was real money, I would be a millionaire now 🙂  

 I also plan to stay on one of the many mountain huts that are run by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC).          

Winter life is pretty harsh, and I ended up slouching and putting on a lot of weight. Winter is dominated by skiing and snowboarding. I learnt skiing for the first time, during the New Year holidays, by spending a week at Wengen, Interlaken. It was a bloody thrilling experience, and I did far better than I expected. But it is an expensive sport, and requires tremendous patience and perseverance. The rants of winter life, I would leave for another blog  🙂     

There is so much socializing and fun activities that are usually attached to these sports, such as the Apre skis, that ensure that you have to burn out some calories before you can have some fun. The drinks taste so much better after you have done a ski run, or a set of tennis.           

Trekking trails near Mount Tamara, Ticino

 

 The friendly and respectful Swiss people        

 Now, quite a few expats who might read this, would probably raise their eye brows. Most expats forums here have a section filled with cribs about how difficult it is to make local friends here.          

I would juxtapose that with experiences in other countries where people are more open to talk to you, but equally fast in being intrusive or abusive, or sometimes openly racial.   The Swiss, on the hand, do not come running to talk to you. If you do manage to strike up a conversation, they answer you politely. But it takes a lot of time, effort and perseverance to call a Swiss person a friend. And that is something I actually do not mind, because it’s my nature as well. I am quite open to conversations and interactions, but it takes me a long time to accept some one as a friend. And when I do, they are friends for life. I have made a few Swiss people like that who have been very friendly, helpful, and nice. These are people I would consider friends for life.    

By and large, they are very respectful to outsiders, whatever their private views on immigrations may be. I haven’t come across a single rude, or abusive Swiss person, and given my knack of getting into provocative conversations, that is an incredible record!         

Blending of urban and rural spaces         

Like I mentioned earlier, most Swiss cities are the size and population of small towns in India. So you can imagine how big the villages are! But there is a definitive sense of “Small is beautiful”. A person from a small Swiss village, would typically says he is from that village, and upon prodding mention it is near Zurich. Most Indians, would mention the name of the nearest big city as their place of origin.  Most of these villages have all the facilities you would expect in a big town anywhere: Kiosks or convenient stores, a bus / train / tram station, a few hotels and restaurants etc.          

The cities, towns, and villages blend rather seamlessly as you taken a train out of Basel or Zurich and cross a few stations. A big city is not necessarily an imposing entity, or a crowded and frenetic place. A village is not necessarily a poor place that is in accessible. In many ways, they are proud of their rural and agricultural connections, and it is quite fashionable to live in the country side.         

I would love to live in a Swiss country side, with  a farm, small brook, and some animals. But I can’t even afford that in my dreams now, and console myself with occasional weekend walks to such idyllic places!           

Lively street and public space culture       

There is a place in Basel called MessePlatz. It literally translates to a place for fairs / exhibitions.          

Across  every little town or city in the country, there is always something happening in such places. You have fairs, exhibitions, and shows for all kind of occasions such as celebrating Christmas, children’s day, day for some ethnic groups such as the Turks, or even a sports day. The Christmas and autumn markets and fairs are especially important. That is when the outdoor life drops, and these events that run for weeks together, keep the people on the streets. There is music, food, drinks (Gluhwein – a hot and spicy wine is a must try, if you want to survive the winter!), and people selling their produce.          

Each city / town has its show piece / landmark event. In Basel, it’s the Fasnacht in February. People plan for it for weeks, get up early in the morning with their outlandish costumes, and basically have a colorful street parade for days together. It’s also the time, when the Swiss shed all their reserved nature and go crazy! It has to be seen to believed!     

In addition to these big events, most city squares have some thing or the other going on  every other weekend. That keeps the people to the streets, and when you find yourself bored in spite of all that, it is possible to land up in some small pebble stoned quiet alley, and hear a young musician play his instrument. These are small pleasures in my Swiss life that I am so thankful for!        

Street music on some random carnical day in Neuchatel

 

  Basler Fasnacht:         

I hope I get to stay here a little longer, and I hope life also takes me to other wonderful places around the world. And I hope that till such time I am here, I always appreciate what a foreign country has to offer me, rather than get bogged down by a few minor rants.  

To me, one true test of globalization is when people can move freely from one country to another, and not just find a new house, but make a new home there. I think I have done that here, and Basel is my third home after Chennai & Bangalore.  

