Day 142: 2017 Highlights – Amour Suisse

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

Amour Suisse

The 20-days long, cross-continent trip, 10,000 kms from home, has to definitely feature in the highs for the year that went by. I missed all of H’s trip to India, and I left the country with a clarified mind, freshly loaded with theories of detachment from the therapist. And boy, did the trip clear my head out further!

  • Indian services suck. I’ve ranted about it a lot and I accept it. The side-effect of poor services is the delay one typically experiences because of these services. Combine that to traffic, and no Indian is ever on time. Well technically, when the Swiss were in India, every single Indian student was on time, waiting along with them through the delays.

So, having the issue of time delays rubbed in our faces every minute of every day was very irritating. On the second day, half the Indians were 30 minutes early to class and were sitting out on the ground because the Swiss professor wasn’t around to let us in. A week down, there were mostly only Indians in class and the Swiss slowly ambled in, 30 minutes past the hour. I hope they’ve gotten the message loud and clear that the Indian Stretchable Time is just another cliche that we’d like to erase in this generation.

  • The country is beautiful beyond comparison. As I stood by Lac Leman, staring up at the snow capped Swiss Alps behind, rising above Evians-des-bains in France, I felt humbled. Any sense of supremacy or ego would automatically disappear in a country like this. It is also a huge contrast from what I was used to see as grandeur in the United States of America. If you saw the Pacific Ocean in Cali, that’s all you got – miles and miles of water. If you went to stare at the Grand Canyon in awe, you got rocks and layers and layers of rock. It seems to be just here where you see the gigantic artic mountains, the lush green expanse of fields and the power of the lakes and the rivers, all mashed up in the same scene.

Chateau de Chillon

  • It seemed like there was more to plan for our trips around town, than for the actual project work itself. My work partner was missing for a major part of week 1 and that meant very little work could be done. And most of the work was done within the first 2 days of week 2. If you ask me to objectively evaluate the project, I would say that it was a huge drain on resources, especially if the University management was looking to get something productive from the trip.

Goofing around with Einstein on the bench, Bern

  • We spent an evening at Sarah’s country home, smack in the middle of the mountains, in the town of Bex. Between the town lights on the Alps, and the stars up in the sky, the whole night was surreal. I couldn’t pick between staring at the jeweled mountain sides, the speeding cars on the highway, the pitch black on the moutains, and the stars in the sky. My mind calmed to a state of numbness, where the breeze didn’t matter any more, the cold didn’t bite any more and the company was miles away.
  • Old Town Bern, with its cobbled stone pathways, stained glass painted church windows and red tile roofed buildings is exactly the quaint European city that my mind had conjured up. Walking down the city roads, music from a street side band drifting in the air and the sweet smell of roasted nuts, I was overjoyed at the places this life has taken me. The walk up the spire of the tallest church in the town was amazing and the view of the entire city from up there was memorable indeed.

  • Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Tête de choco, Choco chaud, Chocolate croissant, Choco noir, Choco au lait. Chocolate shaped in every form from football to Easter bunnies and the Eiffel tower. And amazing ones them all.

It’s raining chocolates, at the Cailler Chocolate Factory

  • The people, Indians and Swiss, were definitely a highlight of the trip. From PGS and his antiques, to flimsy-gal Ignatius, to dopey gal, and goey fan-girl, all those in the Indian team eventually came together as a fun group. Daily debrief sessions in V’s room, with prompt data collection, and rants about PGS over booze were all gentle reminders of the fun hostel times in RECT. Cliques formed and dissolved, issued crept up and subsided, but two weeks down, we all walked back with newfound respect for each other and great memories behind us.

The goofballs every night

For all their cultural unawareness and a sense of superiority, the Swiss team members were a bunch of genuinely ignorant folk. From being surprised at my listening to Classic Rock or speaking fluent English, to being a teeny bit impressed at my learning French, to being completely awestruck at the energy in the Indians to dance all night, they were definitely experiencing these for the first time and I respect them for that. Overall, they were quite the crazy lot.

Most of the gang, at Les Diablerets

A few unforgettables:

Pasta night at Bjerns

Made it to Bern

Nachde ne saare, nooooo :))

The view to die for. Peak walk at Les Diablerets

On Lac Leman, off to set foot in France

Even random Swiss mutts need a bum rub ❤

Loving photography.. All over again…

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Day 134: To act or not to act

A certain commotion caught my attention when walking into my block at lunch hour today. The security guard and the block maintenance in charge were in argument with a girl student. She made multiple protests and even tried eluding the security and running to class, while he way laid her and brought her back to the entrance.

