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Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland’

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.

reitberg-afrika-headdressHeaddress

(Cameroon, 19th century)

rietberg-china-buddhaBuddha Shakyamuni

(China, 536 AD)

rietberg-umaUma

(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)

rietberg-china-meditationMeditation

(China, 1649)

rietberg-china-green-taraThe green Tara

(China, circa 1405)

rietberg-south-america-mayan-drinking-vesselMayan drinking vessel

(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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Berne

The capital city of Berne lies on the banks of the Aare which delicately loops through it. Magnificent fountains and well-sculptured statues abound. The Bundeshaus is the headquarters of the Swiss government. Those who have Relativity on their minds would love to look up the place where Einstein used to live.

Zurich

The point where the Lake of Zurich meets the Limmat River offers a panaromic view of the Alps. As with so many other cities of Switzerland, the city offers an enchanting range of museums. Right from delicious Rosti to sumptuous Indian fare, the foodie has many options of improving upon her intake of nourishment here.

Basel

Basel has some two dozen museums. It prides itself on its spirit of fun and ‘Morgenstraich’. World renowned chemical and pharmaceutical names are present in the city which is located on the bend of the Rhine where Switzerland shares its borders with France and Germany.

Cathedral of St Gall

The Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen lead one to the city of St. Gall, where the cathedral is bound to attract the lay tourist as also an expert architect on the lookout for a marvel in building design.

Santis

St. Gall leads one to the hilly Appenzell region with its towering Santis.

St Moritz

Sports resorts of St. Moritz, Davos and Arosa offer summer and winter fun to all those who care to visit this part of Switzerland. Mother Nature is there in all its benevolence, offering an experience which uplifts the soul and invigorates the body.

Lake of Sils

The Swiss National Park, the Munster Valley and the Maloja Pass happen to be near the Lake of Sils. The Bernina Pass leads one to southern realms.

Bernina Range

Right behind the snow of the Bernina Range lie the towns which stoke our hedonistic tendencies – the romantic Puschlav and the wine-producing Veltlin.

One can keep flying over the Swiss Alps repeatedly but still come back with a feeling of partial fulfillment and dissatisfaction, because there is just so much on offer in the land of chocolates and cheese!

(Photographs used here are from a book gifted to me by a close friend)

(Related Posts:

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

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

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Oh, to be in the land of cheese and chocolates!

Ronco sopra Ascona

Ronco sopra Ascona

Here is the Quay of Locarno at the Lago Maggiore. Located at its upper end is Locarno, which bustles with life all through the year. Those in search of enchanting botany are sure to find solace here.

Lake of Lucerne and Bristenstock

Lake of Lucerne and Bristenstock

Centrally located, Lucerne is a great place to spend some time in. Enjoy a stroll on the Kappell Bridge with its octagonal water tower. A visit to the Transport Museum is highly enlightening. A cruise in the lake is invigorating, to say the least. A visit to the Pilatus using the funicular, the world’s steepest at an incline of 48%, is exhilarating.

Brunnen and Lake of Uri

Brunnen and Lake of Uri

From the Lake of Lucerne, take the winding road towards enchanting Fluelen and to Brunnen, a renowned resort and spa.

Monsatery church and Sihi Lake

Monastery church and Sihi Lake

The village of Einsiedeln with its Benedictine abbey and the monumental monastery would make you marvel at the architectural splendour on offer.

Matterhorn

Matterhorn

Think of Swiss mountains and the name of Matterhorn is bound to come up on the very top. If you decide to go on an adventurous trek, ensure that a woolly creature known as the St. Bernard dog is close at hand.

Lausanne

Lausanne

Lausanne is a metropolis dedicated to science and art as well as to commerce and industry. The Federal Supreme Court is stationed here.

Geneva

Geneva

An internationally renowned city with a distinctive French touch. The UN is here. The Red Cross is here. CERN is here. Above all, the warm hospitality of the residents could leave you wonder-struck.

Of course, there is much more to this land of precision engineering and watches. A single visit is sure to whet your appetite, and make you want to come back for more sight-seeing!

