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A foreigner’s impression of London, Paris and Switzerland

October 10, 2009

United Kingdom, France and Switzerland. Three countries beautiful in their own way. Yet there was something not quite  beautiful in Switzerland, not behind the scenes.

London: I loved this city. It’s busy and bustling, and wherever we went we found the people helpful and friendly. I loved the beautiful parks of London. How lucky Londoners are to have so much open space, that too in a crowded metro! Walking through Hyde park is a treat, and once, when we got out of the subway station, we stumbled upon a small park where people were taking a break from lunch. I loved the atmosphere there. The privacy one had despite the crowd.

In London we went on a bus tour, chatted with random people like restaurant owners, cab drivers, sales people, met up with friends, took umpteen photographs and well, simply drank in London. We travelled by bus and the subway quite a bit and everywhere we went we encountered nice people. It wasn’t just the shopkeepers who were friendly, the general public was too. Whether it was the woman behind the ticket counter or a fellow traveler on the subway. I don’t know where I had absorbed the stereotype of the British being reserved and stand-offish. We didn’t experience that at all. Everyone was quite normal!

Click here if you want to see a birds’s eye view of London on video. It was taken from the “London Eye.” It’s a little shaky as it was crowded and then the day was a trifle dull, with a bit of rain.

Tips:
London is a great place for shopping, whether it’s for clothes or souvenirs. There is a lot of variety and I picked up some good bargains. Oxford Street is the place to shop, and eat out too. Cheap street food is freely available in London. For example, outside Madame Tussauds we got a sumptuous burger for 3 pounds. At a small eatery on Oxford street we found an all-you-can eat Vegan Buffet at 6 pounds. Eating at small places near subway stations is cheap too. You can pick up fairly inexpensive sandwiches at supermarkets

Buying a Travel Card as we did (I think it was for 5 or 6 pounds) entitled us to board any bus or underground train in London for the day. This is a must.

Paris
The city of Paris has beautiful  buildings and a lot of parks, but we didn’t really have much time to roam around there. The bus tour that we took (Open Bus Tour) was not as good as the bus tour in London (Original Bus Tour). The commentary was not comprehensive, nor clear, and worse, the buses were never on time. In between the commentary there was some pretty bad music that they played. However every bit of Paris is beautiful, the river Seine, the cobbled streets, the cafes, the bridges and ofcourse the people. Even more beautiful that I imagined it all would be. As for the Louvre, I can spend days there. For me the museum experience was thrilling.

In the limited time that we had, we  noticed that Paris was not as clean and as organised as London. Certain street corners stank of urine and I actually saw a man peeing on the roadside, near a parked van! At night near our hotel there were drunk people shouting and singing but it was only for a few minutes and well, it was Saturday night.

I was anticipating some difficulty in communicating with people (again a false stereotype) but this wasn’t a problem. The city is geared for tourists, and language was never a problem. True, we couldn’t have long chats with people, but people understood what we were saying. The sales people at the shops did their best to sell us their wares, and at cafes we found the service friendly, efficient and polite.

The photograph on the right is is not photoshopped and nor have the colours been adjusted in any way. It was taken directly against the  noonday sun and I thought the result would be terrible. But it came out with a kind of starry halo around the Eiffel Tower and I thought it kind of cute. The view from the Eiffel Tower is great!

And what about Parisians themselves? I thought they were a cultured (although reserved) and graceful people. No one was unfriendly, although they cannot be categorized as friendly either. In fact once at a cafe where all tables are close together I managed to carry on a conversation in broken English with a woman barely a foot away. We talked about French food.

I was surprised to see how much people smoked in this city. Men and women. The women were thin and smart, and it was a treat to look at their clothes!

The picture below is of a woman who was skating faster than our bus. It was fascinating to see her ride skilfully pushing a baby on a pram, a baby with a helmet! Never seen such a sight before and I only managed to catch her photo when she stopped to talk to somebody.

womanpram

If you want to see a video of a busy Paris Square with some rush hour traffic click here. I took this at Opera Square.

Tips:
We found Paris more expensive than London. However one can pick up souvenirs like key chains, fridge magnets, mementos and T-shirts very cheaply. For example I got a bundle of 12 key chains for 10 Euros and a pretty Paris T-shirt for 6. The city seems geared for tourists. There are a lot of hawkers near the popular monuments as well. Everyone tries to sell you something.

A wide variety of the most delicious food awaits you here and you can get a decent two course meal for around 15 Euros at some small cafes, often with a glass of wine thrown in. Service is excellent at the cafes, however small they may be and however crowded they are. Buying food and drink at supermarkets is a good idea though, to save on money. Skipping lunch is what people do too.

Tourists need to be warned that cashing of travellers cheques can be a problem in Paris. Thomas Cook took 12% commission from us to cash them! It was a Sunday and most of the smaller shops were closed. Even the smaller shops take as much as 3-6% commission, depending on whom you approach.  Or maybe we went to all the wrong places! One spends money to make out the travellers cheques and if one has to 5% or more to encash them, one feels cheated!
lucerne

Switzerland
This is the most efficient place on earth I think. Everything is so organised! And spanking clean. The areas we went to, German was the language spoken, and few people seemed to want to speak even broken English. One mustn’t forget the great natural beauty and one must admire the way the Swiss have maintained it all. But well, organisation and perfection is not everything.

We had an underlying feeling of discomfort while in Switzerland, and this feeling never really went away all the while we were there. We stayed the longest here, as we love nature, and visited three cities and two tourist spots (Jungfrau and Titlis)

Unsmiling (at times grim) shopkeepers and people were a common feature.

Some strange experiences:

Once at Lucerne, I was staring at a Chinese tourist feeding the swans when an impeccably dressed man came up to me and shook his fist at me, gave me a dirty look and muttered something under his breath. He looked with rage at the Chinese tourist too, and perhaps he thought I was with the Chinese group as I was standing close to them. But hey, all he had to do was go up and request the Chinese woman not to feed the swans! Instead, he was horribly rude!

On a train from Paris to Interlaken there was a huge group of tourists from Japan on the same coach. A Swiss couple in front of us was openly making fun of them. Mimicking them even though they could be seen! How rude! Their children were with them too, and I wondered: Is this what they are teaching their children? I mean, I find the Japanese one of the most polite people on earth and I could see no reason for the Swiss family to behave that way.

At an eatery at Lucerne station, I asked a woman behind the counter (and no the eatery was not crowded at all) about a particular item of food (written in German) and to my surprise she rolled her eyes heavenwards, threw up her hands, and made an irritated and annoyed face! I have never in my life come across such rudeness. Never have I in my entire life come across a worker in a restaurant treating a complete stranger this way.

Often when we asked for directions, we got a stony looks or shaking of the heads. Even if they didn’t understand English, they could have looked at the map we were pointing at and at least tried to help. They didn’t. This happened several times.

If we entered a shop or the restaurant of a hotel we stayed at, the workers never really bothered to greet us, answer our queries properly or help us out. I found this extremely strange. I mean, didn’t the shop owners and hoteliers want business? Even if I picked up an item and showed an interest in it, the shopkeeper would be indifferent! However they were busy saying “Guten Morgan” to whichever local person who entered. Did they not know the simple words “Good Morning?” Is there any harm is saying them to your customers who are foreigners? Well, after I realised that we were not being greeted like other customers, I made it a point to say “Guten Morgan” to any worker in a shop,  and if the workers were greeted first, they would acknowledge and nod and at times smile a little in a confused manner. But thats it.

