The world around us, with malice to none!
I could not wait until I reached India back. Neither the enchanting Versailles Palace nor the imposing steels of the Eiffel could stand up to the ‘selfies’ sticks from the predominantly Chinese tourists. They were everywhere, be it in the hotels, or in the big malls like Gallery Lafayette, lapping up everything from expensive jewellery to luxury bags. Popular brands like Channel and Louis Vuitton had long queues, mostly Chinese, patiently waiting for their turn to urgently spend money, scenes analogous only at the jewellery shops of Usman Road, Chennai, where rural folk throng with bag-full of cash all round the year.
The scenes in Switzerland, be it at the Interlaken, Lucerne or Zurich was no different. Hordes of Chinese were seen every watch shop, which had over-pasted welcome notices in Chinese, with the Russian version quietly buried underneath. Most shops had Chinese translators and many conservative restaurants offered pork, noodles and fondue cooked to satisfy the taste buds of the Orientals, with chopstick, jasmine tea, et al. The otherwise stiff necked Swiss waiters quietly tolerated the typically noisy chatter and clatter of the god sent oxygen cylinders, at a time when their economy was deeply bruised due to the sudden disappearance of the Russian millionaires from the shopping areas due to the US and EU imposed sanctions.
Not all relish the situation, or at least a few senior citizens plainly despise the present Chinese overrun, reminiscing the quietness of their towns until a few years ago.
Indians? Oh, yes! They too were there, like I was, but in the tourist spots, many in groups, their antecedents, like the easily identifiable Bengalis with their conch bangles, or the Thepla clans, each claiming to be from the land of Modi, barely hidden! When it came to buying expensive watches, one clever lady prevailed on her craving accomplice, “Reva de,” meaning ‘leave it,’ justifying that a cheap watch from Ulhasnagar near Mumbai, displayed nearly the same time and that was a ‘Make in India,’ product too! “When were you ever punctual, anyway?” sealed any further hope on the subject for her spouse. The lady happily looked at me for violently nodding and agreeing at her statement. The watches were too bloody expensive and I could never afford a six-figure sum for a six-second difference in time!
You were wrong again, if you think there were no notices in Indian languages. “Danger, do not lean out,” warned one and “Masala Chai,” screamed another at a famous hill station, all in Hindi and some even in Tamil, acknowledging the power of our nation and the diaspora of Tamils from Sri Lanka, spread all over the world.
The oversized handbags of our fellow citizens, far beyond the permissible limits, evoked no surprise to the ground staff of the airlines, as they suspiciously looked at my insignificant small luggage. I was in the midst of cacophony and the usual special Asian vegetarian meals, topped up with generous helpings of any and every form of fiery liquid offered, all before landing in the land of holy cows!