Sunday, December 24

Skiing Next Door

It is a European tradition that on the two week Chanukah vacation afforded the euro-kiddies, that there is a mass exodus to go, as they call it, ‘on holiday’.
So, we too fall in line with the masses and go away as well.
If you remember (see? You never know when I’m going to give a pop quiz!) that Vienna is practically in Britain’s back yard, Switzerland is like going next door.
Yup, you got it, we go skiing.

It should be simple enough; you pack, you step on an airplane, you arrive, you ski.
But nothing is ever that simple is it?

Packing should be easy because you just plunk everything you think you require, for yourself and the kids, in as many suitcases as needed and voila! Done.
Yeah, I wish. Mr Kasamba has a fear of taking too much luggage. If it was up to him, we’d wear all our clothes plus our ski gear on the plane and just take hand luggage. So, he goes around inspecting and inquiring about every single item, “Are you sure you need this?” To which the answer most usually is, “Yes Dad, I need underwear!” to which he inevitably replies, “Okay, just checking, we don’t want to take too much, you know!” Then on the day we leave comes the weigh in. I don’t care what diets you’ve ever been on, this is by far the scariest weigh in ever. We all stand around and hold our breaths while Mr Kasamba estimates the weight of each case before he puts it on the scale. Then the moment of truth arrives as he tells each of us if we’ve passed the weight challenge. If a case weighs more than Oprah, then he will ask the offending packer to open up their case to see if he can spot something that he feels is unnecessary, like shoes or slippers.

2-Stepping on an airplane
This year proved the most difficult of all for this task. But before I go into the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’, I must preface things with a short observation about the United Kingdom: The UK is one of the most woosiest and sisiest of all countries. They are given to a state of hysteria every two minutes, and it’s always about the weather. If it snows a light snowfall of dandruff flakes, they close all the roads and schools down. If there is too much rain there are flood alerts and once again, everything gets shut down. If there is too much sun, they put a ‘hosepipe ban’ into effect and cry about drought. I’m telling you if Great Britain would be a woman, she’d be having ‘the vapours’.

This time, we had fog. Okay, it was a pretty dense fog. It was so thick that I half expected Celine Dion to step onto my patio and start singing. But still, I know planes are equipped with instruments to allow them to fly in the fog. Uh huh, not in the UK, in the UK they cancel hundreds of flights, forcing people to wait around the airport for hours and then go home dejected. Our first flight was cancelled but Mr Kasamba managed to get us on a later one, which in spite of the inevitable delays, was really fortuitous.

Then came airport security. That entire liquid ban is a joke. You are allowed to take any liquids that fit into a ziplock bag. Since the line was so long, I took the opportunity to grill, oops, I mean ask, an airline security official about the state of affairs as it stands in airport security.

I asked him if airline officials were checking the gel inserts that look like chicken fillets that women sometimes use to enhance their upper regional areas. I asked him if they are checking pregnant women stomachs to make sure they are real and not just a hidden chamber storing sticks of dynamite and heaven forbid, Evian. I asked him about concealed tubes hidden in baby milk bottles. I also asked him about the fact that 80% of our bodies are made up of water.
What’s next? Dehumidifying chambers? HUH???
I won’t repeat what he said because you will not feel very safe boarding a flight if I did.

3- Arriving

Well, Boruch Hashem we arrived but… sans Asparagus’s luggage. She was not too gutted as it was the small one that had all the contraband that was weighing her suitcase down like a Mafia victim; in other words, her school books. This year poor Asparagus is taking her GCSE’s which are the British state exams. She has a tremendous mount of revision that she must do while she’s away. When just that one piece of luggage did not arrive, she took that as a sign from the Almighty that she deserves a break. I’m sure that will go down a treat with her examiners.

4- Skiing
Skiing is a very interesting sport, where the ungainly and ungraceful in real life are given a chance to look like gliding swans. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. My kids and husband are content enough to throw themselves off of mountains, but I think I have more of a connection to this world than they do.
Put it this way, I’d really like to live.

In the beginning of my non skiing career, I had an instructor who tried to make me go down a particularly steep ninety degree mountain. I told her that I would just wait there for spring thaw and then I could just walk down. She didn’t budge. I told her that she should just go and save herself, but that didn’t make her budge either. Suddenly, she came and gave me a huge push and off I went careening towards the abyss.

