La folle du 15 [fr]

Je vous ai déjà parlé d’elle ici, ici, , et encore .

Durant la dernière année, elle a continué à me laisser régulièrement des messages sur mon répondeur – que je me suis fait une joie d’ignorer.

J’ai décidé d’écouter celui qu’elle m’a laissé ce soir. La dernière fois, il y a quelques semaines, j’avais décidé que si elle récidivait j’allais agir. Il fallait donc que je sache ce qu’elle me racontait. Je le retranscris ici, espérant que cela vous amusera (consternera?) autant que moi.

Comme j’ai des scrupules concernant le lavage de linge sale sur le web, je vous fais grâce du nom de la dame (et de sa voix inimitable).

C’est G. K. Cette fois j’en ai par-dessus la tête, je ne suis pas la seule d’ailleurs, mais je suis la seule à oser vous le dire.

Votre chat était sur mon paillasson à hurler à la mort. Je l’ai mis dehors, il est bientôt sept heures (il est six heures vingt), il fait froid, alors vous allez vous occuper de votre chat, parce qu’encore une fois comme ça et je vous garantis que votre chat, vous ne le trouvez plus!

Des menaces? Demain matin, j’appelle la gérance.

Si vous êtes tentés de me dire que je prends les choses trop à coeur et qu’il faut dédramatiser, merci de vous en abstenir.

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Cold [en]

In India, I have often been asked how we survive the cold in winter. Having cold winters is the norm for us over here, and that makes it hard to find the words to explain it.

The answer I usually give amounts to “well, we heat our houses, have windows and doors that don’t let the cold in (well, not too much of it), and have coats and boots which protect us from the cold when we go outside.

Having just come home from the cinema on a chilly night, I can tell you the statement above is a little idealistic. Here is what a cold winter in Switzerland is like.

First of all, sitting at my computer I can feel cold air around my hands when I type. It gets outright chilly when I reach for the mouse on my right, nearer to the window. Yes, I have double-glazing. No, the building isn’t very old – thirty years or so. Yes, the windows could do with some sticky foam around them to keep the draught out. Or I could at least fit curtains on my windows. Or pull the blinds down everywhere as soon as it gets dark enough.

But apart from that, I’m just normally dressed inside: trousers and a blouse or pullover. I tend to snuggle up in blankets more often than in summer, though.

Outside is a different story. People don’t stay outside unless they have to. If they do plan to stay outside (for work, walking, or any other good reason), they’ll make sure to put a few layers on, warm shoes and a serious coat. If they are skiing that’s another matter – we have ski-gear for the occasion.

But if you’re just going to work, you don’t want to turn up there with three pullovers or your ski-gear. It’s warm inside. It’s warm in busses and trains. It’s warm in cars too, if the trip is long enough for them to heat up (which isn’t the case with the 10 minutes or so it takes me to get to work or university).

So either you pile on layers for the journey, run the risk of finding yourself caught in a warm place and sweating, and having to peel everything off on arrival – or you just dress for work, put a big coat on and walk quickly.

That’s what I do, of course. Shiver my way to the car. Turn motor on, start driving (with gloves, the steering-wheel slips in cold hands). Wait for the temperature in the car to become bearable (a human body in a small closed space does heat it up a bit – especially when the motor is running), get out of the car, and shiver off from the car to the destination.

Repeat for return journey.

The point being: if the aim of your expedition is not to stay outside, you’re bound to be pretty cold outside. Shivers, nasty draughts where the coat lets them in, numb fingers, runny nose…

If I have a choice, I’d rather be too warm than too cold. That being said after having lived one year in a tropical country where I was too warm.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. As we heat our houses, we need our fridges the whole year around.

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Swissair [en]

A day in my life [en]

Before going for my last French exam this afternoon, I half-heartedly revised a few texts in the company of an over-excited cat (hungry and kept inside so I could monitor his tummy troubles).

I arrived at university early. My pre-exam nightmares usually have to do with having forgotten to prepare for the exam, or turning up late. So I usually arrive rather in advance. I waited in the sofas of the French department for an hour, feeling adrenalin accumulate in my body and my heart rate going steadily up.

My teacher greeted me with a sly grin: “So, we’ve picked a difficult subject for you – because if we give you a normal one, you’re going to be bored during the preparation time…” I winced and groaned of course, but in the same time felt quite relieved. She wouldn’t be doing that if there was the slightest chance of me failing my exams – and she had most certainly already had a look at Monday’s written performance (which, of course, I wasn’t happy about at all, as always).

