Un Jour à Zurich

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”Jane Jacob

La première fois quand je suis arrivée à Zurich, c’était pendant la nuit. Tout était silenceux et calme. Sur le chemin de l’hôtel, j’ai observé les grands bâtiments et l’architecture complexe. J’étais presque la seule dans le tram, et je ne pouvais pas attendre le lendemain, quand je pourrais explorer la ville.

J’ai passé le lendemain dans des musées, des galeries de l’art, et des bons restaurants – ce que font les touristes à Zurich. Au matin, j’ai vue beaucoup de gens qui marchaient au travail, et ils avaient l’air trés occupés – c’était ma perception des zurichois. Mais le soir, ils étaient dans les cafés et les jardins, ou ils étaient assis au bord de la rivière en buvant une bouteille du vin avec leurs amis.

Zurich est une ville belle et vivante. Tout les gens que j’ai rencontrées étaient agréable et chalereux. J’ai hâte d’y retourner, parce que je suis fascinée par la mode de vie suisse!

A Day in Zurich –

When I first arrived in Zurich, it was night time. Everything was silent and calm. On the way to the hotel, I observed the huge buildings and the intricate architecture in the city. I was almost alone in the tram, and could not wait for the next day, when I could explore the city further.

I spent the next day in museums, galleries, and great restaurants – everything tourists do in Zurich. In the morning, I had seen many people walking to work, looking preoccupied, which was my perception of the people of Zurich. However, in the evening, I saw them in cafés and gardens, or sitting on the river bank while enjoying a bottle of wine with their friends.

Zurich is a beautiful and lively city. All the people I met were pleasant and friendly. I cannot wait to go back, because I am fascinated by the Swiss way of life!

Untranslatable Words

“Language has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone, and it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”Paul Tillich

As I am passionate about languages, I love to read about words in foreign ones which express feelings or actions that are universal, but do not have English counterparts – simply because this allows me to refer to something that stretches beyond my usual vocabulary.

  • Lagom – Swedish

This term refers to having exactly the right amount of something. It indicates a perfect balance – neither excessive, nor scant.

  • Kabelsalat – German

In the German language, Kabelsalat refers to the tangle of wires and cables that are kept together. ‘Kabel’ is the German word for ‘cable’, and ‘salat’ means ‘salad’ in English.

  • Sobremesa – Spanish

The time during which a warm and relaxing conversation is had with friends or family after a satisfying meal is known as ‘sobremesa’ in Spanish.

  • Yakamoz – Turkish

The reflection of the glittering moonlight on the waves of the sea at night is referred to as ‘yakamoz’ in the Turkish language.

  • Saudade – Portugese

This term is used to evoke a feeling of deep longing for someone or something that probably does not exist, indicating incompleteness.

  • Seigneur-terraces – French

This is a convenient term to use, as it refers to the people sitting in cafés who rarely order anything, but take full advantage of the free WiFi – a univeral concept!

  • Luftmensch – Yiddish

The person who thinks himself an artist and considers the need to earn a living but an inconvenience – and simply cannot be bothered by other such practical matters – is referred to as a ‘Luftmensch’ in Yiddish.

  • Gigil – Tagalog

The overwhelming urge to touch or hug something that one finds almost unbearably adorable – a puppy, a baby, and so on – is known as ‘gigil’.

  • Verschlimmbessern – German

The act of accidentally worsening a situation while trying to fix it is referred to as ‘Verschlimmbessern’.

  • Boketto – Japanese

This term refers to staring into space, or gazing vacantly at something into the distance without making any observations.

  • Iktsuarpok – Inuit

The restless feeling of anticipation before someone arrives, when one goes outside to check for them frequently, is expressed by the term ‘itsuarpok’.

  • Mukkaderat – Arabic, Turkish

While there are various interpretations of this term, it generally refers to something that was fated to occur.

My Podcasts

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

At times when I am not occupied with books or assignments, be it while taking a walk, in the car, or simply at home on a rainy day, I love to listen to a good podcast. I find podcasts to be intellectually stimulating, yet relaxing. In this entry, I will mention the ones which I listen to regularly – which have educated and amused me the most, as well given me some food for thought.

  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend – In this podcast, comedian and late-night host Conan O’Brien has an hour long conversation with a celebrity (usually a comedian), about their life, philosophy, and career. Along with enjoying the humour, one can also listen to some meaningful conversations.
  • Hidden BrainHidden Brain is a scientific podcast which delves deeper into the psychology and different behavioural patterns of humans using scientific theories. Hosted by Shankar Vedantam, I find the analyses to be interesting and thought provoking.
  • Fareed Zakaria GPS – Hosted by journalist Fareed Zakaria, Fareed Zakaria GPS is a news podcast which sums up the week’s events. Zakaria invites various experts and politicians to analyse and provide insights on current affairs around the world. I sometimes find the constant news coverage and updates on television to be hectic and chaotic, therefore this podcast is a great alternative.
  • Coffee Break French – As I am no longer taking French lessons, I love to listen to this podcast to refresh my vocabulary and avoid getting rusty. It is hosted by Mark Pentleton and Pierre-Benoît, who analyse one piece of French text in each episode. There are also episodes in which they travel to various French speaking towns and have interesting conversations with the locals.

