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Have you ever imagined, a helicopter lifting a big catamaran? I for sure didn’t harness such hopes.  Hence, it came as a jerk when I received some Emails from EPFL colleagues showing photos of the Alinghi-5 being lifted from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean cost Genoa (Italy). The photographs are stunning and it undermines the power of these modern warfare choppers. The helicopter used is apparently a Russian Super Puma breed.

After a long thought and a near decision call against it,  I eventually succumbed to the temptation of going to the best firework show in Europe. The finale of Fêtes de Genève 2009 was today! We took the 20.45 train from Lausanne and reached just in time for the festive event. It was a bit of struggle initially to find a place, when folks were moving and parading across the streets in all possible directions. We walked and walked and finally stopped when the fireworks started.  A good way to decide when to stop moving, huh!

The musical fireworks show was awesome.  That is an understatement.  It was a not to miss event.  A touch overcrowded Geneva was, but that was to be expected off an event of this magnitude.  I didn’t take any photos.  It wouldn’t have come nicer anyway with my outdated camera. Not to be disappointed nevertheless.  Here is a link (Note: This is not my photo. The copyrights stays with the owner of the link and its sources).  I hope to post some more, depending on the photo availability from friends who may have taken a few snaps.


The fire show was coupled with traditional music (and hence it was more of a musical fireworks) and rhythmic tunes. It simply drew admiration from everyone present there, which in number was anything more than a 10000. Even though it was not that Sth clear, it appeared to me that, music from all over the world were played.  A Hindi (India rather) one from the movie Lagaan too was played (I guess it was  this).  In a way, this presented the crowd a journey around the world of music, a little lip service, but nevertheless highly enjoyable experience. The stupendous thing is the setting of the Lake in a moonlit night, with remarkable display of colourful magic in the air.

As they say, the fireworks outshine the stars, the sky bursts with colour and the lake reflects it all. It was well and truly that. Every year a different theme is chosen for the show. The theme gives meaning and rhythm and grandour to the event. This year, a pyrotechnic vision of one thousand and one nights (Arabian nights as we know in English) was chosen and it simply rocked the Geneva crowd for about 1 hour from 2200 hrs on a rather pleasant day (The afternoon rain infact cleared things a bit). From East to West, through the Tropics, three acts presented amazing visual displays cast by music from the local area and elsewhere selected by the pyrotechnics’s themselves.

The show opened with traditional Arabian music, apparently chosen because the guest of honour presented was the Sultanate of Oman. It was marvellous to say the least. It sounded a little like Punabi to me, but then as you would guess, there are many similarities of music from the east (and partly because of my lack of knowledge in vividly distinguishing musical style). The first scene reflected the thousand and one eastern nights, from Arabia to Asia. The initial act evoked the shimmering splendour of the East with a superb golden rain. Yes, it was a fabulous scene where it appeared as though there was a drizzle of gold in the air. So charming it was.  A superb oriental music tuned to its rhythm made it even more stunning.

The second scene reflected tropics, apparently conceived by some famous Argentine from in Buenos Aires (They mentioned the name during commentary, but I failed to pick the name). With south American (Latin American to be exact) music in the background, it was indeed a magical display of colours depicting the thousand and one tropical nights.

The third and final reflected Western nights. It was a mix of slow and fast notes of western music. I was wondering why such a mix, but I was told later that, it was deliberately chosen to depict the surprise effect. Some people liked it, but it sounded a bit too noisy for me at times. Some french (European!) and north American music were played. The firework was big and loud this time, needless to say it was great, barring the excessive sound. The sound however shook the crowd and made them heavenly alert and cheerful. It was a fabulous scene, to the eyes, but not so soothing to my ears (I would have preferred more to see and lesser burden on ears; But largely people wouldnt have complained!).

The famous fountain of Geneva (Jet d’Eau) was  switched off during the fire show. In the end it appeared to be on, but the smoke around didnt make it so visible from the bridge where I was standing. I had to catch up a train to Lausanne and hence didn’t spend too much time in Geneva after that.
In the end, my last minute decision to take a train to Geneva paid off. It was worth it. I was initially pondering on whether this is better than the firworks in New York during the July 4 independence day. Or for that matter, a Trichur Pooram fireworks in India. Those have their charm, but Fêtes de Genève has a charm of her own. It is definitely a beautiful event.

The one hour pyrotechnic in the air resulted in quite a bit of smithereens of paper and powder floating in the air. A fair share of it came to my body as well. A hot shampoo shower at midnight cleaned up a bit of it. The Geneva river looked more like a polluted river in the end, but the civic authorities will hopefully clean it tomorrow. The river is so beautiful to be dirtied! What is to be a good city if not there a clean river flowing through her heart?

Update [2009, Aug 10]:

Here is a video sample I found in youtube. It spans just over a minute only, but the (video) quality is pretty good.

and another one here (You can check the Youtube follow up links for more).


May 2019
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