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Somewhere between Olten and Solothurn, the train’s electronic display changed from “Prochain arrêt” to “Nächster Halt”, but I doubt anyone was paying attention. I was on the 2.5 hour journey back from Geneva to Zurich, part of a longer trip home from Lyon, where I was attending the much acclaimed Fête des lumières, or Festival of Lights. The tourists, it seems, came from all over France, and no doubt all over Europe, much to the dismay of the locals. I was proud of the photos I took, but it wasn’t until I boarded the train at Biel that I took one I had much more to think about.
It seems as though Sundays are days of departure, as it’s the only day I’ve seen Swiss men over the age of 18 shoulder heavy duffle bags in their crisp uniforms. They may just be leaving for their half a year of training, or perhaps they may be just visiting or even returning home. Many seem in no particular rush to be going anywhere.
The train platforms do become somewhat of a melancholic moment, though, as a foreigner unaccustomed to the view of someone in military uniforms saying goodbye. To be fair, the risks associated with military service are much smaller in Switzerland than perhaps any other country with conscription (e.g. Israel, South Korea), and the system itself is in constant debate amongst its nationals. It’s never a rosy picture, and what I see on the surface are simply these small reminders that the institutions in place can bring out the tender moments of life, even on cold, rushed and crowded train platforms.
This entry was posted on Sunday, December 8th, 2013 at 6:37 pm, EST under the category of Uncategorized. Both comments and pings are currently closed.