I would also encourage my Swiss friends to visit India and enjoy our sense of hospitality 🙂         

Cheers!        

Vasu        

Some further glimpses of my swiss life…         

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

      

P.S: If you liked this post, you may also reading my other posts on life in Switzerland:       

1.  https://vasusworld.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/friends-jazz-rain-bombay/      

2. https://vasusworld.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/light-up-your-cigars-but-not-on-my-face/      

3. https://vasusworld.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/the-singing-sensation-the-ultimate-bathroom-singing-list-the-band/

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51 Comments Post a comment
  1. It will also increase the ranking of your website on search engines and will drive more traffic to your website.
    But unfortunately not every request will get approved. Besides placing advertisers ads on your Blog, you can also make money Blogging by placing Google Adsense into your Blog.

    August 27, 2014
  2. KP #

    we are planning on visiting in december.. hope its not extremely harsh weather :o|

    July 20, 2011
    • Thanks KP.
      December is winter, and if you are used to winter in N. America or Europe, its fine. But bear in mind, that snow / rain could impact visibility in many places, so you need more time. Alternately if you plan to do winter sports, December is perfect.

      Thanks.
      Vasu

      July 20, 2011
  3. Hello Vasu,
    kudos!!! What a great narration. Your way of sharing your wonderful experiences along with great information is simply awesome. I now cant wait to go see the beautiful land myself. Have always seen the beauty of SWISS via tamil and hindi movies. Reading this article has now made me quite eager to go visit all the places you have mentioned. I simply cant wait. What is the best time to travel around Swiss? Keep up the good work. Looking forward to seeing more such narrations.

    Take care,
    Uma
    Toronto, Canada

    September 21, 2010
    • Thanks Uma,
      Any time between Spring to summer, or even late Autumn (roughly speaking from April till October) is a good time for Indians to visit.

      You are pretty much going to freeze any other time 🙂
      Cheers,
      Vasu

      December 10, 2010
      • Uma Radhakrishnan #

        Hi Vasu, I am quite addicted your blogs. You SIMPLY ROCK this world!!! Keep up the great writing. I am glad to see some graphic changes as well to the look and feel of your space. Neato!!

        Btw, having lived 13 good years in Canada amidst all seasons (we have the worst winter here), facing the adverse weather in Swiss wont be a big challenge.Traveling to Swiss is already on my wish-list for this Christmas 🙂 I will however take your advice and travel at the right time. Ty.

        Take care,
        Uma

        December 11, 2010
        • Hi,
          I am humbled by the compliments 🙂
          So, if -20 is a piece of cake for you, you could check out Switzerland christmas time and combine with some skiing as well.
          Awesome place round the year, if you can handle cold weather 🙂
          Cheers!
          Vasu

          December 12, 2010
          • You are most welcome. A great writer like you should definitely be inspired with positive comments. I did my very minimum compared to the rest that have commended about your blogs. I am fan just like all your other fans out here. Btw, I have a humble request to ask from you and only if you don’t mind. Recently UNESCO selected BEST – National Anthem INDIA (Instrumentation n Song) I have here hyperlinked the video from YouTube. I am sure you are aware of this. This proclamation deserves a great write up. Can you kindly take the honors please in the form of your own blog? This is only a request and you can turn it down if you aren’t comfortable. I have been to many cuchery’s in India where the artists often get requests from the audience “MAKKAL VIRUPPAM”. My request for a blog from you is very similar to that 
            Traveling in winter is definitely not fun. I didn’t say -20 is a piece of cake. Phew… I never will say that..not even in my dreams. “Veyilin arumai kuliril irundhal thann theriyum”. I am craving to see the beautiful land in its best greenery possible. This vision of mine definitely puts a hold on my travel plans until spring and or summer 2011.
            Thanks Vasu.
            Uma

            December 13, 2010
            • oops.. my hyperlink didnt work 😦
              Sorry!

              December 13, 2010
            • Okay please, anything further and I am going to be heavily embarrassed. Sorry, I am awkward in the face of compliments, and I consider myself just another everyday blogger who likes to write what comes to his mind.

              I can Google those links and if I have something to say, and feel passionate enough, I would blog about it.

              But perhaps, it would be even better if you do so yourself. Obviously this subject is close to your heart, and you know something about it, so I am quite sure you would do better justice to write about it yourself. Think about it 🙂

              Cheers!
              Vasu

              December 13, 2010
  4. Beautiful description and so true..even I like it best about switzerland is this tyat their transport system is so well integrated, wish we could incorporate that here..and its a beautiful country..beauty is just beyond imagination..one can nevr get a fill of that.

