Malls! Shopping malls and the creatures on earth, or how on a saturday I ended up for a few hours in one of the cathedrals of consumption, the Westside mall. That was yesterday; it was Saturday.
On Friday evening Bern hosted this Museum Night, that is all museums were open from 6 PM to 2 AM. I had an invitation to the opening event at the Bundeshaus where I was given a free ticket for the whole shebang; normal citizens paid CHF 25, and silly politicians and other neurotics were handed out a ticket for free and invited to a cocktail in the national parliament. On the grand scale of things the free perks that a communal politician gets are peanuts, this was a good example of these and it is good that it is so. I noticed that this evening of fun for all, and that I may or may not write about, was sponsored by Credit Suisse and Westside. Credit Suisse needs no introduction, but Westside is only know to the locals in Bern, and even those might not know it well.
I hate shopping and I am not fond of shopping malls. Westside is the newest shopping mall in Bern and I have so far been there a total of four times. I was there once with a friend in their water park, a second time was for the end of the year dinner with the whole Stadtrat, then on the first of this year at the invitation of a friend for a movie and a smoke, and last time, yesterday. I headed to the Westside mall because I wanted to go into their wellness area. I arrived without a reservation and got a disappointment since one needs to make reservations, and for the weekend these must be well in advance, or so I was informed. I felt like a total country bumpkin. When in London I have the same wishes for a few hours of wellness and a massage, all I have to do is show up at the door of my favourite spa.
At the desk the receptionist was not even friendly which makes me suspect that this is one business that is running well. Since all I had at my disposal on the matter of wellness was to breathe deeply and be zen about it, I walked around the mall and checked out the shops. All a bit disappointing as these are for the most part the same shops that one finds downtown or anywhere else in Switzerland to say nothing of around the globe. But then, I might be poorly informed, I hate shopping, but I love trying on shoes. Some, that is, most of the shops were pretty empty. So, at one of the shops I decided to try on shoes. The last thing that I need is another pair of shoes. What came as a surprise to me was how very persistent the sales person was in trying to persuade me to buy the shoes which were indeed too tight for my foot. It so happened that my choice were the last pair that they had on stock. Not only do I not need a new pair of shoes, I also only buy shoes when they fit from the first instant on my feet regardless of what the official size says on the package. The result is that I have shoes in a range of sizes from 37 to 40, all of which fit well. I have also learned through a couple of mistakes that if the shoes do not fit well from the start, there is no spray or stretching that is going to correct that regardless of what the sales people claim. I have tried. Really. I am anal about the comfort of my feet, they are my thinking organ!
Walking around the Westside mall did bring back memories of being in California and walking around in an airconditioned mall with friends just to escape the heat or to take a break from the trials and tribulations of either being a student or a beach bum. Somehow it felt good yesterday to have this carefree feeling. Alarmingly enough, the carefree feeling did not last long. I started to look around me and I discovered another similarity with California, the waist line of the Swiss is increasing at an alarming rate. It was not common to see overweight or obese people in this country, now they seem to hang out in the malls… I think this is a thought that I do not want to develop, still a few very unflattering expressions did come to mind.