After eating out with my brother to rejoice about the “end” of my exams, I went to listen to Eve Angeli’s free concert near the lake. The supporting act was a very young girl, eleven or twelve years old, with a very beautiful voice. At the end of the show, I went to buy Eve Angeli’s CD (it was on my “to buy” list, anyway, and I’ve finished my exams, haven’t I?) and queued for an autograph.

I was really astonished at how aggressive some people can become for a name on a postcard or a CD. I waited patiently while the crowd around me got more and more compact, and ended up carrying the weight of a fair amount of people on my right side. One woman was encouraging her children to push and squeeze to get in front. I finally gave my bag and umbrella to the mother next to me while I kept an eye on her young daughter and she left the crowd which was becoming frankly oppressing.

I got my autograph rather easily, as it was on a CD. Young Joanna was not so lucky, and I found myself doing something that makes me want to shrink into the earth in embarrassment when I think of it now.

I noticed that one of the bodyguards had picked up a dropped poster and told the owner he would get it back after. My misinterpretation of the situation made a bright idea flash through my head. I grabbed my protégée‘s poster and prodded the bodyguard: “Er, could you get this signed for Joanna, please?” The look he gave me as he answered “no” made me want to vanish on the spot and wish I hadn’t opened my mouth. My only consolation is that I would never have made such an inconsiderate request for myself, or anybody else than the nine-year-old girl whose head barely made it above the safety barrier, and who was desperately clutching a poster of her idol as she was trying to make her voice heard above the din.

I took the bus home. I usually go around by car, but tonight was an exception. I used to take the bus a lot before going to India, and I hadn’t realized how estranged I had got from the public transport system in my own town. A year ago already, when I had just landed home after a year abroad, little plastic cards had made their appearance in people’s wallets. You could use them to pay at the ticket machine instead of cash.

So this evening, I learnt that ticket machines do not return change anymore. I learnt that bus drivers no longer can sell you a ticket if you do not have change for the machine. And I chatted with the bus driver all the way home. About his job, about India and the strange time that country lives in. About being on time and buying tickets before getting on the bus. About 40-hour train journeys. About getting chastized for being one minute late on his schedule.

I got off the bus, took off my chappal (indian sandals, made of leather, do not like pouring rain) and walked home barefoot, to be greeted by a phone call from my brother telling me that the long-awaited contract from orange had arrived in his mailbox. Good news!

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Trains [en] téléphonie fixe et mobile [en]

Pour tous les petits suisses qui aterrissent ici, n’oubliez pas l’incontournable pour toute information sur la phone folie.

Comparatifs entre les opérateurs, tarifs détaillés, forum et bulletin d’informations.
Choisissez informés!

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Halloween [en]

Tonight is Halloween.

Five years ago, Switzerland had barely heard of this weird witch-party so popular in the States.
Three years back, the cauldron started simmering, and this year it is coming up to a boil. People dressed up, kids running around asking for sweets (even two weeks ago!) and lotsa lotsa Halloween stuff to buy in the shops.

I used to celebrate Halloween when I was a kid of the Commonwealth American School. But somehow grinning pumpkins don’t seem to fit in here.
Especially when they seem to be but another excuse to increase consumerism.

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Futile but funny [en]

I did the weekly shopping this afternoon (Switzerland is a country that still has closing hours for shops – 6 or 7 pm weekdays, 5 pm saturday, and sunday clo-osed). Back in the kitchen, as I was waiting for my groceries to walk into the fridge on their own, I noticed Bagha looking at me in a queer way.

Damn! I forgot to buy the cat-food.
Got back in the car, went back to the shop, stopped at the doggy-kitty department. While I was hesitating between beef, chicken or tuna flavoured meat mash for the perpetually hungry feline, I noticed a little sign upon one of the tins.
It said “spoon included”. Yep. You know, the little plastic ones they sell with ice-cream cups so you can feast on them right away.
I immediately imagined Bagha opening the cupboard and catching one of his tins (he’s smart enough to do that), peeling the lid off, and using the little plastic spoon to eat his snack…


Of course, the spoon is meant for the owner, silly – not for the cat. Cat owners don’t want to run the risk of getting smelly meat-mash juice on their fingers when dumping their kitty’s dinner on the plate.

How on earth have we survived until now without those marvellous little plastic spoons?

I remember the days when we needed a tin-opener to feed the cat…

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Reverse Culture Shock [en]

Things I could not have seen in India:

  • A few weeks back, a man at the bus stop was spending his waiting time chasing cigarette butts into the gutter, systematically, undisturbed by curious onlookers. Now you understand why Switzerland is a clean country.
  • Two days ago, a woman in the (clean) toilets at my workplace dropped her purse on the floor near the sink. She actually took a piece of paper to pick up the purse with.
    She was doing something with her ham sandwich before that – I now suspect she was washing and drying the ham.

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