Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Into the West-

I’m in the Zurich airport waiting for my flight to Los Angeles. It is a gray day and there is a bit of frost on the ground. I’ve explored downtown Zurich, took a train, very efficient, from the airport to downtown. Ticket was about $14 and it is an all day pass, which I only used to go to and from the airport.

I left mother India this morning around 2 AM. I am wearing my multi-colored hat that I purchased in Pushkar in October 2009. The Indian woman at the Swiss Air counter in New Delhi asked me about the hat and really liked it. She smiled, that smile that I typically get from India.
My flight was uneventful, the usual turbulence and I tried to sleep the entire way, ignored the food at 2:30 AM as I pulled my Pushkar hat over my eyes. Sleeping was not sound, although there was nobody sitting next to me. Had an early breakfast around 5 AM Zurich time and watched a bit of Avatar.

The flight was efficient, clean, a different language came over the speakers from the captain and crew. A guttural kind of utterance, a European mixture. The New Delhi airport has changed mostly due to the October 2010 Commonwealth Games. It has a very western feel, lots of shopping, clean, efficient. The Zurich airport is the same clean, no noise from the outside, a world unto itself.

The people don’t seem friendly, like you’re bothering them by asking a question. It is not the smile that I’m used from India. It feels rather stand offish. One guy was helpful, but many of the Swiss that I encountered, didn’t really seem to want to take the time.

Zurich, in which the sky didn’t start to lighten until around 8:30 AM, was full of no sound, people in cars, a few on bicycles, no ethnic diversity, people riding the various types of public transportation, light rail, electrified bus, trains, a market that was neither hustle nor bustle, no garbage on the streets except for some cigarette butts, two dogs with chains around their necks and no cows. . Granted it is winter, cold around 0 Centigrade, but I wonder I anybody really “lives” here.

I went into a grocery store, Coop, full of western products, with shelves well stocked and everything in its place. The orange that I ate had no seeds, the apple was perfectly crisp, nothing like what I eat in mother India.

The only sound in the Zurich airport Gate E-26 waiting area is from what looks to be an Indian family. The only color that I see, beautiful pinkish sari, is from this same family. My reintroduction to the west seems to be about conformity, few smiles, lots of cigarette smoking, efficiency and “whiteness”. I did see a guy wearing a Green Bay Packers shirt and when he stood up, due to his size his butt was staring me in the face.

It certainly is what I remember but I haven’t seen it through my “Indian eyes” before. The white frost on the runway and the gray background seems to capture it all. I’m sure that the summer is beautiful with the Alps and the blueness of Lake Zurich, but now it is only the same.

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