Category Archives: GSE

Cheese Making Factory…Zurich Trip….Swiss Playing Cards…

Thursday 24th June

The morning stated with a trip to an architecture library….yet another architectural wonder of Switzerland made by the famous Mr Bota…The library was private collections of someone who bought old original books on the architecture and monuments of eurpoe ( my co team members…since I am bad with details…if you remember the name of the guy to who the library belonged…put it in the comments for me!)

After the library…..we went to the cheese factory….finally…this was not part of the original agenda….but we wanted to see a cheese factory…how could we be in Switzerland…and not see a cheese factory!! And since we were a part of the esteemed rotary GSE program….all doors would open for us…So we went to this place called..Schaukaserei Schwyzeland( I looked a photograph and wrote the spelling! Do you blame be for not remembering details) It was an interesting visit…I did not know that to make one ka got cheese you need anywhere between 8 to 12 liters of milk depending on the type of cheese you want…old cheese is hard….new cheese is softer…there is smoked cheese…cheese of milk of different animals…cheese with a very strong flavor….overall the best cheese I liked in switerland was the sheep cheese…..i think it was called….Fatte Cheese ( my swiss friends reading this blog…please correct me…I am sure I have got the spelling wrong!)…my favorite cottage cheese or paneer is looked down upon like a lesser product here…they use tofu instead of cottage cheese to make curries..you get cottage cheese here but it is in a semi solid form and not blocks like we get in India…(I should have taken a picture..but I forgot!). Cottage cheese is sold in plastic containers like they sell yogurt and it is salty…infact…cottage cheese mixes with yogurt was a dish that is sometimes served at breakfast…it almost tastes like our Raita in India!

I know I have gone on a tangent with my discussion on cottage cheese …but my favorite paneer being looked down as a lesser product deserves atleast a discussion on my blog if nothing else!

Now back to the events of the day….We also had lunch at the cheese factory…Alpmacoroni which is a dish with cheese, potatoes , pasta with an sweet apple side dish…this is something that traditionally farmers would eat in the alps because it was cheap to make and very filling..I don’t know about the cheap….but I can definitely vouch for the very filling…we took half a portion and struggled to finish it!

After the cheese factory….we went to another chocolate factory….felcin ( swiss friends is my spelling correct?)  which is a premium swiss chocolate with two objectives…one to see the factory….and the other to buy cheap chocolate….but we could do neither….cause the factory was not open to visitors…even with all the rotary connections and the chocolate was too damn expensive to buy!

After the chocolate factory….we went for a trip to Zurich city…our first visit to the city…and it was quite nice….we met our friends who had come to India for the GSE program…and all of us went for a walk in the old part of the city….basically got a small flavor of the city…want more….luckily I come back and spend two days at the time of Zurich festival over the weekend….should be nice!

Evening was dinner with the family…and then it was time to  learn to play cards the swiss way….did you know that the swiss have a different set of cards with only 36 cards and not our traditional 52 cards….they also have 4 colors…oak..belles…flower…shield..and each of the color had only 9 cards in it…the games are similar in basic concept as to what we play…but the points system is  way to complex! The interesting part was when they keep score….sometime they write the name of the people but mostly they make a circle with slices and the score is kept for each person on where they are sitting!

My host family has given me a pair of swiss cards as a gift…so sweet…I also need a rule book from somewhere…or I will have to make up my own rules!

Overall wonderful day!! It feels so nice to write….it is like downloading all that you have gone through in a day…it is most definitely therapeutic…

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Local Hospital Visit ..Swiss Lunch..Old Age Home..Cooking Paneer Butter Masala!

Monday  21st June 2010

The day started with a visit to the hospital….was nice for me cause it was like a vocational trip for me but the other got a little bored….this was a 60 bed canton hospital with about 250 employeesl…there are about 260 odd beds in three hospitals in this canton for a population of 14500 people….which is an extremely good ratio.

