Monday, April 11, 2005

Travels: The Switzerland Honeymoon

There are many disciplines in the art of thieving. I will mention two of the more important ones.

1) Theft by Stalking: A situation where the thief follows the targetted victim and waits for an opportune moment to relieve the victim of a valuable item. The thieves in this category are professionals and are usually well planned.

2) Opportunity based Theft: A situation where the victim unknowingly seeks out the thief and presents the thief with an opportunity to steal. Not taking the care to stalk and regardless of whether that particular time is the most ideal time to steal or not -- The thief identifies (a) the person as a possible victim and (b) the situation as an opportunity. He then goes on to relieve the victim of a valuable item. This is the riskiest of the two thefts. Thieves in this category, though quick thinking, are usually desperate and steal because an opportunity has presented itself. They maybe not neccesarily be professionals but amateurs, who occasionaly dabble in theft based upon need.

15:37 PM , March 2, 2005
Bern Railway Station, Bern, Switzerland.

"Its gone!" shouted my wife. "Kaanum" she again shouted in Tamizh. The moment she uttered the words, I experienced something, which many people experience rarely -- something that borders on an ephiphany. I entered a process of intense mental and emotional computation. At the end of the process I would go on to understand the impact of what exactly happened to me. I would compute the consequence of that loss and feel the emotional pang of such a loss. In short, I would have learned something new ( an ephiphany) and would experience the power of that knowledge. But that would be at the end of the process. During the process, I was comprehending the information presented to me and verifying if it was indeed true. It felt like I was walking in a confusing maze. It seemed never-ending.

14:30 PM , March 2, 2005
Zurich Airport Railway Station, Zurich, Switzerland.

The train started exactly at 14:30 PM. Reaffirming the belief that the Swiss built all those watches for a very good reason. They maintain time like their lives depended upon it. throughout my stay in Swiss to the dot really meant to the dot. It was just one hour since I landed in Switzerland and after claiming my baggages, converting USD into Swiss francs and learning from the Railway-station-ticket-issuing lady the intricate details of travelling in the train-networked Switzerland, I boarded the Zurich -> Bern train. My itenerary looked like Zurich -> Bern -> Spiez -> Interlaken. Interlaken was my destination for the day. At Bern I had between 15:30 and 15:39 to change to the train that went to Spiez. And at Spiez I had between 16:05 and 16:12 to change to the train that went to Interlaken. Being the paranoid person that I am, I tried to confirm the information I had, with a person standing at gate 4 in Zurich station, "Does this train (the one that stops at gate 4) go to Bern". He replied in an English accent, " yes! this does go to Bern". Inside the train, we spent out first few moments in Switzerland enjoying the amazing view through the window. The train sped through Zurich and on the way to Bern we were getting glimpse of the beauty Switzerland could offer.

15:30 PM, March 2, 2005
Bern railway Station, Bern, Switzerland.

Our train from Bern -> Spiez started from Gate 6. Luckily the train from Zurich arrived at Gate 5. This meant we had to just walk across the same platform to board the other train. We got on to a compartment in the train at Gate 6 and decided to go to the top half of the double-decker compartment. We then realized, after getting in, that unlike our previous train this wasn't a double decker train at all.

15:50 PM, March 2, 2005
Bern -> Spiez Train, Switzerland.

We were sitting in our seats stunned by the loss of the valuable object. I had shouted aloud to everyone "its stolen" "its stolen" -- but nobody seemed to care. People looked up for a moment and then... just went about their business. For ten minutes -- in a train hurtling towards Spiez -- we were sitting dumbstruck. My wife had already began saying "what sort of bad place is this? we can't even differentiate the thieves from the good people. Everybody is so well dressed.". She had seen the theft - live.

15:36 PM, March 2, 2005 ( 3 minutes for the train to start )
Bern railway Station, Bern, Switzerland.

After realizing that this was not a double-decker train, we just moved along the aisle, debating on which of the many empty seats ( Let me just say that Swiss trains are less crowded than Bombay trains :-) ) we should take. We had walked nearly until the other end of the compartment, before we finally decided on the ideal seat (view-wise) and sat there.