At Titlis, which was crowded with tourists, we were at a shop selling key-chains when an elderly tourist (happened to be Indian) came up to the woman at the counter and asked, “I see a restaurant here but there are no seats. Is there another restaurant here where we can sit and eat?” She looked tired and I looked at the Swiss worker (woman) behind the counter expectantly. To my surprise instead of answering the woman she turned to her colleague and said something in German and both of them started laughing!! How rude! I was shocked, and quickly explained to the tourist lady that not to worry there was such a restaurant on the next floor. The lady nodded at me gratefully.

At Zurich bus station when I wanted change to enter a pay toilet (a series of two pay kiosks) where one had to insert a 1 Fr coin to get the door to open, I asked two random local Swiss people for change. They turned away from me even though I had been most polite and had greeted them. Then I asked a shopkeeper nearby and he said I would have to buy something from him if I wanted to change my 2Fr to two 1 Fr coins! I refused his offer, and was wondering what to do, when one of the pay toilet kiosks opened and an American stepped out. And lo behold, he held the door open for me with all his strength! “Quick!” he whispered, “get in before it closes!” I rushed in but unfortunately the Swiss make their pay toilet booths really well, and quite fool-proof, like they make everything else! The door refused to close as if it knew that it was being cheated! Both this American guy and me struggled for a while and then gave up.

Then I went to the other kiosk (I had the change by then, given to me by another tourist) but I wasn’t sure where exactly to insert the coin. The American guy waited with me, showed me how to do it and then waved a goodbye! It was so nice to come across such helpfulness in a strange city so far away from  home! Luckily I managed to use the toilet before the bus took off!

Overall I came away from Switzerland with a negative impression. I felt it wasn’t tourist friendly. And it was not all that it was hyped up to be. At the hotel we stayed at in Zurich, a fairly decent hotel on many counts, (X-tra), there was loud music that could be heard throughout the night, from their own nightclub. Why had I this impression that the Swiss were particular about noise? Another false stereotype? The next morning we checked the room documents which said that earplugs were available for free!! Sure, this was a one-off experience, but still I was a little taken aback at this incident. It was our last night abroad, and we were awake most of the night. If anyone ever uses this hotel, be prepared for this experience. In every other way the hotel is nice. Good location, comfortable rooms and yes, smiling people!! In fact that was a pleasant surprise for us!

When I returned to India I narrated my experiences in Switzerland to my neighbour. She said they travelled all over Europe and it was Switzerland that they had hated. Yes, she used word “hated”. When I told her about the incident in the train, she said they faced something worse. A Swiss family sitting directly across them in a train was making fun of them openly! How rude is that!!

One thing my experience in Switzerland taught me. That anyone who says that we Indians are rude don’t know what they are talking about. Talking loudly, not saying thanks, or belching may be considered rude by foreigners, but this is not rude by our Indian standards. At the same time there is something called universal rudeness and what I experienced in Switzerland falls in that category. You don’t make fun of people in front of them. You don’t make faces at them. And when people talk to you, ask you something, you need to give them a few seconds of your time!

Tips:
Switzerland is very expensive and even souvenirs like key chains and fridge magnets burn a hole in one’s pocket, at least for those of us from developing countries. I mean, paying 12 Swiss Francs for a simple key chain? Or 22 Swiss Francs for a T-shirt with the Swiss flag on it? In some places you might get things a few francs cheaper but nothing really cheap. Even though most shops were deserted I hardly saw any attempts to reduce prices. Even eating here is expensive. An inexpensive place which offers a snacky meal can put you back by about 15-20 Swiss francs. Just french fries can cost at much as 12 francs. Eating at the mall at the stations is the cheapest. And it’s best to get a hotel which is centrally located otherwise the cabs will set you back by a good amount. We usually walked everywhere or took the metro or bus. Yes, even from the railway station to our hotel.

Be sure to scour supermarkets for bargains on food and drink. I bought some inexpensive chocolates here. No big brands, but well, they are excellent chocolates.

By the way, tipping is not the norm in Switzerland, like it is in the US or the UK. We didn’t know this before we went.

Related Reading:
If you want to see animals, go not just to Africa, but to Ruaha
What Indians need to know before going to Egypt
Interesting Signboards from Europe
The uniqueness of Goa captured in pictures

All posts on Travel

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84 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2009 3:54 pm

    Nita, so agree with you on London (and the UK in general) – despite the occasional news we hear of racist behaviour and the rudeness of young people (plus heavy drinking etc), in general, I found people very pleasant, courteous and helpful. To a lesser extent in Paris, but still, reasonably helpful. Also found that rural areas in both these countries were very different – even more friendly – perhaps a function of a slower and less stressed life. Haven’t been to Switzerland, but have heard the same thing as you say from other people, in terms of very uptight behaviour.

    • vinod permalink
      January 11, 2011 4:57 pm

      Hi Apu, I have been a NZ resident for a couple of years & the behavior of natives have been somewhat mix. As far as the big term like ‘Racism’ goes, it’s gonna be everywhere as long as the Human race exists. In fact, Humans need no reason to be discriminated against one another.

  2. October 10, 2009 4:18 pm

    I totally agree with your observations about London. I found it a very welcoming place and the amount of green space is amazing! It has little patches of green hidden away almost everywhere :)

    When we were working in London, it used to be almost therapeutic to take a break and have lunch in a park :) People are most helpful too. Though I have found people even more helpful in Leeds – probably as it is a much smaller city, so people are more relaxed. But it is next to impossible to get lost in London.

    Paris was also similar – but I did have the experience of being pickpocketed – rather somebody opened my back pack and stole whatever they found – in a fraction of a sec – we think it was a bunch of students who were behind us in a railway station.. Apart from that, Paris was absolutely a wonderful experience for us too.

    Switzerland, funnily, I found quite nice. We had a great time, and thankfully encountered no rude people. In fact we had been plesantly surprised when a Swiss store keeper in Interlaken, welcomed us with a ‘Namaste’ :) We might just have been lucky. One time, though, when we went to restaurant, we were told that all of us would have to order and no outside food was allowed. We said, we were fine with that, and the waitress was very nice after that.. I wonder if we had been exceptionally lucky after reading your account..

  3. October 10, 2009 6:04 pm

    Nita, i have never been to Europe, but i will be sure to lookup this post whenever i am traveling to the continent.

    On Switzerland, i have heard about German/Swiss people being hostile to foreigners (not sure if it is Indians in particular), but still this is too much.

    Not surprised that the American guy was nice though…they are a very friendly people!

  4. October 10, 2009 7:49 pm

    As my sister was in Paris for one and half year, I have heard quite a lot about Paris. Its actually hard to find authentic French knick knacks. Mostly everything is made in china :) She had written a post on the slim smoking French women too :) http://nomadsjournal.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/slim-smoking-woman/
    Nice to read your travelogue.