This canton follows a DRG system for the in patients which means that they get paid a fixed amount for a particular diagnosis of a patient irrespective of the number of days in the hospital. The related morbidity factors are taken into consideration and the fixed amount is calculated. This is different from some of the other cantons I visited where the insurance pays per day that the patient is in the hospital. The ALSO of the patients in this hospital is 5 days and that in hospitals where they are paid per day is 7 days…( not confirmed figures…this is what the doctor said). The surprising part is that there is no rehabilitation hospitals in this canton…they have to liaison with rehab hospitals in other cantons.

Overall interesting visit…got to know another facet of the swiss healthcare system. Their healthcare system is overall very complicated..it is like an onion….you have to peal layer by layer to get to the core…..don’t think I have managed too many layers….

After the hospital visit….we were invited for lunch to a rotarians hotel and were treated to a very special local dish from Einsidenlen..”THE OFEN TURLI” it is a pancake type made of cheese and potatoes with a lot of tasty salads to go with it…

Then it was time to go to the old age home in Einsidelen called “Gerbe”..had a very bried visit…not as details one as the visit I had of the old age home in Meggan…this is the disadvantage of clubbing vocational trips with everyone….it gets boring for the rest and you cant get into all the details you would like to….but overall impression…the facilities very pretty much the same…this one was smaller and cheaper….there were about 78 intimates and an equal number of employees…the charged about 123 swiss franks a day for a orivate room with everything included. A private apartment with a kitchen was only 650 franks….as against 6000 franks for a smiliar facility in meggan…of couse food…cleaning etc is not included in the 650 franks and it is all inclusive in the 6000 franks. The major negative aspect of this old age home I though was that they do not have double rooms for the husbands and wives to move in together…they say there is never  a need as men marry women who are much younger then them and they don’t need care at the same time…! Interesting Eh!

After the old age visit…we went window shopping…bough some wine…looks at chocolates….and then came home……..

I had my host families daughters joining us for dinner today also….and I made Paneer Butter Masala…it was a major hit…even though it was quite spicy….i hardly got to eat much!! Ofcouse instead of blocks of panner you get some other form of grated cottage cheese….i used that and then used sheep cheese to act like blocks of panner….i was super worried cause I had never used Knor masala….but it turned out pretty well…!

Now time to sleep…..chilled out morning tomo…i plan to get up for breakfast…and then go to sleep again…that will be sooo cool!

Last 4 days to go….a little tensed about my London Paris trip…I am unable to get through my hosts in london…I hope they are there and are still willing to host me….!

Gut Nak….sleeping time!

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Walk in the Forest..Doctor…Museum…Dinner

Sunday 20th June 2010

Yet another day is over….we are getting closer and closer to the end of the trip…just 6 more days to go it has been truly wonderful…..i am almost dreading the last 1 week of the trip when I am going to be on my own…but at the same time I am excited about it….London…Paris…Zurich are places I have always wanted to see….so I guess it will be fun..but I have my apprehensions…cause I am going to be on my own…after being treated like royalty here….it will be a big culture change…

Anyways…next week is 6 days away…now for the main purpose of this post…my day today….!

According to the official program…today was suppose to be a free day with the hosts…but FREE day what is that!!?? It is a concept that does not exist in the GSE…and I am quite glad….with just 6 more days to go…I want to see everything I can….!

Today morning started with a 2 hour walk in the rain…the temperature outside was 6 degrees…it was drizzling…but 4 of us …(me a girl from my team meghna..her host and his daughter)..were out on the road with jackets..wind-sheeters and raincoats all set to explore the landscape……

We went to many fields…..saw how they manage the cow dung and make it manure….went to the horse stables….got a horse to lick my hand for the first time!

Then was lunch time….had tomato soup and bread for lunch…looks like the tradition is to have a light lunch on a Sunday afternoon….

After lunch we went for a driver around the town and then to the doctor to get my ear washed…..sooo much wax in my ear that it is not funny…,my own voice is sounding so very different to me now with all the wax cleared out…

Then it  was museum time….we saw a museum that was brand new and had just opened the previous day…it had many old prints of pictures etc….

After the museum..it was time to be back with the host families….eat rocekette today….which is potatoes and melted cheese…..met Jessica and tom the daughter and  Tom her boy friend .was a pleasure to speak English…!

Overall a very nice day…but tiring…now time to sleep…good night world!

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Transfer to Einsiden..

