Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome to Switzerland !

We left Dubai
airport for a seven hour journey to Switzerland and it goes without saying that I was all excited. For, I had heard of this beautiful country and many who had visited it earlier always said one thing - it is a place to be felt and experienced. While I waited to catch a bird’s eye view of Swiss, a pretty air-hostess of Emirates did a big favour to me. She ensured that my glass was kept brimming with Budweiser beer :).

It was a seven hour journey and all we had was, few magazines and over hundred movies loaded in the small television sets fixed in front of our seats. I and my wife Nidhi flipped through some English and Hindi movies before dozing off. A slight shudder woke me up and strange as it may sound but I could feel the fragrance of maple trees found all over in Switzerland. ‘Finally I have reached the place called ‘heaven on earth,’ I thought and looked down from the window. It was all green down there.

All I could see was few wooden mansions and lot of greenery. It was indeed a treat for my eyes that were fed up of seeing concrete jungle in my so-called green city Vadodara. The flight landed at Zurich airport by afternoon and we were expecting chilly winds. Surprisingly, it was a bit warm – probably around 20 degree Celsius. I got a first look of Swiss and I must say I was stumped. The air had a certain element of freshness – something that I never felt back in India.

Our exit from the airport was as smooth as the landing. We walked out of the lounge and headed towards a small automatic three-bogey train that took us to the conveyor belt. Our luggage was waiting for us. Suddenly a shrill voice came from behind, ‘kya aap meri madad karenge (Will you please help me). I must say that these Hindi words seemed more sweet and courteous in Switzerland than back in India. A frail old Indian lady was seeking for my help to pick up her luggage and put it on a trolley. I obliged and we walked out of the airport.

Captured Switzerland on way in Swiss Rail
Little did I know that a hilarious incident was waiting to happen. Nidhi and I walked up to the main road outside the airport that was abuzz with vehicles. We waited at the roadside on a footpath for a while to let the cars pass by but in few minutes we lost our patience – the 10-hour journey had sucked out all the stamina off us. I held Nidhi’s hand and put my foot forward to try and cross the road. And, suddenly all the cars coming in our direction stopped at a distance. Surprised, I took my foot back and thinking that I did something stupid. I was too nervous to step on the road again and so we both stood there for few seconds. But the cars refused to budge from their positions.

Suddenly my eyes caught some movement in one of the cars. The driver was waving at us and signaling us to cross the road. Gosh! I realized that the cars were waiting for us to cross the road so that they could move on. Unbelievable – I thought, even as images of honking and screaming cars and two-wheelers back inIndia started playing in the front of my eyes. A co-traveler later told us that all the car and two-wheeler commuters in Switzerland show respect for pedestrians by allowing them to cross first. Welcome to Switzerland!