A family trip to switzerland

Published June 14, 2017 3:54 am

I have been thinking about writing my day logs for the family trip to Switzerland. Today is 4th day. Days are long & filled with activities and night is occupied with next day plan and crash. Today I have caught up some sleep in the afternoon and hence thought to start this.

Notes about Switzerland

  1. Day & business starts early & closes early. I was surprised to see that stores close as early as 7 pm and remain closely on Sat/Sun. They may remain open longer on big cities like Zurich but general trend is business closes early. By 10 pm, cities are asleep. roads are empty. Smaller cities like Luzern, Interlaken, Thun – it is even earlier. Restaurants take last order at 9:30 pm. Some close by 10 pm. You get the point. Day closes early. Weekends – shops are closed including the chain stores like COOP. Some outlets especially in the main railway station of the city remain open on weekend & close little late.
  2. I was by myself  (not booking through travel agent) and moving around by self – travelerwifi.com has been the best thing that I had planned.
  3. google map is probably the best thing happened to mankind. I used it for walking / commuting to hotel from train station, indian restaurants close to hotel. It shows all commute options including bus, train, walk including train/bus schedule, platform details.
  4. Public Transport is very well organized – Trains/bus/trams are run on time & very structured. They start & leave from the specified platform on time. e.g. 8:01pm means 8:01pm
  5. People expect that you read & follow the instructions. Generally they are detailed and you can help yourself. They meant to be organized. I think they don’t like you asking when it is already called out clearly in the sign boards. e.g. train station subway will have clear marking how to exit towards tram station with a tram sign. similarly for the bus. Following this we could reach the bus station @ Thun, boat pier @ Interlaken West and tram station @ Bern.
  6. Please don’t take shortcuts e.g. Cross the road when human crossing sign is red. I made this mistake on the train track. Crossing the train track instead of taking the subway and someone showed me the sign board! It is prohibited & not break the structure of the country.
  7. People are helpful especially ladies. First day on airport when we struggled to open the door for the train (the green button mentioned below) and could not identify whether the train on platform is correct one – one lady standing there – came to us and clarified.
  8. Switzerland also is hot in summer. We found temperature reach 26-29 C in the day/evening. There is no provision for AC in most hotels. Some don’t  have fan. You will need to open windows. Global warming is likely causing the cities to warm up. When you enter a hotel like this – be patient. It found it to be trend in Luzern, Interlaken, Thun.
  9. Hotels are costly. They will typically start @ CHF 270 per night and go up to CHF 370. They will have basic amenities only. Don’t expect room service, some won’t have room phone also, reception closes by 9-11pm. Each room occupant will get a external door key as well so that he can help himself if he comes in late!
  10. Bathrooms will not have health-jets for toilets. Only paper to clean self!
  11. Typically tap water is good to drink. but check with your hotel.
  12. Carry a bottle with you so that you can fill the tap water to carry.
  13. I bought fruits from chain stores like COOPs. This is required since you can’t go on daily restaurant food without getting stomach trouble. Eating fruits & orange juice helped. No salad. Depended on fruits.

Public Transport

I bought the Swiss Travel pass on the Zurich airport for CHF 376 for 8 days. One child goes free with an adult. We need to buy two of them. Whether it has been cost effective – I don’t know yet. It has been certainly convenient. Once I finish the trip – I would know whether I have made enough rail trips to make for the pass amount. Since I did not have time to plan in detail and add up cost of train travel to decide whether to purchase the pass or purchase individual tickets – I took a blind call to buy the pass.

I found that Luzern, Interlaken hotels gave me hotel card and mentioned that the local travel will be complimentary. I did not use it since I already have the travel pass.

I booked the Glacier express (reservation required) on the Zurich airport itself. I knew exact date when I wanted to make that trip. This cost additional around 120 for the 4 members. Reservation of seats is not complimentary with Swiss travel pass. I booked from Zermatt to Chur in Glacier express.

There are simple things about public transport that I did not know & experienced first time here.

