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Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland’

Recently, while on a trip to Switzerland, yours truly had the opportunity of calling upon Mr. José Manuel Castro Santiago, Minister – Counsellor at the Embassy of Portugal in Bern.

Despite his busy schedule, he was kind enough to grant an audience to yours truly, who wished to present to him a copy of his book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

It happened to be a day when the soaring day temperature had left denizens of Berne gasping for breath and scurrying for cover. To match the heat outside, the Embassy of Portugal in Switzerland offered a degree of bonhomie and warmth, much like the genial and affable disposition of the people of Portugal.

An informal meeting took place in his tastefully done up office. He was genial, graceful and dignified. The frankness with which he spoke and the warmth he exuded was typical of the people of character, resource and rich culture he represents.

It transpired that he had also had a stint in India. He spoke warmly of his positive feel about the country. He touched upon its rich ancient culture and the diversity of its citizens. Yet another emerging economy he had been posted to in the past was that of Brazil.

He mentioned that he has himself authored and published a book which captures his experiences in a long and successful career. Yours truly expressed a wish that some kindly publisher might bring it out in English as well, so the wisdom contained therein may get shared more widely.

He was happy to know that yours truly had been associated with the Tata group for close to a decade, that too in the field of leather footwear and components. The courtesy extended to an ordinary soul from an emerging economy like India was impeccable.

Diplomats represent all that their land is and aspires to be. Much like Ms. Clara Nunes dos Santos, the Ambassador of Portugal to Norway (whom yours truly had the opportunity to meet recently), Mr. José Manuel Castro Santiago is also no exception. One has no doubt that both of them handle managerial challenges coming their way with characteristic aplomb.

One wishes them and their country a great innings in the days to come.

(Notes:

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016, courtesy Liberty Seguros and Vida Economica.

The English version of the book, entitled ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, was released recently.

Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway)

 

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Those who happen to know me personally are often deceived by my polite manners. They often wonder as to why I never opted for a diplomatic career.

Allow me to set the record straight. P G Wodehouse played some role in indicating that my Guardian Angels had planned my life much unlike that of Eustace Mulliner, who was a part of the British Embassy in Switzerland.

Jeeves’ psychology-of-an-individual factor has also led me to believe that the diplomatic corps on this planet are better off without me.

My limited intuitive faculties also tell me that life as a career diplomat could not be as glamorous and hunky dory as it might appear to be from the outside of an embassy building.

The Eustace Mulliner saga

Wodehouse fans might recall that the splendid idea of Eustace Mulliner joining the British Embassy in Switzerland was dangled before him by his godfather, Lord Knubble of Knopp. Eustace had stoutly refused to avail himself of the offer.

However, things turned out differently when he was caught misbehaving with Francis, a feline creature which was a favourite of his Aunt Georgina. At the time, two more characters had popped up, taking a jaundiced view of the proceedings. His obduracy evaporated. He decided that Switzerland was a safer country to be in.

Unlike Eustace Mulliner, my Guardian Angels had planned my life along different lines.

One, I never fancied maintaining a ‘Open House’ for pets of all kinds.

Two, Fate never bestowed upon me a girl friend, that too someone like Marcella Tyrrwhitt, who would take the risk of entrusting her favourite Peke and her canary to me while going off to Paris on a brief sojourn.

Three, I have never had the privilege of having a wealthy aunt who might have taken offence at my throwing cucumber sandwiches at her cat.

Four, never have I come across an ardent animal lover like Orlando Wotherspoon, the perennial Vice President of the Dumb Chumbs’ League, who would threaten to thrash me within an inch of my life.

Nor have I had the privilege of coming across a girl friend who had Spanish blood in her; someone who would have liked to whack me with the heaviest parasol she could lay her hands on, the provocation being her discovery that a favourite Peke of hers had been gifted by me to one Beatrice Watterson.Those who have followed the ruminations of Mr Mulliner (Mulliner Nights, Open House) would recall that Eustace, upon joining the British Embassy in Switzerland, had stuck to his duties with unremitting energy.

