Thanks to you for playing my 'Let's Ask the Jovial Douche' game.
I've been to Avignon recently - and yes, had Bryan Ferry's 'Avalon' playing in my head the entire time - and returned to a series of questions that can only be described as .... varied. Here goes:
Are you in Geneva for a set time and then you will return to Australia? If so, when?
LC was offered a two year contract with the World Meteorological Org (or OMM – Organisation Meteorolique Mondiale) which is the standard length. However, if he likes the work and Sapphire’s happy at her school, we’ll stay longer if they roll over his contract.
Is it true that one picks up a language by just living somewhere, and if so, is it hard or not so hard to do? (I ask as someone who wishes she were good at foreign languages but is not at all)
Errrm, I don’t know yet. Sapphire and I did two one-hour lessons a week during the summer holidays and I seemed to be able to parrot-learn more basic words, but Sapphire could pronounce them with the right accents, understand all the little doo-flangers that appear above letters like ‘e’ and is now studying French in school and connecting the dots. I’m rapidly losing what French I learned but am relieved that I can get the gist of most large adverts on buses and menus. However, the UN has a language-swap program and I’m about to have lunch with a lovely lady who wants to speak English to me and then we’ll swap to French. I’m inclined to ask her to bring along the French equivalent of ‘Go Dog Go’ and ask me to read it to her!
Does it smell nice?
Mostly. Cool and fresh in the mornings now that fog, mist and dew has arrived. The bread smell is heightened here – absolutely fresh every single morning with no preservatives.
Bitumen – the Swiss love their roadwork, with fences, lights and workmen everywhere.
Outdoor markets can be challenging when all the hundreds of varieties of cheeses mingle together and create a vomity-aroma that makes it easier to breathe through my mouth.
Yes. Seeing Sapphire happily settled in school was about, oh 99% responsible as it was not much fun to only have her mother as company for a long three months. I’m familiar with the key parts of the city; the public transport system and where I like to shop. I’ve made friends (hugely important), received some terrific advice that you can only find out from someone who did the hard yards before you and love that Milly needs a few outings a day. I feel like I belong here now.
The Plastic Mancunian said...
The first is about something close to your heart: You are a self-confessed chocaholic. How much chocolate have you eaten in Switzerland so far and what is your favourite?
I’m eating bucketloads of the brown stuff. However, despite Geneva’s apparently famous chocolate boutiques, I’ve never stepped in one long enough to buy anything. Instead, I’m still discovering that the blocks available in supermarkets are pretty damn delicious. There’s very little dark chocolate available here, so it’s all the ultra creamy milky stuff made with Swiss milk (something they are very, very proud of). So, whilst my tastes do range from rock-bottom to uber-posh, I’ve been more than content with supermarket level for now. Favourites are too numerous to mention but I have loved the new Lindt dark caramel with almonds; a Frey’s version of a Toblerone but with some Aero-style bubbles included and a Migros home brand blatant copy of Snickers bars that all three of us hoover down with ruthless efficiency. Five packs don’t last very long after they’re inserted in the spot in the fridge door that’s normally used for butter!
The other is: What is the secret to being a good writer?
I have no idea. Practice plus envy plus loads of reading of other writers that interest and inspire, an inquisitive nature and perhaps an ability to notice the small things? That said, most days I read online articles, blogs and second-hand novels and wonder how I dare call myself a writer compared to the brilliant stuff that’s available. Then again, as long as Jeffrey Archer and Bryce Courteney are allowed to publish what they previously wiped their bottoms with, there’s hope for everyone....
Have Myelin? said...
Are there any deaf people there? Do they go off to a "deaf school" or what?
If so, what kind of sign language do they use?
Do most deaf people sign or get cochlear implants?
I’ll admit to not doing much homework on this one, HM and hope you accept my apologies. Instead if we move to the eyes instead of the ears, Sapphire and I have noticed a lot of sight impaired people around the city with the long white canes. However, the traffic lights here don’t go ‘Pippity pippity pip pip pip’ when they turn green which seems rather mean-spirited.
The Elephant's Child asked:
What is the biggest risk you have taken? And was it worth it?