Saturday 18th June 2010

The started with us feeling a sense of relief… unlike the last transfer…here we were happy to pack our bags and GO!!.Finally going to get to be with host families again and not on our own in a hotel….but change always brings apprehensions….but nothing could be as bad as staying in a hotel could it….so we were overall excited to meet our new host families!

Picked our bag and baggage…and walked to the station….I had three bags ….and each seemed to weigh a ton….the normal 10 minute walk from the hotel to the station took a  little over 20 minutes…..such a pain to trudge all the bags…wonder who would be responsible if we got an heat attack with all the strain of pulling bags up- hill….anyways…we did not get a heart with the ex!

Picked our bag and baggage…and walked to the station….I had three bags ….and each seemed to weigh a ton….the normal 10 minute walk from the hotel to the station took a  little over 20 minutes…..such a pain to trudge all the bags…wonder who would be responsible if we got an heat attack with all the strain of pulling bags up- hill….anyways…we did not get a heart with the excretion and we reached to train….among the 5 of us we had almost 20 bags if not more!

Reached a station Arth Godat from where we were to change the train to Einsiden..however the coordinator of the program in this part of Switzerland were sensitive  enough to realize that we would find it difficult to change with all our bags and so they came to pick us up at the station….and drove us 35 minutes to the town we were suppose to live in…

The weather was nice and cold…..but raining which is not so nice…the temperature is between 6 to 10 degrees…it was  beautiful….:-)

Met our host families….some were very very animated and super cute and warm….some like mine were struggling with English…but overall very nice….we then went to our new homes for the week..

In all the travel…we missed the lunch…but we more than made up for it with the dinner…..dinner was a combined dinner with two families and we had  lots of  yummy salads…One  with pumpkin seeds…cheese stuffed in some vegetable ( I should keep a pen and paper handy to write the names of the things I like….my problem is this whole lack of remembering the finer  details l which I need to get over…starting tomo…pen and paper in hand!)…some crotons with herbs mixed in a sauce….and the other with sheep cheese and vegetables.….both were very tasty!  Main course was some spaghetti with tomatoes sauce…..Deserts was some fancy chocolate like thingies in different flavors….strawberry and ice cream…it had some little thingies in it which they said was egg white coated with sugar….whatever it was it was nice….of-course there was white wine…red wine…lemon liqueur…green tea to go with various courses of the meal! Overall a nice fancy meal….we were on the dinner table from 7 in the evening  till 12 when we left….always eating and drinking something…no wonder I am feeling fat…!!

Having dinner at home is always so much better than eating in restaurants….we really missed the home flavor in Tichino….

Now time to sleep….overall like the German part of Switzerland better than the Italian part!

PS: I checked…the little red vegetable with cheese stuffed in was called peperonchi…very yummy…

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Architecture Tour….Swiss Bank….Chocolates…

Friday 17th June 2010

The day started with an architecture  tour of the city of Lugano….we saw  some construction sites…..a modern building by Gian Piero Camponovo….I am not into architecture…but the building was beautiful….there was a fountain which had alphabets coming out of it…

We then went to HSBC bank for a presentation about swiss banking….no comments would be the best thing I can say about the session….the lunch was with the bank…and that was nice….Risoto with Saffron….in the Italian part….we eat..either pasta…Piiza…or Risoto…since I like Italian food…life is good…but today is the last day in Italian part of the country….

Then we went to the chocolate factory…saw how they make it….would have ideally liked to have someone explain the process….but life is not always ideal….

The was time to buy chocolates….bought some nice fancy chocolates with resins and biscuits….bough like 1 kg of chocolates…and that is not too much I wanted to get more…but how much can one carry back home!!

Dinner was interesting…with Lasania…was similar to what we get in India….and then for the first time we came back home before the sun set….that is also not too early…the sun sets here at 10 in the night….so it was another long day….tomorrow it is time to pack bags and go to the next city…Einsiden….and our host families here we come!

 

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Art Museum…School…Architecture College…Factory Outlet Shopping

Thursday 16th June 2010

Art Museum…..ummm…I don’t understand art….but yeah..some of the paintings were good…they looked like photographs…some of the paintings were gross…they were almost like pron….have taken pictures of the good and the bad…will show on request!

