Saturday morning I slept in until past 10 in the morning. In the early afternoon I joined a sightseeing tour of my neighbourhood organised by a local club following the invitation of a school commission buddy. So far so good, but what did I do between getting up and rushing up to meet this group of local tourists? The cool people were at the Bundesplatz this afternoon without me.
Is this my life?
I think that I remember not only writing but also saying out loud that I have no political ambitions, and much less in this city. I remember also writing that I am gearing my sights on Geneva. I got a message today telling that I was needed at some other end of the world, and I read it like I would read the obituary of some unknown or an old newspaper. Am I going to answer that message?
To get to walk through my neighbourhoood with a group of hard core Bernese was however a particular treat. I have been around here for almost 25 years and I must confess to not knowing this city very well. I now live in the area called Obstberg after having lived for quite a few years in the Junkerngasse. Prior to that I had lived in the Sulgenrain after returning from Germany. I have also lived in Wabern and two other great quarters of this city, the Länggasse and Altenberg harboured me when I was a student. Today I got a bit of the history of the Obstberg where the painter Paul Klee grew up. I love graffiti and to my surprise I found some today on our walk. Less to my surprise were the derogatory remarks that somebody else made about the very same graffiti. For one it is art, for another it is not.
I am puzzled. A lot of people have a deep and nostalgic attachment for what was. Those on the right, are attached to the architectural wonders of their youthful days, those on the left are attached to the wonders of the current days left over from those earlier days. Neither wants change, and both want progress, and a better life. Political ideology is something that I really do not understand. While on this walk today I saw a sticker on a lamp post for a place that I will check out one of these days soon, the paradisli. I am really curious as to what is going on here, and why it is that there are two fronts about the future use of this one piece of real estate.
I am wondering how I came to join a political party strongly identified with the bürgerlich middle-class when I myself do not identify with the middle-class. Trouble is that I identify even less with the so called left, although some of my positions to specific issues may be considered even more left, socialistic and liberal than any of those advocated by such left groups. Once more I do suspect that this – my politics – is not quite as simple as right, left, centre, liberal or socialist.
At one point I asked our tour guide who owned the villa and the land that now serve as the Canadian residence. Fact is that the tour guide was not sure as to owns the property now although it may in all likelihood be the Canadian government, but not necessarily. The villa was built by a member of the family Thormann in the last century but according to a local architectural style from the XVII century. It has what must be a magnificent view of the old town as it is perched on a hill right above the Bärengraben. Still, this was the opening for our tour guide to tell me about rich people without money who end up having to sell their properties. I heard these stories before too, and I feel like I have never paid attention to them either. What makes a person rich?
There is one category of conversation that I often find myself in, and that somehow always repeats like a broken record. Today we ended our walk through the Obstberg with a little Apéro at the Egelsee. As I was about to leave the Egelsee and heading home, it happened. An older gentleman asks me where I come from. I answer that I was born in Portugal. And then it starts. He starts to tell me that his cleaning woman is Portuguese and many of his patients are Portuguese. I smiled, I always smile when I start to hear about the cleaning staff, the gardener, and the mason who are Portuguese. Then I told him how I really do not know the Portuguese community here, and that the Portuguese do not look at me as a Portuguese. Then I told him that I grew up in Canada and California… I am so tired of this story and really I ought to think about getting comfortable with it.
Wherever I go, I speak with an accent. Wherever I am, I get asked where I am coming from. Wherever I rest my head, that is my home. It has always been that way. I should also get comfortable with the fact that people’s faces lighten up when they hear what I do, and what it was that I have done, but I am not. I would like to see your face brighten up when I talk to you and listen to you. I would like to see your face brighten up before you know the past because I would like to see your face brighten up in the present about the present moment. What is this thing with the past that has all being so nostalgic, and makes us all so damn forgetful of the very moment of the present?
Why is it that I feel so distant and far from all of you these days?
No, this is not my life, but it makes for a few fragments of a little story…
“Nespresso? Right? You were talking about Nespresso? What else?” George Clooney for Nestlé in an advertisement for Nespresso.
We all love conspiracy theories!