  5. October 10, 2009 8:17 pm

    nice travelogue! The swiss were rude? thats bad. Well at least the chocolates were good ;)

  6. October 11, 2009 4:24 am

    Nita, first of all, loved the pics and it was interesting to read your perspective since I am a desi living in Europe for the last 6 yrs. To a certain extent, I am shocked by the rudeness you talk about but I also think there is another side to it. If you have time, take a look at one of my posts on this topic – http://sowmyagopal.blogspot.com/2009/08/germany-there-is-more-to-it-than-beer.html

    All these places you mentioned are frequented by numerous tourists and I recently read that Indians and French are among the world’s worst tourists because of their habits and behaviour. During the course of living here, I myself have seen numerous people breaking the rules – right from running red lights to not buying tickets for public transport to littering and I have seen a lot of localites offended by that since to them this is completely incomprehensible. The other side of it is that ”customer service” in Europe, in general and in german speaking countries, in particular, is not what we see in India or in the US. All businesses work on the principle of you pay for the service I provide and that’s all there is to it, no way the customer is king (hence the concept of no tips)

  7. October 11, 2009 8:43 am

    apu, thanks. know what you mean. I was in parts of the UK which was a small town and people there were more friendly. Rather, more interested in who you are and things like that. I guess a busy metro life means less time.

    Smitha, Sorry to hear about your experience in paris but I guess in a crowded metro city these things do happen. About Switzerland, I am sure there are people who have had good experiences. And perhaps its got worse in Switzerland, I am not sure.

    AD, I kind of like Americans too. :) And yes there are reports about the Swiss. After I came back I wanted to know whether mine was some sort of odd experience but I checked up on the net, I found a fair amount of remarks about the Swiss being unfriendly. And these comments were not just from Indians. That is when I realised that there is something different about Switzerland.

    Reema, yeah I did notice that a lot of stuff in France is not made there, but found similar things in London. And guess what, on Mumbai airport I saw a ganpati made in China! :) :)

    Xylene, yeah, fantastic chocolates! :)

    Sowmya, it is easy to blame oneself for ill treatment but I don’t go by that. For one thing, punishing an innocent individual for group behavior is racism. Secondly, there are a lot reports on the web about the behavior of the Swiss towards strangers and visitors and so this is not just about Indians. And I saw a lot of Indians is Switzerland. Besides being brown, and crowding the place because of their presence, I did not see them behaving badly. Also I have written about this about the world’s worst tourists here:

    http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2007/06/20/indian-tourists-are-not-the-worlds-worst/

    One of the criteria for choosing the world’s worst tourists is rudeness (Indians are not rude to tourists who come to India in any case) but in this the Swiss will beat the Indians anyday. the other criteria are more general, like wanting to eat one’s own kind of food, not tipping (this does not apply in Switzerland), because they tend to stick to each other and so on and frankly I don’t see this a reason to be mean to Indians. The problem is that I was told (by my neighbor) that Indians descend in hordes in Switzerland in may and june and this is what the locals do not like. The time we went, it was the people from east asia and it was clear the swiss didn’t like this either.
    Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that I don’t think that Indians are all that bad as the survey says, and secondly, ill-treating strangers because one doesn’t like the group is not something I can excuse.

  8. October 11, 2009 10:03 am

    I’ve got to agree with AD on this one :) I can’t say anything about London, or Paris, but I must say Netherlanders (particularly in Amsterdam) are very friendly :D

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      October 11, 2009 10:40 am

      I second you, Kiran. The first time I went to Holland, I landed up by train, from the Hoek, at Rotterdam main station at something like 6 a.m. I had bought a sheet map of the city before leaving London, and thought to study it to get my bearings before venturing into the windy outdoors. I parked my backpack, spread it on the floor and was studying it to locate the B&B where I had booked, when I heard a very friendly voice: “May I help you?”

      I looked up to find a kind, warm, gently smiling middle-aged face, and said I could manage, but thanks anyway. We got into a conversation and it ended, 15 minutes later, with him walking me half a kilometre to almost the door of my destination.

      This, and other experiences I had during a four-day visit to the Netherlands, often reminded me of India. It would not have surprised me in Italy or Spain, or in the Slavic countries, but here it was most unexpected.

  9. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    October 11, 2009 10:22 am

    Amidst what seems all set to become a spate of Switzerland-bashing, may I balance the record by suggesting that the next time you go, try the southern, Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. Its main town, Lugano, set on the edge of a lake bearing the same name, has much warmth and charm, and the surrounding countryside even more so. One can almost feel a Mediterranean breeze coming in from the south.

    Regarding the Swiss people, especially of the German-speaking variety, my own experience has been one of coldness and suspicion rather than rudness. I think this is partly due to their historically being country cousins–insulated even among themselves by valleys–to their very refined neighbours on all sides.

    Also, most Indians going to Switzerland as tourists don’t seem to know what to expect there, and in any case we are not very good at doing our homework before we go anhywhere–not even in our own country.

    Finally, I think Orson Welles summed it up very neatly when he added the following lines to Graham Greene’s screenplay for The Third Man:

    “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

    It is unfair to expect too much of such a people.

    • Bombay wadapav eater permalink
      October 26, 2009 5:45 pm

      Well said.
      Two of my nice colleagues moved to Zurich which is the German-speaking part of Switzerland and they know that the Swiss do not mix with the Germans despite the same language unless something chemical works. I have worked with the Swiss and I must say they were very accurate in work and very finicky. They are also suspicious but Germans too are suspicious due to their war and Nazi past – precisely what Vivek says. Thankfully I got along well with them since we really blended well and worked well. When I went to Zurich, they took me for lunch to a very nice place sltho’ when they came to Frankfurt, they had to go to our horrid canteen. Indeed the lake is so clean that the bankers went for a swim in summer in the lunch breaks and Zurich is so damn clean compared to Frankfurt or Berlin.
      I thought in Switzerland, you were not allowed to use the flush after 10pm so quite surprised with all the noise in your hotel, Nita.

      • October 26, 2009 9:36 pm

        Bombay wadapav eater, I guess the swiss must be awfully efficient in their work and I am glad that you had some good experiences. But then ofcourse you are not a tourist, and certainly would have been seen differently that the ordinary non-german speaking Indian tourist. I am sure Germans, Italians etc do all feel a little uncomfortable with the Swiss as the comments show, but I don’t think they will face the same attitude as an Indian tourist. And that hotel thing is surprising isn’t it! When I came back to India I immediately googled the hotel, so surprised was I! And guess what, the reviews said exactly the same thing. I added to the reviews, warning people not to book in the hotel unless they wanted to spend a sleepless night. But its hypocrisy on the part of the Swiss police I think. If they are so particular about noise, they should close down this nightclub.

  10. October 11, 2009 3:14 pm

    and i thought our people behaved badly.. it is really sad to hear of the rudeness to anyone in any country.. especially in a foreign one..

    it shows they are morally deficient.

    i visited your other blog and tried to comment but was somehow not able to… will try that again sometime…

  11. October 11, 2009 3:28 pm

    Nita, to be really frank, I have been in all these places you mention many times and never once have I been ill-treated and I am definitely not the person to blame myself even if it does happen. I am just trying to give the other side the benefit of doubt too. Of course there have been incidents in Germany where the girl in a grocery store will not wish me ”good morning” and I just think to myself ”oh…you poor thing” since she needs help but to me this is still not ill-treatment and I would not typecast all Germans with this.

    When I was in Chania (Greece), I bought gum in a small shop close to the airport and the girl in the shop looked so grim that I actually asked if it would pain her to smile at a customer. She looked at me and smiled ruefully and said its difficult smiling when you have to work 14 hrs a day for minimum wages. That jolted me and ever since I always think of something I read ”Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting an unspoken battle”.

