Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gruyères

So we (me and Nam) visited Gruyères (grew yehr) one day and we didn't want to come back. Gruyères, a tiny village perched atop a hill is about two hours from Geneva and this place looks like it jumped right out of a fairy tale book. 
So we get off the train and this is what greets us... 
A cute little chapel in idyllic surroundings... 
We keep walking and come across this... 
Typical Swiss countryside with cows happily munching away...
Needless to say, me and Nam were having some serious Maria moments... 
The path that leads up to Gruyères...
A beautiful house on the way...
The cows below... 
Another small chapel on the way...
And this is the small village of Gruyères...
The landscape below...
This girl made us some crepes for lunch...
My jambon (ham) crepe...
Looks like an old chapel, but now it's a workshop or something...
Cute kid...
Even the restroom looks cute here... 
A pretty restaurant...
The castle of Gruyères...
View of the church from the castle...
So we entered the castle and the girl at the reception asked us if we wanted to see a short presentation about the castle, and she took us into this small room and this crane is seen flying above us... apparently long long ago, a  very handsome prince (he was quite dashing in the presentation) was riding around and he came across this undiscovered hill. It was twilight and the setting sun cast a reddish hue over the beautiful landscape and as the prince stood watching a lone crane slowly soared into the red dusky sky. The french word for crane is 'grue' and that's how this place got it's name and their symbol is a crane in a red background.  
Another prince of the House of Savoy... 
Some plaque in a wall...
Some outpost inside the castle compound...
Giant harp... 
The old kitchen, with medieval flooring...
Relics of the past...
Window seats, in a corner of the kitchen...
video
My sister,Nam, took this video of the cows proclaiming their contentedness with every peal of their cow bell.

I think this is enough for one post... more about Gruyères in the next post.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lessons in Life from a Helium Balloon...

So June edition of the church magazine is out...
And this is the article I wrote...

Lessons in Life from a Helium Balloon
This is a story I heard in church when I was about ten years old. A bunch of us were being prepped to receive First Holy Communion and during the retreat that is usually held just before the big day, a priest told us this story and since then it has always stuck with me. I remember sitting in church with my friends, when this priest walks in and starts telling us this poignant story.

A man was selling his balloons at a fair and to attract the children running around, he would cut the string of a helium balloon from time to time. He let loose a red balloon first, and watched it as it soared across the skies. He then cut the string of a blue balloon and it too went soaring up and out of sight. Noting that the kids were riveted by this display he let loose another white balloon that danced and flitted out of sight too. This little marketing trick worked, for the kids kept lining up to buy his balloons. After satisfying his little customers the man looked around happy and relaxed, taking in the sights of a thriving country fair. He happened to notice a little dark girl peeping at him, her wide eyes staring at his balloons. He beckoned and she slowly walked up to him, he asked her if she would like a balloon. The little girl shook her head no, but she kept looking at the balloons tied to the helium canister. Intrigued, the man asked her what she wanted and she hesitatingly asked if the black balloon would fly as high as the other balloons. The man shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Let’s find out… shall we?” So saying he proceeded to cut the string of the black balloon, and both of them watched as that black balloon slowly became a dot in the sky and disappeared among the clouds. The little dark girl was genuinely pleased with the result and she turned to thank the man. The man knelt down and whispered that the colour on the outside doesn’t make a difference to the balloon, what matters is the substance inside that makes it soar. And so it is with us humans too, what really matters is inside you; let your beautiful soul reflect your nature and you will cross horizons.

This is all I remember of that retreat, a simple story that made an impact on all our young minds. Society has entrenched in us this concept of fair skin being the epitome of beauty and success. All those inane advertisements that depict the need to be fair to land a good job or to be accepted by friends, or to be noticed by that guy you like… are misleading and discriminating. It’s disconcerting to know that many celebs who endorse such fairness products, do not take the time to reflect on their actions which could be detrimental to young minds.

Like the little girl in the story we should learn to rise above society’s convoluted notions of what is considered desirable and beautiful. We should learn to judge for ourselves, learn to love ourselves the way God created us. Learn to live for His Kingdom and along the way lead others also to His everlasting Kingdom.

Your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:4

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lausanne churches...

Well, it was supposed to be a post about Lausanne... but all we saw here were churches. Lausanne is a bustling city, so not much to see nature wise... maybe if we had gone towards the lake side, we would have seen vineyards and the beautiful shoreline of Lake Geneva. But we mostly strolled around the old town, which is quite a nice place... 

So anyway, this is the Protestant Cathedral...
With beautiful designs on the ceiling... 
A mermaid carved into one end of a bench... 
The altar...
A ornamental covering over the pulpit...
The church organ...
The doors of the cathedral...
I like this angel the best...
Have you seen 'Happy Days', the classic TV show? It's one of the best comedy shows ever created. How can you not love  Richie, Fonzie, Chachie, Joanie... you can see them on  the walls of this restaurant (click on the image for a larger view)
Some artsy fountain right in the middle of the path that leads to the old town...
The spire of the Notre Dame cathedral seen in the distance... quite a long walk uphill to reach this place.
Here we are...
Looking down at Lausanne from the cathedral... 
Altar...
Stained glass windows...
The altar and a stained glass window...
African Mother Mary and Jesus... 
More stained glass windows....
Main entrance... the story for each carving out here is explained on the church leaflet. 
Nice lace curtains at a creperie place... see how the cobbled street goes uphill here. 
Another church we saw on the way... 
Many of the churches had some weird art installations in them... those things hanging between the medieval chandeliers are canvases with some tacky drawing on them, the other one of the heads on long metallic figures were downright creepy.
A second hand sale was going on... 
Lausanne landscape...
This was where we also came to know about the Taize community, one of the churches we went to was playing their music