Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Day of Love in Switzerland

Valentine's Day is a celebration of love observed on February 14 each year. It is a day where people exhibit love in different ways. Every year, irrespective of my relationship status :P, I start the day by wishing my dad and mom, expressing my undying love for them and telling them how important they are for me and our family.
Many around the globe celebrate the day as the day of romance. In Switzerland like elsewhere, people celebrate the day with flowers, chocolates, fancy cards with loving words and functional gifts, Plus romantic trips, romantic walks, romantic meals. Well, all these have the potential of making the heart skip a few beats (esp. a heart like mine :P).

The Zurich Lake

I spent my Valentine’s Day in Zurich. Zurich is a beautiful and the largest city of Switzerland, the first city of Switzerland I know, my love for Switzerland started with Zurich, so I chose Zurich for this delightful day. After almost 3 hrs of our train journey, we reached Zurich around 11:00AM, the weather was perfect, the sun was up, we chose the water transport for the city tour, well firstly because we hadn’t done that earlier, secondly I wanted to fight my fear of water and thirdly the weather was perfect, it was warm, lovely and romantic. It was my first water trip. 

The places were full of love birds so gracefully dressed, from teenagers to couples in their 60s, each carrying roses and bouquets, expressing their love openly, all laughter and smile, hugs and kisses, holding hands. I noticed, many wore RED – The colour of love and passion. The Zurich Lake was as beautiful as the Geneva Lake. The major attractions when cruising were the fascinating Fraumünster Church and many other small churches and temples, the Swiss national museum, the East, West, North and South of the Zurich city, the ports. I had an amazing time discovering the great maritime experience in such an exquisite city. 

Fraumünster Church
My favourite couple of the day was an elderly couple who looked like they were in their 60s, perhaps because i knew something about their love story.:)

A lot of people queued up when it was our time for boarding, when we got in the ship, the seats were almost all occupied. My friend and I were the last ones to get the seats together. As soon as we were seated, an elderly couple came in, we could tell from the lady’s face that she was tired and a hand on her knees said that her knees hurt too. The lady had a rose in her hand. I stood up and my friend followed to offer our seats to the couple. There was a bright smile on the couple’s face, with a lots of Merci Beaucoups (Thank you very much), they finally sat down. We went outside to sit on the uncovered part of the vessel, even with the sun, it was cold but the cold was tolerable. From the door, we could see the couple seated inside, we saw the attendant offer a bottle of red wine and some snacks. My friend and I looked at each other and smiled, we realised we had done a good deed and helped the couple with their romantic plan. It was an amazing feeling to see such love.

After a while, the man stood up, kissed his lady on her forehead and came towards us. We were scared if he had come to tell us not to stare, well we couldn’t help staring, they were just too adorable. Fortunately, the man had come out for a smoke; he took out his cigar and lighted it gracefully. He smiled and waved as he saw us. After he was done, he came towards us, before I could say hi, he said Thank you again. I couldn’t help asking, did you bring your lady love out for the Valentine’s date? He laughed the big man’s laugh Hahaha and said, yes else she would be furious at me and not talk to me for days. He added, on their second year of marriage, he had to go out of the town for business and Valentine’s Day ran out of his mind; his wife had not talked to him for a month. Since then, he had promised to be with her for all the Valentine’s Day they are going to have together. I asked out of curiosity how long they have been married. I was told they are married for 35 years and they have a son and a daughter. The thought of the man fulfilling his promise for 33 years took me back to my thoughts again, if every men fulfilled his promise this way, every day would be a Valentine’s Day and there would be more peace and love in the world. 

The City Hall, Basel

As he left us, we left for our next destination too. The valentine’s fever still continued in Basel, a lovely city smaller than Zurich. Love birds were everywhere, in the city, walking on the streets holding hands, in the shops buying gifts, in the restaurant feeding each other, all with flowers and everyone smelled very pleasant. ;) We did the city tour by bus, went to the Basel City Hall, took a lot of pictures, we also visited the Dollhouse Museum which is the largest museum of its kind in Europe.
When we came back, the Valentine’s Day was almost over, it was over in my country though. I was very happy about the visit, yet a feeling of emptiness swept over me, when I realised what was missing, I ran into the station shop, bought myself some chocolates and flowers. And Happiness ran through my veins again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux, Switzerland

After a heavy hectic week, I was excited about the weekend, actually I always am, esp. the weekends here in Geneva, I get to visit new places and explore new things. I had promised myself before I came here that I am never going to stay idle in the room during the weekends, thus I am fulfilling my promise very dutifully, so to say ;) 

The weekend of February 7, we had planned to visit the three beautiful cities of Switzerland ~ Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux.  We were counselled exhaustively by the course coordinators to travel to unfamiliar places only in  groups. I had to listen to the same advices from my family almost every time.