As I was sitting in my seat, I did my usual "Is this train going Spiez" survey to another gentlemen sitting behind me. He did not understand English and consulted with his colleague sitting next to him and finally said " ya!.. ya! this train go to Spiez". Happy that I did not have to get worried about getting lost for at least another 30 minutes I kept my luggage, sat down and began to relax. Then -- my wife began to take the inventory of our luggage.

15:38 PM , March 2, 2005 ( 1 minute for the train to start)
Bern Railway Station, Bern, Switzerland.

I woke from the emotional process that had lasted the entire 2 seconds after my wife had shouted "Its gone" . I blinked in disbelief. A lot of things had happened in the 2 seconds. It seemed like I had live through the ice-age, until the process finally ended and became the moment, where I realized it was truly gone. The baggage-holder like shelf above me ( the shelf that is attached to the wall a few feet above the seats in all trains -- including the ones in India) was empty. My bag lay there a few moments ago.

Now, I knew for sure the bag was stolen and I could hear my wife saying " he moved his bag closer to our bag and took them both away. I could see him doing so in the reflectionof the mirror in front". She rushed to the back of the compartment checking behind every seat. I rushed towards the front (which was near) and towards the door of the train. I realized that my passport bag and two other bags were still lying unattended in my seat. I shouted aloud "somebody stole my bag" and ordered my wife to be close to the other bags and rushed towards the door. I said to her "never leave those bags". She came back and sat near those bags terrified. I ran to the door looking out in the hope of finding a person running with my bag in his hand.

I did not see any such sight. As I started to get out of the door, I stopped myself. One thing I had decided upon with certainity in the last few seconds was: I was not leaving the train. There was just 1 minute for the train to start and my wife with all the baggages was sitting inside the train. She had the cash and I had the travel papers. Both of us did not have a cell phones. At that time, We could not afford to get separated. I looked out as far as I could and I did not see anything that was even remotely worth pursuing. I returned back to my coach disgusted, dissapointed and worst of all defeated.

15:55 PM , March 2, 2005
Bern -> Spiez Train, Switzerland.

When the Ticket Inspector came into our coach, a lady sitting 2 seats away from us, whispered to the Ticket Inspector in furious German. The Ticket Inspector then came near me and said "that lady says, a person took your bag and went into the first-class compartment. Would you like to come with me and check if he took it by mistake ?". A new wave of hope opened up. I got up and went with her after telling my wife " do not leave the side of our bags at any cost". And walked towards the first-class coach with renewed vigor.

2 seconds before my wife had said "Kaanum"

Before she shouted "It is Gone" - I remember my wife taking the inventory and asking me "where is XYZ bag ?" I told her "its there in that shelf above us" and remember looking up and seeing the bag. She shouted at me "Will anyone in their right minds keep it there?". The funny thing about the pre-shouting-"its-gone" phase was -- A set of things happened and I remember all of these things happening -- (a) I was thinking this is Swiss and its a safe place (b) I heard my wife say "he is moving it closer! he is taking the bag" (c) I got up with intention of bringing the bag down -- just to avoid an argument with my wife (d) I was thinking " what..closer.. who.. which bag". What I don't remember is -- the sequence in which these things happened.

All I heard when I completed the motion of getting up was "Laptop Bag Kaanum" ( The laptop bag was missing). Then as I looked at the empty shelf, I heard the words "Tts gone" and "Kaanum" again - and then -- I went into that 2 second block.

16:00 PM , March 2, 2005
Bern -> Spiez Train, Switzerland.

Barely 4 hours after landing in Switzerland, I was sitting in the First Class compartment of a train going to Spiez after a futile search. I told the by-now-deeply-concerned ticket inspector that my bag was indeed lost and we both sat down to write the complaint papers. I was a victim of one of the more interesting varities of theft - Opportunity based Theft - the gentleman sitting behind me and his collegue had realized when I asked the is-this-train-going-to-Spiez question that I was a tourist.

Not taking the care to stalk and regardless of whether that particular time is the most ideal time to steal or not The thief (those two gentlemen) identified (a) the person ( that is me) as a possible victim and (b) the situation ( i am a tourist) as an opportunity. He then goes on to relieve the victim of a valuable item ( my laptop) . This is the riskiest of the two thefts.


