May 25, 2009

Day 9: "Sheer whiteness exhilarating to madness"

The indication was clear - I am an idiot when it comes to packing. We were in Switzerland and I did not possess a single jacket. I showed up that morning on my thin T-shirt and after laughing her head off VA got me and SR a couple of jackets. SS had packed appropriate clothes as usual and finally with warm idlis in our bellies we were set for the Swiss mountains.

Large water bodies, picture postcard small towns, acres and acres of green lawns continued on. How hopeful greenery makes one feel!

My vague recollections from Geography books told me almost 60% of Switzerland was covered by the mountains. We arrived in Engleberg to a fantastic view of the towering snow covered mountain ranges. Clearly all the tour operators from India brought their brood here - the multi language welcome board had its hindi representation and there were a lot of Kesari travel buses in the bus port. We got a ticket and spend the next hour or so in the cable car admiring the snow covered mountain side as we slowly went up and up and away. The three part ride lived up to its expectation and we arrived in the Glacier park. We wandered about for a while and then decided to take the Ice Flyer trip.

Four of us were seated in one chairlift and within seconds of us moving out, the belt like handle flew up in the air. Perched perilously on the edge of the long chair, I realized with a jolt that if I stumbled I would meet a snowy death. What should have been a simple ride, due to the high winds and lack of handle turned to be more thrilling than necessary. It gave a feeling of being open to the elements with no protection whatsoever and the thick snow sparkled mocking my insignificance. It was a beautiful ride in an awe-inspiring way. One day I will learn skiing I told myself..

After the flyer we wandered into the Glacier park and tumbled about in the snow simply enjoying the rare scene. There was a tube ride which seemed to involve sitting in a tire like thing and hurtling down in great gathering speed towards the edge of abyss. SS went first before I could even think followed by everyone else. They were closing down and there was no time to think so
I hopped into one the predominant thought in mind being if the wind is slightly higher I am going to fly over the edge. Incongruently the only image that was in mind was of Calvin and Hobbes in their little snow vehicle. The rush and thrill was awesome and I felt thoroughly accomplished. The words of DH Lawrence [post title] kept echoing in my mind.

I vaguely remembered Byron and Shelly living in Switzerland and tried to recollect some work of Byron mentioning the mountains but couldn't.

The quite evening was spent in the park and I went to bed thinking of the beauty, but more than the beauty the reverence nature inspires in oneself. Sleep didn't come easily that night as the images of snow and grasslands and mountains and cows kept flashing in a montage beneath my lids.

May 25, 2009