I knew I had to do something. I had heard a lot about the rude behavior of the security. And this maintenance in-charge has been on my radar for a while now for speaking very rudely to a number of the support staffs. So, i intervened and asked the girl what the problem was. ‘I got late and bought a packet of food for lunch. Now my class is about to begin and I need to go in. He’s not letting me in with this covered food container’, she pleaded, looking desperately for some support. My mind had expected some serious argument – dress code maybe, or missing ID card. The minute I heard her protest, I immediately shrugged my shoulders and walked away. I almost did something to help but my sub-conscious walked away.

I thought about what I did, or didn’t do, for the rest of the day. There were many reasons why the girl needed support and I could have helped. The security had no control over students that bring lunch from home and eat in the classrooms. So why detain students that do not have the luxury of a home cooked meal and depend on the cafeteria? There was no crime committed here for which he had to chase her down the corridor like she were a thief. If anything, he could have warned her for the subsequent time and let her in. I could have reminded him of all of this. I didn’t.

Wasn’t this the reason I joined the student council? Wasn’t I interested in standing up for student problems? Then why was I taking a high-grade, especially by picking battles that mattered to me versus those that didn’t. Shouldn’t I be concerned about them all nonetheless. The elevator issue in the central block affected me even though I was directly not effected by it. This incident happened in my block; it was a security guard that I see on a daily basis. Shouldn’t this work me up more?

Sometimes I surprise myself with my actions, or inaction.

Pics4mswiss: Every winter, the earth covers itself in white, to cleanse itself of all that is. 

Day 124: Random musings

The heart is content when it is loved; both by the self and by someone that makes it all worth it.

PS: That was how I started a post, a few weeks back, and never got around to finishing it.

PPS: I’ve slacked off on the Journaling365 project, not for want of ideas or a lack of words to say, but because of an overflow of both. There has been so much going on, and my mind is working through so many emotions, that the hand couldn’t keep up. I’m hoping the next few days will sum it all up.

Pics4mSwiss: Ivy hangs from the entrance facade at the Youth Hostel, Lausanne. 

Day 59: Keto fun

The exams have had a strange effect on me. The pointlessness of it all breaks me every few hours. Are we still expecting students to prove their knowledge by cramming lessons a day prior and puking it out for 2 hours. When the question instructions say ‘answer not more than 3 pages’, you know the testing priorities are screwed up.

I landed up starting my preparations the morning of the exam. By 11am, I had studied enough to ace the noon paper. That gave me a lot of time after the exam. So I made the best of the evening. I keto’ed.

I experimented with these amazing Keto crepes. They tasted heavenly in their intended form, oozing with the buttery filling. Since I’m not a huge Cinnamon person (anymore), I replaced that with nutmeg and it worked out just fine.

I had sufficient to have this another day. I got more fancy this time and substituted this for my dosas craving. So, I skipped the butter filling, brought along some peanut-Chilli Powder as sides, and it rocked.

If I weren’t on the Egg Fast, I’d try adding some coconut flour in to match the dosas consistency. Right now, it was a little eggy and was a taste to be acquired for sure.

Acquired taste? You give me a drab oatmeal with veggies for lunch and you make such fun things for yourself? Let me acquire some of this new taste. 

Dogs can eat eggs and butter. So, share some, will you?” Scotch 

Ma, Me and She.

As I was skimming through the previous posts here, something glared back at me; they are all dull, boring, rants from my life and heck who’d care about my past and my God anyway. So I’ve tried a new venture here, spiced up my life and gone ahead and written a story. Yay!!

The usual rules stick, read till the end; if you see your concentration waning, pour that strong cup of coffee, wash it down and hang in there. All events in this story are purely fictional and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely intentional. Duh! It’s my story after all!

He rolled down the windows of the taxi briefly, careful not to let the downpour in. He waved in her direction, met her eye, they exchanged a brief smile and she walked towards him. She gingerly snapped her umbrella shut, sat in and the taxi drove on. They exchanged quick pleasantries.

…”True, The Mumbai monsoon was becoming unbearable”…

…”That new flick had some poor storyline to begin with”…

…”Isn’t it a shame Michael Schumacher is not going to be driving after all!”

It was just their second date, could he really call it that, and he had already begun to like her. Unlike the prospectives his friends usually hitched him up with, she was genial, homely, grounded to the earth, loved soaking in the rain, thought that our traditions had to be respected no matter what and believed that the saari was a snug outfit. The last two were definitely going to get her special-extra-brownie-points with ma.

Amma. If the past had taught him something, it is that amma was a different ballgame altogether. School days was spent cramming up the books, extra tuition ensured that there was no time for wasteful thinking, leave alone squandering. Mom made sure that he got his milk on time, had his homeworks top notch and he was up before sunrise, for an extra round of revision. How else did he plan on becoming an astronaut? College was no less complicated. Amma relocated to his town; Yeah, Pa could manage on his own for couple of years and No, hostels are for kids whose mothers dont care enough.

