A Travellerspoint blog

’tis the season to be jolly. And to overeat.

sunny 37 °F

Two family Christmas meals later and numerous regular meals later, the conclusion is that the Swiss overcook their veggies. The cauliflower and broccoli taste pretty similar as they’ve been boiled to nirvana. The carrots are an orange mush as are the pumpkins. Had a extremely delightful meal yesterday: Gr’s aunt is a gifted cook, who pours love into her food. Each course and each plate was beautifully prepared and served. And even her veggies, though prettily diced, were way too soft. Is it just me? Or is this a Swiss culinary style? Am afraid to ask in case I offend.

G's very own adaptation of her mom's marble cake recipe

Yet another recipe from G's mom: Pineapple Upside Down

Failed attempt at meeting a popular Indian sweet, jilebi.

Since we’ve been hanging with family, a lot of time has been spent in kitchens, discussing recipes, brushing beaten eggs onto croquettes…and standing in front of snack cupboards. There’s been an inordinate quantity of cookies and chocolates taken from shelves and eaten by the boxful. Gr’s mom joked that we might get fat now that we are home. And it got me thinking of my mother’s kitchen. When I am home at my parents place, I too stand in front of the fridge, with the door open, hunting for what goodies Amma may have hidden behind the casserole dish. I too rummage in cookie tins, searching for my childhood, reliving the feeling of coming home to a warm glass of malted milk. In contrast, will my future hypothetical child find only tofu and rice milk in the fridge?

Posted by Goofy9 11:55 Archived in Switzerland Comments (3)

Santa has already been here

(and I was good kid!)

sunny 30 °F

Christmas is a decidedly low-key affair here. Sure, the one big main street, Bahnhoffstrasse, has pretty lights, though nothing in excess like the bright blue Christmas lights in Singapore. There are pretty trees here and there, but nothing like the gigantic Rockefeller Center one. People have a lit-up star and a simple string of lights - none of the Keeping up With the Joneses style lighting. My theory as to why it’s all low-key is that Santa ain’t such a big deal here!

Santa’s called Sami Klaus. Similar big jolly fellow in red. But the part that’s different is that (a) he has a dark-faced friend who tags along with him, and (b) Dec 6th is his chosen day. He’s got nothing to do with Christmas the way I know Christmas, and has nothing to do with baby Jesus either apparently. He’s this jolly fellow who is jolly with the kids if they’ve been any good during the year, and if they haven’t been up to any good, then his dark-faced friend, Schmutzli, (meaning dirty) whisks the kid away in a sack…forever. Pretty serious.

And instead of a gingerbread man, they have grittibaenz. He’s made from a sweetish dough and has a stick of chocolate sticking out of him. The chocolate stick is a representation of a staff that a catholic bishop might carry. Oh, which reminds me, Sami Klaus also has a staff and he wears a pointy bishop/pope-style hat.


The office Christmas party was last Friday - no, I did not go. But I was wondering on Friday why there were people in the office dressed “odd”. None of the stuffy banker suits, but leather pants and women in dresses that showed quite a bit of bosom. All very surprising. Well, the Christmas party had an Oktoberfest theme. No one rents these, everyone owns their own lederhosen and dirndl. Next year, I’m going to get me one of those dresses!

Posted by Goofy9 09:04 Archived in Switzerland Comments (1)

Mini Retirement

sunny 33 °F

Four Hour Work Week - Read this book in 2010. Even though I don’t believe I can architect my life in a manner that allows me to only work 4 hours a week, the author does have some clever ideas. The one that has had a big influence in my life, the author calls “mini retirement.”

The concept is simple - take many breaks in life, don’t just take one long final break at the end of ones career. Don’t just save it all up to take off at 65. Take a break every few years instead - to rejuvenate, to give one energy to focus on the next set of years. And in my guess, take time off just to goof off! And not just 1-2-3 months here and there, but an amount of time that makes a significant difference in your life.

After leaving South Africa at the end of Sept 2012, I was mentally and physically exhausted, and taking time off was the only option to preserve my sanity and health. The last bit of 2012 was spent working on me - getting myself mentally and physically fit again. 2013 brought Gitanjali2.0! I literally flung myself off a cliff and let life come at me.

Highlights of my 2013
1. Walked the Inca Trail - proved to myself that I had the physical toughness to just put one foot in front of the other and to value every step of it.

2. Went from being a couch potato to running my first ever 5K, and then a 10K, and finally a half marathon.

3. Read fiction, something I had not done in over 10 years. Immortals of Meluha!

4. Looked at my relationship with my job, and worked on changing it. Am now on track to the career I wish to build over the next decade.

5. Traveled home to India and spent Diwali with my family. The last time I did that was 2001.

6. Packed, moved, unpacked, packed again and moved again, 4 times this past year alone.

What I learned from Four Hour Work Week
1. You dont have to reply to a work email immediately. You can train those around you to expect a reply twice a day only. There is no need for instant responses.

2. Plan mini-retirements.

3. Steps on how to set up an online business.

4. To value my time and calculate how much time I waste on non-value add tasks that I could outsource to someone better suited for it.

All this being said, I have finally come out of my mini-retirement and have gone back to work after 14 months*. And I am already planning my next mini retirement!

* I did work for a short 6-weeks in San Francisco this summer. And how fun was that!

Posted by Goofy9 12:47 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

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