Tuesday 22 March 2011

'Hearing' in Switzerland

And it’s Tuesday already!

The week is flying by, especially as I had such a wonderful weekend in Switzerland visiting First Ever Friend.

As I’ve mentioned many times, she’s getting married to Basel Boy this summer and I am the bridesmaid/witness thing, which involves wearing a nice dress and having a party, so I went out for a weekend of chatting about what she wants and what my role is going to be.

It sounds great to be honest – I have got to make the cake, ensure First Ever Friend and Basel Boy eat as well as drink on the day, so they don’t get totally plastered before the sun goes down, and I’ve also got to make sure that we all enjoy a gin & tonic together.

All this, I can do…

My dress has pockets, so if necessary, I will fill them with biscuits to ensure that none of us gets too sloshed before the evening’s out.

On Saturday evening, we went for dinner with Mr and Mrs Hug – First Ever Friend’s Ma and Pa – which was lovely, and the Swiss Man in Japan was there, too, as he’s not in Japan right now.

By Sunday however, First Ever Friend had had enough of wedding stuff, plus the sun came out, so we took off up a hill in a cable car and went for the MOST beautiful walk. In the distance the formidable Eiger stood, still a little snow covered and mist in the valley below it, while all around us, the tree branches were caked with a crystal clear layer of ice. It was amazing!

One of the things I noticed about being in Switzerland was how people assumed I understood German. I do not understand German. Heck, I barely understand English when it is spoken to me in shops, but as we went around the stores, getting bits and bobs for the wedding and all the shop assistants spoke to First Ever Friend, I found myself nodding and smiling and copying their body language in the same way that I do in bars over here when I can’t hear anything. This was all well and good until they spoke German to me and got a panicked look in return!

But what was also weird was that by focusing on their hand gestures and body language, quite often I was able to pick up the basic gist of what was going on. So actually, I often forgot they were speaking German. It was kind of fun.

Unfortunately for First Ever Friend, this inspired me to dig out my basic German – learnt at school, under duress after starting secondary school halfway through a school year – and begin speaking it. For First Ever Friend, this must have been like having a toddler tagging along for the day, as I pointed at things and used my toddler German to state what I saw. The last time I learnt German, I was 12, and that is the only age I know. So when I say, ‘Ich bin zwolf’ for I am 12, it often leads people to look at me somewhat oddly. But guess what, I have upgraded my German – I can now say, ‘I am 30’ – Ich bin dreisig – instead… and that is what I said. Several hundred times.

I bet First Ever Friend is glad I’m not back until June… perhaps by then, I will have a few more sentences under my belt. Most importantly: ‘Three gin and tonics please!’

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