(Photographs used here are from a book gifted to me by a close friend)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/flying-over-the-swiss-alps-part-2

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

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Quite a few amongst us are fed up with our daily dose of bad news. Wars – covert or overt. Disasters – natural or otherwise. Genocides. Murders. Rapes. Income inequalities. Social prejudices. Accidents. Every single day, the media keeps reminding us of what is wrong with our world.

During the last three weeks, we were fortunate to have come face to face with institutions and bodies which try to do something good for the world.

Here is a quick recap of such encounters of the pleasant kind.

THE UN OFFICE at Geneva

A guided tour of the Palais de Nations in Geneva makes us realize the way the UN functions and the organs through which it operates in fields as diverse as health, education and sustainable development, besides matters of political import.

Palais de Nations

Palais de Nations

Other than United Nations administration, the UN Office at Geneva also hosts the offices for a number of programmes and funds. As many as 23 organs of the UN are located at Geneva – such as the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the International Labour Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Health Organization.

The General Assembly hall at Geneva

The General Assembly hall at Geneva

We get to witness a Human Rights Council meeting where records of countries are getting reviewed and commented upon.

The compound has impressive artefacts, including a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi in the UN compound at Geneva

Mahatma Gandhi in the UN compound at Geneva

Where the League of Nations failed in 1939, the UN appears to have succeeded so far – keeping a global war at bay by a relentless effort to defuse tensions. However, several conflict zones remain active in various parts of the world, needing intervention.

The ICRC at Geneva

A visit to the global headquarters of the Red Cross brings us face to face with the kind of trauma, pain and suffering the denizens of our planet have undergone over the last 100 years.

The ICRC Headquarters at Geneva

The ICRC Headquarters at Geneva

The ICRC, established in 1863, works worldwide to provide humanitarian help for people affected by conflict and armed violence and to promote the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organization, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

At the permanent exhibition, testimonies of witnesses and survivors can be heard. A section on children missing from strife-torn areas moves us deeply. Records of persons missing during both the World Wars and the attempts made to reunite families leave us wondering as to why wars are waged at all.

An exhibit at the permanent exhibition at ICRC

An exhibit at the permanent exhibition at ICRC

Havoc caused by natural disasters like earth quakes, tsunamis and global warming can be experienced by means of movies, working models and testimonies of witnesses.

A painting lauding the efforts of Nelson Mandela

A painting lauding the efforts of Nelson Mandela

For those made of sterner stuff, some details of the treatment meted out to prisoners of war can be realized through a temporary exhibition of paintings, sculptures and short movie clips.

The NOBEL PEACE CENTER at Oslo

In an ironical twist of faith, Alfred Nobel, in his sunset years, decided to do something to help society overcome the damage some of his inventions had done. Of the five prizes conceived by him, he decided to allot the Peace Prize to Norway in 1905.

The Nobel Peace Center at Oslo

The Nobel Peace Center at Oslo

The Centre at Oslo captures the spirit behind the prize, the process of its finalization and details of all its 123 recipients till now. An electronic book about Alfred Nobel provides interesting insights into his life.

Use of technology to display the details of all the Prize recipients

Use of technology to display the details of all the Prize recipients

Activities of the 2013 winner – Organization for Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – are on display. We get to understand how the OPCW inspectors monitor, locate and destroy chemical weapons. It is interesting for us to know that it was only in 1997 that the protocol for control of chemical weapons came into force.

In a temporary exhibition entitled ‘Be Democracy’, we learn the extent to which the democratic form of governance has become popular all across the world. In an interactive section, one can form a message supporting global peace and leave it behind.

An interactive exhibition

An interactive exhibition

Mahatma Gandhi appears at different places in the exhibition. It is a matter of deep regret that a person of his stature could never get a Nobel Peace Prize.

A quote from Mahatma Gandhi

A quote from Mahatma Gandhi

In a small room, we come across some paintings done by children of different countries. We are delighted to see three by Indian children.

A Churning and Cleansing

Global bodies which try to do something good face tremendous challenges. Better access to health and education continues to cause concern; so does the rise of terrorism, the sophistication in weaponry, the change of a bipolar world into a multi-polar one, economic predation, sustainable development and non-compliance with humanitarian laws, just to cite a few.

