My dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar,
મારા વ્હાલા કોમલ, અંજલી અને અમર,
As you will have noticed, I am now able to add Gujarati words in my letters! Its good practice for Komal and Anjli and as for Amar, you can now decipher what is available in our freezer! For an unknown reason, whenever I freeze food I always put labels in Gujarati. Also remember Amar that Ba is ever ready to give you the Gujarati lessons.
Let me move on to the title of this letter.
We moved to Switzerland in the summer of 1999, with you three at the tender ages of 13, 10 and 7. The ‘Millennium Bubble’ was on the horizon. Of course our move was only meant to be for a couple of years. We were being ‘forced’ to move because of Dad’s job situation. Otherwise who in their right mind would move:
- Leaving behind all our family including Ba and Daddaji? Then all our weekends had revolved around the family, including all your cousins with whom you had and still have a very strong bond.
- Disrupting Komal and Anjli’s well settled school-life?
- Abandoning all the hard work Amar had put in to secure a place in a prestigious private school?
- Handing over the reigns of my 14-year-old business to a manager?
- Leaving our lovely home and gorgeous neighbourhood?
The list is endless.
I still regarded this as an adventure. You might ask, ‘What about your move from Uganda to the U.K.?’ That was a completely different adventure.
- Now I was not moving alone, I had my whole family with me.
- This time I had fully researched my move.
- We were moving to a western lifestyle I had now become accustomed to.
- Your school was predetermined and still in English!
- We knew exactly where we were going to be living.
- Money was not going to be a problem.
Of course Komal’s howl of, “You have ruined my life!” still haunts me sometimes but I think Komal even you have now found Switzerland alluring! Right?
Switzerland IS alluring. It is so very picturesque, quite soothing to the eye. Language had never been a problem then as you all went to English-speaking school and we made many English-speaking friends. Now over the years, we have all picked up some degree of the German language and so life is even smoother! Language is never a problem here anyway, as you know most Swiss speak at least 3 if not 4 languages fluently. My hero Roger Federer is a great example of that.
Why do I find Switzerland so alluring?
- Hiking is my greatest pastime here. The paths are all well-marked(just like in the U.K). The big advantage is that one can start hiking right from the doorstep and still see some wonderful views.
- All aspects of life are well organised. Sometimes I do get rather annoyed with the umpteen rules and regulations of everyday life…..but then life would not be so smooth without these rules and regulations. Whatever anyone says, one has to live by rules and regulations. Didn’t you three have to follow my rules and regulations? I would like to think that you have benefited from that.
- All the abundant mountain resorts are easily accessible from our house. I love spending time in the mountains, may it be winter or summer. Hiking in the summer is just breathtaking but so are the views, even in winter. The added benefit in the winter is the skiing and now the snowshoeing (moving with my age!). All of you are probably re-living those angry skiing sessions of mine in the early days! The dogged determination that I inherited from my grandmother is why I was eventually able to conquer the skiing lark! Skiing nowadays is not the same as when you came with us. We miss Anjli who always helped in the ritual of the ski boots, Komal who carried my skis and Amar with his encouraging words..,”You can do this!”
- Living in Zürich too is fantastic. It is known as Switzerland’s Little Big City of Charm and Elegance. It really is that. The transport is just excellent and so too are the choice of activities. Just take the example of the Zürifäscht that took place last weekend. This festival is organised every 3 years, over a period of 3 days and spread over the entire city of Zürich. The superb airshows, water shows, musically coordinated fireworks, infinite music venues, eating stalls, bars, dance tents, chilbis(rides) and all the other activities were exhilarating. This is where the cosmopolitan life of Zürich is on show. Both Amar and I took full advantage of the Fäscht. Perhaps girls you might want to plan a trip to Zürich for the next one. First week of July 2019.
There was also my stay in Pune that I thought could be life changing. It definitely was life changing, especially as we had never lived in India for this long a period. There were many aspects of the Indian life I liked:
- The warm hospitality of our neighbourhood.
- The ease of obtaining Indian foodstuff….though some Gujarati foods were still difficult to get!
- The social interaction that Ba was able to enjoy. She has made many long-lasting friends from that time and spends hours on the phone chitchatting to them.
- Opportunity to absorb the Indian culture that I had only heard of.
- Travel around ‘Incredible India’.
Despite all that, I always hankered to return to Europe, because:
- I wanted to be nearer to you three.
- Also wanted to be nearer to the rest of the family
- Missed the organised and quiet life.
- Wanted to enjoy an outdoor life without the heat and the dust.
- Wanted to be my own boss in my own life! Many people quote the availability of house maids and drivers as a positive of staying in India. I must admit I do not have the temperament to handle servants. I much prefer to get on with my chores and my outings than to wait for the maid or the driver.
- Initially I loved the hot weather, no hassle of piling on the jackets/coats and the associated paraphernalia. After sometime, the hot weather irritated me and I was yearning for the cooler weather and the beautiful snow. Piling on the winter garb is but second nature now!
Whenever I make a trip to London, I am so tempted to move back. I decidedly miss the family and the London life. The moment I step back into the Swiss life I can feel the peace and calm engulfing me and I embrace my alluring Switzerland. All I have to do now is to persuade the family to visit me more often!
I could go on and on, but before I bore you, I will end here. With this letter I have also added the recipe for mug (ઢીલા મગ). Great source of protein and you can even substitute other lentils like adad(અડદ), or whole masoor(આખા મસૂર). Please also check into the ‘Rituals of the Gujarati Meal‘ page, where all the mysteries of our meals will be revealed.
Until the next time and forever awaiting your arrival,
With all my love, hugs and kisses,