  1. Trains door has a green lighted button like we have in lifts – to open the door. On a platform, once the train reaches – you may need to press the button to board or leave the train.
  2. Buses / Trams door also have the same button system.
  3. Some old trains may have an handle to open the door.
  4. Most of the trains have automatic doors & have a live schedule. Watching this on screen you would know e.g. what is the next station or how many minutes it will take to reach there?
  5. The platform shoes the next train/bus that is due to come along with a count down in minutes. Sometimes there is a previous train that has not cleared the platform yet. In that case – you may need to read the display on the outside of the train.
  6. do your google first in the hotel. That will help directly go to the platform right away.
  7. Bear with first 2-3 journey. You will be comfortable there after. It is very simply & structured system.
  8. I would not suggest to use cash. It will be too much hassle. I have seen some people using a card, some using mobile wallet for the tickets. We used swiss travel pass. Ticket checker comes and enquires in most of the trains. You can show your pass.

Indian restaurants

We packed bunch of food from home. That helped survive the breakfast & lunch. During the day – we are roaming around as well. Evenings I would go to the Indian restaurant available in the vicinity and having good rating in google. We went to these restaunts

  1. Kanchi @ Luzern
  2. Gourm India @ Luzern
  3. India Village @ Interlaken
  4. Namaste India @ Bern (Reachable by 20 minute express train from Thun)

Suggest to go early after 7 pm. Like I said – day ends early specially in not big cities.

Traveler Wifi

I could buy it online for around CHF 10 per day for a 8 day visit. I could collect it at the Zurich airport. Website has step by step details about how to collect the device & reach the “Service Center” desk. Device comes charged and works out of the box right at the airport. There might be other competing devices like this. I did not get to research others.

The device works for around 4-5 hours I think. I used to put it for recharge over night. Use it during the day. By end of day or later half – it will drain. It will be great if the device can come with some more juice. There is option to buy another battery. It works out great. Carrying a powerful powerbank helps. I use it to charge my mobile. It can also recharge the device.


A visit to JNI – Day 3

Published May 15, 2017 10:15 pm

Day 3 has come to an end. It is nearly 10pm. It is not silent as yesterday. May be that was Sunday effect. I can hear lot of vehicular noise today in the room. I miss the pristine silence of yesterday at the same place.

I went through the similar day pattern today. I made it a point to not hurry today. Not be in a race to get a treatment early in the queue. The habit  – the urban life has taught & hard to let go. Everywhere we are in race. I walked slowly to the Gents treatment section. Incidentally there was no queue today & morning mud pack over the abdomen & neck got done in less than 1/2 hr. I had a back massage treatment. It was good for the lower back issues I have. I had met doctor @ around 10am for the treatment of next 2 days. docs here seem to write treatment & diet for next two days. I shared that I am not looking for weight loss since I am almost at the optimal weight. There is colon & shirodhara lined up for next two days.

I decided to skip Physio treatment today. The walk on the track near lake was different for day. I saw I think Mr. Jindal in his car & his home. Nice name for the home – Vishram. I did not take the whole walking track today since I was in Chappals & decided to walk the track unplanned. Yog Nidra session needs special mention. It was like Kayotsarg that we practice in Jain Meditation technique. It gave relief in the tired body today. If you are into Meditation – it uses the self-suggestion based relaxation & replenishes the energy – connects to deeper self.

Food was as usual – soup, steamed vegetables & fruits. Soups I find to be not blend & reasonable here. It started raining around 8pm here when there was a session going on after Dinner – on JNI kitchen recipes. I did not get a chance to roam around in rain – I need to carefully walk mom back to room. It would be nice to listen to sounds of rain on the campus like this.

Mom had mudpack, massage and physio treatment. Seem to be going well so far. That’s all for today. Time to sleep!

A trip to JNI (Jindal NatureCure Institute) Bangalore – Day 2

Published May 14, 2017 9:53 pm

I am sitting in my room while my mother is probably half or fast asleep on the laptop. I had decided to take her to the institute to give a boost to her abdominal issues. I was trying to pair her with someone in the family. once it did not work out – this year I had decided to take her with myself. Booking was done around 2-3 months back. We joined here on May 13th for 10 days stay. Today was the 2nd day.