    May 31, 2010
    • Thanks Renu. Sorry this comment somehow skipped my attention earlier and I did not respond.

      Cheers!
      Vasu

      December 13, 2010
  5. Now that’s what I call an exhaustive post….Have you tried the swiss fondues? I have been wanting to check out the cheese and choc fondue..hmmm..I’m hoping before I leave Europe for good, I manage to do a tour of Swiss Alps…Blame it on Bollywood..the quintessential dream of driving through the Switzerland with the mooooooos resonating with the aaaaaahhhhs…:)

    Wonder how long it will take the Swiss tourism guys to stumble upon this and pay you a royalty to use it for their tourism page..;)

    May 17, 2010
    • Blame it all on DDLJ 🙂 Naah I have’nt tried fondue…too much chocolate / cheese for my liking.
      And thankd for the complimentary comment 🙂
      Cheers!
      Vasu

      May 19, 2010
  6. Haha…that’s a big compliment…thank you!

    May 14, 2010
  7. Beautiful! Indian govt should think of recruiting you into Tourism India 😉 well covered and you took me to an around the swizz life in 10 mins! Loved your pics that ended a well written article 🙂 Thanks for tele err blogporting to swizz when am holidaying in my native in the southern tip of India 😀

    May 8, 2010
  8. Hi Vasu
    I was reading your comment on my blog!!
    Thanks for your visit.
    I have also a globe and I can see where my friends are living ( http://www.geovisite.com/en/geoglobe.php )

    Yes orange is the Dutch color hehe….
    But I have orange because my cat is orange/white
    not for Dutch football …….. LOL
    :))

    May 8, 2010
  9. I forgot to tell you
    but I think you will know it:

    The Chocolate from Switzerland is the best !!
    😉

    May 7, 2010
    • Thanks Anya!
      Yes, Swiss chocolates are he best 🙂
      I have seen lovely pictures of tulips in Holland, and would love to visit some time soon. Europe is very pictueresque and you are always spoilt for choice on where to go 🙂

      Cheers!
      Vasu

      P.S: I loggged into your website and I saw Orange everywhere..I have no doubt where you are from 🙂

      May 8, 2010
  10. Hi Vasu
    Yeahhhhhhhh…. Switzerland is a beautiful country 🙂
    Your post is very interesting and fantastic written !!
    Europe is beautiful I know :))))
    I’m from The netherlands ….
    :))

    Greetings Anya 🙂

    May 7, 2010
  11. Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for the comment. I keep experimenting with my theme, ), and I love the new theme too!

    (Read:https://vasusworld.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/playing-around-with-words-images-themes%e2%80%a6/)

    I used a custom background image (Go to Appearances – Background), and that over rides the default dots. So, if you pick one of your own pictures for the theme, and play around with the position, layout, you would end up with just the right look and feel for your blog.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 6, 2010
  12. I love the new theme Bueno that you are using on your blog. How did you get the white backaground? Is there a way to turn off the dots?

    Thanks!

    May 6, 2010
  13. Thank You Pushkaraj Ji…you should visit Europe. I would also love to visit Nepal and trek in the Himalayas. My parents have been there regularly, and my dad keeps talking about the natural beauty of Nepal.
    I have’nt been to the gulf except connecting flights 🙂

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 5, 2010
  14. Excellent post. The only countries that I have seen other than motherland are Nepal, Oman and UAE. your post inspires me to visit Switzerland at least once! Keep writing!

    May 4, 2010
  15. Haha Erin, we are all making lemonade indeed 🙂

    Thanks for stepping by…you would be best placed to have an objective view on what I wrote!

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 4, 2010
  16. Nice post Vasu, it’s good to hear other expats giving Switzerland a good review. Sometimes I just want to poke people who can’t stop complaining about how “difficult” it is moving here (myself included!!). It is difficult in some ways, to be sure, but I am truly happy to have wound up here and I can tell you are too 🙂 making lemonade with the lemons of cultureshock!

    May 4, 2010
  17. Deepan, you are spot on about Krishnamurti.

    I studied in a JK school, and you may have spotted the reference in my blog title “Journeys across a pathless land”
    He did give many talks in Gstaad & Saanen. I plan to visit these places this summer.

