austrian alps – 1

 

Told Ralf I had no plans for the upcoming long weekend and
if he had anything scheduled. He said he was going to Austria with his girlfriend to visit her relatives and could take me if I was interested. I
debated whether this would be a good idea this would be a good idea – and asked
if he was sure. He said yes, he would check with Doris, his girlfriend since it
was her family in the first place. Later Doris whom I had met earlier also
called me and invited me too, so I was more than happy to agree and everything
was finalized. Not that it made much of a difference, that Ralf would benefit marginally
as I would surely be sharing the car fuel and any other travel costs.

 

After a
very long drive with the two of them doing shifts and also a break for food in
the middle, we reached the place, a village in south western Austria just after the border of Germany. One nice thing I noticed was that they did a
whole lot of shopping for groceries in the village to take to the family. This
way they would ease the burden of being guests. Saw these innovative cactus
pots in the market.

 

 

The market
was in a valley and from outside I could get a view of the spectacular Alps surrounding the place.

 

 

Finally
reached the house which was on a mountain slope. The mountainside was dotted
with houses and Doris’s relative’s house was just one dot among all the dots. I
was warmly received along with the others and it was indeed my privilege that they
were so kind as to treat me like a family member for the next few days.

 

Doris’s uncle, the owner of the house,
was a farmer by name Kremser. He was an amazingly simple person and the small
farm was totally self sustained. It was the first time that I had seen a simple
lifestyle in the West. He worked part time in the city during summers but lived
primarily in this farm. He was extremely hard working and energetic – and kept
himself busy non stop throughout the day. He moved like the wind – feeding the
cows, cleaning the place, tending to a big calf, doing some gardening and some
cleaning… a never ending list of activities. But throughout the day, whenever I
saw him whizzing by, one thing never changed – his cheerfulness. Some of the
chores seemed to be very menial and dirty for a layman like me – like cleaning
the cowshed – but even there while I was tempted to cover my nose, he was
whistling while he worked. Here was a man who had not read neither about Karma
Yoga nor about Zen, but was doing the most critical things… living them!

 

The spoken
language was German but with a dialect so different that even Ralf had occasional
problems following it. Kramer had a tough time with English but could manage
and we would get quite involved in conversation in spite of the language
barrier. I remember one unusual thing he said to me “people who come from the
city have this strange unhappy expression permanently on their face. But you
are different – you don’t look unhappy nor do you look very cheerful always –
but your face looks very peaceful”. I had no idea whether to take this as a
compliment or not so I just smiled. But this was a feeling even I had – no idea
about my own face, but about the expressions of Germans I had seen so far in
general, in trains or other public places – most of them usually looked like
they were just returning from some funeral.

 

Kramer’s specialty
was that he distilled a drink annually [argh – I cant recall the name!]. He
was a totally self sustained man and had built the entire distillery by
himself. He puts apples or pears or some fruits into them and then they ferment
into alcohol over a year or many years – cant remember the statistics. Not
everybody can do this in their homes – he had acquired a license for it.

 

At that
time I hadn’t yet given up alcohol though it was reduced to rare occasions
only. I tried this out, the smell was very pleasant – and when I swallowed a
sip – I could feel a nice warm feeling going all the way to my stomach as it
made its way down.

 

 

Here is a
picture of Kramer, Doris and Ralf (left to right) in the basement – where he
kept the distillery.

 

Another
example of his craftsmanship is seen in this swing that he made for his
youngest daughter Sarah.

 

4 year old
Sarah was the sweetest girl I had ever met – after some time she befriended me
and though she spoke no English we could somehow got along quite well together.
Especially when I could instantly show her her picture on the camera. As a
matter of fact, the entire family was very impressed with the concept – they
had been quite out of touch with digital technology – not that they had missed
anything, I felt. I took a lot of pictures of her, but this was my favorite
one, where she was literally staggering around carrying this huge guitar on her
shoulder.

 

 

The
farmhouse had another small old building adjoining it, and Kramer said this
building was over 300 years old. This picture gives an idea of the interior.

 

 

 

Notice the
automatic door bold that gets bolted as soon as the door is shut… such a simple
mechanism!

 

 

 

Spring was
just beginning and flowers were blooming – here is a daffodil outside the
house.

 

There was
a bird feeding station at the balcony and a lot of very colorful birds came to
feed.

 

 

 

 

That night

as someone had speculated, I got very deep sleep because of the total absence
of all city sounds.

3 Responses to “austrian alps – 1”

  1. Sanjay M Says:

    This was written a couple of years after the actual trip, and while the month/year is correct, not sure about the date.

  2. narasimha Says:

    Hello Sanjay,

    It must have been great to enjoy such an environment and meet real people from different culture

  3. msanjay Says:

    Yeah NGM, I wish that such things become easier to everybody. Hopefully John Lennon wasnt being too idealistic when he imagined such things.

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