    You probably categorise rudeness as the deciding factor and probably others differ. For example, Indians carrying their own food is all right, but have you see them eat it at the Europe view point in Jungfrau ? Would you be pleased if you saw a german making a sandwich on the floors of the Tajmahal ? There are many tourists who are pleased about hospitality in India but all of them will inevitably have a story about how they were conned. When they tell me these stories, I defend India (to death !) and ask them to not let this influence their opinion of Indians in general – same argument here. We do know the other side of the story – what is causing them be to behave this way, of course there are some weirdos (who are racists and we should pity them for being so messed up) but not all.

    • October 11, 2009 6:35 pm

      Sowmya, I think you misunderstood my comment. Your views are welcome. The title of the post itself suggests that these are my own impressions. In fact if you see in my reply to Smitha, I am aware that others might have had a good experience. If I have communicated differently, then I am sorry.
      However as I said, whether Indians eat their own food or not is not the question. However much anyone turns up their nose at Indians as a group, there is no reason to be rude to a complete stranger and I am sure you will agree with that. That is all that I am trying to say. And about them being conned, I am afraid I am not comparing the thieves in India to the thieves anywhere else. I am comparing the people, the public, the normal public. Also the service at shops and restaurants, which I found rude 9 times out of 10. We were almost never greeted and well, I would not care at all, until I saw others being greeted. But no, I didn’t bother to confront anybody. It was too minor (if you thought that I thought this was ill-treatment I am afraid I think I miscommunicated. Not greeting someone is rude (if you are greeting others too) though. I think I used the word “ill-treatment” in a reply to your comment and it was not speaking specifically of not being greeted, but the overall feeling I got in Switzerland, a summation of all my experience. In fact the shaking of the fist incident and the woman making faces at me happened on the same day, and I was disturbed for a while. But ofcourse I agree, it is they who have the problem.
      Your point about the people there not giving any extra service is a very good point.

  12. October 11, 2009 5:02 pm

    Hi Nita… How are you… Were you on vacation to these places..How lucky :) I loved the Eiffel tower sanp..Indeed beautiful..

    Stereotypes about people are 51 % true and 49% wrong..For eg,in our state,they say that people of tiruvananthapuram are rude and unhelpful and that people up the north are nice,that people of thrissur are the most nice and helpful peple.In my experience,this is pretty true.. In tiruvanathapurm,when you can them,”Can you tell me where this place is”.they look at you as “What the heck”..whereas in thrissur,they tell you perfectly and end with a smile..

    p.s: I am half-thrissur-ian..now you know why i am so nice ;-)

    Hi there Nimmy. So is that the secret of your niceness? ;) Whats the other half? Secret I mean! Glad you liked the snap. I liked it too although it has a lot of defects! I had a nice holiday and good to know that you are now blogging regularly again. :) As fpr Kerala, its a beautiful place and I surely intend to come to Kerala one of these days for a trip. Its one trip that we have been wanting to go on for a long time. – Nita.

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      October 11, 2009 8:59 pm

      Nimmy:

      “I am half-thrissur-ian”

      That’s dicey. You are exactly midway between 49% and 51%. I am planning to visit Thrissur for the next Pooram. If I run into you, will you still be firmly perched on the fence? :-D

      • Nimmy permalink
        October 12, 2009 11:20 am

        lol :)

        I wish we allllllllllllllllllll bloggers would meet each other some day in life… (‘all’ means all friendly and familiar bloggers,e-friends)

    • Nimmy permalink
      October 12, 2009 11:18 am

      Really?Pls make me a call when you come..I am sure you will be visiting the place where i am now…Maybe we can meet..I’ld love to meet you

  13. October 11, 2009 5:13 pm

    And I wanted to go to the land of cheese and chocolate :P

  14. October 11, 2009 11:20 pm

    Vivek, I have heard that the Italian speaking part of Switzerland is different. Didn’t go there this time…maybe some day.

    Kiran, thanks. I went to Amsterdam a very long time ago, when I was a teen and don’t recall much of the people. But that is one place I would love to visit again.

    Oorja, I can’t help but agree with the word you used “morally deficient.” And I think wp was down for awhile because I had some trouble too!

    Vishesh, and I am sure you will one day. Btw their cheese fondue is worth tasting. Its made by boiling different cheese with wine or some alcohol and its an art making it. One has it with pieces of bread. We had it sitting outside a cafe and it was biting cold and the fondue steaming hot (they serve it on a heater which keeps it boiling) and we loved it!

    • October 12, 2009 2:18 am

      an addendum to the cheese fondue – a perfect dessert for it is the chocolate fondue, with swiss milk chocolate and any fruit that can be dipped right from strawberries to bananas, just talking about it makes my mouth water ! Not a good day for going low on the calories but your taste buds will be on a roll :D !

    • October 12, 2009 8:29 pm

      hmmm…now that makes me feel hungry :D

  15. October 11, 2009 11:43 pm

    Nita, you said: “Indians are not rude to tourists who come to India in any case”

    I think this depends strongly on the skin color and facial features of the tourist in question. But I agree that, once they overcome their own racism, Indians are in general amiable and friendly people.

    • Andre permalink
      October 29, 2009 1:43 am

      Vikram has hit the nail on the head. Indians are not in general rude to (indeed, they’re almost worshipful of) white people, but I doubt that their behaviour to black people or to Far East Asians is anywhere near as kind as the behaviour of the Swiss to you.

      I have Indian friends who have no trouble saying “Chink”, while emphatically denying their own racism. I see your commenters have no problem saying “slitty-eyed”, either.

      Andre, I do agree with the first part of your comment about indians worshipping white skin, but if you are saying that they are worse to other races than the swiss to us then I disagree. Indians are great businessmen and will not turn away a customer because of the colour of his skin. In fact in Pune I have seen shopkeepers run after african tourists, begging them to enter their shops! Also Indians have an innate hospitality and I cannot agree that they would treat any people the same way as the Swiss. Mind you, I am simply talking of tourism. – Nita

    • vasudev permalink
      October 29, 2009 10:04 am

      also depends on the tourist. whether white or black if the skin covers an indecent soul the skin will get damaged and the soul will get de-toxified. some self-respecting indians are good at giving the right treatment to tourists (irrespective of skin color)

  16. randomischief permalink
    October 12, 2009 12:46 am

    I’m not surprised about London. I, too had the same impression despite the gloomy weather :) Haha, we members of the Commonwealth countries generally find the UK to be a nice place. And the Londoners aren’t as xenophobic as the Swiss seem to be. I’ve never been to Switzerland but am most definitely surprised about what you’ve written. It could possibly have to do with your skin colour- that’s perhaps one of the reasons I can come up with. I’ve experienced similar things here in Munich but on a very rare basis. Luckily Germany, or at least globalised cities here like Berlin and Munich, with a very large influx of foreigners isn’t (generally) like what you described.

  17. October 12, 2009 5:23 am

    That was quite a vacation! Glad you had things to say about cultures that made them all seem human. Surly or nice, going places is always such an education!

    The Eiffel Tower photo is so lovely. It makes me long to travel again.

    London is a great walking city and so is Paris. Switzerland was pretty. And I have met folks, both nasty and nice in all these places just as I have when I go back to India. It is thier country. I am merely observing them as a tourist or sometimes as a short term coworker. I get to leave the places that annoy me. I get to take my opinions of them home, when I leave and go back to my comfort zone, and I get to buy “made in china” souveniers to place on my mantel as a badge of having travelled :) So its all good!