‘So much so that, he had been awarded the Order of the Crimson Edelweiss, Third Class, with crossed cuckoo-clocks, carrying with it the right to yodel in the presence of the Vice-President.’

One might miss the rights to yodel in the presence of the high and mighty, but life has been kind to me in so many other ways.

The psychology of the individual

Jeeves would have surely approved of my keeping away from a diplomatic career. I am certain that several diplomatic disasters and gaffes have thus been avoided, saving our planet from a more uncertain future. August bodies such as the United Nations surely breathe easier.

The simpleton that I am, a career in diplomacy would have tested my reserves of patience to the hilt. Putting on a plastic smile, when necessary, would have tried my nerves no end. A Bollywood producer, had he cast me as a lead actor for one of his inane movies, would have cried all the way to his bank. Having to make inane conversations with perfect strangers on topics which are alien to the restricted domain of my knowledge would have left my soul in perennial torment.

To a lay person, the life of a career diplomat might sound flashy and exciting. Rubbing shoulders with world leaders. Travelling to exotic locales. Devouring Anatole-ish spreads. Attending conferences and banquets. Making clever speeches which get received with a thunderous applause and, possibly, even a standing ovation.

But it is not too difficult to surmise the harsh realities of a diplomatic life. These pose many challenges of a managerial kind.

Of diplomats and their career blues

Maintaining cordial international relations in our turbulent times would be no mean task. The dignity and the image of the home country needs to be upheld. Culture, heritage and values need to be showcased. Cultural nuances of the land where they happen to be posted to need to be understood and rigorously followed.

Besides negotiating and facilitating treaties, opportunities for trade promotion and closer collaboration have to be exploited to the hilt. An eye has to be kept open for business opportunities between the two countries. Unique strengths of the home country have to be showcased. Stakeholders of diverse hues, shapes, sizes and temperaments have to be kept in a positive frame of mind. Political masters have to be kept in good humour. Business barons snapping at their heels have to be kept at bay.

Meetings, conferences and banquets have to be attended. Impeccable sartorial standards have to be maintained, showcasing their home country while keeping the local sensibilities in mind. Consular services have to be dished out with courtesy, transparency and efficiency.

Morale of the staff has to be upheld at all times. Resistance to change needs to be overcome. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has to be understood and applied in all cases. Career priorities invariably take precedence over personal matters.

The harsh slings and arrows of fate do not stop with such mighty challenges. Once in a blue moon, some odd requests have to be granted. Interviews by a bunch of giggly communication students may need to be granted. Inquisitive media journalists desperately searching for some exciting sound bites may have to be tolerated.

Lay citizens of a distant country could pop up, wanting to present a book authored by them on a subject which sounds like Latin and Greek, simply because the book was launched back home, in the home language.

The last mentioned was the fate suffered recently by two senior members of the international diplomatic corps, when I popped up in flesh and blood to present to them a copy of my book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

It was kind of them to have granted me an audience. Like many a harsh slings and arrows of Fate coming their way, they took it very sportingly, thereby shoring up the image of their country in the feeble mind of a lesser mortal from one of the emerging economies of the world.

Bertie Wooster would have heartily approved of their chin up attitude. So would have Eustace Mulliner.

As to my not having gravitated towards a diplomatic career myself, Jeeves would have surely approved.

Thank you, Plum!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland)

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The Rosengart Collection at Lucerne in Switzerland, puts a clear emphasis on Classic Modernism, featuring the works of several artists.

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A major part of the gallery is devoted to Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee.

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There are 32 paintings and some 100 drawings, water colours and numerous graphic and sculptural works of Pablo Picasso. Combined, all these reflect the genius and the creative vitality of the renowned artist.

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Around 125 wonderfully resonant watercolours of Paul Klee form the second focus of the collection. The works are chronologically arranged, duly numbered, and embody the inexhaustible visual and narrative wealth of his works.