Punching a potential rapist right on the nose in London, January 1991. It came out fast and hard and the shock to him (and me) gave me enough time to leap out of his taxi, dash around the corner in the early afternoon darkness and icy streets and escape. I was surprised to discover that I was in the ‘fight’ instead of ‘flight’ category. Boy, was that punch worth it!
YES. For a start, most residents speak the same language as me and I felt like I knew most of the streets, the little character spots and a lot of fantastic people. I liked being in the triangle of trams, train lines and the Frog’s Mouth city link entrance: it felt like a separate village but was so close to the city that I always felt privileged to live there. And let’s not forget The Social Roasting Company, Vy Vy, Chef Lagenda, Crisp pizza, Laksa King, Pepper, Verb, The Quiet Man and all the top folk in the Flemington Association. *sniffle*
Kath, dear Kath.... my question is, doesn't douche in Europe mean something else????? (ie something to do with a woman cleaning one's nether regions??) xx
Yes indeedy. That’s why I still chuckle in an immature fashion when it’s everywhere here as ‘shower’.
Gruyere. Rarely found and always expensive in Australia but the most commonly available cheese in Geneva. Stinks like an AFL player’s butt crack even when stored in airtight tupperware in the fridge but is delicious on fresh bread and doubly delicious melted over stale bread the next day. The key ingredient in a fondue too which has to be tried to be believed. I’m a convert. Roquefort is a close second - moist, so old it zings on your tongue and incredibly smelly.
Why do men find sport interesting but women do not (mostly)?
We can’t really see the point of it. Lots of running around by fairly unattractive men sweating and swearing a lot and a heap of annoying rules overrun by commentators who seem to assume that we, the viewer, are not able to see what is happening in front of our faces and must describe every single move loudly and in patronisingly excruciating detail. Then, just to add an extra layer of boredom, we have the endless discussions of statistics for each player, each game, each move, each season and, finally, the fruitless exercise of interviewing a meat-head who is only famous because he can kick a ball for his opinion on the game just played. “The boys played good but we’re already looking ahead to next week to conflagrate ourselves. We can’t afford to rest on our florals.”
Pandora Behr said...
1) Same as I gave to PM - what bit of advice would you pass on to your daughter?
That she’s beautiful. That any boingy bit of hair, spot on her chin or wobbly bit will NOT be noticed or nastily remarked upon by anybody who truly loves, likes or notices her. Oh and that blokes do not pick up on tiny little signals you send via osmosis their way or over-analyse everything to death afterwards. Turn up, smile, say what whatever it is you really mean directly and hope for the best.
2) If there was one moment in your life you could change - one event/ one period in your life/ one moment - what would that be?
March 2005, when a combination of exhaustion, depression, failure, humiliation and utter confusion found me believing that my family, friends and the world would be better off with me gone. Not a day goes by without me thinking of it and realising that not only was I seriously ill and tragically wrong but also of the huge amount of damage such an action would have caused, let alone the beauty, fun and challenges I would have missed out on. Thank god for professional help and the utmost kindness, patience and understanding from LC and my family.
If failure was not an option, what is the most daring thing you want to do?
Act or sing. Sometimes when I’m happy or have the ‘please like me, please please pleeease’ anxiety, I’ll show off a little and occasionally I wonder what it’d be like to be a character actor in a comedy......
Red Nomad OZ said...
Does living overseas make you feel more, or less Australian??!!
More, I think. Not because I yearn for more news on Julia and Tony or the drunken antics of AFL players, but it highlights the differences between the countries. I look different, dress differently (although you could say that was true back home too) and can sometimes be seen examining or photographing an object or situation that they’d consider an everyday one; ie a fat bloke riding a vespa this morning with a cigar in his mouth. Helmetless. Or picking up fresh conkers because I love the look of them shiny new.
Jackie K said...
(1)Does Sapphire read your blog and if so what does she think of it?
Sometimes. I have to run a few Sapphire-specific things past her to make sure that she is comfortable with how she’s being portrayed but she told me that she mostly reads the non-Sapph articles. She liked the recent one about our filing cabinet.
(2)What do you hope to bring back to Melbourne from your time in Geneva?
