Friday, October 31, 2008

Bern, Baby!

The weary traveler strolled about the streets of Berne in an attempt to kill some time before his next connecting train. The journey so far had been amazing and the cherry on the cake had been the Monument of the Dying Lion at Lucerne. The traveler was heading out to a well deserved break in Amsterdam. As he was walking aimlessly, a pang of guilt seized the traveler. Clearly, Switzerland had been the best experience so far, yet he was seeing so less of it. However, did Switzerland have much to offer a la Prague or Paris? In his perception, Zurich and Berne were staid financial centres and the beauty of Switzerland could be best experienced from the train rather than walking the streets of these cities.

The traveler sighed out of tiredness. A puff of vapour went up the air.

It was very cold. He reached out into his pocket and collected whatever remained of his Swiss Francs. They were all in coins and amounted to not more than three and seventy.

He looked about for a Kebap shop. The only kind of shop that would even deal with this amount of money could be a kebap shop. And even there, this money may be good for one coffee. But yes, a coffee would be good.

The traveler’s reveries were interrupted by the haunting sound of a bagpipe. Whoever would play bagpipes in Switzerland? The traveler headed in the direction of the sound. There, by the side of a road, stood a person playing his bagpipes. He was stomping his feet in the direction and the sound of trinkets (salangai) acted as an accompaniment to the music.

The effect of the music was mesmerizing. It would be futile to attempt to capture the beauty of the music in words and the author shall not attempt it. Slowly, a crowd grew around this musician, swaying to the tunes of the bagpipe. If we were the townspeople, he was the Piper. The traveler recollected the story of the piper. Finally, after many years of having heard the story, it suddenly became richer in meaning. The power of the instrument was remarkable indeed and the story was no exaggeration.

The piper played on. The cold did not seem to matter now. The traveler emptied his pockets in genuflection. The destination did not seem to matter now. The first connection to his destination was missed. However, only the moment mattered. It is well said that the best journey has no destination.

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