Indians are great travelers and expats are the best among them. But one thing scares the hell out of all Indian expats (say 90%). And that is – carving a snow slope! Yes, Snowboarding or Skiing!
There are Indian expats living in western world for generations and turning into citizens of a western country. But when they see snow, they slowly transform themselves to cows and cuddle inside. Their children are forced to eat Onion Bhajis watching the snow through a glass window, while their school mates go to a ski resort with family to enjoy the powder and nature. Which spoils their future and they remain detached forever. There are exceptions, of course, but very difficult to find.
What comes to your mind when you think of Himalayas? I think of naked sadhus roaming and some pilgrimage tours to see a glacier. And I also think of some western expeditions (not Indian). What comes to your mind when you think of French Alps? I think of hiking in summer and in winter, oh boy! , I am thrilled to get on a ski lift and embrace nature up-close!! When Indians saw spirituality and religion in the Himalayas, the French and Americans made wooden panels and ventured in to the wilderness. Okay, but the ladies sat in the hut making stew? No! Western ladies and their kids were right in the middle when a great civilization and culture took shape up there below 00 Celsius.
Can you believe that 10 highest mountains on earth are found in Indian Himalayas. Alps is nothing but a tiny hill compared to Himalayas! And you would be amazed to know how much the European economy is dependent on this tiny hill called Alps.
As all my blogs are for those expats who wants to excel in integration, here is how and why you should put on your snowboard this year!
What lies on those slopes and why should an Indian expat ‘risk’ going there? On those slopes lie the secret of western civilization. On those slopes lie nature at its glorious best! On those slopes you witness your body and mind reaching the heights of perseverance, boldness & ecstasy!
You go down a mountain in ‘S’ shape, be it carving or boarding. These ‘S’s can collide as there are many people doing the same. You could fall down and break your bone or your scull. Last time I went there, I saw a lady falling forward on her board and her bleeding nose turned some part of the piste(track) into red colour. Let me also remind you about Michael Schumacher. You still want to go there? 🙂
You should! Is what I would say. Here are some consolations :-
- The pistes are large enough, during most part of the track, and multiple parallel ‘S’s are possible
- We stop when we are about to collide or the experienced one among us deviates the direction
- There are different types of pistes/tracks to suit our level (Blue,Red, Black, etc.)
- We fall many times but we can have protective gear for butt, wrist, knee, head, etc.
- Michael Schumacher was going off-piste. Which means beyond the secured path provided by the ski region. Experienced people do that to explore nature and enjoy the fresh snow. And risk is expected.
- Age is never a problem as there will always be a grandma or grandpa trying it for the first time. I am not lying!
- If you, or your friends or family members, don’t want to get that physically involved then there are plenty of other things to do, sledging , snow shoeing, Spa-Sauna, photography or just simply sitting in the cable car and enjoying the view.
- Small kids can do wonderfully good on the slopes, I think it helps that they are not afraid of falling. I love watching them speeding. Just don’t tell your Indian grandparents what you are doing to your child 😛 .
- Book a ski trip for a week
- Don’t go with all Indians gang, instead prefer an international group (experienced + beginners)
- Rent all ski or snowboarding equipment’s way in advance. (if you know enough about the equipment ,buy second-hand before your first trip itself)
- Book a training course at a school for half of the week (If you go for 6 days book for min 3 days training)
- This is not mandatory. You could instead ask tips from fellow riders.
- I have seen people with absolutely no experience starting from the mountain slopes and each time I pass them by, they simply become better riders.
- We can ask any stranger on the slope and they would be glad to help you out.
- Watch videos on YouTube and be prepared. During your stay keep checking those videos again and again.
- we could just have one training on the very first day of your trip. And that is all.
- Training is the most expensive (snowboarding training per day, 2.5 hours, costs 64 euros).
- Better do not try indoor ski place near you. Hit the real slopes!!
- Avoid T-Bars/drag lifts (surface lifts). Instead try gondolas or other Aerial Lifts(saves time and effort)
- Get yourself prepared health wise and clothing wise.
- There are work outs specifically meant for skiers and boarders which you can do at a gym near your home.
- Reduce the cost on clothing by checking my blog Winter Dressing Guide for Indian Expats
- Take pain killers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
- Second and third day can be really painful. As your whole body will be aching due to the frequent falling and also exercising muscles which you normally do not use.
- Do not miss Après Ski(this should be the most important event for you).
- Once you retire the day with an aching and tired body, you get together with fellow skiers over a beer.
- I always found it so refreshing to have a beer in such a condition.
- You talk and talk and dance the night away (well till 01:00 or 02:00 on the first two days and more on the rest of the days: D).
- This event is of high importance in what I said before -experiencing and being part of the western culture.
- I have seen strangers meeting and having sex more often in Apres Ski-s :P. Especially towards the last few days of the trip.
- Try to be there when the piste opens in the morning. Sleep in the noon if you need rest. Put on your board again till it is Après Ski again!!!
It can be a difficult process altogether and can also be costly financially. We would need to set apart 800-1000 euros per person. To get a real experience like I mentioned above. But when we leave the resort we start missing it. We pay 1000 euros but we get an experience worthy of 10K Euros. In a way, we will be contributing to the culture and also helping change the culture back home. One day we would want to hit Indian slopes too and spread the goodness.
In a little bit deviated note, stop sexual rape and religion in India. Religion is a mind-rape done to us by our parents. It might be difficult to stop that now for ourselves but we can stop doing the same to our children. Support PK! Let us embrace the goodness of other cultures and let this trip to those snow-capped mountains be our first step. A step in seeing life from a different perspective. A step that opens us up.
I know it might appear a bit condescending to many Indian expats, especially the culture part. Those were included mainly because I wanted to express myself fully. And of course to get your attention. So let us look at the positive side and I hope the mountains will benefit your social life in the western world.