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My son visits me in Doon

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A Swiss woman settles in India – 15

By Simone Toni Weibel

My son will be sixteen years old in May. He’s got a good dose of hormones in him, which often reliably disable his brain, but basically I’d say he’s a really good boy, with manners and good social skills. On 25 December, he boarded a plane for his big trip to India. Due to bad weather, the connecting flight to Dehradun was cancelled but I got a good taxi driver booked, who picked him up with a name sign ready. One can imagine how my nerves were on edge. I was overjoyed when he finally stood in front of my gate and I could embrace him. It’s amazing how much we’ve missed each other over the past four months. I’ve been away from home many times for two or three months and it’s always been fine for my children and me. But now that it’s not clear when I’ll be back in Switzerland, time is losing its order. After just one month, my son said that all of a sudden it felt like half an eternity.

I bought all sorts of drinks and sweets for him, cooked pasta and, after enjoying that, he was finally able to go to bed after his long journey and slept for a whole twelve hours. Teenagers can do that, even every day if it’s on the cards. It’s an astonishing thing. That’s why our days together didn’t start until around midday and we always stayed in Dehradun except for a short trip.

My son runs a small business on Instagram in Switzerland where he sells second hand sportswear. So, we went to Paltan Bazaar to fish for clothes. He was beside himself with excitement and found a few things. The Sunday market at Rangers’ Ground was wonderful. He loved the hustle and bustle as much as I did and the hours went by very quickly, bargaining and roaming around. We ate out almost exclusively, from Indian to Thai to Western food; we tried everything and it was always delicious.

The days went by and, in the meanwhile, I was able to buy a second-hand car. My little Swift – I call him Ranjit – is not quite to my taste, but it drives and doesn’t need much petrol. Once I had all the papers together, we packed our things and drove off to Corbet National Park. I managed the journey surprisingly well and it felt like being in Africa when we arrived at the lodge, apart from the biting cold. The next day we went on safari and we actually saw three tigers, along with elephants and other animals. The roaring from up close is pretty impressive, it leaves you breathless. After the second night, we drove back again and that same night my little one had to get back on the taxi to Delhi, his suitcase packed with clothes and tons of mango juice.

It was a huge emptiness when he left. It took me a few days to get used to it and I was quite melancholic. He also had a hard time after we had been together all the time, for almost three weeks. The only thing I don’t miss, is not having all his stuff lying around everywhere, although when I think about it, even that’s kind of nice.

(Simone Toni Weibel (47) is an independent artist, teacher and writer from Switzerland who has settled down in Dehradun.)