Finally at the end of this impossible run, I was so exhausted that all I wanted to do was collapse. Finally I saw a huge bank of the whitest, fluffiest snow ever, so I manoeuvred myself to plough right into it, which I did. Except instead of the ‘whoosh’ expected of falling into soft snow, I heard a ‘bonk’ as I smashed right into a snow covered generator. What made this discovery even more special was the fact that it was witnessed by an entire café of Swiss people who were waiting for this moment their entire lives.

BTW, it was at this juncture that I also discovered what the ski poles are for. Some people would have you believe that their purpose is to help one’s balance.
Attention K-mart shoppers: this is patently NOT TRUE!
The ski poles are there to use against snow boarders. The snow boarders come shooting out from all angles, like wildebeest with no rhyme or reason, and so the poles become a disciplining tool. And as you know, it is so very important to have the proper equipment.

It has been a few years since I gave up conventional skiing and I took up what they call here, Lange Laufing- cross country skiing. I like it because I find it all very civilised with no plunging descents. The only thing that I can say that I find disconcerting is the zeal with which my fellow lange lauffers pursue their sport. In their slim cross country ski suits the men and the women look androgynous, like they came off the same assembly line with the same expressions on their faces as well.

They all have this smile that says so much.
It says: I am so healthy because I am outdoors.
It says: I love the scenery, it is so lovely.
It says: I am so happy because I have a Swiss passport.
It also says: I don’t even care that I don’t know if I am male or female.
I always hope it is not catchy.

One thing I can tell you is that the one thing that is simple; Apres Ski.
The hot chocolate back at the hotel is simply the best!

Uh, oh. I think I feel a smile coming on.


At 5:21 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Yeah, I wish. Mr Kasamba has a fear of taking too much luggage. If it was up to him, we’d wear all our clothes plus our ski gear on the plane and just take hand luggage.

He sounds like a smart guy.

At 6:38 PM, Blogger SJ said...

Kasamba, I can relate to your father also has a fear of luggage, and until I hit high school and realized that I needed more than one pair of shoes for a two-week trip, we used to be forced to take only carry-on wherever we went. In fact, when we were small, my mother used to pack for me and my two siblings all in one carry-on suitcase. Of course, our clothes were a lot smaller then, so they took up a lot less space...

Also, my father has a fear of skiing. He is convinced that anyone who goes skiing breaks bones. Full stop. So to my family's chagrin, we have never been permitted to take a shot at plunging down a snow-covered precipice. My guess, though, is that I'd probably have a similar reaction to yours. I am many things, but daring is not one of them.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Kasamba...It is so amazing how well traveled you are.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful trip.

On a personal note, I boycott everything Swiss, since they still have not made the proper restitutions to the Jews from the Holocaust. I could go on and on, but will not for now...Some other time.

Have a great trip!!

At 7:53 PM, Blogger RR said...

You'll never get me in a pair of skis- but it always looked like a blast to sit around the fire in the lodge, drink hot chocolate, and flirt. At least that's how it looks on TV!

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Nemo said...

I'm simply jealous.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger cruisin-mom said...

you make anything sound hysterical. I never took to skiing. I say, why be cold, when you can be inside drinking, hot chocolate or hot whatevers.
You sound like the mose fun mother ever!

At 9:00 PM, Blogger yingerman said...

sounds like loads of jolly fun

oh i meants mr kasamba and the hand luggage ive done a 2 day to israel in a (gasp) carry on bag.
All it had was
Talis N tfilin
toothbrush N paste N deodorant
2 changes shirt N underwear N socks
some food
thats all folks, it was great!

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Sara with NO H said...'ve been tagged on my blog. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

sounds fun!

my dad also has a fear of overweight suitcases. before my recent trip interstate he made me panic and remove what I considered fairly important extras that i might need (like several pairs of shoes, an extra skirt etc). when i finally did check in and find the suitcase three kilos under the limit i was a little annoyed! for overseas trips dad likes us to wear our biggest jackets and stuff the pockets with the heavy stuff.

you'd think the british would be used to their weather having had to put up with it for so many thousands of years. some people just never learn!

skiing sounds fun in theory. i've never been. i used to want to but now i think sipping hot chocolate in the ski resort/chalet sounds like the best part!

have a wonderful holiday!