    I just visualized Prost and Schumi on their daily walk…must be walking very fast those two 🙂

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 3, 2010
    • I spotted the link only after reading your reply and not before that. I didn’t study in a JK school; in fact didn’t know about him in school. It is a different matter that I ended up studying K for years after school. I still do once in a while, he’s beautiful, but I am no longer the nutcase that I used to be for years after I first read him.

      May 5, 2010
      • Hi Deepan,
        I haven’t studied JK as such, as his philosophy is deep and profound, and sometimes a little too intense for my comfort. And yeah you can end up being a nut case if you get too involved 🙂

        I have taken some good things from his speeches and books, and that is about it for now! There is an undeniable sense of beauty in his teachings, just as it is with Ramana Maharishi, whom you refer to.

        My blog title “Journeys across a pathless land”, is a take off from one of his most important statements, where he said “I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.”

        I plan to write some blogs based on teachings of a few like him at some stage, and we can continue the discussion there.

        Cheers!
        Vasu

        May 5, 2010
        • Dear Vasu I meant that I got the connection the moment you spoke about JK. Truth is a pathless land remains one of the most succint statement associated with him. He delivered it when he dissolved the Order of the Star, of which he was the president. I also plan to do something with the teachings and if possible just to always keep them close to my heart. The reason why I haven’t done a post on it is perhaps because it means so much to me that I have never thought of it as an article. I’ll probably want to do something more substantial about it.

          I had at one point applied for a teaching job in Broockwood Park, sadly it did not materialise. Having read pretty much everything on him and by him if you ask me I would recommend a book called ‘A Star In The East’, a fabulous one-of-its-kind work by Roland Vernon. If you want something that details K’s celebrated sense of humour than The Kitchen Chronicles by Michael Krohnen is a delightful book. The discussion here is delightful because sharing brings joy in life.

          May 5, 2010
          • This is indeed an insightful discussion! I would try and get my hands on those books, and make that long pending to Gstaad.
            I can truly understand why some thems and views very closse to your heart, are not the easiest to write about.
            Thanks again, for your blogs, and this discusion!

            May 5, 2010
  18. Schumacher has a huge estate there and he goes for regular walks with Prost according to media reports. The 20th century religious thinker J. Krishnamurti also had regular annual retreats in Gstaad and Saanen where people from all over the world gathered to hear him. It would be a perfect home for anyone and you should count yourself as extremely fortunate.
    Cheers
    Deepan

    May 3, 2010
  19. Thanks Deepan,
    Very nice to have your comment, as I have learnt a lot from your writing!

    Yes Federer is from Basel and I have always been a huge Fedex fan! On my first weekend here I checked out the club where he played in his younger days, and had goose bumps all over.

    But the club was a little on the snooty side and I did not join them, although it is actually closer to my house than most other clubs.
    I didn’t know the F1 legends lived here, but not surprised to know that. Low tax, high standard of living, and a beautiful country, would be the perfect home of the rich sportsmen!

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 3, 2010
  20. Vasu it is pretty evident that you are having a great time. The article captures the beauty of the land very nicely. You have managed to capture the beauty of living in this wonderful country that has many more places like Basel.

    Living in Switzerland is like a dream and you have defined what that dream in reality looks like. Isn’t Roger Federer from Basel? And Micheal Schumacher and Alain Prost live in Switzerland; and therefore we know that when you have all you need the best place to be is where you are.
    Cheers
    Deepan Joshi

    May 3, 2010
  21. Hey Sanjeev!
    You are always welcome to visit Switzerland again when I am around 🙂

    And thanks so much for the compliments…made my monday!

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 3, 2010
  22. Sanjeevkumar #

    Dei Vasu, Nice narration of Swiss Experience….. Fortunately, I got to visit Swiss twice and I just loved it. I can feel how gifted you should be feeling by staying almost a year there…You feel like your life has blossomed like never before….I would love to visit once more….I had to admit that your command over English is just superb and you can join in any news channel as a editor 🙂 🙂

    May 3, 2010
  23. @Purba: Haha, very true about the Swiss precision! After all its also the land of watches! If it says waterfall – 15 minutes, and I take 20 minutes, than I know I need to get fitter 🙂

    @Nalini: Yes, we are a contributor to Swiss tourism…at least ever since DDLJ 🙂

    @Aditi: Thank you so much for the appreciation. Since you have been to Japan, I can say there are similarities in terms of the weather, and natural look and feel.But you should visit Switzerland some time, everybody should!