  18. October 12, 2009 11:35 am

    Nita,you seem to have had nice and hectic trip.
    My experience has been that English are very snobbish.May be,because, they have been rulers all the way. Habits die hard.I remember having had a hearty India meal at MAYUR on Oxford Street(run by Tea Board).Having bought a shirt from C&A turned to be a joke when I saw the label at the hotel.It was Made in India.
    Didn’t you have problem at Paris with language?French are not very amused with English.
    As for Switzerland is concerned…it is heaven.
    Your trip and post has brought a lot of information and knowledge for future travellers.

  19. October 12, 2009 11:43 am

    Nita

    The tragedy in all this is that London is chockfull of foreigners whose first language is not English while nearly all Swiss speak perfect English. Trust me they do. Except those immigrants and refugees who have learnt only Swiss German with the canton’s help and speak only their language and Swiss German. Your experiences are not untypical (trust me, I travelled all over Switzerland when I used to live there) and I am only glad that you went away with a great impression of London :-)

    Don’t be lulled into any expectations of Italian Switzerland either. Read this to temper your enthusiasm: http://bit.ly/1JpXJ8 ;-)

  20. October 12, 2009 12:13 pm

    Wowww!! One of the best travelogues I have read in a longggggg time!! I hope to some day visit Europe. Will bookmark this page for future reference. Shocked to hear how you were treated in Switzerland. Maybe YashRaj folks have angered the local crowds beyond repair!!

  21. Joss permalink
    October 12, 2009 3:16 pm

    I am pleased that you so much enjoyed your trip to London, Nita. But I have to say I am surprised that you found the people so friendly. London is my hometown and I never found it to be like that (although I am talking about 20 years ago here). When I moved up north to Manchester it felt completely different. The people here are well known to be friendly, and it is true, but mainly in the suburbs. If you are walking along the canal or out on the hills people you meet will always say hello. Probably where there is the least concentration of people it is worth making a connection. When there are faces everywhere you feel overwhelmed.

  22. October 12, 2009 3:41 pm

    Nita, great report, was enjoying it a lot!

    I have been to all those countires and basically I agree on your impressions. It’s a pity you missed Austria – I would have loved to read your report on it! :)

    I lived in Switzerland for 3 months and must admit it is an extremely beautiful country(breaqthtaking landscapes!) with very funny people. I cannot say I experienced them as rude, but defiently not friendly.

    I have a feeling they live in their small pretty world and just do not care for the rest. Also moneywise Swiss are said to have accumulates all the riches of the world. The country feels to me as the ultimate manifestaion of Materialism…And materialism, when consumed lavishly, closes the heart.

  23. October 12, 2009 4:44 pm

    Nita, you say:
    “there is something different about Switzerland.”

    If we consider their geography, they live isolated in some high mountain valleys. As for the economy they have been probably the richest people in Europe during the whole course of the last century, which has attracted all sorts of foreign workers coming from the poorer parts of Europe – Italy included – and Turkey, and now probably from all over the world.

    With their tendency to quietness and order I am sure they probably have developed great irritation vis-à-vis foreigners and different mores. Italians are not seen very well out there for example. I also think that not having big cities like London, Paris (or even Madrid or Rome) makes them in my view a bit provincial. And I don’t think Italian-speaking Swiss are any better, not at all.

    Different of course is the case of France or Great Britain, which were always open to the wider world. I liked your London-Paris comparison. Yes, Paris is tremendously beautiful, but London has a unique charm of its own.

    I agree that rudeness is a good criteria for judging people, tourists and non tourists. As far as my country and also Europe, rudeness is unfortunately growing .

  24. October 12, 2009 9:24 pm

    It was interesting reading this post. I will remember your experiences in Switzerland. I agree Indians are by no means a match to it.

  25. October 12, 2009 11:15 pm

    In Switzerland, a stranger walked up to one of my daughter’s friends and asked him, “How did you come here, swinging from vines like monkeys?”

    There were other similar incidents too, also the indifference you described etc… Sad that we should have so much hatred and such prejudices in our hearts.

  26. October 12, 2009 11:16 pm

    Loved this detailed, informative post Nita!

  27. October 13, 2009 9:38 am

    Vikram, glad you agree that people from this sub continent are generally friendly. :) And about the racism here, there is surely that, but generally we Indians know how to do business and will never behave like that towards a customer.

    randomischief, while I am sure that skin colour had something to do with it, I think its also to do with the innate nature of the Swiss. They are not friendly towards foreigners.

    Sowmya, now you are making my mouth water! Chocolate is a weakness with me. :)

    AnotherKiranInNYC, thats true, for me the trip was quite an education and people are what I am interested in the most.

    Nimmy, you bet I will! :)

    BK Chowla, I had absolutely no problem with language and no one I talked to showed any reluctance to talk English either. But then I am talking of shopkeepers and the like mostly. And well, I think its one thing to live in a place and ignore the local language (which brings forth resentment from locals usually) and another thing being a tourist. Thankfully the French at least could distinguish between the two! And I am not sure whether you are speaking from your personal experience of Switzerland. I certainly do not think of it as a heavan, but a tax haven, yes! :)

    Shefaly, thanks for the link to the very informative article. I agree with the gist of what he said. I think the Swiss govt should train their people on how to do business. On one hand they are aggressively promoting tourism, and on the other hand you have people who do not like tourists! I think they better get their act together soon because the world is now demanding that Switzerland change its way of making money. A lot of countries are now demanding that this hiding of tainted money should stop. It took a long time for the world to wake up!

    Nova, you know, this thought crossed my mind too! Because you know the number of films that are shot there! :)

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      October 13, 2009 12:19 pm

      Nita:

      //I certainly do not think of it as a heavan, but a tax haven, yes!//

      OK, so now the cat is out of the bag ;-)

  28. October 13, 2009 9:49 am

    Joss, I am speaking completely from a tourist’s point of view. I mean, all that a tourist asks for is for strangers to guide him if they are lost, tell him/her where to get a cab, how to get to a metro station, where a bank is located and so on. But yes, I found more response in a small place called Bangor, well, I mean people seemed interested and curious. Everyone also seemed to know each other. However I had most engaging conversation with a cab driver in London. He talked incessantly about England and how much he loved India and would love to go there and so on! I felt like tipping a little heavily and it was our last day in London so I think I must have given him over 2 pounds extra. You know what he said? He said, no no, don’t give me so much, you’ll need it for coffee at the airport! That was my last impression of London! :)

    Axinia, I guess that as you speak German, it must have been easier for you in Switzerland. I agree with you about the materialism in Switzerland. Why else would they hide tainted money in their banks?

    Man of Roma, you couldn’t have put it better when you say:

    With their tendency to quietness and order I am sure they probably have developed great irritation vis-à-vis foreigners and different mores.

    I think their government should stop promoting tourism is such a big way. Its going to irritate their populace even more!

    Poonam, I guess Indians are unprepared for the rudeness.

    IHM, not at all surprised. Monkey huh? I guess that person is clearly uneducated about the rich traditions and culture in India. But forget culture, its materialism that that person will understand. Perhaps he might be impressed if he knew that India was the richest country in the world before colonisation! And I wonder what that person would call people who store stolen money in their banks? I mean, look at the hypocrisy!
    I am sure that only a small percentage of the Swiss are overtly racist but overall I think they are not at all happy about the influx of strangers into their land.

