If the previous post on Pilatus was about fear, the train to Jungfraujoch here is about bleak desolation:

Can’t quite identify what it is but I’ve never felt so alone as at that top station at Jungfraujoch. Also, the idea of sitting down to that inadequate meal alone, the only view those cliff faces – I’m not sure I can convey what I’m trying to say here.

It’s partly that it’s over for me now – methinks independent backpack travel is a young person’s game, it requires not just stamina but being happy to put up with crowds – more on that further down –  sitting in the street by your pack eating sandwiches, staying at hostels with their rules about getting a place there for the night, photographing cliff faces, meeting people you might correspond with for a month afterwards but that’s all, photographing a different angle of a bloody cliff face.

For a young person, it’s fine, exciting, all new. For me now, it’s just another bloody cliff face.

By way of contrast, at Kitzbuhel, I managed to persuade a lady to come with me half an hour out of town where chairlifts take you to the top of the first mountain, you ski down, go up another etc. I recall being on top of an icy peak, sharing a coffee with her and it was great – same sort of view as Jungfraujoch but a different emotion altogether.

The first 22 minutes of this below are like the previous vid but thereafter, it picks up as it traces the route back down the mountain to the town, showing fine detail along the way, even down to the cows with their bells stopping the train. For some reason, that’s a far happier scene, one still vivid from trips to Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Hell is other people

The thing which made Switzerland, Germany and Austria for me were the people and the land – the whole point was to get among people and talk, exchange, practise the language, buy their wares and so on.

If you like people, that’s an easy thing to do.

The ‘hell’ referred to in the sub-heading is this –  though I like people per se, I very much do NOT like when people from other cultures impose themselves incongruously, with not a thought for where they are.  Islam in Britain and all that goes with it is an example – the caterwauling from speakers, the heebeejeebees and so on.

If I go to Morocco or Riyadh, then I’d expect those things, which some might call exotic. I just do not wish to see them away from Morocco.

In the vid above, at 9:17, on the trip up the mountain, there is an Indian or Pakistani or whatever and his voice has that high pitched, excitable timbre that just goes straight through the carriage. Plus someone starts howling in one of these Muslim prayer calls – for crying out loud, it’s a Swiss train, not some bazaar in Morocco. Just shut it with your caterwauling would you?

It particularly comes to a head at the 26 minute mark of the vid. The train down the mountain had lush views either side, the scene was peaceful, it was real Swiss countryside, those cows with the bells had just stopped the train, and then this bloody Indian/whatever starts his excitable shouting again, that he wants people to remember his name.

It’s so incongruous and deeply, intensely annoying. I would have gone up to him and told him to shut his loud, high pitched, incongruous voice, that he was in Switzerland now, not Calcutta.

Of course, that would have been racist in this day and age.

2 comments for “Desolation

  1. August 24, 2017 at 12:30

    When we went up, I enjoyed saying to people, look, I think its beginning to snow, we might be some time.

    • August 24, 2017 at 13:14

      To which your good lady should have said: “Quiet, Oates.”

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