Geneva

Geneva is a pretty enough town, on the banks of the — guess — Lake Geneva! It is the second largest town in Switzerland, after Zurich. It is in the French speaking part of Switzerland,  and is the largest town in the Romany area.

To me it appears again, to be one of those towns that have had a rather peaceful existence throughout history. It was a border town, fortified against the Celtic tribe, the “Helveti”. The Romans took it in 121 BC. It became a Christian town during the late Roman Empire. It further came under the influence of Catholic France in the 18th century, and became a part of the Swiss Federation in 1815.

So, when went there, the one thing that struck me was the fact that people seem to be unusually relaxed. This does not mean that the Swiss are not business like. They are. Their excellence in watch making, chocolate making, banking and pharmaceuticals clearly indicate the opposite.

We spent most of our time in conference rooms, and Chinese restaurants, so I could not get to sample much of the supposedly great Swiss cuisine. And, during every meal, they would take out their pickles that they had smuggled in from China, because the food was not authentic enough. But, what did they expect?

We did go out a bit, to look at one of those big chateaus, with a wonderful garden. I remember taking notes, but I have now completely forgotten what the name was. Then, we went off to the nearby hillock, to get an overview of the city.

Finally, we walked along the lake front, and we saw the famous Jet d’Au. Yay!! It was late afternoon, and the place was populated by people roller blading, lovers walking by, and the whole atmosphere was one of peace and tranquility.

Peace and tranquility can kill. Yet, if used productively, it allows you to find the space to create things of perfection. While some may call them a boring race, at least the Swiss have chosen the path of perfection. This is good. It is quite unlike the term “jugaad”, that is becoming famous, when spoken of about Indians and their innovation. At it’s most positive, “jugaad” is maximizing innovation with the least amount of resources. In this case, you don’t always get perfection. You get by. At its worst, “jugaad’ is all about screwing around, when you can go for perfection.

Geneva is not a large town. Most of the known sights can be covered in two days. The rest is something different..

Lausanne is one of  those pretty Swiss towns on the banks of the Lake Geneva. It is the second largest city on Lake Geneva, and the fifth largest town in Switzerland. At a population of 130,000, it is tiny by Indian standards. I remember, in the old days, when I used to travel into the remote parts of India, and we used to plan our sales strategies, towns with a population of 100,000 were considered to be C class towns.

But then again, you cannot compare the buying power of people in India, with the buying power of people in Switzerland.

Lausanne has, in my opinion, a rather sleepy history. It is the capital of Vaud. In the old days, the Romans built a camp called Lousanna at the site of a Celtic settlement. On the hill, there was a fort called Lausodonum. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the site moved to its current location. After the edict of the Nantes in 1685, Lausanne became a refuge for French Hugeuenots, and during the Napoleonic wars in 1803, it was transferred to Switzerland, and became the capital of Vaud.

And, that is how it has stayed since then.

So much for old history.

I spent only a few hours in Lausanne. This was in the afternoon, and in the early evening. I do remember that I had to buy something, and the pretty girl at the counter spoke only French. I spoke only English. Forget about asking her out on a date, I could barely conduct my transaction! So much for language barriers…

We walked around the lake for much of the time that we were there. There is not much to see in Lausanne, after you have seen the Olympics Offices. There was a museum of sorts, where I was much attracted to a woman with long, black hair that was tied in a bandanna. She had dark, exotic looks, almost like a gypsy. I assume that she was from Romania or some such country. While I do have some of her pictures, I can’t put them up…. Memories are indeed made of this!

Young chaps were fooling around in the public fountains. A couple of them posed for the most corny pictures later. Young, happy lives, without a care in the world. This was in the days before 2008, in the days before bankers and greedy financial executives changed the world.

The lake and the mountains, and the beautiful sky remained, as I am sure they do today. While I was walking around the place admiring the beauty of the place, I could not help but think that for those who live there, this beauty must be something that they hardly ever notice.

It is almost like water. We don’t notice it. Yet, many believe that the next wars will be fought over water.  We shall see.

For my end, while I like Lausanne, I would put it on my itinerary, if it were on my path. I am not sure if I would make a special trip there.

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