The run through Zurich

Does Wisdom come with age? Have you ever had such a scenario to think about it? Do the elders always get it right?

Google seemed confused as well. My ultimate help to most 3 am questions had ample pages of both sides of the debate. Many explained wisdom came with age because with age comes experience, while some recent studies showed such may not be the case. Are we open to wisdom that could come from anyone and anywhere?

The year was 2006. Three families, my cousins and theirs and my own were on our first ever custom made trip to Europe, or what we fondly call the Eurotrip. It was a trip of many new firsts, some lasts and so many awe inspiring wonders that left us gasping being tourists from the Middle East. So many firsts like drinking water from the taps, toilet paper options only, closet size bathrooms with no locks and snow. So many lasts, like pure Swiss chocolate and real French macarons with the perfectly brewed coffee and snow. Ah la vie en rose. France was our first stop and we were still getting used to the cold in August, the late sunsets and the early dinners and the hilarious attempts at speaking French. Some of us struggled. Some of us like my sister led the pack just fresh out of a short high school course in the language and she was so good at it. So good, she managed to be the envy of the group when she ordered her own warm cereal breakfast in true Parisian style at the local café while the rest of us nibbled on the dry leftovers of last night’s dinner subs in an attempt to avoid further embarrassment with the locals. 

Few days and train rides later we were in Switzerland, journeying our way though Geneva, Lucerne and Interlaken, enjoying the cheeses, the chocolates and the coffee. It was our final leg in Switzerland and we were off to Zurich to catch our morning flight to Amsterdam, which was our third destination of this 10 day tour. Again we were still getting familiarised with trains and planes being on one complex as back home, vehicles were the only way one could reach the airport. It was a beautiful pleasant day and like all dysfunctional families it takes a chaos in the morning to reach any place on time but we managed splendidly well and by well I mean ample time to look and shop around Zurich airport. We were reminded upon check in that a no show before a certain time limit at our gates would strictly entail our luggage being deplaned and left on the tarmac for us to collect. We giggled at the prospect and moved on, imagining ourselves dragging our not so travel friendly and bulky suitcases after embarrassingly missing the flight. “We don’t have to worry about that “said an uncle of mine. “ We are pretty early”.

Then came the phase most tourists fall prey to. The last minute nostalgia shopping at the duty free. We too. We wanted the last minute stock of chocolates, souvenirs and fresh stock of macarons and even clothes and perfumes. We were immersed in the deals and bargains and mesmerized by the sheer size of the duty free something which was not seen back home. Time flew and it donned upon me to inform one of the elders that we still had Passport Control and Security to complete, something which definitely involves long waiting lines especially for tourists.  But like I expected, my uncle continued to argue that we had much time on our hands and continued shopping because as per his knowledge boarding time meant “ head to passport control” and of course he would go on to feel he knew better than a 16 year old aviation enthusiast such as myself. Luckily I informed my parents, and my sister and I had our own boarding passes and headed towards Passport Control seeing the long snake like lines already awaiting us. My parents followed, my cousins however were still deciding if the latest in the market , Jennifer Lopez perfume was worth the buy in Euros or not. Soon we cleared passport control and from the floor below the duty free, the four of us waved at the rest of the group as announcements for KLM’s connection to Amsterdam began for boarding. What followed was a hilarious run through the airport straight out of a movie. It was then assumed that those who had completed Passport control now had to make a quick sprint to the aircraft to inform the crew that the rest of “them “ were on their way. Oh typical tourists.

But Zurich Airport continued to throw more surprises. While the rest of the group frantically joined the long line at Passport Control huffing and puffing their way through, my sister and I and in a first saw an airport’s first inter terminal metro that left us gaping with our mouth open. A metro to take us to our gate?? How 2006 of us to see this and stare with amazement. Zurich was well ahead of our time we thought. We managed to catch the first train out and sadistically laughed at the rest of the group as we could identify bopping heads running through the crowds with cabin luggage, a baby and duty free shopping.

Rightly so my family reached the gate a few minutes before it could close. KLM’s shiny blue livery I can still remember staring at us like we had done something so horribly wrong, the glares of fellow passengers made it the coldest boarding experience I had to deal with of the many flights I have possibly taken in my lifetime. While we took our seats, the rest of the family could still be seen zipping through the glass air bridge embarrassed and flushed yet proudly mentioning the bargains they managed to clinch once seated. Tourists I tell you.

This experience till date makes me laugh out loud and still counts as one of the most embarrassing moments in my travels. But does wisdom come with age again I ask? Why haven’t we as a society learnt to accept that wisdom and knowledge can come from anyone regardless of age and background? We must even make way of understanding that wisdom perhaps in some form can even come from the animals we see around us or a stranger we meet on our daily commute. It’s time we changed the way we see things. The young can offer a lot more than arrogance and old though wiser with experience can get it wrong at times.  The moments to learn something are the ones to look out for, the sources however remain unlimited.

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