  29. Dev permalink
    October 13, 2009 10:40 am

    Nita, I really liked reading this post. Your honest and straight style of sharing such experiences always fascinates me. I’m sorry to learn about your not so pleasant experiences in Switzerland. I haven’t been there myself but have known some Swiss people here in Montreal. Although my experiences with them have been pretty decent, Swiss are known to be bit of xenophobic in their country. I remember that couple of weeks back, my hair dresser, who is a French Canadian, mentioned how one of her family members really had a tough time living in Switzerland. Apparently, the place/area where he lived has some sort of a rule where if a new family arrives in that colony/area, a committee with voting from other inhabitants of that area will decide if they want that person/family among them…and basically if that person/family is non-Swiss, chances become very thin of acceptance!!!
    I agree with you that there is no excuse for certain behaviors which are universally rude.

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      October 13, 2009 2:57 pm

      Dev,

      I don’t quite see the logic underlying your disapproval, even though there is a slim chance that I may agree with the spirit of what you say.

      A small community, such as the one your hair-dresser’s relative sought to become part of, is very much like a co-operative housing society, or a club. The existing members have every right to decide whom they wish to admit or not admit in their midst.

      • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
        October 13, 2009 3:12 pm

        Marginally off-topic but not irrelevant to the point I tried to make in my response to Dev above, you may wish to explore the following page and some of the links to it:

        http://imoregon.com/why_oregonians_hate_californians.html

        Seem familiar?

      • Dev permalink
        October 13, 2009 8:55 pm

        Vivek, I have not disapproved anything. I mentioned Swiss bit xenophobic in their country after what I heard from some people, mostly other Europeans, who have lived there. It might not be true at all, but I wrote what I know from my indirect knowledge and that’s the only knowledge I have right now. Regarding my hair dresser’s relative, I only mentioned one instance she told me. She had other stories to tell too which were not very flattering either and which pointed towards xenophobia too.

  30. October 13, 2009 11:00 am

    Good to see you are back after a nice trip. Thank you for sharing ur experience and also for your tips which may be useful for me in the future. I fully agree with you with my minimal experience that Japanese are the most courteous ppl in this world

  31. October 13, 2009 12:44 pm

    Dev, thanks. That incident you narrate about voting is really weird!! Its completely bigoted too I am afraid. I guess not many foreingers would be happy to settle down in such a community.

    Charakan, exactly! The poor quiet Japanese being made fun of. It was sad to see that.

  32. rags permalink
    October 13, 2009 2:40 pm

    Welcome back Nita! I enjoyed reading your experiences and soon hope to go on a similar trip. As for the swiss, don’t let that spoil your memories of the wonderful holiday you had.

  33. October 13, 2009 3:46 pm

    Hi Nita,
    Well, I would have to disagree with your comments about Switzerland and its nationals.
    My visit to Zurich/Lausanne/Geneva, 3 years ago, in Switzerland was amazing. I was there only for my company’s project work and it was an all-expense-paid trip. Although the stay was a short, a little over 2 weeks, I didn’t find people all that what you experienced. On the contrary they were really helpful. (My good luck, maybe) They were courteous, followed traffic rules, cars waited for pedestrians, and people minded their own business. Being a Sikh I was a lil over-skeptical before visiting Europe, as I was worried they would confuse me for a Muslim and cause trouble. I did attract some strange looks with my new swiss t-shirt (check out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jagmeet/216889210 ), however, nothing too overwhelming.

    Although, I was fore-warned to be careful of traffic in France, as drivers don’t care of pedestrians and French are stereotyped to be rude. But, I never visited France anyhow.

    And, I do agree about the smoking problem. The country is soo impeccable clean but at the same time at the Lausanne railway station you would see a thick layer of cigarette butts carpeting the railway tracks, hiding all the stones under it! Disgusting!

    ~
    Jagmeet Singh Hanspal
    ~

  34. Mark permalink
    October 13, 2009 4:48 pm

    Apparently, the place/area where he lived has some sort of a rule where if a new family arrives in that colony/area, a committee with voting from other inhabitants of that area will decide if they want that person/family among them…and basically if that person/family is non-Swiss, chances become very thin of acceptance!!!

    Some background: this was about naturalization.

    Unlike, let’s say the USA or Germany where there is really only federal citizenship and your state (and county/district/city) citizenship is automatic by residence, the Swiss think of municipal, state, and federal citizenship as different, more independent things.
    So an immigrant must get approval (i.e the promise of municipal/state citizenship) from his or her municipality and state, before he or she will be naturalized by the federal government.

    In some municipalities this approval took the form of a referendum. And because most people who voted didn’t knew the immigrant, one of the deciding factors was the name on the ballot.
    The chance to win such a referendum with an Eastern European or Non-European name was smaller than with a Western European name.

    Such municipal referendums on naturalization were declared unconstitutional by a Swiss federal court in 2003.

  35. October 13, 2009 10:22 pm

    Congrats…:D so 2,000,000 finally :) Guess I am the first one to notice it :D

    • October 15, 2009 10:36 pm

      Vishesh, Thanks! I mean, I had an eye on it and was waiting for the one to turn to two but then lost track! I guess you ARE the first person to notice it and 2 million thanks for it!!

  36. October 13, 2009 11:13 pm

    There were other little incidents, more subtle experiences too. She said she felt bewildered and sad that these people could have such prejudices, and so much hatred towards total strangers, purely based on the stranger’s skin colour…

    Even if it was based on their maybe unpleasant experience with other Indians it still was wrong to say something like that to a boy just sitting alone…

  37. October 14, 2009 12:24 am

    Hmmm good that you have been out and about. I do not really expect anyone to speak ‘English’ anywhere in the non English world. However I am quite outraged when people do not speak it in ‘English speaking’ countries properly. So Switzerland eh, perhaps they are just annoyed by the hordes of tourists that trample upon them year on and on. They can’t get rid of them because they depend on them. As an example just take these silly Hill stations in Himachal. People there can be quite beastly to foreigners, especially if that foreigner happens to be an Israeli. However the locals are just frustrated. The ‘outsiders’ violate their peace and quiet and yet : no escape.

    So as for the Swiss, they are cold and reserved. As for laughing on Japanese, it is routine to attack slitty eyed people in the western world, well for that matter even in the Indian world. Well just the other day a 20 something year old man killed a Filipino man while shouting “Go back, you F***** Jap” or something in the UK. Basically its one of those Indo-European barbarian tribes from the caspian sea problems, you can’t fix genes.

  38. minal permalink
    October 14, 2009 12:50 pm

    hi nita,
    lovely post… have been to london and paris .. was dreaming of Switzerland but now i will be a bit cautious.. though honestly this is the first time heard of the Swiss being rude… but coming from a rational person like u .. i believe it !!
    nevertheless it seems u had a nice trip … good everyone deserves a vacation

  39. October 14, 2009 11:22 pm

    Nita, That was a wonderful and detailed travelogue. I think stereotypes are set when we meet the wrong kind of people but then when we meet a lot of them then it is but natural to set a notion.

