The New York Times published an article on Indian tourism to Switzerland, today. The most jarring thing about it was seeing DDLJ’s title translated in English; I’ll spare you that.
For years, Bollywood’s producers and directors have favored the pristine backdrop of Switzerland for their films. The greatest of the Bollywood filmmakers, Yash Chopra, is a self-professed romantic who has made a point of including in virtually all his films scenes shot on location in this country’s high Alpine meadows, around its serene lakes, and in its charming towns and cities to convey an ideal of sunshine, happiness and tranquillity.
In the process, they have created an enormous curiosity about things Swiss in generations of middle-class Indians, who are now earning enough to travel here in search of their dreams.
“The moment you cross the border it is something else,” Mr. Purohit said, “where the scenario changes.”
“No noise, no pollution, no crowds,” said Kamalakar Tarkasband, 72, a retired army officer. [nyt]
No, just pretty scenery as a picturesque backdrop for photo ops wherein they imitate their favorite celluloid moments.
Raj Kapoor may have been the first Indian director to use foreign sites for shooting on location — in Venice, Paris and Switzerland — when he filmed his 1964 hit, “Sangam.” But the entire bus knew the story of how Mr. Chopra spent his honeymoon in the Swiss resort of Gstaad. [nyt]
SANGAM! That’s one of the dozen or so fillums I’ve actually seen; it was one of my father’s favorites. I loved it.
Here’s something interesting and overwhelmingly sweet, much like a gulab jamun, the round, syrup-laden dessert which often graces Indian buffets (see? I can write like a gora):
“He promised his wife on his honeymoon that every movie he made would have to have one romantic song or scene in Switzerland,” said Rajendra Choudhary, 24, who also studied management in Pune and joined the Enchanted Journey. Mr. Chopra, now 77, kept his promise. Most of the Swiss sequences are dream scenes in which lovers dance or romp on Alpine meadows strewn with flowers or roll in the snow in unlikely flimsy Indian garb on wintry slopes. [nyt]
But not everyone shares the dream. In June, the Zurich newspaper Tages-Anzeiger featured an article with the headline “Into the Luxury Hotel with a Gas Cooker,” noting that “in some hotels an entire caste of guests is no longer desired: the Indians.”
The article catalogued the complaints of hotel managers: guests who cook curry dishes on camping stoves in their rooms; guests who use bath oils that blacken tubs; guests who book for a husband and wife, only to show up with the entire family. [nyt]
The first complaint makes me wonder if a lack of vegetarian options is the issue. I just asked my most well-traveled friend what he ate in Switzerland and he said his most memorable meal was a repast purchased from a farmhouse; he waxed blissfully about cured meats, cheese and a good baguette. My mom can eat one out of those three. She hates cheese. She wouldn’t be knocking out some Ulli Theeyal in her room, but she’d probably be hungry. I’ve never been, so I don’t know. Maybe Switzerland is littered with veggie noms.