This is a letter written 18 years back by our son when he was in Paris which perhaps he may not remember now.I am publishing this to keep it safe as the letter was misplaced several times and also to compare his writings in his Blog which he is doing now, ( tell me son how you remember so many things).
Letter is dated 6th Nov 90.
After all, whose son I am.Since British Visa had more formalities,we ( I & Guru ) decided to go to Switzerland. I & Guru ( from now on it will be 'we' ) got Visa International Credit Cards. So Swiss Visa over in 1/2 an hour,we made reservations ( Compulsory for TGV ) and were on our way. Sundar,his wife Mamta were also travelling to Switzerland but our routes parted at Geneva station.
Geneva is beautiful.There is a lake ( Lake Geneva ) which actually looks like a sea ( even Ships ply on it ) and is pretly huge.On Geneva harbor there is a fountain that sprays water 40 stories high.Unfortunately,it was off for this season.So we could only see pictures of it.Also,UN has a lot of agencies here.We visited UN place of Nations and generally cycles can be rented at the railway station & left at another railway station ay the other end of the country at no extra cost.
At each station ( large or small ), there is a list of hotels,tariff and whether it is full or not.There is a telephone with a panel of hotel names on them.You just a hotel of your choice you are connected to the hotel & you can make reservations.All this at no cost.There is a Tourist & information office which helps you enroll at a ballet class at the other end of the country,again with no cost for all the telephone calls.These people really encourage tourists & in style!.Kashmir,I'm sure is as beautiful,but look at the state it is in.I sometimes weep for my country!.
We decided not to visit any metropolitan cities ( like Zurich ) as we wanted to see something unique to Switzerland.So we focussed our trip on 3 places - interlaken,Zermatt & Schaffhausen.Interlaken lies between 2 huge lakes and in front of 3 of the highest mountains in the Alps,the most dangerous Eiger,the tallest of the 3 jungfrau & a lesser known Monch.
The Swiss have built a train track connecting interlaken & jungfranjoch,the highest railway station in Europe.It is just a few hundred feet from the top of the mountain jungfran.The station is at a height of 11533 ft.The last lap of the journey is thro' a tunnel 7 km long drilld into the mountain.We had to change trains 4 times.Zermatt,is a world famous resort right in front of the Matterhorn,the most impressive & the most dangerous mountain in the Alps.Every year 60 climbers attempt to climb it & every year a dozen die in the process.There is a cable car from Zermatt to little Matterhorn ( 12533 ft ) the highest inhabitable place in Europe.There is also a world famous ' Glacier Express ' from Zermatt to st.Moritz which goes thro' 291 bridges & 90 tunnels and some supposedly hair rising hair pin bends.A few kms from Schaffhausen is the Rhine falls,the highest falls in Europe.
These were the places we wanted to visit.We also wanted to visit Berne as it was the capital.
We had joined the youth hostel at Paris as this would permit us to stay in youth hostels around the world.These places provide decent and cheap accommodation.Living costs are high in Swiss & so we knew we could not afford to stay in hotels.
Our itinerary was Paris - Geneva - Berne - Interlaken - Schaffhansen - Geneva - Zermatt - Basle - Paris.
We arrived at Berne at around 7 in the evening.After some hunting,we located the youth hostel & found to our dismay that it was closed for renovations ( It was off season ) so we settled for the cheapest hotel we could find.It cost 72 Sfr including B.fast ( compare it to 12 Sfr for youth hostel.) The hotel was clean & decent,not at all cheap looking.This was a mirror blow to our plans
But we arrived at Interlaken in high sprits the next day after a good breakfast.The second blow,-this was a bad one - was when we found that Eurail pass was not valid for the ride to Jungfraujoch & that the ride cost 116Sfr ( some Rs.1500 ).Since we didn't have that much money,we used our credit cards having decided to take the train.It was worth it.The journey took 7 hours.The view was breath taking.When we arrived at Jungfraujoch,it was 1 pm.We had lunch & went looking around.The whole place is covered & has 3 hotels,an ice palace & an exit to the outside marked ' Danger ' Don't go outside for fear of avalanches & crevasses.' it was snowing and so we along with other tourists ventured outside.We could not stay outside as it was very cold.Don't worry! we got back inside safely.Then we went to the Ice Palace.It was beautiful.We then started back.I took a lot of pictures.Let's see how they come.
With our money reserves running low & finding that our pass was not valid for most cable car rides,we returned to Geneva & spent the night at the youth hostel there.It was pretty good next day,we decided to return back to Paris.But we made up our minds to come back again & visit the other places we couldn't go to.But we enjoyed ourselves and are going back next year.
We now have plan to visit Belgium,Netherlands,Germany & may be Spain in the next holidays in December.So I don't think I will be in Paris for the next year.By then,I think our Eurorail pass will have been used up.
Also next weekend ( i.e Nov 10th & 11th ),the Bull employees involved in IDBS are taking us to English channel.Should be good.We still have a lot to see in Paris,the place is too huge.
My studies have yet to pick up.But now,Sundar has moved out & other family has moved in this wife said that she'll cook on all days & so I should have more time to study.They are also pretty nice.I think now I'll be able to have Dosa for breakfast as she is a good cook.
The coat you had purchased was pretty useful in Switzerland.I also bought a shawl & gloves.Paris is not yet very cold & I can manage with a sweater.The apartment ( Including my room ) is heated & so it is not at all cold inside I can stay without a sweater in fact.I get up at around 7.30/7.45 and am in office by 9.00 am - people are at work very early here - and am back by 7.00 pm.Work's fine.I have dinner by about 9.00 and am in bed by about 11.30 - 12.00.I study some books before I go to sleep ( Textbooks and other subject matters ) it's just that I haven't started studying with an exam in view in earnest.All this was in answer to your question,Dad.
I am in good health. Hope all are too.Please take good care of yourselves.Don't worry about me.I haven't thinned at all.The food in Bull Canteen is better now as we have got adjusted.It is very nutritious,if not anything else.The cooks know what I like & so keep aside some things if they are available.
Dishaa,I will write to you about the fossils & other interesting exhibits in my next letter.I have to study the place in detail.I can tell you however that they have the fossil of an entire Mammoth,fossils of many dinosaurs,coelocanth ( the oldest living animal today) and the skulls & jaws of Neanderthal man & Australopithecus.man.
Mom & Dad,, I must be able to get some good perfumes for you as the company chosen as the pilot site of of our project is Paco-Rabanne,makers of the world famous Nina Ricci perfume.Let's see.
With all this,you might be wondering if it makes any difference to me that you are not here.
Well,if you had been here,I would have been alive.Miss you all more than words can say.
( G.Dinesh Dutt )