Stop Terrorism, Spread Peace - a painting by Sudarshan V, 12 years, India

Stop Terrorism, Spread Peace – a painting by Sudarshan V, 12 years, India

We live in times when the spread of internet has changed the way we experience and interact with the world. Use of armed drones and robots and cyber-attacks are newer challenges on the horizon.

One may scoff at the idea that peace prevails. There are conflicts all around us. Possibly these are part of a churning which takes place within the collective soul of humanity. Such churning appears to be a cleansing process, designed by nature to rid us of the poisons within our collective conscience.

Beacons of Hope for Mankind

When hatred grows with no end in sight, it generates its own momentum. That is where the role of organizations like the United Nations, the Red Cross and the Nobel Foundation assumes relevance. It is a role which earns more brickbats than bouquets and is never short of generating controversies.

Voodoo dolls depicting the problems affecting humanity (ICRC, Geneva)

Voodoo dolls depicting the problems affecting humanity (ICRC, Geneva)

The good news is that despite political pushes and pulls, they continue to discharge their obligations towards humanity. Going forward, a conscious drive to make them more inclusive – providing better role in decision-making to the emerging economies – would surely help.

The presence of dynamic institutions and bodies which stand up for righteousness and work for the collective good assures us that there is hope for mankind. May be, a day would dawn when ‘Vasudhaiv kutumbukam’ (let the whole earth be one family) would become a reality!

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Can a fictional character assume a life and will power of its own? Can he scale heights of popularity and importance greater than those of his author and creator? That is precisely what appears to have happened in the case of Sherlock Holmes, the famous fictional detective.May 2014 379

The Final Problem was intended to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle´s last work portraying Sherlock Holmes. He entertained a belief that the Sherlock Holmes stories were distracting him from more serious literary efforts. An option available to the author was that of “killing” Holmes and undertake other literary endeavors.May 2014 380

In order to keep the fans of the detective in good humor, the author came up with a plot which involved Holmes saying good-bye with a flourish, ridding the world of a criminal so powerful and dangerous that any further task would be trivial in comparison (Holmes says as much in the story).May 2014 381

All authors walk a thin line between imagination and reality. In 1893, Conan Doyle and his wife toured Switzerland and discovered the village of Meiringen in the Bernese Alps. It was here that the idea of killing Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls took shape.May 2014 382

However, Doyle let the detective die in circumstances shrouded in mystery. No revolvers. No air guns. No African powders which emit deadly vapors. No eyewitnesses. No physical remains. No deceptive burials. Simply, a natural setting. Just the footprints in a muddy dead-end path. Signs of a violent struggle which make Dr. Watson come to the conclusion that Holmes is no more.May 2014 383

When one picks up a Sherlock Holmes story, one is assured of good value for one`s time and effort. Backed by hard-nosed judgement, insightful observations and above-par analytical skills, he delivers. He is utterly reliable. These are the very attributes which go on to build up a brand.

Eventually, the brand called Sherlock Holmes proved to be stronger. Pressure from fans persuaded Doyle to bring Holmes back, first writing The Hound of the Baskervilles and then resurrecting him in The Adventure of the Empty House.May 2014 384

Finally, it transpired that Sherlock Holmes had actually won the struggle at Reichenbach Falls and sent Moriarty to his death though nearly meeting his own at the hands of Moriarty’s henchmen. Conan Doyle could plausibly resurrect Holmes, much to the eternal delight and gratitude of the detective`s fans!May 2014 385

Have you come across any other characters in literature which survived their creatorエs attempt to vanquish them?!

For management experts, herein lies a potential case study: How to make a brand assume a higher stature than the corporate entity which creates it!

(Illustrations from the Sherlock Holmes Museum at Meiringen, Switzerland)

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

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May 22 happens to be the birth anniversary of one of the greatest wordsmiths of our times – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This year, the family decided to celebrate it by paying a visit to a museum dedicated to him in Switzerland.

Included in the itinerary was a visit to the famous Reichenbach falls. That is where Sherlock Holmes was supposed to have met his end while fighting the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty. “The Final Problem”, a short story set in 1891, suggested the death of the greatest detective whose methods have influenced crime investigations all over the world!