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The gallery also showcases the genius of 21 other artists. These include Monet, Cezanne, Vuillard, Bonnard, Matisse, Braque, Leger, Miro and Chagall.

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Each artist has his or her own unique imprint. Over time, as artists evolve, so do their works. We shall seldom come to know the source of their inspiration at any given point in time. But the legacy they leave behind is for all of us to cherish.

Their works represent a collage of nature and human emotions which happen to be universal in nature. In that sense, their works belong to humanity in general.

(Note: The Rosengart Gallery does not permit photography. Images here of some of the paintings seen at the gallery are courtesy the world wide web.)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/26/a-leisurely-stroll-through-lucerne-in-switzerland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-1-of-3)

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Centrally located in Switzerland, Lucerne is a great place to spend some time in. A leisurely stroll through its streets enables one to relish the kind of buildings which dot its streets and also appreciate the art which adorns their outer walls.

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Since the city straddles the Reuss where it drains the lake, it has a number of bridges. For a globe trotter, here are some of the tourist attractions on offer in Lucerne.

The Chapel Bridge

Lucerne Chapel Bridge

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The most famous is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a 204 m long wooden covered bridge originally built in 1333. It is said to be the oldest covered bridge in Europe, although much of it had to be replaced after a fire on 18 August 1993, allegedly caused by a discarded cigarette. Part way across, the bridge runs by the octagonal Water Tower (Wasserturm), a fortification from the 13th century. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century depicting events from Lucerne’s history. The Bridge with its Tower is the city’s most famous landmark.

The Jesuit Church

Lucerne Jesuit Church

Lucerne’s Jesuit Church is the first large baroque church built in Switzerland north of the Alps.

Bollywood buffs would be delighted to recall the appearance of both the above in a song from the movie ‘Laga Chunari Mein Daag’.

The Spreuer Bridge

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Down the river, between the Kasernenplatz and the Mühlenplatz, the Spreuer Bridge zigzags across the Reuss. Constructed in 1408, it features a series of medieval-style 17th century plague paintings by Kaspar Meglinger titled ‘Dance of Death’. The bridge has a small chapel in the middle that was added in 1568.

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The Lion Monument

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Bertel Thorvaldsen’s famous carving of a dying lion (the Lion Monument, or Löwendenkmal) is found in a small park just off the Löwenplatz. The carving commemorates the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when an armed mob stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

Glacier Garden Museum

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Great informative museum about the nature, earth science and Lucerne history. It is amazing to know that centuries back, this area was on the sea coast!

The mirror maze is a must see, beautiful and real fun. Good view-point at the top. One down side is that it does not have all the descriptions in English.

The Transport Museum

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A visit to the Transport Museum is highly enlightening. It has a large and comprehensive museum exhibiting all forms of transport, including locomotives, automobiles, ships, and aircraft.

There is a separate section devoted to the history and the execution of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is a railway base tunnel through the Alps in Switzerland, which opened on the 1st of June 2016, with full service to begin in December 2016. With a route length of 57.09 km it is the world’s longest and deepest traffic tunnel and the first flat, low-level route through the Alps.

The Natural History Museum

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A permanent biological exhibition shows flora and fauna from Central Switzerland, and a variety of live animals can be seen in aquariums and terrariums. Rotating panels show butterflies and insects from all over the world.

The ground floor has interesting displays which keep changing from time to time. Kids have real fun learning about diverse animals.Lucerne 13

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The Culture and Convention Center

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The Culture and Convention Center (KKL) beside the lake in the center of the city was designed by Jean Nouvel. The center has one of the world’s leading concert halls, with acoustics by Russell Johnson. Here are some snippets from a recent art exhibition at the KKL Gallery.Lucerne 16

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A cruise in the lake is invigorating, to say the least.