At 12:45 AM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

if it doessnt fit in my shirt pocket i dont take it

(but i'm taking "8" cases now! OMG)

At 2:05 PM, Blogger chaverah said...

why does everyone go skiing? is that the thing to do? I dont think i would be interested. I guess we Americans have a different view of vacation. Sitting by the beach, not moving, sipping martinis. Maybe thats why Americans, as a whole, are so heavy!

At 8:08 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Oooh I want to go skiing hope u have a blast.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger nuch a chosid said...

schlepping..... its a nature, some always travel light, others allways schlep the whol house along

At 9:28 PM, Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

We went skiing once in Leysin, Switzerland. We were staying there for Pesach one year and decided that since we'd never tried the sport (and I use that term loosely), and since we were in switzerland, why not? Of course, being the young fool I was at the time (some of that still remains today), I decided that this was my one chance to go snowboarding. I even took a private lesson. The guy spoke a total of 4 words of English, so most of the training was using hand motions and the like. My first part of the lesson was how to place the snowboard on the ground -- you're supposed to do so upside down so the bindings dig into the snow. Of course, I placed mine down right side up and both the instructor and I watched in horror as my snowboard went down the mountain without me as innocent people tried desperately to get out of the way.

But I'm with Chaverah -- find me a quiet beach, a good book, a mojito (several of them) and a nice sunny spot and I'm good. Well, a golf course nearby would make it the ultimate fantasy.

At 12:49 AM, Blogger RaggedyMom said...

The thought of skiing just makes me way too nervous. Sounds like a hectic, crazy family vacation - just the right kind! Enjoy!

At 12:26 PM, Blogger tafka PP said...

You are a riot. I want to know what the airport bloke said.

And yes, the English definitely go overboard with weather interfering with life... "Leaves on the Line", anyone?! Glad you got out in the end- some of my friends weren't so lucky and had to spend unplanned Xmasses.

Bon Apres Ski and hope Asparagus is at least practising her French!

At 4:05 AM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Well Mr Kasamba sounds like me.
I wear whatever I can....

as for skiing..its one of those things that look so good in the Olympics...they make it look so easy..but when u actually try it..ouch

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

I share the luggage phobia with Mr. Kasamba, and you have to admit that women have the annoying habit of packing anything and everything.

You know my thoughts on skiing, so no need to comment on that.

The Hot chocolate? Why not skip the whole ski meshugass and go straight to the hot chocolate, several of them.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Maybe your next ski trip can be to the Hermon in the Goland?

OK, it may not as fun as Switzerland...but it's here! :-)

At 2:54 AM, Blogger Chasidishe Shaigitz said...


"...The ski poles are there to use against snow boarders"

So funny :)

At 9:34 AM, Blogger kasamba said...

Uh, oh, he might read this!!!

They sound like they'd have alot in common!

Actually, if it wasn't for Switzerland- my husband wouldn't be here! Hi whole family were granted asylum there during the war- otherwise they would have had to stay in Frankfurt!

Trust me, no log fires in this hotel!!!

Hop on a plane!

Thnks! I think my kids just htink I'm embarrassing!

You'd get along really well with Mr Kasamba!

Sara with no H:
Next post!!!

so, you know what I'm going through!

So, relaxing standards?
Good for you!!!

I'm telling you, if you saw the way everyone eats after they finish skiing- you wouldn't say that!

So come along!

So true!


It is nervewracking watching the kids!

Finally!!!! Someone who knows what I mean!!!

Ouch is right!

You're right, it's all for the hot chocolate!

We're coming Shavous IYH!!!

Chassidshe Shaigetz:
Funny but true!!!

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Mia said...

You make me wanna ski!!! but where in Switzerland did you find snow?

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Hila said...

Oooh! I love skiing! Both cross-country and downhill. I started cross-country skiing when I was big enough to fit on the smallest pair of skis made at age 2 and a half. Those ambitious Swedish grandparents of mine wanted to make sure I got to experience the freezing cold as soon as possible! I learned to "alpine" ski much later, around age 9. At first I didn't even use poles because my teacher said we'd never learn to balance ourselves if we had them. He was right. I like the idea of disciplining snowboarders, though! I could go on and on, but I'll spare you for now. Maybe I'll post about it myself sometime soon. Hope the trip was fun and you all made it back safely!

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