Geneva. Geneve. One of the financial capitals of personal wealth management (if you are lucky to have that kind of problem) and home of many international organizations striving to make this world a better place. It is a city I have been to so many times that being there brings the feeling of being at home.
Last week we were in Geneva once again. Our first international trip after a hiatus of three years, courtesy Covid. Who would have thought that we would have the privilege (or the misfortune} of living through the times of pandemic. It is something for the history books. We have the perception that we have outsmarted nature, have broken the chains of natural selection, and have the wherewithal to alter the basic chemistry of life. Guess we are not there yet. We may never be.
A bit hesitant of venturing out and embracing the normalcy of life again, we took the leap, boarded the flight on United and took off into the blue yonder to be magically transported to Geneva eight hours later the next morning.
There we were standing at the Geneva airport train station waiting for a seven minute ride to Gare de Cornavin. It felt like returning home after being away for a long time.
Like every time, this is how the script plays out — step out of the station and there in the front is the familiar sight of Hotel Bernina. Savor the moment of being back home again, look around, inhale a deep breath, and then, turn left and walk to the Hotel Jade and be at home away from home for next six nights.
There is a sense of comfort, ease, and confidence in returning to places we have been to. Before you leave, the usual thoughts for the need to figure out the logistics of a new place does not cross the mind. Where are the ATMs located in the arrival hall, how to buy the ticket for the underground at the airport, do we have to validate the ticket, how to get to the hotel? None of that crosses the mind. That is what it is like when coming to Geneva.
Being here, when I take a right turn at an intersection, I know what the view would be. There are only a few places in the world that have that feeling of comfort. One another is my Didi’s (sister in Hindi) place back in India.
But all journeys end. They have to if we wish new ones to start.
On the last night we decided to pick up something to eat, pack some wine and sit on the bench along Lake Geneva and have our dinner. Few hours later, it was time to get up and head back to the hotel. If it was winter, we would have seen the lights across the lake shimmering in the water, and perhaps, would have tried to freeze frame their snapshot in my mind. But it is still the balmy months of summer and the night descends much later.
Early next morning, we checked out from the hotel and started retracing our steps back. The first stop is to enter Gare de Cornavin and take the train back to the airport. Before entering the station, I turn around and take a last look at the Hotel Bernina. Somewhere inside a thought lingers will I be back again or this was the last time?
If I knew that it would be the last time would that bring some unusual flavor of sadness?
The finality of doing something for the last time could be such a stark reminder of our mortality.
Or perhaps, it is better to think that there is never a last time and when leaving, look forward to coming back once again. Perhaps a hope, but it becomes a distant flicker of a candle to look forward to.
We also know that we have the wherewithal to come back and make a conscious choice of taking a trip to Geneva the last time. It is then that I will turn back, look at Hotel Bernina and the Restaurant Les Brasseurs and say Adios, it was always a pleasure being in your embrace.
It is time to head to platform #3. Don’t want to miss the train. As always, the present takes over the sadness of things coming to an end.