Atta Girl said...

Moral of the Story --
All know-it-all hubbies better pay heed to what their wifeys tell them! ;-)

Priya said...

atta girl,

good catch regarding the moral of the story! but it is of no use.

know-it-all-hubby still does not pay heed.

you should ask him why he brought along his laptop to *my* honeymoon :-)


Atta Girl said...

Yeah Priya!!! Nice to hear from you :-)
Laptop on honeymoon??? Now bharat u gotta answer this...priya insists..LOL!!!
You can title ur post as --
Know-it-all-show-it-off hubby pays-the-price!!! LOL!

Hawkeye said...


The laptop was for uploading pictures from digi cam. the camera cudn't hold that many pictures.

Plus it had around 10,000 mp3 songs and most of them romantic. I had big plans :-(

anantha said...


Priya's was a very very good question and your answer was close to being satisfactory, but never threatening to be completely satisfactory.... one word, sorry three words - 256MB Memory Card?

Hmm.. aana vendha punnula en uppa thoovanum... I think Prabhu has most of those songs on his comp here in the US.. Oru IPod vaangi ellathayum adhula copy panni anuppa sollu ;) Edhukku irruka avan :)) There is always time for all your plans :) lol

Hawkeye said...

> one word, sorry three words -
> 256MB Memory Card?

you know the sad part was we bought the 256 MB card anyway. Shelling out $60 for that card was really heart breaking.

best part was we exhausted that card too and later.. this is the best part.. and later we discovered that we could burn cards in CDs in just about every corner in switzerland and we went on to do that also.

let say when u fail.. u really are trashed.

>.. Oru IPod vaangi ellathayum
> adhula copy panni anuppa
> sollu ;) Edhukku irruka
> avan :))

i came up with a bigger idea. prabhu ( or Bank 2) is buying me a laptop and shipping it to DC where Mr. Anbuselvan will transfer his mega database into my laptop and hand it over to my cousin.. who is coming over to india -- end of april :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Bharath,
I was gonna say dude u cud burn ur Memory card anywhere in Europe, but obviously u realised that, even i brought an 128MB when mine became full and regretted after finding this :-D....but best bet is to carry 1GB Flash drive along which is only USD $50 when u travel....but i hope you had great time besides the fact u lost something, cos u found something even better (yeah thats right LOVE).....Congrats once again machi..

Hawkeye said...


you are right about finding love :-)

thanks for giving the inspiration to go to Swiss for honeymoon dude. your euro honeymoon put me into that line of thought.

btw: u owe me a laptop :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey, UR style of narration in this post was good. I liked the fast forward-rewind scenario.

Hawkeye said...


thanks! finally someone commented about that instead of yelling at me for taking the laptop along :-)

Prabhu said...


Do you think I am mangalam sir for an OTMP ??
("Boys" Movie :-))


Anonymous said...

I dont know whether you had this in mind while writing ur post. But, your post sounded like the sequence of events in Yuva, in terms of opening a scene and showing a sequence of events which eventually ties back to how the opening scene came about. When I just saw the timeline I had a feeling that probably your post was intentional in those lines(Yuva). Knowing your affinity for maniratnam movies, I wasn't surprised:-)

As Babu mentioned, though you lost laptop, atleast you found that should atleast be a consolation. But, looks like ur wife is STILL so upset that she couldn't stop herself from "venting out" her thoughts on the blog and this gives me an understanding of how much you would have "got" in person :-)But, hey...isn't that part of married life and welcome to the club!!!

P.S: Prabhu's comparison of "Mangalam Sir" was pretty funny.

anantha said...

Ya, better idea, iPod oda laptop dhaan better ;)

okie..Anbu "Mega Cross-Referenced TFM Database" Selvan na naan marandhutten. Come to think of which, have to call him....

Hmmm, OTMP.... my memory fails me. Pls elaborate. Bad words na, ennaku theriyadhu.

Hawkeye said...


i am a mani fan! that is true. but you should definetly check out movies like "pulp fiction" and "kill bill vol 1" to find out the real thalaivar! :-)

P.S mani started playing with timelines form alaipayuthey onwards!