We were five at the start of the plan though. The guide, who is a sweet friend of mine, who lives in Geneva, caught a very bad flu, so she had informed us about her unavailability about a week earlier. Thus, four of us were left. An another friend was invited over by his national friends to visit some other places, he deceived (:P) us for them. To add up, another friend fell ill the day before the weekend. So finally, only two of us were left, the two people who had completely no idea about the what, where and how of the above three places. 

My partner gave up instantly. Let’s not risk it, she said. I promptly added, lets risk it, let’s do some adventure, we are not alone; we are a pair I told her with a wink. We don’t know how to get there, she said. I said let’s find that out from the train station. She frowned, we don’t know where to go there, we don’t know any places of interest. I said , I do, I had googled it so many times actually, right after I had been selected for the course which was almost three months ago :P, I knew where to go but I had no idea how to get there. I was thinking about it when she asked me as if she was reading my mind. I quickly answered, we will carry maps or ask people, these are famous places, everyone would know. Finally, my partner agreed with the last grunt, Lady, you are just too adventurous; I smiled and then laughed not because she had told me something nobody else ever had, but because, I had realised that I actually have the power to convince. 

As expected, after asking some kind people in the train station, we got tickets for Montreux, which was the farthest of all and was en route to Lausanne and Vevey. The ticket was for a day and we decided to go to Montreux first and visit the other two cities when we return. After almost an hr and half, we reached the beautiful city of Montreux. The snow was still there, the air was fresh. Shops, people and houses were lesser than in Geneva, it was indeed peaceful. 

On our route to Montreux we did pass by some extremely beautiful snow covered villages, some trees like they have been just carved, some fields, beautifully structured houses with smokes coming out of their chimney, the stunning Geneva lake that followed us till the end. Switzerland has a gifted countryside, I thought.

In Montreux, we had planned to visit the Château de Chillon. As planned, we went to the station and asked for the direction. All people we met this day were very generous, I concluded (as I expected) the swiss are indeed generous people. This Castle is an island castle located on the shore of Geneva Lake in Montruex. It is one of the most visited historic monuments in Europe. Chillon was the Roman station which guarded the strategic road through the Alpine passes, decades ago. It was breathtakingly beautiful. We did a tour of the castle entering every room that were allowed to us, there were some antique furniture, paintings and belongings of the great leaders. They also had videos and recordings of the history of the castle. 

A summary of our Montreux moments :)

We were hungry by the time we finished the castle tour. We hurried to the Montreux city, got in a restaurant, had some hot chocolate and cheese pizza. It was like heaven, it was freezing cold outside. Though we wished we could stay more in the restaurant, we had to rush because we had no time to waste.
In half an hour, we caught the train back to Geneva. We got out in Vevey. There were three places to visit there ~ the Charlie Chaplin Statue, the Giant Fork and the Nestle Museum. I had checked the google map, but it kind of showed different locations for these three places. However, when we asked a passer-by, he said these three were just close to each other. It was a lucky day for us indeed.

Well, it dates back to some 20 years of my life,  I was one of the biggest fan of the Great Charlie Chaplin (well i still am), he made me laugh and I simply felt happy to watch him. Whenever I saw this great actor, who made millions of people laugh till it hurt, on TV, I wanted my dad to have a moustache like his. My mom wouldn’t allow him to keep a moustache though; she somehow didn’t quite like it. One night, when my dad was sleeping and others were watching TV, I silently entered his bedroom with a green permanent marker pen (Green, coz I didn’t find any other colours) and drew a moustache below his nose like Charlie Chaplin’s. The next day, dad had a tough time removing the moustache and the others had a good laugh. I can never forget this incident maybe because, it was probably the first time, my dad nearly hit me. :(

Our Vevey moments..

The moment I knew there was a statue of the great actor in Switzerland; I had already decided that I am going to see it. The great soul lived in Vevey. The statue was built to commemorate the 25 years he spent there. We spent almost an hour with the statue and the giant fork which faced each other, looking at them, trying different poses to appreciate the beauty of it, laughing as if the actor was alive and performing. It was awesome ;), we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We visited the Nestle museum nearby; it was the first Nestle factory and the current headquarter of Nestle Company. We watched how the chocolates were being made. We could also buy chocolate drinks and purchase chocolate at discount prices. In Vevey we wasted some time on shopping – wasted, because shopping was not on the agenda.

