I am back in Zurich after 9 months away. The last time I was here it was cold and snowy, this time the sun has yet to fly away and only a little rain has graced the city. This time I had to find my way across the city alone. As a professional at getting lost, this was rather daunting, but I only spent 10 minutes confused. (fortunately!) I really like this city, of course the company has helped extraordinarily (reunited with my estranged girlfriend!) (it is time this estranged girl of mine recieves a blog name, she is Christened Baked Beans!) (this may change after she reads this!) but the atmosphere here is also great.
People seem a little more open here than the UK. It is no where near as open as Ghana, but a polite Gruezi (hello) is often offered and the checkout people in the supermarkets are always extremely polite and courteous. One thing that is apparent is that a lot of people here can speak English. It is rather embarrassing to be a classic British language snob. At school I took both French and German classes, but if you ask me to get by in either languages I am going to have a problem. Like a true language snob, I thought the best way to combat this language issue is to avoid all possible situations of conversations! (This is not as easy as I thought)
Hunger struck, and it was time to go to the supermarket. I decided on a simple tomato and sausage sandwich. I went and picked up the ingredients (bread, tomato and sausage!) and head to the checkout, confident that I would only need to say hello and thank you! (Wrong! of course!) I said hello, all was going well, the bread and the sausage went through smoothly. But then, the tomatoes! The young lady turned and spoke to me...I stood speechless and clueless...I told her i don't understand (in English). She then replied (in perfect English) that I had forgotten to weight the tomatoes! Damn it! Not only had I failed in my conversation-less mission but I had stood and looked like a typical Brit! (incidentally, the Tomato and sausage sandwich was very nice! but I forgot to buy butter!)
I continued with my mission of avoiding conversation, but on a stroll into the city centre it seemed that I was a magnet for potential conversationalists! I was just walking, minding my own business but I was apprehended by a middle age lady pushing a pram. Of course I had to just throw my hands up and apologise for my lack of German. She chuckled and continued on her way! Whilst waiting at the mainstation I was then approached by an old man and beggar both expecting me to understand them. I seem to be a beacon for German speakers to ask questions. I was finally approached by a lady who asked me if I spoke English...I enthusiastically told her "yes!" but then realised this meant I had to answer tourist questions! I pretended I knew where she should go and directed her to what I thought was main shopping street. I am pretty sure she didn`t trust my advice! All in all this trip has been a disaster where language is involved!
Sitting on trams and standing waiting for an occassionally late Baked Beans (someone jumped infront of a train:good excuse) has given me a great opportunity to people watch. I have seen some spamish people arguing at the back of a tram (Rodrigeuz seemed to have committed an offence!) A girl (who would have been quite attractive) who seemed to have made herself up to look like a doll and a road cleaner who was using what can only be described as a witches broom! (I was half expecting him to fly off) I have no idea if a witches broom is the infashion tool of a road sweeper but I hope it is! I also had the privilege of seeing an invention worthy of the Dragons Den. The suitcase scooter! (Does exactly what it says on the tin!)
I was fortunate enough to join Baked Beans to a press conference of an Eastern European short film festival. I was interested to see the conference, but was pretty sure I may be bamboozled by language again. The first 20 minutes was rather bamboozling, but then we were able to watch the movies. I must admit, I really enjoyed them all. I have never really indulged in short films or other alternative arts.(Zurich is really shoing up my cultural inadequacies) The movies covered so many topics, from the war in Kosovo, the helplessness of homelessness to the social status of workers. Really thought provoking!
PS- Any typing errors are due to this Geman Keyboard (language foils me again!)
So far it has been great here. Baked Beans housemates have been extremely welcoming and it is a pleasure to finally spend some quality time with Baked Beans! (Not on a baked potato with cheese!) I have a flight booked to fly back to the UK which I am not tempted by at all. Will I be late to that flight? Quite possibly!