And so, four years had dragged by at snail’s pace. The first puff of smoke was taken elsewhere while he had been busy completing his engineering drawing, on time and crisp to the P. The first crush was turned into heartbreak for others, while he dozed on the bus, rattling back home for dinner. The kiss had been magical; ephemeral, yet legendary indeed. But it had not been him, for he was at the temple that day, praying for a successful semester.

“Sorry?”

A mental snap, and he was back to today. “Whhaa..?”

“I don’t know. I mentioned coffee and you said ‘If Only’. “

“OH!!”

“It’s alright. We can get coffee sometime later.”

“NO!! No. Coffee is good. Coffee is great. Coffee it shall be”

He watched her, quietly, as she made herself comfortable in the small shack. Their patio table gave every part of her body room to live up and breath. He conceived that very moment, that he was capable of spending the rest of his life, staring at her luscious dark hair, duelling with the renegade breeze. The Indianness in everything about her, sent home a warm feeling within him. The waiter seemed to notice the artful manner in which she ordered our coffee, the nimbleness seemingly inborn. He sported a huge smile, scratched down our order and skipped his way back. Pumpkin what latte!? Pumpkin in a coffee? Really?

She sipped her drink, exuding a sense of peace to the world around her. By her green and yellow attire, everything seemed to pop out and spring into a dance, moving to the eternal song of love and life. Or at least he thought so. She sat there and took a sip of her coffee, undisturbed, while he continued.

He took a sip of the drink and spat it all out. He should not have listened to these guys after all. Amma was right from the beginning, this “was” a drink to hell. He forced another sip in, holding it in his mouth for a second, before gulping it down. As the caustic liquid oozed through his ducts, his inners came to life, burning their presence. When they finally settled, his mind settled too, on a cloud of dust around him. The guys were right, you could hear music with this drink in you. Hail Bro!!

Four hours and numerous drinks down, he walked home carelessly, mimicing a straight line in his gait. He laughed at how unsuccessful he was at it. The guys had helped him rehearse the story he was going to tell amma. He had gone over it a million times. Can you really count straight when you are drunk? There was not an odor or sound left on him to raise an ounce of doubt in her. He had to shoulder up and be a man! He could fool his way through without a doubt, and to think he presumed amma knew it all so far.

Amma knew it all. Period. She knew he was lying from ah-choo! There had been no study circle. There were no notes to copy. It was not just coffee indeed. He had disappointed her to the point of being ashamed. Dared he repeat it and she was going to take drastic steps. No, she did not want to listen to anything more. To the room please.

The soft tap on his hand bought his thoughts rushing back. He could never lie to amma again. But with the sensuous lady tapping his hands right now, he wouldn’t have to. She seemed to have fallen from heaven, or where ever they come from, with him in her mind all along. She pointed at her wrist watch, proclaimed that it was late and she needed to be home in time for the evening prayers.

“Oh!” Feeble protest. “Let’s get a taxi. I’ll ride you home”

Yes. Amma would definitely appreciate her and her impeccable demeanor. Prayers in the evening! There was no conceivable reason an out-going, modern, educated women of today would do that. She was going to be a complete success with Amma, and his dreams were coming to life indeed. He hailed the nearest black and yellow ride, shabbily whispered her address to the driver and settled in the back seat. She seemed to have been sitting there from ages eternal. The way she curled her legs together amused him, what wondrous poise in such cramped spaces. Beside him, she nudged closer and her sweet menthol fragrance gripped him.

He turned to face her, staring deep into her reciprocating eyes. Was this going to be the opportunity he had missed years back? What had the guys said? Don’t waste the moment thinking about it, go ahead and do it. Or wait! Was it, Thinking about it made sure you never missed it? She inched closer and his thoughts shattered, quite similar to the distance between them. Her brown eyes glared back, innocence and naievete in abundance. The inches between her voluptuous lips and his controlled fear seemed to be receding, slowly but surely.

Was he manning up to it and making the move? Finally? Was she being the infallable woman that she is, aware that he would want her to be? He sighed heavily, slumping in his seat.

A second away, and…

“Brother, Do you have a match?”

“What..? I..!”

“Here’s a lighter, bhayya.” With experienced swiftness, she dug through her purse, reached past her menthol cigarettes and produced a gem-studded piece.

Boy! He’d never seen one such before, and he couldn’t take his eyes of it now.

Sunrise Pals.

Some days dont have the perfect sunrise….then other days, when the sun sinks in and you barely notice it….there are nights when you fall asleep and the moon is not out as yet…then there are blues of the sky that keep you waiting for something nice….