It was almost dark when we reached Lausanne. We had to visit the Olympic museum there. Sadly we didn’t have enough time; however, instead of grumbling we decided to go around the city, the city was indeed beautiful. It was extremely cold as the chilly breeze from the lake blew.

At around 6:30 we caught a train back to Geneva. Both of us were so tired that we hardly talked, one time we were buzy eating the cheese we bought in Lausanne, one time both of us fell asleep and when we woke up, we were in the Geneva train station. As we walked to our apartment in the cold, we had that feeling of contentment. The day was well spent. As we thanked eachother for the wonderful adventurous day, we went to our respective rooms to get ready for many other exciting trips.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to get rid of Homesickness?

Wiki defines ``Homesickness as the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home. Its cognitive hallmark is preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects.`` 

Well homesickness as is self-explanatory from the above definition, a form of anxiety or emotional distress that results from feeling disconnected from home, family, familiar people and environment. I am usually one of its victims. Well, homesickness is not a bad disease though, but can be bad if you don’t take care of your emotions well.  Whenever, I am away from home, I have difficulty in adjusting to a new environment, I start feeling lonely and cut off from my regular livelihood and I start missing home too much. However, with time I adjust well in the environment and I start having fun :) Well, how do I do it? Here are some tips if you are prone to homesickness: 

       1.     Change your environment, make it as homely as possible:  

    The first weekend of my stay here in Geneva, I changed the interior of my apartment like I was at home. I arranged my working table, my dining table, my kitchen, my makeup corner. After I was done, I felt real good. It helps, you feel like you are going to have fun in the new place. 

 2.     Do some things you loved to do at home:

Though part of being away from home is doing many new things that you would never think to do in your home, you can find always do some of the things you loved to do at home. What I do  here is, I cook my favourite local food most of the time, I watch my favourite TV series online, I read and write like I used to do at home, I sing, I lie down in the bed and bathtub for hours without doing anything, I just love being lazy at times.

      3.     Shop like you would at home:

When you buy fruits, vegetables and grocery abroad, you feel simply good. I mean I like trying out new stuffs, for instance using Swiss cheese for my ema datshi, using their local milk for my tea, buying their local bread for breakfast (* the one I bought last Saturday was yuck, I nearly threw up), etc etc. And of course buy new clothes for yourself, dress yourself like you are one of them ;) – I like doing this, buy new shoes, souvenirs, it feels awesome.


    4. Talk to your loved ones:

In spite of 5 hours of time difference, my family and my loved ones wait for me to get back to my apartment so that we can talk; I tell them about my day and listen to their's. I feel so loved and blessed. It is always lovely to talk to your family; they are your saviours who turn everything right.

 5.     Make good new friends:

 This is one important thing. You should have someone to talk about how you feel, talks about home and do things together, explore new things, new places, new cuisine, share each other’s meals. I am glad that I met good friends here, a family away from home, we laugh at each other’s joke even when we don’t understand it fully, weird but it’s fun.

    6.     Make a Wish List for Exploring your New City:

Do a research about the place/city you are in and find places of interest you absolutely have to explore. We are all very lucky to live in a digital era, there are so many sites you could visit, google search is the most popular one. Make a list of these places or activities and challenge yourself to do/see all of them before you leave. Enjoy the unique aspects of your new environment. I have my bucket list:

      1.     Travel:
To visit Zurich, Bern, Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux – These are beautiful cities  of Switzerland,
Visit Paris and Venice (this would entirely depend on my visa application) – Praying everyday,
Visit the Alps region of Switzerland – The Mountains,
Take a boat ride,
      2.     Buy Good Gifts for my loved ones (The Best Swiss specialities ;))
      3.     Buy myself a good Swiss Watch
      4.     Eat a good Swiss Cuisine
      5.     Learn some French
      6.     Enhance my WTO knowledge
      7.     Improve my public speaking skills

Well, I already completed some; I still have the other wishes to fulfil.

    7.     Keep a Positive Attitude: 

A positive attitude helps you cope more easily with the daily affairs of life. It brings hopefulness and cheerfullness into your life and makes it easier to avoid worries and negative thinking. Being alone gives you time to discover new things about yourself and become a stronger person. 
Have a positive attitude and wear a smile always, life will turn out awesome and you will have the most enjoyable stay where ever you are.