There is pin drop silence in the room. I can hear my keyboard sound as well as any door that opens up on the floor. It is around 9:30pm and I will also sleep in no more than few more minutes. I need to wake for the next day at around 4:30-5pm. Yoga Kriya session starts at 5:30pm. I also need to account for some time for mom walk to the place (given her age). So far what I have liked about the place is the silence & nature. You get lot of time to listen deep within. You transcend naturally if you have inclination towards it. Nature provides you the environment. Probably there is a busy road right outside the JNI but here in my room probably 1km away from the road in the block – I hear nothing. Also the temperature also drops given the greenery around. I have not yet put up the AC yet.

Day 1 – we had landed in blore and joined JNI @ 9:30am. More later.

Day 2 – I got exposed to the following in the morning Yoga Kriya

  1. Jal neti – I did it first time in my life.
  2. Vaman – where you drink and vomit the water taken in. I have been exposed to this in past & do this at home with normal water. Here – water has something more. I could not take second glass before I flushed it out.
  3. Warm Ghee in nostrils – this I did first time.

There is juices all through the day almost every two hours. I also like the veg soups which has not disappointed with taste yet. I like tasty food. but so far I have not been disappointed with the healthy food taste here and it has been filling as well.

I got exposed to abdominal mud pack & eye pack first time yesterday. Did that today as well. cools the abdomen & eye. It is hard to not fall asleep. Full body oil massage I got exposed first time. Shock wave therapy for the tight neck muscles was relaxing yesterday & I had take today also. First experience was unique. I saw the muscle relaxing / tone change after the session. Acupuncture also I had taken a session today. It did not click for me or my issues. I also got exposed to Tratak to a lamp @ eye care session. It was unique & pushed me close to the cause of head noise.

I need to time out and sleep. Also more typing on laptop is harmful to neck & back!

Apple support rocks!

Published December 10, 2016 11:10 am

apple-logo-0028640x4800029I was looking for an authorized service center for the apple’s ipod. I own an old ipod classic that is out of warranty. I was struggling to connect it to the windows 10 laptop. I was trying to find apple authorized service center. I landed at their support page which connected me to the apple call center @ Singapore.

I got a call back in 2 minutes & support executive was kind enough to not ignore an out of warranty case. He was patient to let me download iTunes and latest iTunes just worked! He also forward me the link to locate apple authorized service center.

Apple supported rocked for me today!

Filling ITR-3 for AY2016-17

Published November 9, 2016 6:45 pm

I was late at filing my returns for FY2015-16 and today finally finished submitting the returns. This year I used the java utility to complete the form and learnt a few things

  1. Schedule-S – Employer form 16 gross salary and the first entry (1) in the Schedule-S were different. For the former it included the exemptions from section 10 whereas for the latter – expected to be excluded & mention it separately in entry (2).
  2. section 10(14) did not have a sub-item under Schedule-S item (2). I have to add it under 2.iv – other allowances namely child education & conveyance allowance.
  3. With this –  the Schedule-S item (7) – Income chargeable under Head “Salaries” – matched the employee form 16 and ITR form.
  4. Filled Indian stock dividend & long term exempted income under Schedule-EI and did not confused it with Schedule-OS 1.Income – a) Dividends
  5. Schedule VI-A – section 80D – My employer allowed me to contribute extra premium (insurance) to cover parents. With clarification from payroll – I found that it qualifies for Section 80D exemption.
  6. Ensure that Open “Validation” tab – I found a extra space next to the bank account number which I added by cut and paste. That had validation error.
  7. I missed 80D adding in the form. I lost some money. Given that I am filing late returns – cannot revise it.

I wish one day we have all this automated. My PAN card is linked to all my bank accounts, ICICIDIRECT account, TDS by employer – all of this should automatically light up in the form. The tax payer should be relieved of going through the tough task of filling the form & understanding all the sections & schedules.