FLIGHT OF FREEDOM
Travel+Leisure India|October 2021
Author SIDDHARTH DHANVANT SHANGHVI breaks free from pandemic shackles to soak up the sun in Switzerland.
SIDDHARTH DHANVANT SHANGHVI

ON THE BAGGAGE wheel at Geneva Airport, my suitcase dropped out of the carousel mouth, but by the time I’d walked over to it, it was gone. Like a magic trick gone awry, it vanished into thin air.

I arrived at my hotel, the majestic Beau Rivage Genève, on Lake Geneva, with only my carry-on. The building is like the ancestral home of an aristocratic family, discreet salons and dramatic corners, exquisite flooring, arches that lead into rooms with frescoes—a palace in the heart of Geneva. The Beau Rivage’s wildly efficient concierge was tracking my missing suitcase—where had it gone? Arriving sans luggage in a foreign country, after months of village life in India, I was frazzled. But the view from my glorious, twin-level suite was calming: the green-blue lake, a manicured shorefront. Swathes of tourists were strolling as if the pandemic were finished. I questioned my internal class bias: while crowds shopping in Mumbai’s Dadar Market annoyed me, I felt relief right now.

Geneva high society is abuzz with the colorful tales of an Indian family quarreling over a fortune of billions. I overheard this at lunch at Izumi, the Japanese restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Des Bergues Geneva (fourseasons.com), where a man with what appeared to be his wives sat at the next table. The public row in the Indian family was about two women trying to claim a stake in a family business controlled by men. All the women on my adjoining table appeared miserable, while the man, checking his phone, was tired and disinterested. Even at a laden table, patriarchy serves no one. The sashimi on my plate made me miss Mumbai’s Wasabi by Morimoto. But I was out after months and splurging. I was lucky to be alive, although the real, electric thrill was to be on Geneva’s streets, or by the lake, where a swan tickled its long, sculpted neck. I was free, I thought, briefly, terrifically free. Compared to the Four Seasons, Beau Rivage had an old-world charm, a moon among lesser planets, and when I returned, my baggage had been located. A passenger had taken it thinking it to be his own; the hotel’s concierge had done a heroic round of sleuthing to recover it. I was so happy to be at Beau Rivage even without my bag but ecstatic to be reunited with it. I celebrated with lunch at La Terrasse helmed by Dominique Gauthier, with its perfect wine pairings and lake views.

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