My thought wanders between different trains of happy memories, till I hit one stop that keeps me pondering for a while……people who have been the perfect sunrises in the horizon…bright and red…complete creations of the almighty….these angels have made sure that days with them in it, have made it a joy to live through…they have given me reasons to wake up the next day, hoping for similar thoughts….

And then there are others, who are cloudy days from the start….leave a sorry feeling in the heart and an itch when you see the sun eventually up at the zenith….these are the ones that barely made an entrance and you hardly notice them leave….It’s funny I actually remember such entries vividly as well, the indistinct reasons why I bumped into them, the meaningless conversations shared and the quick, painless goodbyes…. 

And then there are the trickiest days….ones where you wake up real early and lie awake…because they give you the feeling of the perfect sunrise….bright and orange….leave a craving and a want in your mind…and while you lie there in wait….they jump the gun….very soon you realize that you trusted the wrong instinct after all…..and it was a losing hope to start with….because it had turned into a total disappointment….a sore feeling down your throat….God bless such friends (hic!!) who have walked into my life, dented my heart and walked out with no remorse in neither minds…I know I will rise up for such daybreaks in the future too, because they make me stronger and the eventual perfect sunrise feels all the divine!!!

Ghosts!

She closed the door, as he left, and ran out to the balcony..she peered down as she saw him appear into the yard. He walked out the main gate, a sense of pride in his gait; what was the reason she did not know. She stood there till he was just a bleAk spot on the road and the crowd ate him in.

She turned back into the room, glum and sorry, and he was there waiting for her. One had left only to be filled on by another. She lay down on the chilling floor beside him. She drank her threshold + 1 th round of the drink he had made for her. She let the liquid slowly ooze on, findin it’s way around her tracks up to her brain.

Jolt! And she and her sis ran out of the car. Mom found a safe spot under a tree to rest while dad made sure the shoulder he’d picked to park was safe enough for what they were to do. The last few times that the same thing had happened, the two of them had reached a level of familiarity and expertise with what was to come. One pulled the necessities from up front while the other lost the nuts. Dad stayed close by, making sure that they were not missing something vital. They were a team now, they worked best when together. Ten minutes into the job the tyre was changed, the spare and the tools safely stacked and they were on their way to where they were headed.

Blink and they quietly sat in the last row of the bus; both in a coincidental white. There was not a word spoken as he nimbly wrapped her fingers in his. Was it the first time they’d held hands?she doesn’t know. She let him take his time, let herself have time to accept his touch. Slowly and steadily.

Slap and she felt the kick land tight on her plum body. She was ten again and her dad did not approve of what she’d just done; out for tea with car drivers equals to being our with strangers. Was it yesterday that her mom had given a hot one for earing candy off the jar? Her memory fades her already and before it all vanishes into nothingness she tries to remember that recent squabble with the little one. She had been weak in math and a tough ruler had met her close to her eye as punishment. They had rushed her to the hospital, she heard from voices over all else. She dint go, because she was hiding under the stairs, not sure if the world would accept her again.

She cleared her head and her throat with one deceiving movement. She’d hungered for revenge and empties the cycle tyre of all air, only to see the devil herself walk by. MuKa lost all tongue and couldn’t come with a plausible reason for them to be by the devil’s bike. Was this the end? She turns to run and sees RaSu cycling by her, O she is speeding beside her too. A quick thud and she is on the ground, the second of lost orientation, a few bruises down, she walks into the local medical center. It is not she that the doctor wants to see now, though. She cant stand it, neither can RaSu, as the med pulls out the bandaid and exposes the two stitches by her eye. It had been a close call, she had happened to hear her fall and moan from the bathroom.

A flash, she quickly turns the corner and stands at the foot of the stairs, waiting for him to follow her there. He’d come home with her at three in the night only because she had forced him to and he had been very dear about it. As she held him close, she felt him shiver, of fear of being caught in my own house I would say. Where had her panic vanished, how did she not feel those elderly emotions of alertness and caution? Carefree, she held on to him till they went up the flight of stairs and not a minute of air separated them till she knocked.

Knock..! and she woke up to the smell of food in his den. She had done it again, run away from home and work and all obligations, to spend a day in oblivion. He had held her through her rebellious thought, not once questioning her motive, the lost rhyme. She had slept like it was in her mother’s warmth, the coziness that only home can bring and was surprising here for her not so far away from home.

She remembered having no dreams at all then, none to spoil her tranquility; no ramdom thoughts, none to shatter her glass mansions, like the ones there were now. Ahchoo!! Another sneeze, a drag at the nose and a curse at the fever with its ghosts from the past.!!