Zell am See
I woke up by the sun’s soft rays falling on my face. Mummy brought me some tea and I went out to the balcony. It was only seven in the morning but the sun was already high up in the sky. I had my tea and went inside to get ready. Mummy warned me to wear extra layers as we would be travelling to places with low temperature.
We went down for breakfast. As always, there was a whole buffet laid out for just three people. I found my beloved Nutella and bread, and had it with a cupcake. I also found some Assam tea with which I made Indian tea. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than anything I had had recently.
Christian had come to pick us up. We went along with him to Schmittenhohe Mountain. We had actually planned to go to Kitzsteinhorn mountain that day but since weather conditions were not favourable for such a high altitude, we went on Schmittenhohe which has a comparatively low altitude.
We went up there in a gondola, as always. When we reached there, Christian led us to a room which contained a small sized display of a gondola and a snow-cat. It was controlled by a button and actually moved when we pressed the button . We couldn’t stay there for long as that room was under renovation. We went outside, where it was freezing. My teeth chattered and my hands shook in the extreme cold even though I was wearing five layers of clothes.
We went ahead by a few metres to a church, which should more accurately be called a chapel. It was a tiny room, enclosed by lovely stained windows with many biblical figures on it. There was a rack of candles, a few of which were lit.
I went up and lit one. I have always considered candle flames to be really beautiful. The way the orange and yellow burn and mould into each other, how they seem so delicate, yet so dangerous, how a flame can be blown away by a puff and how a single flame can cause extensive destruction – I keep thinking of these and more.
We went out into the dreaded cold. A little way ahead was a telescope. I put my eye to the telescope, focusing it. I could see huge snow capped peaks, which I assumed to be the Alps. They were magnificent. My vision was blurred by some clouds which came our way due to the bad weather Christian had referred to earlier. I was satisfied with a few clear views, but mummy and papa continued with some philosophical conversation about mountains. It was only when they found me standing in a corner, huddling for warmth, that my parents decided to get inside a nearby cafe nearby.
Sometimes I wonder how my parents remain quite immune to the cold! Even in such temperatures they were willing to stay outside for longer, if it had not been for me. Then I remember that both my parents are from Northern India, where the temperature used to dip down quite a lot.
I, being from Mumbai, have seldom experienced low temperatures. The weather in Mumbai never gets to single digits.
We went inside the cafe, the warmth and smell of coffee was a welcome change from the cold. I thought of getting something from a vending machine, but luck would have it, the power had gone out. Papa was disgruntled too, as he couldn’t get his coffee. I got a bar of chocolate from the counter and sat down on an armchair. There were a few kids brain-games in front of me, which I indulged in. After a few minutes, we went up again to go back down by the gondola.
We then travelled into the heart of the town and to the dock of Lake Zell. We went into a ferry which would take us around the lake. Like Wolfgangsee, in Salzkammergut, the whole town was built around the lake. The ferry was completely enclosed this time, which was a relief. I happily went up to the upper deck, without the fear of freezing in the cold winds of Lake Zell.
I had a huge plate of French fries for lunch. Mom and Christian had a salad, papa settled for a sandwich. Every serving of food was huge, as always. And as always, we were struggling to finish our meal, while Christian emptied his plate in record time.
The attendant came and dropped a few tissues and packets of ketchup and mustard on the table. We didn’t mind it, or even notice it, but Christian was offended. He started commenting on how rude her behaviour was, and how she was supposed to bring these things on a plate, not just haphazardly keep them on the table.
On our way down, he mentioned it to the man at the cash counter, who seemed to be her boss. The boss took it as a serious matter and promised to speak to her about her beahviour. I was amazed at how bigthis was turning out to be. Back home, it is almost extraordinary if an attendant is extremely polite and more so, if the boss cares.
Photographs by Insha Faridoon