The Museum

The small museum dedicated to Sherlock Holmes is located in a quaint little church in the small town of Meiringen. The entrance has a fine sculpture of the detective in deep thought.May 2014 376

A short pathway of gravel leads one to an old building which was originally used as a church. The pathway has stone panels on its sides. These contain beautiful illustrations depicting in brief not only the story of “The Final Problem” but also retirement plans of the detective!

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The basement has several displays which would interest anyone familiar with the life and times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his legendary characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The highlight is a faithful recreation of the room at 221-b, Baker Street, just after the two inhabitants have left it hurriedly, supposedly on a top-secret mission of theirs.May 2014 345

In a corner of the room one can spot a cupboard which is full of the kind of books and records the destruction of which would regale many a criminal hounded by the legendary duo in their times.May 2014 364

For the architecturally inclined, there is a map showing the location of 221-b, Baker Street, as also an elevation of the building which houses it.

The display has, amongst others, sculptures of Holmes, the certificate of honorary citizenship of Meiringen issued to him, a set of binoculars, the famous pipe and the hat. The small note left behind by Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls can also be seen.May 2014 356

Uniform of a Scotland Yard rozzer of 1890s is on display, along with some investigative tools used way back then. Articles touching upon the rugby interests and army career of Dr. Watson also enthrall the visitor.

Reichenbach FallsMay 2014 414

“The Final Problem” tells us that in May 1891, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson had stayed at the Englischer Hof at Meiringen. A walk had led them to the Falls, from where Dr. Watson had been tricked into returning to the inn, leaving Holmes all by himself.

Finally, Dr. Watson returns to Reichenbach Falls, only to find two sets of footprints going out onto the muddy dead-end path with none returning. There is also the note from Holmes, explaining that he is about to fight Moriarty, who has graciously given him enough time to pen this last letter.

Watson sees that towards the end of the path there are signs that a violent struggle has taken place and there are no returning footprints. It is all too clear Holmes and Moriarty have both fallen to their deaths down the gorge while locked in mortal combat. Heartbroken, Dr. Watson returns to England.

In the present, a funicular railway takes the visitor up to a platform from where the falls are clearly visible. The place from where Holmes and his adversary had fallen off is marked with a star. One can trek up to the star and also beyond and enjoy the magnificent scenery around.

A Tribute

While climbing the mountain, one contemplates on the ingenuity of the human mind. When used against humanity, it has the potential to give rise to a Napoleon of criminals like Dr. Moriarty. When deployed to protect the denizens against fraud, crime and cheating, it produces characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.May 2014 424

In a way, Dr. Moriarty still lives on even today. He manifests himself in various forms. Criminal deeds, injustice, disparity in opportunities and incomes and corruption, just to name a few. However, one can derive satisfaction from the fact that characters like Holmes and Watson also continue to live on amongst us, represented by forces opposed to the likes of Dr. Moriarty.

The myth of Sherlock Holmes lives on. One marvels at the mental capabilities of a person like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who created a detective who is more real to most of us than any real person we might have ever met.Conan_doyle

Such visits are more like pilgrimages. These are but a form of tribute to legendary authors who live on in our collective psyche and imagination through their works.

(Curious?  Check out http://www.sherlockholmes.ch)

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Having settled back in the shadow of the Alps yet again, I am filled with a sense of exhilaration and awe. The heat of India has got replaced by the chill of melting snow. TheSwiss Zermatt dust has given way to fresh air which is invigorating. In the cobbled streets, litter is missing. The greenery and the snow-capped mountains are a relief for the eyes. The ears are just about getting used to the soothing silence which has replaced the relentless honking on Indian roads. Courtesy in public spaces is once again leaving me dumbstruck.

But the stark contrasts do not end at the physical level. There are differences in the mental make up. The value systems which govern our behavior appear to be differently configured. The forces of nature and nurture which have shaped our personalities are quite different.

East and West can both learn quite a few things from each other.

What Indians can learn from the West

  • Respecting the Public Good

In the West, we find better respect for the public good. For instance, public spaces are cleaner and drivers on roads are courteous. On the contrary, in India, we keep our houses values cartoon corruptionclean and water our gardens everyday – but, when we go to the beach front, we litter the place with gay abandon.