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you've watched '21 Grams' yet, but that's another movie in the same genre. The way the sequence of events unfold in the movie is pretty interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bharath,
I'm not trying to throw more salt on your wound, but doesn't this sound quite fimiliar :-), it might ask u to register if u haven't already, and I insist you do
this is real classic man, esp that T-shirt the article is talking about.

Are you talking about Mememto (Guy Pierce) the movie starts with the ending basically goes in reverse order every 15min or so and he suffers from short term memory loss, but thanks to Tarnatino who started it like Bharath mentioned earlier.I thought 21 grams had better story line and good emotions, it probably takes about 15min for an movie buff to understand wats going on and half hour for normal audience.


Suresh Ramani said...

Well, there is a third kind of theivery that is very popular in Europe .. The theif (a) identifies the person as a possible victim and (b) waits for the right moment and creates the oppurtunity to steal, by distracting the identified person in one of several ways such as dropping coins onto the floor, hoping the tourist would fall for it - the most ingenious story I have heard is that when a baby-like-object was thrown at this person for distraction.

If it makes you feel any better, Americans who travel to Europe on either business or pleasure are the prime targets and I know of several of them who have lost laptops, PDAs, cell phones at public places in Europe.

btw, smart move on not getting off the train .. at least you were thinking of your wife even in the hour of panic .. [the best I could do to support a friend who seems to be under attack ;-)]

I wonder though on the reason behind stressing on the type of theivery .. [philosophical (or) justification for carelessness ;-) (or) just being analytic?]


sri said...

dei bharath,

is this the same laptop that we were desperately trying to download the pic of that tamizh ponnu and finally screamed eureka to confirm that ur LT doesn't have an IR Port ?



Anupadmaja said...

Late reaction ... aah what the hell :)

I derived a sense of relief when i read this post. Sorry to the couple for their loss. But this past experience of mine kept eating my head:

My prof and asst. prof from the US visited India on a conference (this part made me feel GGGGreat). Alas, the moment they landed in Mumbai "airway station" (Airport) they were mugged :( They were alert and so escaped safely. When they narrated this story to me on their return, i felt so embarassed and ashamed. I apologised to them and they said ... "Dont worry, it happens everywhere".

I am not deriving a sense of security from Bharath's incident by finding an accomplice (that too in the Alps :)) ... I am just relieved because now i know that my Prof meant what he said :)

Moral of this story: "I just have too much time to spare :)"

Note: Yes, i strongly support Priya on the laptop issue - C'mon its honeymoon time - its worth buying 100 rolls and a new camera. Who wants you to sneak in a laptop in the name of digital technology? (... please dont block my name in your post a comment section)

Hawkeye said...

I think good ideas are defined by results rather than by the ideas themselves.

I remember in a movie called "Ghost and the darkness" ( suresh must remember it we all watched it first day matinee in Sathyam) where michael douglas will narrate how he tried to catch a lion in his past ( he would build a cage with a bait). Val kilmer would have done the same in his past. Both would say " but it was good idea! "

The laptop idea would have worked ( not that i was the only one doing it.. many tourists in swiss were doing it - it was also evidenced by the prime-accuser in the comments section.)

there is no better joy than clicking 1000 pictures and still knowing you wont run outta gas!

Raghab said...

Its good to loose something at times especially when you are gaining somethings exceptionally good - Honeymoon with Priya.

Memories gonna be cherished later.

Mind Not - - - Cool :)---

Suresh Ramani said...

well, well .. how could i not take this bait ..

I do remember wathching "ghost and the darkness" and its a cool movie ..

lets consider this: If given another chance to go to honeymoon to the same place, and if given that you do not know anymore than what you knew except for the "loss of the laptop" (i.e. do not know about the conversion to CD, do not know about the cool gadgets that Babu was referring to), considering the goodness of the move under the circumstances, would you still take the laptop with you again???

Hawkeye said...


Thanks :-). win a few ..lose a few.. thats life


i would take the laptop! I think you knew this would be my answer. It was a good idea. I am usually very paranoid with such things and so pretty careful... but i guess honeymoon weakens the defense mechanism :-)

Travel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.