Hopefully not just a heap of travel photos – I’ve found in the past that no-one wants to see those unless they’re funny ones with people that they know in them, and that’s fair enough. There’s nobody you want to slap more than the bore who sits in a Melbourne cafe and sighs, “Oh but the macchiatos were magical in Firenze.”
So for me: an almost-grown, happy, fulfilled daughter with dreams to do more, see more, be more. A husband who set out to achieve what he hoped to do in the job and who still wants to come home to me at the end of every day. A feeling that I helped our little family make the most of our time here with friendships, travel, experiences, a new language and culture and an ability to judge less and learn more. Or something like that. Anything OTHER than an extra two stone!
I eagerly read your blog because we are moving with our children to Geneva in January. I feel a bit rude reading the personal blog of someone I've never met, but I appreciate every ounce of info about getting on in Geneva. My question is odd, but could I meet you when we move?
YES! My advice may not be exactly what they’d give you at the Geneva Welcome Centre, but it might be more helpful in terms of what you’ll really face instead of what they hope you’ll face. Come on over for a coffee, lots of chocolate, hopefully some laughs and several friendly licks from the dog.
OK Kath - I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be using you as my personal psychic or psychiatrist here, but:
a) will I be able to cope with study while working and with small children under my feet?
Honestly? No. I’ve found that most of us can snatch thirty minutes of time on the computer when our kids are aged between zero and ten but when they’re otherwise occupied and you think you have time to read, digest, draft, write or study the phone will ring, the kid will throw up, the hot water system will die, the groceries need to be unpacked or you’ll feel so tired that it’d be more fun to visit a few blogs and see what those LOLdogs are up to.... Be kind to yourself and don’t set goals that several weeks of gastro, flu and a kitchen renovation aren’t going to ruin.
b) will my sister have a boy or a girl?
A boy. Now, I have about as much psychic ability as a left over lamington, so your guess is as good as mine.
I'm sure you have written about this somewhere in your blog but why did you guys move from Australia to Switzerland?
Love Chunks is a physicist/meteorologist/data analyst and was the Aussie rep for a certain project involving information gathered from aeroplanes and relayed back to each country. He was keen to see what coordinating the whole shebang from the World Met Org in Geneva would be like. So far it’s hectic, stressful, overwhelming and, from the little he’ll tell me, coming along quite nicely.
Do you think it is easier to be a woman or a man?
We are weaker in physical strength yet have to give birth; yet men are expected to always be strong and can’t daydream in meetings without being betrayed by the bulge in their trousers. I’d call it a tie.
What is the secret of a happy marriage?
Still being in love with them. Being able to compromise and consider their needs along with your own. Liking their smell when you hug them. Glowing inside when they compliment you or you make them laugh out loud. Daydreaming about them when they’re away and reaching for their hand when they’re not. Knowing you can cry or moan and they'll listen. Then again, a shared interest in wine, flopping on the sofa and some free neck rubs helps too, doesn’t it?
Will you go to the moon?
Nah. If you want to wear an uncomfortable outfit, see only dirt and travel for ages, why not do it cheaper and become an outback fruit fly sprayer instead?
If you can name yourself, what name will you choose?
Lauren always sounded nice, but I’m pretty grateful that my mother chose Katherine. It’s not a name that dates me to a particular period in time like say a Narelle or Sharon or Darryl or Shane might have.
Which actress will you choose to be you in your biography film?
Cate Blanchett for now (hah!), Meryl for later (in my dreams) and a younger Dakota Fanning for the childhood scenes?
What is the meaning of life? ;-)
Feeling as though you’ve tried your hardest given your fair share of human failings and temptations. And had a few laughs along the way.
What do the Genevans and Australians do in the same way?
Talk incessantly on their mobile phones. Try to get their arses on the tram before the other passengers have stepped off. Enjoy their beer, love their doggies and have the same mysterious Bermuda Triangle effect that sees blue pens constantly disappearing from our house no matter how many I steal or buy.
Which are better - salt and vinegar chips or cheese and onion?
Cheese and onion. The last time I enjoyed salt and vinegar was during my pregnancy.