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Pilatus nearby beckons

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At 2,132 meters above sea level, Pilatus is the ideal adventure mountain for the whole family.

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A visit to the Pilatus using the cog-wheel funicular, the world’s steepest at a maximum gradient of 48%, is exhilarating.

The Rosengart Museum has a delectable collection the works of Pablo Picasso and many others. More about this later.

Each city has a unique characteristic of its own. Lucerne in Switzerland is no exception.

(Note: Some of the photographs have been taken from Wikipedia)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-1-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/a-brand-called-switzerland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/flying-over-the-swiss-alps

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/sherlock-holmes-the-honorary-citizen-of-meiringen-switzerland)

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Indian art is much revered and valued in all major countries. So, the priceless collection of sculptures and paintings at Museum Rietburg in Zurich comes as no surprise.

Here are some of the artefacts one discovers while taking a saunter down the museum. These make one realize the immense potential of the soft power of India.

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Art of any kind perhaps gets appreciated because it connects us with our own inner sense of aesthetics, beauty, love and harmony. The attempt to preserve and showcase the artworks of distant cultures and continents is praiseworthy indeed. It is a good example for other countries to emulate.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-1-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-2-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/a-saunter-down-the-louvre-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/the-dance-of-life-at-the-national-gallery-of-norway)

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We live in times when protectionist tendencies appear to be on the rise. However, the Rietberg Museum at Zurich represents a global and inclusive view. It shows us the value humanity can attach to a profound respect for diverse cultures.

The Rietberg Museum is the only art museum of non-European cultures in Switzerland, the third-largest museum in Zürich, and the largest to be run by the city itself.

A leisurely stroll through the corridors makes one discover some exquisite works of art from across the world.img_4461

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In the early 1940s, the city of Zürich purchased the Rieterpark and the Wesendonck Villa. In 1949, the Wesendonck Villa was selected, by referendum, to be rebuilt into a museum for the Baron Eduard von der Heydt’s art collection, which he had donated to the city in 1945. This was carried out in 1951-52 under the architect Alfred Gradmann. The Rietberg Museum was opened on the 24 th of May, 1952.

(Related posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-1-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-3-of-3)

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The Museum Rietberg Zurich is the only art museum for non-European cultures in Switzerland, exhibiting an internationally renowned collection of art from Asia, Africa and Ancient America.

Artworks from India jostle for space along with those from Africa, China, Japan, Tibet, Ancient America, Oceania and Southeast Asia. A veritable collection of old Swiss carnival masks brings in the local flavour.

Here are some of the artefacts one discovers while taking a leisurely walk through the corridors of the museum.

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(Cameroon, 19th century)

rietberg-china-buddhaBuddha Shakyamuni

(China, 536 AD)

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(Cambodia, late 7th century)

rietberg-siddhartha-indienMara’s daughters tempting Prince Siddhartha

(Pakistan, 2nd-3rd century)

rietberg-afrika-dragon-masterDragon master

(Mali, 13th/14th century)

rietberg-japan-stories-of-iseStories of Ise

(Japan, circa 1796)

rietberg-tibet-vairochanaVairochana, the Cosmic Buddha

(Tibet, 14th century)

rietberg-south-america-mushroom-stoneMushroom Stone

(El Salvador, 300 BC-250 AD)

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(China, 1649)

rietberg-china-green-taraThe green Tara

(China, circa 1405)

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(South America, 600-900 AD)

rietberg-japan-kokuzoKokuzo – the Buddha to sharpen the intellect

(Japan, late 12th century)

rietberg-egypt-heracliusEmperor Heraclius in triumph

(Egypt, 7th century)

This unique collection is designed to heighten the understanding and appreciation of non-European art and cultures. The crowds which pour over minute details of many of the artworks on display bear a testimony to the fact that the love for art is universal, not confined to barriers of any kind – natural or man-made.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-2-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/a-saunter-down-the-rietberg-museum-at-zurich-in-switzerland-part-3-of-3)

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