Being a Linguaphile

“He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I discovered this to be true four years ago, when I started to learn German in school. I speak English, and as an Indian, I speak the national language, Hindi, as well as the language which is predominantly spoken in my state, Marathi.

During my German lessons, I realised that speaking foreign languages could open up a whole new world of possibilities. The process of learning a new language was extremely enjoyable for me, and I tried to express myself to the best of my ability with the new words and phrases that I learnt.

After high school, I had lots of free time before the beginning of my first semester at university. The idea of learning French appealed to me, as I had heard the language being spoken on a recent trip to Europe. Thus began my adventure of learning French.

At first, the difficult pronunciations and complex grammar rules seemed daunting, but with time I grew to thoroughly love the language. I picked up French translations of some of my favourite English books, as well as some amazing works by French authors and poets to broaden my vocabulary.

My favourite part about learning new languages is finding words which have no English equivalent. My current favourite – les retrouvailles! It refers to the warm feeling of meeting an old friend after a long time.

It is wonderful to be able to express my thoughts not just with new words, but also with new people. I find it incredibly satisfying whenever I meet someone I can converse with in their native language, because one doesn’t feel le dépaysement quite as much!

On My Bookshelf

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

-Mark Twain

Being an avid reader, I have accumulated a large collection of books over the years. The knowledge and perspective I have gained through each one has made up for the lost space on my bookshelves. In this post, I am listing ten books (out of many, many more) which have held my attention and broadened my imagination the most. This compilation does not include the Harry Potter series, simply because I could make another entry dedicated entirely to it.

  • And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie – My first encounter with this book was at age twelve, when I saw it on my parents’ bookshelf. My mother, a fan of Agatha Christie, has devoted several shelves to her works. The title of this book was particularly intriguing to me, and I started to read it thinking that it was in the horror genre. While not entirely false, the story that Christie wove kept me interested until the end. I have since read most of her works, and could not recommend them enough.
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak – I received this book as a gift, but once I read the first page, I simply could not put it down. Written from the perspective of Death, the Book Thief is a fascinating story of a young girl, Liesl, growing up in Germany during the second world war, raised by her adopted parents.
  • Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell – Gone With the Wind is an ancient classic, and Mitchell’s only notable work. As I wandered inside the bookstore, I saw this tome of a book and picked it up as a challenge. Once I started to read it, the story enraptured me until the last page despite the size of the book.
  • And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini – All the works of Hosseini that I have read tell the tale of characters in the Middle East. The oppression that he writes about is derived from reality. This book is about two siblings, Pari and Abdullah, who grow up in separate families and lead vastly different lives from each other. Besides the pain and torment, this is also an incredibly hopeful story.
  • Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand – This book is a deviation from my other typical choices. Set in an increasingly economically stagnant America, Rand highlights the importance of hard work, innovation and freedom. In her works, Ayn Rand always advocates for a free capitalist economy, and her philosophy of objectivism. While I personally do not agree with all of her views, her books are always fascinating, and help me to see the world from different perspectives.
  • The Innocent Man, by John Grisham – This is the true story of Ron Williamson, who was wrongly convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death. This book is a commentary on the morality of a death sentence, and America’s flawed justice system. I found it to be an extremely thought provoking book.
  • The Room on the Roof, by Ruskin Bond – I have always loved Ruskin Bond’s books, and this one is no exception. This is the story of Rusty, a young Indian boy who is raised as an Englishman by his guardian family. Ruskin Bond’s descriptive style of writing never fails to transport me to his world.
  • Origin, by Dan Brown – Origin is the thrilling story of Edmond Kirsch, a rich scientist. An atheist, Kirsch is committed to abolishing religion and following the path of science. This book features Robert Langdon, the recurring history professor in several books by Brown.
  • Heads You Win, by Jeffrey Archer – This book is a constant on my bookshelf, along with many of Archer’s other works. This is the story of Alexander Karpenko, an immigrant from Russia who struggles to build a new life for himself. The twists and turns in this book are guaranteed to keep the reader flipping the pages.
  • Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle – My first introduction to this classic was perusing the Complete Novels and Stories (Volumes I and II) as a child, and again, more carefully, a few years later. Each story is as mysterious and gripping as the last, and the camaraderie (or lack thereof) between Holmes and Watson is one for the ages.