The skies were clear except for an occasional cloud which appeared and vanished just as quickly. I made my way towards the park as I feasted my eyes on the picturesque scenes that were in my line of view. I could make out the Chillon Castle and the Montreux Palace which is said to span as far back as the 17th century. However, the main attraction still remained to be Lake Geneva; Western Europe’s largest body of water whose crescent shape gives it an almost mystical look. The Lake lay calmly surrounded by the snow-capped Alps that only added to its allure.
Today was my personal day and I had decided to spend the day along the shores of Lake Leman and probably take a trip into the lake if I got the opportunity to. Even as I approached the lake from the South Westerly direction, I couldn’t help but think that the colorful brochures offered by travel agencies to tourists describing the lake as “a scenic attraction of unrivaled proportions that you will fall in love with” were not too much of an exaggeration. Out in the distance, I could see pleasure boats sailing up and down the lake under the backdrop of Mont Blanc. My thoughts were jolted back to the present as an eager sailor shoved me to the side as he made his way to the docks, his shoulders laden with a heavy looking back and a long fishing rod sticking out like a flag. The steady traffic of people into the park reached its peak at about noon as locals and foreigners alike, all ready to unwind during the weekend, streamed into the park.
Owing to the pleasant weather conditions, most of the people were lightly dressed in colorful cloths; probably a reflection of their inner feelings of warmth and light-heartedness. Only the elderly forks donned heavy overcoats and expressed some reservation about the almost perfect weather conditions. Most of the families settled on to the park benches or set out their picnic baskets on the ground while enjoying the scenic view provided by the lake with the crystal face and the ice-capped mountains in the distance. The younger generation could not resist the temptation in the form of the ice-cream and chocolate shops whose servings were as world renowned as the lake itself. I found myself drifting to one of the chocolate vendors as though drawn there by a mysterious force that I knew nothing of. With my bar of chocolate in hand, I made my way to the lake shore.
The cool breeze that blew from Lake Leman almost emitted some energy of its own and as it washed over me, I felt my burdened thoughts ease off to be replaced by a tranquility that only the lake could give. Looking at the blue skies reflected on the clear water, I felt enveloped by a calmness that I seldom experienced. After a moment of staring in awe at some mountaineers, I decided that they were getting more than their fair share of attention from the other awe-struck admirers from the park. I therefore decided to walk along the edge of the lake and as my feet sunk slightly into the warm sand and a tickling feeling rushed through me, I heard a somewhat familiar voice calling my name. Looking around it was my friend John standing next to his luxurious boat which he uses to take tourists for a sail.
John was in a relaxed manner, sporting his trademark enchanting smile even as he engaged in lively banter with his new customers. I approached him apprehensively because he was in the company of a group of tourists and I am rather shy when in the company of strangers. He saluted me and announced that he was just about to take the group of tourists out on the lake. At his insistence, I joined the entourage.
A forlorn looking girl was part of the group and she snapped pictures of the lake at such a fast pace and I could only imagine she was a professional journalist of some sort. The intensity with which she took every single picture was captivating and all one could do was look at her in awe; none wanting to break the atmosphere she had created around herself. It was heavenly, distant and majestic.
This reminded me of a project I had been postponing for months now; buying myself a good camera and perhaps even trying my hand at photography. While my phone did have the inbuilt camera that are now standard for most phones, I did not hold any illusions that this was a far cry from the sophisticated apparatus that was in the hands of the girl who still continued to captivate the entire crew. I closed my eyes and the calmness of the lake, the freshness of the air, the chirping of the birds flying across the lake and the slight breeze made me forget all the hustle and bustle that had characterized my week. The expression “one with nature” flirted with my mind and for once I could concur with this cliche.
I took in a huge breath of air and I could almost hear my lungs shouting with joy as if to say this is the air that they should be given and not the musky air of the city. I let out my breath slowly cherishing every second. All my troubles vanished and I could, for the time I was here, imagine that I was royalty.
I opened my eyes and was not surprised at observing that most of the other passengers had the same delightful expressions as I did which suggested that they were all having the magical experience I had just had. I hadn’t noticed it but John had skillfully turned the boat and we were now headed to one of the docks. I couldn’t help feeling some sense of loss but I remembered that I could come back and re-experience the lake anytime I felt like. A series of dark clouds had also appeared in the distance tainting the expansive fields of blue that were once the skies. As we stepped off the boat I couldn’t help myself.
I had to see the photos the girl had taken. Seeing the pictures took me a few minutes back in time as she had so beautifully captured the emotion of the lake. As though the chilly winds were not bad enough, rain started falling in steady torrents thus turning the once warm and comfortable park into a damp and wet scenario. I ran off to one of the cafes and sought refuge by the verandas since the insides were full of people seeking shelter from the rains. Only the elderly patrons of the park smiled to themselves albeit secretly as they congratulated themselves on their foresight in dressing up warmly and keeping to the relatively warm cafes. After an hour of relentless rains and chilly winds, nature finally decided to be more benevolent and rays of sun pierced through the darkened skies. I decided to call it a day for it would soon be dark and I had to get home.
And so my day at the lake came to an end. A day that had ended on a gloomy and unenthusiastic mood; an absolute contrast to the warm and cheerful manner in which it had begun.