Published: July 26th 2012July 26th 2012
"Bon jour chein mignon" he wouldn't let us near him
Last night we went to dinner with three of Rob's colleagues at a Mexican resturant near Gare Cornavin near the main train station. It was nice to place faces with the names and meet them socially. Each spoke at least 2 languages and one spoke 5! One was from Belgium, another India and one from Switzerland. World travelers and it surprises me how much they are informed about world events. Charming and gracious, asking many questions about us and our life and truly interested in our answers. So one of them asked me what I thought of the Swiss.
We live in a nice area of Switzerland, just a block or so away from very upscale apartments and it is not uncommon to see Ferrari's parked next to each other (usually black). People will not say hello or bon jour to you if you pass them on the street, they also rarely make eye contact. Occasionally they do, but look away quickly. I thought it was me, maybe being gaurded in this foreign country so today I did an experiment.
We stayed home today. In the morning went to Migros to pick up some fresh food, and then ate
This was just sitting on the wall by an ancient small stone park that is across from Louis-Albert. Who left it?
lunch at home with Rob. He walked back to work and Sarah and I decided to play at the park and stop in at Coop. Each store has different things we like so we will often stop by each one and pick out our favorite food items. I am getting more confident and say "bon jour" just like a native so wanted to try it out. Walking around the large (at least a few blocks square) Louis-Albert park I said bon jour to anyone I met face to face. What happened? either no answer or a muffled one. It's as if the Swiss don't expect anyone to greet them and were caught off gaurd, or were annoyed I verbally entered their personal space. If you look lost they will never offer to help, if you ask for help they will politely do so, there is a sense of reserve in people. I saw a dog run past us unleashed (must have been on his way to the dog park) and bent down to say hello, he didn't even look at me, ran past and the owner smiled and shrugged his shoulders. Even the dogs act this way! We had leftover
On the same park bench as the old lady from a past blog
bread from yesterday for the birds and there wasn't a pigeon or crow who would take any.There were a few people on benches who had just fed them and with full bellies weren't about to grovel for our day old bread. Only the lowly sparrows would take some of our bread, there are many of those, not much to look at, but dependable if you want the pleasure of bird-feeding. I tried not to take any of this personally but I think it may be one reason I feel so lonely here. The kindly banter that Americans have everyday with each other seems to be lacking here.
The cleaning ladies were here on Wednesday and I asked them about the washer. It sounds like it indeed takes 2 hours a load and if I had put in on another setting for very heavy or dirty clothes it would have taken longer! So she showed me the "hand-wash" setting. There is a little picture of a hand in a sink of water, so I tried that today. So it shoots some water out then flips the clothes over about once a minute, almost soaking them more than aggitating. I heard
A man practicing tight-rope walking in the park
no violent spinning this time and it still took 2 hours. You may wonder if the last load that aggitated and spun for 2 hours ruined any of the clothes? yes, my grey hoodie, it stretched the waist band out like a used up rubber band, and is not form fitting anymore. The other clothes, however, turned out very clean and very white. My Asian neighbor is doing her laundry today so thought I should do as she does since she obviously knows what she is doing.
So the man who asked me what I thought of the Swiss said my observations were accurate. It takes them awhile to warm up, and some may speak English but choose not to. I suppose we Americans are viewed as intruders who take Swiss jobs away since it's actually cheaper to hire and fly and American over than hire someone from Switzerland (my personal view). The cost of living is very high here, the third highest in Europe. Our dinner for 6 people cost 213 francs, portions were very small and the food passable. We had a very enjoyable time with them and Nicholas said "Rob is very much like the Swiss,
Swing high, Sarah
neutral" I thought that to be true in many ways, he has a very kind heart but keeps to himself.
There are more photos below