    @Faiza: I so agree with your statements, especially “I have to say actually when you truly look at every culture or community , it is just the same”. You have mentioned so many minute details, that I have missed in the last one year…did’nt know about the flowers at all, trust a sharp woman to observe that 🙂

    Thanks for the comments everyone…you all write such wonderful blogs, and its nice you people have read and enjoyed mine.

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 3, 2010
  24. Hey! Great read!
    I have to agree that too many times, people just tend to crib about the injustice done to them as foreigners blah blah blah and are quick to judge or brand the Swiss as being unfriendly, distant etc. I have to say actually when you truly look at every culture or community , it is just the same! And if one actually takes the time to integrate well within a community, they get accepted too within no time. Am happy that you have made the time and effort to do some of the things here in Switzerland which some other Indians would deem as a waste of time, money or effort! I have to also say that this does not apply to all Indians (or foreigners) living abroad (as you mentioned most Indian adapt well….my mom being a prime example of one who simply CANNOT….only loves and would never leave India for anywhere else).
    I would also love to add a few more things which I deem special here and which I love about Switzerland/Zürich-

    -Old towns in practically every little town or city is so well preserved! I love being able to walk around all these buildings dating back from even 1200! (My last experience was the little village of Gruyere and would definitely recommend even spending an evening just exploring the surrounding area….gorgeous!!)

    -Wet markets every week in the city where one can buy fresh flowers of the season and in the summer flea markets (you wouldn’t believe the things you can get to throw a great party!)

    – flowers for ‘selbschnitte’ (cut/pluck yourself) and you just have to run through a field of flowers, pick your favourite tulips and pay for them in a little wooden box or even walk for ours (wandern) and when you come across a little house sometimes they actually have put out some drinks and cakes, again self servise, you eat/drink, you pay for it in a little piggy or something. I’ve never had this experience anywhere else!

    -Swimming in the lake in the summer (even though it can be a bit too cold for me , once you jump in and swim….it’s soo refreshing!

    Well, i could go on but i think you get the picture!
    Congratulations on being here and loving it for 1 whole year…..hope you have many more to come!

    Faiza

    May 3, 2010
  25. hey vasu… just loved your narration..!!! Now I am wanting to go to Switzerland!!! Your way of sharing your experiences alongwith information is superb!!!You really got me hooked on to it..!! :)And yes the pics.. they r simply awesomeeee…..I wanna go I wanna go I wanna go~~~~

    May 3, 2010
  26. really enjoyed the read…we have seen a lot of Swiss in Hindi movies…sort of increased their tourism!…LOL…looks like a fun place.

    May 3, 2010
  27. Visited Switzerland a few years back, loved every inch of it.

    Nature at it’s very best.

    Remember going for a walk to some waterfalls in Engelberg and the sign post read

    “Waterfall :distance, 15 mins”

    Swiss precision :))

    May 3, 2010
  28. Thanks sooooo much Murali…nobody has said such kind things about my writing..I am going to cry like its my Oscar acceptance speech 🙂
    Seriously, I am a big crictic of myself, but once I pass my own test, I would consider travl writing…till such time, I publish what I think is good enough for my blog!

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 2, 2010
  29. Very well written Vasu, once I started reading it, you got mee hooked esp.ly with the opening paragraphs embracing the change 🙂

    And delighted to know that the Swiss too Moo Along 😀

    You should consider sending this article around to any magazines – Sunday Magazine, The Hindu is one I would suggest 🙂

    May 2, 2010
  30. Haven’t yet read the post…..its soooooooo long! my fingers pained just scrolling to the bottom of it!!

    May 2, 2010
  31. Thanks Sneha! Tagged me mathlab?

    May 2, 2010
  32. Wow!! I have just had a swiss tour!!

    And I have tagged you!!

    May 2, 2010
  33. Thanks Samaresh!
    What you are probably referring to, is a restaurant on top of a mountain, by a lake. They have many such establishments here that look like houses.

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 2, 2010
  34. samaresh biswal #

    bful shot of th lif @ basel my fav pic is th house near th lake

    May 2, 2010
  35. Thanks Krystal…you guys write such a fantastic Expat blog, and that is one of the inspirations 🙂

    Let me know if you people are in Basel any other occasion.

    Cheers!
    Vasu

    May 2, 2010
  36. aww, what a great review! I just went to Basel for the first time a couple weeks ago and it was so great!

    May 2, 2010

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  1. Blogging year 2010 in review | Journeys across a pathless land

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