In an office setting, a friendly colleague could get chastised for being careless on a project. In India, a criticism would either not be made – so it may not hurt the feelings of a friend – or taken personally by the recipient.

Corruption is another manifestation of the same lack of concern for the common good. Society is relatively corruption free in the West. In India, corruption, tax evasion, cheating and bribery have become a part of daily routine.

Apathy towards solving problems which affect the ordinary citizen is another dimension. In the West, people form groups to solve common problems in a proactive manner. In India, we see serious problems around us but do not try to solve them. We either believe that the problems do not impact us directly, or it is for someone else to resolve the issues.

  • Openness to Learning

If we have to progress, we have to change this attitude, listen to people who have performed better than us, learn from them and perform better than them. In India, we appear to have perfected the art of rationalizing our failures and explaining them off by misquoting our scriptures. We are good at finding excuses to justify our incompetence, corruption, and apathy. This attitude will not do.

  • Accountability based on the RoleAccessibility

Another interesting attribute that we Indians need to learn from the West is that of accountability. Irrespective of your position, in the West, you are held accountable for what you do. However, in India, the more ‘important’ you are, the less answerable you are.

Organizations whose top honchos indulge in illicit relations with their team members need to be pulled up and acted against as firmly as a junior cashier who siphons off money from the till.

  • Dignity of Labor

Dignity of labor is an integral part of the Western value system. In the West, each person is proud about his or her labor that raises honest sweat. On the other hand, in India, we have a mindset that respects only supposedly intellectual work.

A peon deserves as much respect as a Head of the Department. CEOs whose fragile egos are shaken by someone else parking his/her car in the normal slot needs to do some introspection.

  • Discriminating between Intimacy and Friendliness

Indians tend to become intimate even without being friendly. They ask favors of strangers without any hesitation. Rudyard Kipling once said: A westerner can be friendly without being intimate while an easterner tends to be intimate without being friendly.

Those who have worked as expatriates in another cultural setting would readily attest to this.

  • A Professional ApproachWORK-LIFE BALANCE

In India, more than 70% of the time of senior managers is spent on follow-ups; just ensuring that what is committed is indeed delivered. Delays are easily explained, and so are cost over-runs. Keeping a person unduly waiting is a sure sign of seniority in an Indian organization.

Here is yet another lesson to be learnt from the West – that of professionalism in dealings. Managements in the West ensure better work-life balance for their employees.

What the West can learn from India

  • Loyalty towards FamilyZOMBIES

Indians are part of a culture which has deep-rooted family values. We have tremendous loyalty to the family. For instance, parents make enormous sacrifices for their children. They support them until they can stand on their own feet. On the other side, children consider it their duty to take care of aged parents.

In organizations, we often find executives who are competent as well as extremely loyal. Also, respect for seniors is deeply ingrained in the system. There are times when juniors find it tough to take independent decisions. Very few are adept at registering a dissent with their seniors. Successful organizations have a culture which is designed to overcome such handicaps.

  • Family: A Critical Support Mechanism

One of the key strengths of Indian values is the presence of so much love and affection in the family life. In India, families act as a critical support mechanism for employees. Thus, resilience is better.

In the West, it is common to have break-ups when the career prospects of a manager nosedive. This adds to the stress experienced by a manager. Mental disorders present a much greater challenge. Predominantly, life has a materialistic approach, leading to a vacuum within.

  • Managing Chaos

Indians have improved upon the art of managing chaos and disorder. Even in high entropy situations, Indians tend to keep their nerve. Perhaps, this leads to better levels of perseverance as well.

Successful management of a human congregation like the Kumbh Mela is but one example of this trait.

  • Facing Adversity with EquanimityFeatured Image -- 1211

Upbringing steeped in religion and spirituality enables an average Indian to face adversity and failures with equanimity.

Learning from Different Value Systems

Values are like mountains. They have survived for centuries and shall continue to do so much after we have kicked the bucket. Universal common denominator is that of, say, love and affection. Over and above that, value systems differ across continents and cultures. When it comes to values, every culture has its own Unique Selling Proposition.

In this age of globalization and connectivity, mingling of diverse cultures is bound to happen. Learning from other value systems and adapting their good features is the only way to enable humanity to realize its full potential faster and better.

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