We had basically gone to a town called Mendrisio which in  the southern most past of Switzerland…and from there was went to smaller towns around..the weather in this part of town is suppose to be sunny….but it was rainy and cold…and we are not complaining …cause we get enough and more of the sun in India…

After the art gallery ….we went and saw the local school of the village…the village has 1200 people…and it had a school….and a huge school….2 floors….big building…big ground….a basketball court….view of the hills…..for ONLY 60 CHINDREN! It is crazy to have an infrastructure like this was just 60 kids…but that is the way it is at least in the Italian part of the country…

This goes back to the time when the Italian part of Switzerland was poor as it was essentially farmers…and the people decided to progress as a demography…it would be important to that people are educated and hence every small village has a school…

After the school….we went for another roatry meeting…same standard song and dance…we are getting good at it….but also bored of it…

Then it was time to visit the architecture college…the Swiss Italians are vey proud of the universities they have….which are quite young and are only about 10 years old….before that the people from this area which is called tichino would have to go to other cantons or countries and study….so understandably the people here are proud of these institutes….

We then did a little city walk…all cities look the same….at-least to me and this was not very different…..

We were then taken shopping to a place called Fox Town….it had nothing to do with foxes …just many many factory outlets for branded stuff….I bought NOTHING…as expected…..jut walked around…

It was then dinner time…..tried…Panache….which is local beer mixed with something sweet….so the concoction tastes nice…I think it is the Italian version of the Chan -tee…had some wonderful locally made stuffed pasta with a goat cheese sauce…I love the cheese and the pasta….getting fat..eating all the yummy Italian food….will come back and go on a diet…this is the time to try out different things!

On that note…Chao (bye)….Boona Sera( have good evening..) well I forgot the Italian word for good night…u will have to make do with ‘have a good evening for now!

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Research Center..Bank..Radio &TV Center RSI…

Research Center..Bank..Radio/TV Center…

Wednesday 15th June 2010

A so so day….the Biomedical research center went above everyone head when the speaker got into details of the types of T lymphocytes…we then went to the corner bank to meet the head of the credit card division…Apparently there are only 2  banks which give credit cards…well it is a population of only 7 million people so I guess it is not surprising that only 2 banks are active…

The interesting thing about the cards was that people can choose a design for their card from a predefined set of designs …or even make their own personalized design by uploading personal images(pets/wify…family…favorite painting etc)..and the card company would print this card for them at a nominal cost…don’t think I have seen this in India yet..but though it was an interesting idea…

After the bank visit…we went for lunch…..had some amazing pizza…..with a topping of something white which is a by product of making cheese…ideally I should take a little paper and write these things so I remember them and if I ever see then in an Italian restaurant in India I can order it…will carry a little book from tomo…but alas…hardly anytime left in the Italian part…L

After lunch…we went to the radio and TV studios ….saw the place…took some pictures…the TV studios looked deserted…but we got some nice pics as it is a visual media…the radio was interesting…we say some live recording…..these RJ’s are good…they talk on and on without a script….

Another interesting thing in the radio studio was the  a room which was used to make various sound effect for radio plays….it was interesting….I want to go back to Mumbai and do a RJ course…I think I will be good at talking nonsense non stop…

At the end of the radio visit….it was the best part of the day…..we came to the hotel…and I crashed out for an hour….:-) felt super good…and then it was time to get ready and rush for the presentation about India to the rotary club….

We dressed up in our Indian clothers….I wore something Indo- western…a long skirt…black top…mala…and a scarf….this was the first time we actually dressed up for a presentation as the presentation was after a break….and it was in the hotel that we were living in!

The presentation was rocking…to have a room full of well connected swiss people….listen to you….smile..non..and give you a thumbs up once you finish is a good feeling….:-)

After the presentation….we just had to travel a flight of steps to get back to our rooms…which was a major relief…cause the last few days we have had to take a train and come back to our hotels…so this was a fine luxury….

It was then bonding time within the team…J we played dumb sharades….was good fun…and then I saw one of the artistic team members of mine do a painting in the middle of the night….

Overall a good long day…..a day that ends well…..feels like a rocking day…

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