A Travellerspoint blog

McDonald's and/or Passive Smoke

semi-overcast 49 °F

This past weekend was Räbeliechtli, Swiss “Halloween" with turnips, not pumpkins. Actually, not Halloween at all. Just purply turnips, and a walk through the fields, and kids singing songs about turnips (at least that’s what it sounded like to me).


My guess is that Räbeliechtli is quite like a harvest festival. For celebration, kids get a lit turnip lantern, walk the lit lanterns from one village to the next, and then get a tasty snack for their efforts. Parents scoop out the insides of large purple turnips and carve designs on the outside, and then put a little tealight on the inside to make it glow in the dark. Turnip Jack O’ Lantern! This one kid was so thrilled that his turnip had a rocket and a plane carved on it. Another kid had his name “LARS” carved on his turnip, and his baby sister had her name on hers, "LAILA." And there seemed to be no fear of open flames - the kids, even 3-year olds, carried their own turnips with dripping wax and all.


On walking from Village A to the Junior School in Village B, I realized how isolating language can possibly be. I did not understand a single word of what every one was chatting about, I did not get the song, nothing. Everyone was rather pleasant and nice, but not having a language in common made it very, very hard to have any meaningful interaction and was quite exhausting to even try my mishmash German and their rudimentary English, with a large dose of hand waving. Which is why I am glad with the decision to live in the city and not out in the beautiful meadows. Like any metro, Zurich has diversity of language. Almost everyone I met in the city is trilingual, with English being one of the 3. Completely validates the choice to be an urbanite.

So, we all walk under the night sky, with little kids trilling their songs, and ended up at the school. The kids got a very traditional treat - a bun stuffed with a stick of chocolate. And the grown-ups got beer and bratwursts. So we are in this school enjoying our snacks and social time: babies in strollers, and toddlers, and noisy 6-7 year olds running around, parents chitchatting and SMOKING! Parents with babies in their arms, smoking right above their babies little heads, throwing cigarette butts on the play ground, and blowing smoke into groups of kids. WTH.

To me, it all looked very negligent and unintelligent. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I'd rather think they are just plain stupid and not necessarily willfully harming their children, because that couldn't possibly be the intent. It would be a kind thought that they were just as loving of their kids as non-smokers. The assumption is that they did not feed their kids McDonald’s 3 times a day and yet, they smoked around their children, and other people’s children. To me, it’s been more than 30+ years since people are educated about the hazards of passive smoke, so no one especially not grown-up educated people of a first world nation have any right to be smoking around kids. More muttering under my breathe.

  • * And just to be statistically fair, it was obviously not every parent, but enough numbers of parents for me to have noticed. And that too on a school campus!

Posted by Goofy9 10:33 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

SQ 346 Landing and Digressions on Writing a Biography

sunny 50 °F

If I had to write an autbiography, how would I go about it? There are many methods, I am told, according to this book I just started reading (the one I checked out from the Zurich Public Library). There is the straightforward chronological method from point A in time to Point B in time.

Chrono Method
Year 0 - G born, her brother gives her a tin of marbles to play with
Year 3 - Her mother worried that G would never be able to identify Red from Yellow
Year 5 - G slapped in school for being a pesky kid
etc. etc - Fill in details and bring forward to current year

Then there’s the less complete approach of only focusing on milestones, though this has the benefit of avoiding tedious detail.

Highlights/Milestone Method
Milestone 1 - Prematurely born
Milestone 2 - G tanding on top of a human pyramid during gym class when she learns Indira Gandhi has just been assassinated
Milestone 3 - Is Lord High Chamberlain in the school production of Cinderella
Milestone 4 - College, all kinds of fun that one shouldn’t have!
More etc. etc. fast forward to Milestone called Leaving Accenture.

And then there’s this topical approach, which I would favor; the approach of hinging around themes, irrespective of whether they could be deemed a milestone or not, or if they were recent or long ago.

Thematic/Topical Method
Theme 1 - van Gogh’s art experienced at different points in time
Theme 2 - definitely Atlas Shrugged read at 14 years of age, 24, and then again at 34
Theme 3 - Diwali and firecrackers
And so on.

I digressed quite a bit just to tell you that at the Zurich Airport they do not have a cell phone waiting parking lot; yet they have a full-fledged spot by the runway where people park to watch planes. And in summer time, families come in their station wagons, there’s a fire pit for bratwurst grilling, ice-cream to be had, a tuck shop. The works. Swiss-style planespotting.


Posted by Goofy9 08:50 Archived in Switzerland Comments (2)

$50 Million in One Corner

rain 59 °F

van Gogh and Cezanne in one corner - right next to each other, opposite Monet. On Googling, learned that one of Cezanne’s pieces sold for $258 million to the Qatar Royal Family! One of the most expensive pieces of canvas real estate, no?


Spent a rainy afternoon in the Zurich Kunsthaus (Art Museum) rediscovering Old Masters and discovering Swiss artists. Having no art education, wandering through galleries of religious art or even Uber-modern art does nothing for me. What makes me tingle though, is when I see art that makes me happy, and takes me back to different places in the recesses of my mind. The first time I saw a Monet, I could tell you exactly what I ate that afternoon in Kansas City and how hard it rained and that there was a football game on. And that was 2003!


van Gogh, I shall go so far as to say that he’s my favorite for flowers! I distinctly remember being mesmerized by the yellows in his sunflowers, the first time I saw it, and blogged about it. And funnily enough, I do actually remember what I ate at tea that day. And now, the red’s in his poppies, it makes me understand why some people buy prints. To own a little bit of that brightness, to be reminded of good times.


Posted by Goofy9 10:48 Archived in Switzerland Comments (2)

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