    When we moved to this small town, most people warned us because it is 99 % Caucasian and republican community. Big cities are multi-racial and multi-cultural so the notion of a small town being this way was only natural. We were surprised to find friendlier and a lovely community here. This is one of the best places we have lived. Though I would still love to bring up my daughter up in a more mixed community for her own good.

    Some places and people behave in an unfriendly manner because of their own bad experiences from tourists or no command over English or plain racism.

    • October 18, 2009 9:32 am

      “When we moved to this small town, most people warned us because it is 99 % Caucasian and republican community.”

      Well, both Republicans and Democrats are vying for fresh blood – especially immigrants – to join their side. So, it’s natural to bad-mouth and stereotype the other. :)
      My experience with a few Republicans has been quite pleasant, and unlike the stereotype spread by my Democrat friends. And yes, we do discuss politics and social issues.

  40. October 15, 2009 10:33 am

    rags, thanks. And no, I do have beautiful memories of Switzerland. I love nature and I loved the mountains.

    JS Hanspal, good to know that you had a happy time in Switzerland,

    Mark, thanks for the clarification. Glad to know what these referendums were declared unconstitutional.

    IHM, yes there were some subtle experiences I had too, which I didn’t mention.

    Odzer, if they need them so much then they better behave! I think most people keep quiet about any nastiness they encounter in Switzerland and that is why tourists have no idea! I am glad I wrote about this because others have come out and spoken about it. Also when I speak about this to people I know they tell me what they have experienced, something that they initially kept quiet about. Frankly I would never visit Switzerland again.

    Minal, there were other incidents, more subtle, which I haven’t mentioned. However I guess it’s worth visiting Switzerland at least once, although I am sure there are other beautiful places in the world too.

    Solilo, thanks. I am glad to hear that you have had good impressions in the place you are. Actually I think problems can start if there are too many of a certain group of outsiders who are first generation for that country. I think that is what is happening in say Australia. It would be interesting to know your daughter’s experiences though.

  41. Lakshmi permalink
    October 15, 2009 4:00 pm

    A few years back we travelled by Swiss Air from Zurich to India and what we experienced on board was unbelievable. The air-hostesses were outragiously rude to and made fun of several Indians on board. They picked the Indians who were not savvy, not good in English, and who were intimidated by western culture. They made fun of them openly and loudly and none of these passengers said anything. While I sat angry and unbelieving at what I was seeing, a British-born Indian lady stood up and took up the issue loudly and aggressively. While we supported her and were glad to have her do this, this lady spewed a lot of 4-letter words about white people in general and said a lot of things that we were not happy with. Anyway, we collected signatures and the ‘fight’ kind of spread. The pilot and the air-hostesses came out and began to enlist the support of the ‘whites’ on board – some of these men turned to be racist. In all it was an awful journey thought they did not target us in any way and we never have considered Swissair after that no matter how economical their fares.

    Also, nothing came out of the ‘campaign’ that the British-Indian lady started. Which has left me wondering about this whole business – how do you get justice for bad experiences on board a flight or a ship. Going by my limited research, there is very little one can do about it at the end.

    • October 18, 2009 9:29 am

      “Which has left me wondering about this whole business – how do you get justice for bad experiences on board a flight or a ship. Going by my limited research, there is very little one can do about it at the end.”

      My experience is that people support/try out businesses – or avoid them like the plague – based on word-of-mouth from friends. So, the best method to get justice is to talk about your negative experience with friends and acquaintances, and blog about it. :)

  42. October 17, 2009 12:57 am

    even kids who are half indian-half english and who speak swiss german fluently have faced racisim growing up there.

  43. October 17, 2009 1:42 pm

    Nita:

    Without suggesting that people in dead-end jobs are so enlightened as to think along these lines, the following article will interest you. http://bit.ly/3s7dRX

  44. October 23, 2009 1:27 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Switzerland was a place that I always wanted to visit, but I will now get my fill of that country via Bollywood and Tamil movies.

  45. October 23, 2009 12:43 pm

    Good post Nita.

    To everyone here who is thinking of visiting Switzerland, save your money…and visit Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh or Arunachal Pradesh instead (even Uttaranchal would be nice).

    My experience (with family) closely mirrors what Nita wrote in her post.

  46. vasudev permalink
    October 24, 2009 9:59 pm

    nita…you are right of course. the swiss are a RUDE people who know no manners.

  47. October 29, 2009 11:19 am

    Apologies for my late comments to this post, but thanks for sharing, again.

    I had not heard so negative experiences of Swiss folks. On one hand, maybe they like their nature to remain undisturbed and don’t like humans polluting it, or their natural beauty is so well-established as a tourist destination that they don’t need to be nice to sustain tourism.

    I’ve had pleasant experiences living in London, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Never went to Paris but know a lot like you shared. Switzerland rudeness was news to me.

  48. November 2, 2009 1:12 pm

    I did not face any such incident in Swiss, although I was too skeptical people usually face hate crimes abroad.

    However, I do have bad experience in South India. Being a North Indian and different from the Southern Indian culture, I believe the same rules are in play here too. This would stop only if people take a pluralistic approach towards others, and as and Indian, as a part of a country which is secular, such behavior towards others is not at all appropriate.

    Going to a different country all together you are likely to see an amplification of hate crimes, but its not so uncommon in India too, i.e. amongst ourselves. And I am not even talking about foreigners who have bad experience in India, that might be a long story in itself.

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      November 2, 2009 1:27 pm

      Jagmeet Singh Hanspal:

      //I do have bad experience in South India. Being a North Indian and different from the Southern Indian culture, I believe the same rules are in play here too.//

      It works both ways. At least “South Indians” in the North do not seek to enforce their language, customs etc. on their North Indian hosts. One cannot say the same thing about most North Indians in the “South” (i.e. the non-North). They behave as if theirs is the normative culture for all of India, and that all of India is their jagir.

      • November 2, 2009 1:32 pm

        See!?!! There you go! Thanks Vivek!

      • Juhu permalink
        May 17, 2012 1:06 am

        My friend, go-to Bangalore or better Chennai, and you can easily find people imposing their everything (not just culture) on people from other states. No no… just go to “Bangalore Traffic Police” page, and you can find how the members will impose kannda upon everyone else. Yes, who stopped anyone from respecting their own language, but if you talk of imposing on others, South is the place where its done to the extreme. So, don’t talk about only Northies imposing themselves on others… REGIONALISM is to the extreme in the SOUTH, even between neighboring states like Andhra and Karnataka, Tamil and Kerela.

        • May 17, 2012 8:43 am

          Juhu,several commentators have gone off the topic but because I have allowed their comments I am allowing yours. And I might as well add that there is nothing wrong if a local expects you to speak his/her language unless you are a tourist. And most people who deal with tourists know English. As for imposing one’s language on others in their region, it’s simply not polite. No Kannadiga will expect a shopkeeper in Delhi to speak Kannada. In any case, this post is not about language, but rude behavior towards foreign tourists. I never expected any local Swiss or French persons to speak Marathi or even English, but simply expected decency like saying hullo or at least trying to help. Basic decency was found missing in the Swiss people we encountered.
          No other comments on Indian regional issues will be allowed on this post because regional issues are discussed in another post on this blog and you are welcome to leave your comments there if you feel that Kannadigas and Tamils should learn Hindi. Thanks.

