Friday, March 21, 2008

Zurich, The first impression

True to the subject line, I’ll only mention about the first few things that had hit me about this place.

The temperature difference inside a building and out in the open can be huge depending on how cold it’s outside. Believe me inside the bus, tram, train, shopping malls, office and houses the temperatures are maintained at a healthy 20 degree celsius. It’s only when we’re out… either walking on the pavement or waiting for the bus, train, tram in an open stand [you also have closed glass entrapments where commuters can wait with controlled heating] that you’d feel cold. Obviously the time in the year when you arrive into this part of the world also matters, for me it was early March.

For the first few minutes when I stepped outside the airport I loved the cool misty weather. It was drizzling and being a rain-lover I was enjoying the change from the warmer and dryer surroundings back home, in India. But the euphoria lasted only 2-3 minutes when cool became cold before becoming chilly and I wheeled my trolley back to the waiting room. A few heads nodded in communion… I guess they responded to my wise decision :).

Till now whatever Glattbrugg I’ve seen, I’ve found it quite windy followed by an occasional shower. Umbrella is an absolute necessity if there are plans of walking around Zurich. One of my previous bosses had told me, “Sourav, carry an umbrella for sure. It either rains or snows in Zurich.” The sun also makes its presence felt… but only by sight, the heat is not enough to warm the city weather.

Though it’s only a few weeks that I’ve arrived at this place, I’ve started liking the level of discipline and the logically implemented rules this place as got. There are three modes of transport that I’ve used till now: the bus, the tram and the train. At every stop there are clear descriptions of the modes of transport, the destination, and the time that it would take and on which days. When the bus-stop arrives, the bus would generally tilt a little to the right before the hydraulic doors open, to make it comfortable to alight and as the doors close the pumps again bring the bus back to level. Quite logical isn’t it? It’s a left hand operated region for automobiles here. There are automated ticket booking counter as well… but I guess you need a bit of guidance on its usage, initially. The trains/buses/trams are punctual and not only the modes of transport but even people are quite punctual here. The banks won’t open till its 9:00 AM sharp do whatever you want to do in front of the sensor detect doors. Unlike back in India, there is a separate account maintained in the ATM card which needs to be refilled from the bank account and which can be used for daily expenses.

There is a huge importance paid to personal life here and the offices are generally unoccupied after 6:30 PM. Even the shops close quite early… say by 7:30 PM or so. I had once got confused seeing that the lights of the shop to be still turned on and took it that to be open. I had to satiate my hunger with cheese and bread that evening.

Cheese!!! This is the land of the cheese lovers, but behold there are pitfalls too in this ecstasy land, unless you know how to read German. Yes, everything in the shops here is written in German... but there are people to help you with the language. I’ve never seen more than probably five varieties of cheese back home; here I tried four types out of which three have made their way directly to the garbage can after a small bite and not to mention the more than twenty five types or so that are available in the shops.

Going back to the roads, I was amazed by an extremely generous usage of the traffic lights… and well, everybody follows it. Last night from my apartment window I saw cars still following the traffic system; it was 1:00 AM then There are signals for pedestrians as well, when to cross the road. There is a red button near the zebra crossing that needs to be pressed indicating that you’d want to cross the road. On the smaller junctions, where there are no traffic signals, it would be ideal to use the zebra crossing to go to the other side of the road. The cars here give the pedestrians a go ahead if they see them near the zebra crossing and would either slow down or stop. So much filed with gratitude I’d be at times, that even if I see a car coming, I’d change my mind of crossing the road or probably look somewhere else to show that I’m least interested to cross the road, and do so only when the roads’ empty.

Another thing that you’d notice if you look up and if it’s not drizzling, is the criss-crossed sky. There are a lot of long distant aircrafts that pass via this land and leave the trail behind There have been times when I’ve seen about 3-4 aircrafts in the sky flying in various directions. This place has got excellent infrastructure, the transportation system is perfect, the services are quick, the people are co-operative and encourage conversations and the only weakness that I see is coping with this weather. My 20 minutes walk from office to my apartment would be swift and by the time I’d be home my ears and nose would be numb. But gradually I’m getting aligned to this weather.

A few more things that struck me are:
1. The buses and the taxis that run around the city are from Mercedes Benz.
2. The place is impeccably clean; there is no dust in the air.
3. The smoke from the cigarette is irritating. I’ve heard that the cigarettes here are light, but I found it intolerable.
4. Though the trains run on rails [just like in our India], but they are fast and extremely comfortable. I’ve seen trains from Siemens and Alstom being used.
5. The quality and variety of food is amazing, provided you go to the right place.
6. There’s only one free English channel on the television: CNN.

Over the next few days/weeks/months [depending on my tenure here], I’ll update a few more things about this place. Switzerland is a beautiful country and I’m glad that I’ve come here to work.

This post was earlier a part of my older blog till I decided to have a separate blog site for My Swiss Experience. The following are the comments that I had recieved on the previous blog site:

Tina has left a new comment on your post "Zurich, The first impression":
Hey Sweetie! A nice blog as usual :) Hope you have a mastiful time and do a good job at work!I'm waiting for you to get me loads of dark chocolate and souvenirs from all the places that you go to!
Posted by Tina to Ami kye... ami jani na... at March 22, 2008 9:58 AM

anita has left a new comment on your post "Zurich, The first impression":
You know, iv always wished and dreamed of living in a place like that. Clean, rational, orderly. No vegetable carts and cows and dogs and other wildlife to share the roads with, no crowds and smells and the baffling chaos. But is 'onsite' really all that rosy? This is the thought that bubbled up in my head after i read your post :). Carry on 'posting'!
Posted by anita to Ami kye... ami jani na... at March 23, 2008 8:20 PM

Preeti has left a new comment on your post "Zurich, The first impression":
Well I think the post well describes your journey from airport to home to office in various means of commuting and details like pressing button to cross helps ppl who go thr for the first time.... As these are questions in everyone's mind.. how will i settle , how will i commute.. n so many nth ques.. n such blogs.. truely helps... welll written... keep writing :-D.... n enjoy... Not to Miss : Mt Titlis, Jougfrow, Trublack Falls n Inetrlaken... for sure..... ;-)
Posted by Preeti to Ami kye... ami jani na... at March 23, 2008 10:23 PM

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