I went back to my Friday evening round-table yesterday to chat up a bit with my Physics colleagues. I have been rare at these rounds for the past few months, and the group itself tends to be less regular during the summer. However now Berne is back in its half-full swing of things, school and the city parliament have started, but the university semester and the national parliament‘s session do not start until the 24th and 17th of September, respectively. The cantonal parliament’s session will also start soon, but I tend to not pay much attention to cantonal affairs, however my jurist friends tell me to go read the cantonal constitution since that is a legal text that I need to know well.
Let’s say that the Bernese rhythm is sort of chaotic although on the surface it all looks rather calm, idyllic and provincial. Indeed it is provincial and calm, this is the nicest village that I know of and that happens to be the capital of a country that has a reputation of superlatives. I am starting to miss being in a real city. New York, London, Paris, Tokyo all come to mind. For some odd reason I never considered my hometown number 2 Los Angeles as a big city. Go figure. I think LA and then I think Santa Monica and the hills, the beach… but city? No. LA is not a city, it is an agglomeration, and that is another phenomenon.
And then my Aikido training is at a stage now that has me somewhat concerned as I have not yet been able to adjust my schedule so as to train as much as I want. The few residuals of a routine that I had have been disrupted, and I am forging through places that I had never imagined I would visit, much less be a part of. Yesterday in training it was Ivo and I once more, and last Wednesday we are also just two. Where is everybody? This morning I was still not up to a round of Karate katas, and skipped that once more, and I am wondering what I really want to do with my Karate given that I train so very little. I have not been jogging in a couple of months… My body is feeling frustrated. it is hot today, and I am a bit hyperactive…. Really, my body has a mind of its own, and we do not always agree as to the course of action.
However the conversation last night at the round table turned all to politics, and I did wonder in what film I had found myself in all of a sudden.
Now I sit in this legislative arm of the city’s government since two weeks, am one of eighty that get to push one of a selection of little voting buttons when a decision is to be made about the city’s contract with some social welfare charity such as Xenia who focus its services on behalf of the city’s sex workers, to say nothing of some more weighty and other more lofty ideas. Ah!
However this little piece of budget was not interesting last night, and the debate centered around the present opus at the train station piazza that has caused a major disruption in the flow of both pedestrian and public transport traffic and other civil engineering projects in the city. My colleagues had one whole truck load of complaints, gripes, rants and plain dissatisfaction about at the very least, why some civil engineering projects get through in this city. I am so ignorant of these matters, that I can not even begin to reproduce their arguments. What do I know? Not much. However…
Indeed the pedestrian situation is deplorable anywhere around the train station right now, and that is something that I deal with everyday. By the way, with a car, just forget the center of Berne, park your wonderful machine in some garage and then walk or use what is left of the public transportation.
Worse, anybody with any sort of disability is easily thrown off and disoriented. Just on Wednesday I found myself explaining to Cornelia – she is legally blind having less than 10% of normal vision, a very reduced field of view and uses a white cane – how to get across the mess from the Hirschengraben to the Loeb, so that she could go to the Aarebergergasse. Wow! When I visualized the whole trajectory I was overwhelmed with all the hurdles on that path! Crossing the tram tracks twice when the 3, 5, and 9 trams are in service, following a few curves, uneven ground, and the place is really noisy making it very disorienting for the blind since then it very difficult to distinguish the various characteristic sounds of normal traffic. I considered for a while actually walking her trough, but I needed to get to the University, and I know that Cornelia is up to the challenge, and that given the exceptional circumstances, most people are willing to help along the way.
Then this afternoon I got to read the local papers and the local issue today is the garbage regulation. The downtown big stores have decided to boycott and not pay the city’s invoice for garbage. This one is going to be fun, and a few jurists are going to be busy, and I anticipate that we will get to go over this one in parliament. Yes! Garbage, I love it! My life needed some sort of sense, I just found it!
Still, this morning when I looked at my schedule for next week I decided that the week is a strange and wonderful one. I will be in Zurich for two days, and may possibly end up in Geneva, but then that is looking weaker by the minute as it would be just a social occasion, and unless I have something to do at the University there I may skip the fun part.
There is no parliament session next week as the yearly excursion will be taking place and the destination is the CERN in Geneva. Uhm…. good! My politics colleagues will be getting a taste of Physics, now that I am getting a taste of Politics! I will not be going to the CERN. No politics next week, hurray! I feel like being in school again, and having one week of vacation after school has only been going for two weeks! Great, and yes I am enjoying this very much. Thank you for those who by many different means made that this would happen.
About a taste of politics. I really am very very surprised at all of this. I find the conversations that I am having fascinating, and I find myself standing on totally different ground than I was before actually being active in parliament. All of a sudden, it is just not about my opinion, but what I am going to do with that opinion and having that opinion informed by a constituency that I must confess I do not know too well. At least I feel that I do not know those who were brave enough to cast their vote for me during the last election. All of a sudden, I want to know my neighbours better, and I still think that the party’s local section – the presidency of which I have given up recently – is not the right forum to be in dialogue with the others living around me. There are lots of social and cultural occasions that can be used to strike up a conversation. I do wonder how I am going to do this.
Now, there is some noise about politics and blogs and how it is a must even for Swiss politicians, but I am still blogging for myself, thus in English. The idea of blogging in German gives me anxiety attacks, it is not my primary language, and I make more grammatical errors than my ego can stand to look at. I can deal with the typos and errors that I make in English, it is my primary language, but not those in German. Go figure!
I am very glad that Bruno Giussani is keeping an eye on all the going-ons in Switzerland and the Internet, and that I can just consult his blog to get myself up to date. Of course I am also enjoying Moritz Leuenberger’s blog and wondering when my own Pascal Couchepin will come up with the same idea, but feat that I should not hold my breath, because blogging just isn’t everybody’s thing. For the non Swiss, Moritz Leuenberger and Pascal Couchepin are two of the seven members of the Federal Council. This is a peculiarity that I very much like in the Swiss political system, there is no prime minister, rather there is a Federal Council of seven with a rotating presidency, at present the president is Micheline Calmy-Rey. The Swiss may have been slow in giving women voting rights, but they – we – learn quickly. What I particularly like is the informality and closeness of the executive to the population. It is not unusual for me to bump into one of the seven Federal Council members when crossing the Bundesplatz. When it happens that they walk alone, then it without police or secret service in sight.
All to say that change is happening, routine is missing, and the few rituals that I have in place to anchor me to something or other are being looked at anew. All is good, really good. What I am feeling is that the more public my life gets, the more private my private life becomes. I like this too.