  49. Abdullah K. permalink
    November 2, 2009 4:01 pm

    Strangely enough, I had a rather pleasant experience with the Swiss people, especially in place like Basle, Geneva and Lousanne. I guess you ended up in the German side of Switzerland and Germans in general are very rude people, wherever they come from.

    On the other hand, I have found the Japanese to be as rude to foreigners as the type of experience you had with the Swiss. The countries which seem to the most ‘Indian friendly’ are China and Russia – despite the former having a tag for anti-Indianism and the later having a tag for icy-cold rudeness.

  50. December 9, 2009 6:50 pm

    Nita you have a great blog.I have just came across this yesterday and already read some of your posts…I mean from different subjects. Regarding your travel experience in London, Paris and Switzerland, I am very surprised as Switzerland was the place where I have had best expereince among all the countries. And I have been to Switzerland in summer and winter both. I found Swiss people very friendly, organised, honest and peaceful. London is great, but to find any information in London is bit difficult as it is usually full of foreigners like us! Paris was bit of an issue, I guess that was mainly because of language barriers. Most of them didn’t speak english and I certainly didn’t speak French.

    MAG

    thanks, and welcome to the blog. :) – Nita

  51. BlueEyedIndian permalink
    November 22, 2010 10:28 am

    I am an Indian who has lived in USA, UK, France and Switzerland… yes believe it or not..currently I am living between London and Paris and still go to Switzerland every few weeks for a visit. I will be very blunt and honest here – Indians are the worst dressed people on this planet and that is why they face “rudeness” in certain countries. Even in France they will face rudeness – but in UK there are so many Indians that people are used to them. Also Britian is not a very sophisticated or classy country – in Fact most Continental Europeans cannot stand British people. It is a total myth that British are sophisticated and classy – when in fact there is a huge yob culture in Britain and Brits are the ugliest worst dressed people in Europe… this is why they have no issue with indian tourists. Same thing with Americans – very poorly dressed and unsophisticated so they don’t care if you are an Indian dressed up like a clown… Americans also face a lot of rudeness in Europe because of the way they behave / dress and carry themselves.

    This is the no. 1 rule for being respected in Continental europe – DRESS TO IMPRESS…especially in certain parts of switzerland, germany and France or even Italy – these people are very particular about their fashion sense and when they see a dark skinned person dressed poorly or in the Indian style they hate it and make fun of them. I don’t look Indian and have more Italian, Mediterranean features and yes I dress very well – which is why I never once faced rudeness in Europe… the only place I have to deal with rudeness is in UK actually because I behave far too European for the British and they hate that. UK Is not really Europe – it’s an island and Brits have an island mentality – in reality British and Americans are the most racist people on this planet – live in these countries and deal with them everyday and then you will realize the truth about them – as a tourist you will never get to know how they really are. They are also very fake people – most anglo-saxons are fake but in Europe people are more sincere, blunt and will say things to your face even if you don’t like it…and in the US / UK they will be super nice and friendly to your face but the minute you turn around they will say the nastiest things about you. British and Americans hate Indians more than anyone else – I never had a racism problem in continental Europe – like I said on the continent you have to look beautiful and they love you…. look / dress like a clown and they will not be nice to you….. sorry but even a lot of Indians with money have no class or sense of dressing up… they all stand out in a crowd and look very weird which is why they are not accepted in Europe. Generally swiss are cold people but in-different to others – they don’t mix with anyone easily but once u get to know them they are fine.. I have swiss friends and none of them are bad people – Indians are also very intimidated by Europeans which is natural because India is only coming up to a world standard now – maybe in the future India will set standards for Europeans to adapt and at that point Europeans will be comfortable around all sorts of Indians.

  52. Yvonne permalink
    March 1, 2012 3:47 am

    Hi there I agree 100 per cent about the Swiss.
    I lived there for 18 months and all I can say is
    It was hell. The women are rude cold and not
    Friendly and the men don’t talk as the women don’t allow them … I hated the place … Beautiful country. Horrible people

  53. Si Felder permalink
    August 5, 2012 6:05 am

    BlueEyedIndian
    You’re are about as Indian as my left foot! French? Eastern European? Perhaps, perhaps not. I am half Brit half Swiss. The Swiss do not like foreigners that much. Period. As for dressing to impress – you sound like a 1970’s clothing advert. Do you wear flares and a kipper tie by any chance?
    Oh and by the way, the Brits do not like ‘continental europe’ (as you so quaintly put it) that much either.

    • blueeyedindian permalink
      August 6, 2012 1:02 am

      Si Felder – The Swiss love foreigners with a LOT of money, and same with British…they love foreigners with money… fact is in Switzerland and Britain no matter how ugly, uncouth and badly behaved you are – if you have tons and tons of money you can buy respect in these countries…. but in France they don’t care about money….if you are rich and tacky (like Oprah)….they still turn you away from entering an upscale establishment…..

      I know that British don’t like continental Europe…..they are too unsophisticated to like Europe and find europeans very stuck up….well as someone just told me recently…the British don’t know much else besides how to wear a suit and tie properly…..historically British only stole from around the world and bought everything with money…if they had a bit of class they would have built a Taj Mahal or a Chateau de Versailles too….but all they came up with was a Buckingham Palace…..not even a white house…LOL.

      Nice combo of British and Swiss …..you must be really good at handling other people’s money…..:).

  54. marianna permalink
    June 14, 2013 2:35 am

    I thought this was a great post. I browsed it after making my decision this evening to leave Switzerland where I have been living for six months. Zurich is clean and beautiful but as a foreigner I sense an underlying hostility. This evening was the last straw. I sat down in a tram next to a woman whose boyfriend was in front. They were kind of taking up all the space and I asked the guy to move his bag. He said “your legs aren’t that f***ing long anyway”. When I said “I beg your pardon”, he told me to “get f***ed” and a number of other rude remarks. Both he and the girlfriend stank of drink. I turned to my fellow passengers to go and tell the driver. (In England, they would be thrown off the bus) but the Swiss woman in front of me just said to me that I shouldn’t speak to the guy and there wouldn’t be a problem. Then the drunk Swiss guy and the Swiss woman exchanged a few words of solidarity in their dialect. Wow – I thought to myself – a woman being verbally abused by a drunk guy is OK because I’m foreign! It was the last straw for me. I came home and told my partner I was leaving. I’m from London and fortunately it has changed a lot since I was a child (then people were very reserved). I just realised I would never fit in and life is too short to live in a place where you realise people are not going to help you because you are foreign.

  55. Dr. Harish Ramakrishnan permalink
    November 25, 2013 11:39 pm

    I am canadian Indian. I am working as a computer scientist. I went for my postdoc study in ETH ZURICH. I faced very very horrible experience in my life during past one and half years. It is very difficult to forget for me. I visited many countries, but Swiss are horrible. They do not know how behave? They are rude. Many of my time i faced stereotype looking of them, in spite of they are noting compared to me. They think they all are Bill Gates. **** SWISS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate this nation, their culture and swiss. Germans are very good. Not this stupid swiss germans, who has nothing, only have black money which the world beg them . For them they are rich. ETH ZURICH is nothing according to what they say. Come to USA, CANADA then see. It is not necessary for that idiots , they go to Germany, they will understand what is called education. I strongly against who says Germans are bad, They are very good in personal, hard working and talented. Germans are taking swiss jobs that s why they are telling, germans are bad. All rich foreigners u take your money from swiss banks then we will see what will be happen with them? Stupid, Idiot.

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