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You can read about Wernu, and my introduction to the region here

Join me on a journey

Join me on a journey where I share my knowledge and experience documenting lives on the Swiss alps. You will discover people and places few tourists have seen. We will talk about the history and geography that have shaped the people, explore valleys and alps and follow rivers to their sources.

Along the way, you will explore and develop your photography, writing, or any other form you wish to express yourself in. We will make notes and fill a scrapbook with prints and words and drawings.

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Mosti’s goats. His journey up the mountain is here

Experiences and education

You will learn how to make cheese as it has been done for centuries: on the high slopes of an alp, in a copper cauldron, over a wood fire. And you’ll be served molten cheese over rough bread, and perhaps a homemade schnapps after that. Food and drink is on me. They will be from the land. I’ll take care of you, drive you around in a local Subaru (the only respectable form of transport here), and introduce you to my friends who live on these slopes. …


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The poster I designed, in Helvetica
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La Montagne covered the exhibition
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La Montagne talking of my documentation of French life
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From the Bibliothèque Municipale de Auzances
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My documentation appears in the Times of Oman

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Hotel Kemmeriboden-Bad is known throughout Switzerland for its hospitality, its meringue, and its connection to the land and people of the Emmental Alps.

Over the years, the hotel has gone through many changes, and this is reflected in its logo, which keeps evolving over time. Logos and typography have swept through its historic interiors, before and after my time.

My design identity for the hotel revolved around my stories for the hotel. I told the stories of its connection to the farmers who lived around it and supplied it with products: cheese made on the alp, meat from their animals, hay from their fields, bread from the local bakery, and of course that famous meringue. …


My column Pinaki’s World runs in BauernZeitung, the most-subscribed agricultural weekly newspaper in Switzerland.

www.bauernzeitung.ch/pinaki

The Many Lives of the Schwarzbach

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November 20, 2020 issue of BauernZeitung

From which cold, dark depths does the Schwarzbach come from? Somewhere in the forests of Bürkeli, past Scheidzaun and under Windbruch, the alp the wind broke. Past Portweidli and Buchhüttli. And finally, landing with a rage a few turns away from the river Emme. And it is here, in this bowl between slopes, where it roars around in its darkness, that it gives its name to the land, and to the little bridge that dares cross over it. And to a man. A man of infinitely soft eyes, sitting at the kitchen table, with a kitten climbing over him. …


Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris

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Oman, 2004. Crossing the jebel at Birkat Sharaf

How did it all start? In another life, another continent, where everything’s dead, buried alive out of necessity and desperation. But while any connection to where I come from has been erased, over and over, the words that started everything remain seared into me, and I can recite them at will, again and again, as I have to myself over a lifetime. Prayers from someone who believes in nothing, spoken to no one and everyone.

I was a child when my father took down For Whom the Bell Tolls from the bookshelf that also doubled as the bar. Smuggled alcohol in 1980s Bombay, spirits from around the world that would arrive in a black duffel bag carried by a bearded Parsi, a prophet whom we’d all gather around, as he dug out bottles of Armagnacs and single malts and Żubrówka, with its single strand of grass that a bison had sniffed on a faraway steppe that I would one day explore. …


Photos & Stories on the Banks of the River Emme

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Come visit my exhibition along the banks of the river Emme. It will stand through summers and winters, rain and snow, waiting for you.

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The exhibition on the banks of the river Emme. Click to zoom

Start at Hotel Kemmeriboden-Bad, famous for its meringue made by my friend Stein Chrigu. The photos and stories are on a new hiking path that runs between the hotel and the river. You will find photos in the restaurant too, and throughout the hotel. And many more here on this site, and on Facebook and Twitter. …


Cow Shows of Schangnau

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The cow shows of Schangnau have long been known not just for their animals but also the people they bring together twice a year. The first cooperative in this valley, a couple of curves from the source of the river Emme, can be traced back to the early 1900s. In those days you could never reach the maximum score of 100 points, but if your cow got to the mid-90s it was excellent. This system of ranking changed in the 1990s. The shows were timed to the annual migration, the first in spring before the animals were taken up the alps, to the Älplis where they would spend their summers. There, they would feed off the most prized vegetation on the highest slopes, and be milked, and that milk would be made into cheese. …


The 200-Year-Old Cauldron

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It is 10am, and Schwand Fridu leans against the massive cauldron in which he has just made cheese, in which cheese has been made for more than two centuries.

It is the same one that towered over him when he was a boy, so fascinated by the Alpli he was late for school. It is the one his father used, and his grandfather worked on. It is, in fact, older than even this old wood Alpli called Baumgarten (where Baum is a tree and Garten is garden), made in the spot where rocks from the Hohgant don’t fall down.

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It was David Gerber who built this hut, and there were two others that existed here before that, huts that have disappeared since, lost to the mountain. But David has lived on ever since, inscribed in copper over milk and cheese, under old wood black with centuries of smoke. …

About

Pinaki

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