Traveling, especially when tagging along on a business trip, upsets my exercise routine. Add a place like Switzerland, where chocolate is served every minute and my eating habits suffer too. I bemoaned my worry about extra calories to my friend Barbara, who wrote me a poem:
In the states. (Barbara Younger, 1/22/13
In Geneva, Ursula met me at the hotel. She worked as an au pair for my family when my brother, soon to be 50, and my sister, nearly 49, were babies. Her cousin had come as a foreign exchange student in our town and had recommended Ursula to us.
I was about 10 when she arrived and busy with school, activities and friends. I remember her living with us. Now, all these decades later, I wanted to hear her impressions of what it was like. I was a bit incredulous that a complete stranger would want to spend nearly two years with our family.
She shared her observations about life in Switzerland. Her husband has retired and they have a small farm in the countryside with hens and pigs. His business involved organizing Bingo games for charities: everything from obtaining the necessary licenses and game cards to catering the events. Switzerland, Ursula said, isn’t the country it used to be. It’s dirtier: graffiti graces many surfaces in Geneva, and there’s more crime. Doors and bicycles must now be locked; handbags held close.
Cycling friend Mathias and his wife Jennifer (an avowed non-cyclist) joined us for dinner. New transplants from New Jersey, Mathias works with global labor unions (continuing the work he’d done in the US). Jennifer will be looking for work in retail management. They sailed across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary so they could bring their 3-year-old Great Dane, Shamrock, who isn’t exactly carry on luggage size.
Both are learning French, as Geneva, in the south of Switzerland, is French speaking.
We’re off to Davos, the World Economic Forum later today. I hope to attend some of the public sessions then we’ll be in Basel for the weekend seeing other friends who moved from New York City. More soon.