Monday, February 27, 2017

From ‘Ticking along Free. Stories about Switzerland’

The Myth of the Lousy Swiss Lover by Sarah Paris
“Heaven is where the cooks are French, the policemen English, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and everything is organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the cooks are English, the policemen German, the mechanics French, everything is organized by the Italians, and the lovers are Swiss.”

My own personal experience confirms that the bad reputation of the Swiss as lovers is not based on their physical skills. Instead I believe it is a matter of linguistics. ………The Swiss, alas, are taught by example and early training that emotions are not to be expressed verbally…….. even if they manage to overcome their emotional hang-ups and genuinely want to express their feelings, they simply don’t have the vocabulary to express them! …… cant say ‘I Love You’ in Swiss German………..the words exist technically…..but no man or woman in their right mind would say “I lieb di” – it would just sound too corny for words. ……There is nothing more shallow and frivolous to a Swiss than the way in which Americans manage to end a routine phone conversation with a casual “love you, darling!” To the Swiss, this borders on heresy. Love is serious business. ….If talking about love is difficult, talking about lust is near impossible……Swiss-German is no better than German in matters of eroticism. Even compared to English (itself not the world’s greatest language for love), the Swiss-German language is not long on terms that might come in handy in the bedroom. For example, sex-expert Carol Queen’s “Exhibitionism for the Shy” lists 61 possible English terms for the female genitalia and 54 for the male parts. I don’t think many people could come up with more than six each in (Swiss-) German, half of which sound so clinical, they could only be used in the presence of a doctor, and the other half so vulgar, that few people are comfortable using them with their spouses.

Choices by Karen Laudenslager McDermott
At the local grocery where I have shopped for sixteen years, they still don’t know me. They never behave as though they’ve seen me before. ‘They’ being, almost without exception, the same employees.
In this beautiful country ringed with mountains, each home is bordered by a high hedge, each hemmed in like a separate valley. We cut our side, they cut theirs, with subtle timing, a kind of dance – who cuts first? How low?

There are Swiss who lament the insularity, the oft-declared lack of creativity endangered by such a structured society. “Too soft here; nothing happens,” they’ll tell you.

Making Friends by Roger Bonner
An incorrigible wit once said that it takes five years to make friends with the Swiss and a lifetime to get rid of them.
Nothing baffles a newcomer to Switzerland more than how to get to know these elusive people. You will wait in vain for the knock on the door from a neighbor ……….In Switzerland, you must go and introduce yourself.
If you do, most likely you will be met with a reserved “Gruezi” and, if you’re lucky, a quick introduction of “Ich bin Frau Meier”………And there the matter rests. The next time you meet her in the hallway or lift, she will give you a quick “Gueta Tag,” followed by a fleeting smile, eyes averted. This can go on for one year or forty, unless some unforeseen event breaks the ice, a flood in the cellar, say, or a nuclear war where you are forced to action, for the Swiss love nothing more than a common goal.
Once you have joined forces in a club or choir, you will find the Swiss very friendly indeed. It’s just that first step they are reluctant to take. And if you are a foreigner, there is the language barrier. Don’t expect a Swiss to warm up to you when you never bother to learn some Schwyzerdütsch. Memorizing a few phrases will melt their hearts, and you will be overwhelmed with compliments. ……..Having passed this first hurdle, you might even be lucky enough to get an invitation to a Swiss home – which can easily take up to five years. But afterwards you will have a faithful friend right up to the cemetery, that ultimate and most final of common goals.

Sounding Brass by Gay Scott O’Connor
…by becoming the world’s watchmakers par excellence, they’ve got both punctuality and profit down to the finest art on the planet. Every minute, every hour, every franc must be gainfully employed. Nothing is ever wasted in Switzerland.

…….that puzzling Helvetic preoccupation with BELLS. The Swiss, apart from an occasional outburst of Fasnacht, are a pretty reserved race and disturbing the neighbours ranks as sin even more shocking than squandering your savings or being late.
Don’t even consider such riotous excesses as lawn-mowing on a Sunday, or the people next door will promptly phone the police ……..Blocks of flats are low-key places where so much as raising your voice on the staircase is frowned on, and even infants are kept (God knows how), rigorously plugged up.
But although adults, kids, dogs, cats, gerbils, parakeets and all other forms of animate existence are forbidden to shout, shriek, stamp, whistle or in any way offend against the hallowed peace and quiet of the Swiss landscape, bells are not just permitted but downright encouraged to royally raise the roof. ……….the cows had bells. Big bells. Loud ones………. Small or young animals such as calves, sheep and goats wear tinkling little chimes…..what in heaven’s name are all these riotous bells actually for?.... The bells are a status symbol: they proclaim the farmers’ wealth………And……Cows, as I learned to my cost, apparently never sleep. Even at midnight, as every clanging chew of the cud triumphantly proclaims, these stalwart perambulating milk factories are doggedly on the job. The racket that robbed me of my slumbers was, for the farmer, a soothing lullaby; a reassurance that, down in every pendulous udder, the butterfat was mounting up, like interest in the bank. Time is money and mustn’t be wasted, even by bovines. Not in Switzerland.

Here or There, Us or Them by Verena Bakri
During my visits to Switzerland I notice a tremendous amount of wastage, be it with food, clothing, commodities, paper, anything. Children are given generously food, toys, clothing and when they are fed up with these things, they just throw them in the dustbin. I always feel a sense of injustice when seeing this………. I notice a great trend towards recycling and making better use out of everything in Switzerland. But I will never come to terms with the continuous waste of water. How many idle running faucets have I turned off on my visits!

Testing Times by Paul Bilton
One annoying feature of Swiss workers, regardless of their trade, is that they always declare a job to be completely impossible before they start and then go on to complete it without problem.

Women Only by Karin Kamp
Living in Switzerland has allowed me to become acquainted with the public swimming pool concept, which is non-existent in New Jersey, where I’m originally from. This summer, a Swiss friend asked if I wanted to go to the ‘women only’ pool in Basel. “That way we can take off our tops,” she said.
Oops. We just don’t do that in New Jersey……

The Art of Swiss German by Dianne Dicks
……how do you learn a language like Swiss German that’s only spoken and rarely written? …….But everybody pronounces it differently! Just as food, laws and education vary from canton to canton, so does the language………Find any two speakers……they will never in a lifetime ever agree on an official spelling or pronunciation. That, in an essence, is what Switzerland is about.
Before social mobility became a necessity here, every valley developed its own mini-dialect and sound patterns.

Tips for Doing Business by Enid Kopper
The Swiss are discrete about wealth. Do not wear ostentatious jewelry, fur coats, etc.

In Search of a Plot by Sue Stafford
Land for buildings is expensive, and Switzerland has one of the lowest rates of home ownership in Europe.

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