Switzerland is a popular tourist destination and millions of travelers from all over the world visit this country every year. It is one of the most peace loving countries and its policy of armed neutrality has stood the test of time. The country has not been in a state of war for the last two centuries, since 1815. Thought it houses the second largest office of the United Nations, it joined United Nations only in 2002. Important organizations like ILO, WHO, WTO, IOC (International Olympic committee) and UNHRC function from this country. Mother nature has smiled liberally on Switzerland and one of such bounties is the Swiss Alps mountain range.
Mount Santis is one of the mountains in the Swiss Alps and is about 80 kilometers from Zurich. The scenic drive from Zurich to the foot of the mountain takes less than two hours. There are two ways to reach the summit from the foot of the mountain; the adventurous can go hiking which takes four hours or by a cable car that takes ten minutes. The cable car trip costs 45 Swiss Francs or 36 Euros. The cable way was installed in 1935 and and the ten minute ride is thrilling and exciting. The rise of the car in the last part to the 2502 meter (8209 feet) high mountain top is breath-taking and when one looks down from the cable car, the true emotion is fear! (Pictures of the observatory given here is taken from the net). There is an Observatory building at the top of the mountain with a 123 meter (403 feet) high transmitter mast. This building also hosts a souvenir shop, cafeteria, restaurant and conference hall as well. Visitors and skiers throng these places. There is a Hotel by name "Berggasthaus" which literally means "Mountain Guest House". This hotel is now run by the fifth generation of the promoters. The hotel takes up contracts for hosting marriage ceremonies, family celebrations, social functions and conferences. The advantage of getting married here is that the couple need not spend money to reach Switzerland for a honeymoon since they are already there!
We reached the foot of the Mountain and stood in the line for cable car tickets. It was then that I first spotted the daughter and her father. The father was well past seventy years and the daughter was around thirty years of age. He was apparently sick and his every step forward was with a lot of effort. Strangely, he was holding a stick in his left hand and she was holding his right hand and helping along. We reached the ticket window, bought our tickets and were led to the cable car straight away. We were lucky to get a spot in front of the cable car cabin and got an unobstructed view of the surroundings as the car moved to the top of the mountain. Once on top of the mountain, we made a round of the observatory building and tower and had a view of the surroundings. The signboards indicated a view of the six countries in 360 degrees; Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy. The weather changed dramatically in a few minutes and it suddenly became windy and misty. We moved inside the restaurant for lunch. They were there again; Daughter and her Father.
She helped him to sit on the chair, holding the chair in one hand and him in the other. She opened her handbag and pulled out a small towel to wipe his face since he was sweating despite the cold weather outside. Once he was comfortably seated, she moved to the food counter and got two trays of lunch. A bib was taken out of the handbag and tied around his neck. She encouraged him to eat the lunch and finished hers quickly. Hard items were cut by her into pieces since he could not do it himself. Sitting next to him she helped him to his lunch for the next half an hour. There were long gaps between two spoonfuls and yet she did not take the easy way out by feeding him. It did not look life father and daughter any more; it was rather a child and his mother. Food particles stuck to his shirt despite the bib. She patiently cleaned all that and led him slowly to the large glass window to explain the surrounding view. When they came back to the table and he sat for the second time, he smiled at her. It was his first sign of expression in an otherwise blank face. She patted him on the back and waited for their turn to enter the cable car on the return journey. We returned to the foot of the mountain in the same cable car. She helped him to his seat in the car and drove away.
There was an argument the other day about loving daughters and sons. Someone mentioned that daughters love their parents and always take care of them. Another disagreed and said that sons too love their parents equally. Someone else mentioned that the sons love their parents to the extent they are permitted to do so! The discussion was probably more emotional than rational. After recalling our encounter with the daughter and her father on Mount Santis, my vote would go to the daughters, right or wrong or whatever.