After stopping in at work to use the gym I had a drink with my friend tonight and was excitedly telling him about my trip and how we would also get to see the town of Gouda - which is apparently very beautiful, in addition to being the home of the famous cheese of the same name. So then he got all Smart-Aleky and decided to correct my pronunciation to something that sounded like "Xhouda", Ha ha, what a joke. I told him that if I pronounced it "his" way people would either think I was choking or I'd gone off my head and booked a trip to China, despite all the coronavirus warnings! So my way it'll be for the time being! Actually that makes me think of the time I had a Finnish colleague whose name was "Tuire" and if I said her name my way everyone knew who I was talking about, but if she said her name the correct way, nobody knew who was on the end of the phone!
So what else is new? Not a lot really. I felt like a pregnant two-ton hippo at yoga on Monday (and had about as much grace) and when I came home I lay on the sofa and fell asleep for two hours. What the flip! And I knew I would have no problem sleeping that night either - indeed I slept about nine hours! But I hate it when I feel like that - like I could just nod off at the drop of a hat, and I can only put it down to the vagaries of the weather. Up one minute and down the next. I wasn't particularly looking forward to yoga on Tuesday either for that very reason but by gosh I'm glad I went. We again worked on the "Salutation to the moon" and I as much as I don't enjoy the "Salutation to the sun", this sequence is just great. It seems to work every muscle in your body giving a great workout, a fact that all the ladies I spoke to afterwards seemed to agree with. More to the point, I felt all my energy coming back after that session and no longer had any desire to nod off all the time so maybe there really is something to this "yoga thangy"!
Then on Friday of last week I met up with a very old friend, G, who I met the first day I arrived in Geneva. Our employer had put us up in the same B & B on our first night and we hit it off immediately. We ended up renting a studio together in central Geneva on a month-by-month basis while looking around for a place of our own and it worked out really well. We still laugh, though, when we remember the day we realized what was going on with the dirty old sod in the apartment opposite. We would dash home after work each night, jump into the shower and then get dressed up for a night on the town. In fact I don't remember ever staying in one single night as a singleton - so for five entire years I was out every night of the week!!! Anyway, one time in autumn or maybe winter (sometime when it was starting to get darker earlier) we had the light on as we were getting changed and it was then that we realized the dirty old sod opposite was always out on his balcony when we got home - looking in through the flimsy net curtains, the dirty perv! As soon as we realized what was going on we started getting changed in the bathroom and "Merv the Perv" no longer seemed to feel the need to get a breath of fresh air on his balcony every night, although I do remember him saying "bonjour" to me one day as I was walking out the apartment and wondering who the hell he was (I obviously didn't recognize him when he wasn't standing on his balcony in his underpants with a massive erection)! I remember one time, too, that G was away travelling with her parents and there was a knock at the door around 1 a.m. I was alone and thought "who the hell comes knocking at 1 a.m.?" and when I looked through the peephole the apartment manager was standing there all dressed up in his Sunday best! Now I knew we were up-to-date with the rent and there was never any noise coming from our place so there was no way I was going to open the door to him at that time of the morning. He obviously had a key anyway so I moved a big table from the middle of the room and wedged it against the door. Thankfully nothing further came of it but I have to admit I was glad to get out of there after a few months when we each got our own place. It was in central Geneva and wonderfully located, both for work and for night life, but it was also in the prostitute area and while I never felt threatened I did get propositioned a couple of times. It was funny because the first time mom and dad came out to stay with me while G was away, we were walking down the road and my dad said "ooohhh there's a lot of people out tonight aren't there", so I asked him if had noticed how many of them were sitting on the hoods of cars, and he just looked at me with a kind of rictus grin as the realization set in!!
G and I were also at our first staff Christmas party when this charming older gent came over with a glass of wine in his hand and asked us where we worked. I said in Division X and she said in Division Y and then she asked him where he worked - and he said "in the Director-General's office". After he left I nudged her in the ribs and said "that's the new DG", and she almost fainted, with visions of her contract renewal floating away before her eyes I imagine! Not that anything of the sort happened. The man was an absolute gent and had the most wonderful sense of humour, as you can probably tell (may God rest his soul)!
Anyway, on Friday we met up for lunch in a wonderful Indian restaurant near her place. I haven't eaten Indian food in ages so it was a real treat, with excellent food in beautiful surroundings.
G spent some time telling me about her recent interview for French citizenship and while there were, indeed, questions about French history and politics, etc. she said they were more interested in whether or not she had assimilated into the local French community (she has, very much so)! So she told me to make sure I took a screen shot of the web site which shows me as being the Présidente of the sewing club (daft as it sounds) because that proves I'm willing to get involved in local activities. She said also to show proof of all the different courses (yoga, pilates, Italian) that I'm taking locally, as opposed to in Switzerland, so I guess signing up for all those things wasn't such a bad idea after all!
And then, as we always do, we got to reminiscing, and despite the fact that she left my employer and went to work at the World Health Organization after a couple of years and we didn't see so much of each other, in May it will be 40 years since the day we first met and yet we still have so much to reminisce about. I know I always do it but I had to bring up the time she decided to repaint her bathroom. It was a long weekend and really hot and she got it in her head that her bathroom needed repainting. So she got herself all kitted out, took the handles off the door so it would be easier to paint, and then decided that it was waaayyy too hot for overalls so she took that off too and started painting in just her underwear. Except, of course, when she shut the door to paint it she realized too late that having taken the handle off she couldn't get the door open again and was now effectively stuck in the bathroom! So she started frantically tapping on the piping and yelling to her downstairs neighbour, but being a long weekend, this particular neighbour had gone away. In the end she managed to get another neighbour to realize that there was a problem and asked her to call her landlord. The initial problem was compounded, of course, by the fact that her key was on the inside of the door and the landlord couldn't get in, so he ended up basically rappelling from an upper balcony into her apartment to let her out of the bathroom - in all her glory, covered in paint and wearing only her bra and pants!!! I told her she was going to make it on to my blog someday but promised I'd keep her anonymous, so G, there you have it! Fame at last!
We then got to talking about the various trips we had planned (none for me at that point). She likes to travel alone as she likes to do her own thing, whereas I am happy to travel without knowing anyone but I don't like to be completely alone. So then she brought up our long weekend in Madrid the first Easter after we arrived in Geneva. G is very artistic and creative and was determined to visit the Prado while we were there. Me? Not so much! I like natural history but art? Nope, not for me (I know, I know, I'm a pleb). Anyway, we legged it over to the Prado and glory of glories, it is closed on only two days of the year - Good Friday and Christmas Day and "today" was Good Friday! Now it's very hard to fake disappointment when you're secretly thanking God that it's closed but I did try very hard. Still, my luck could only give out the next day so off we trecked back over there and this time, of course, it was open. I'll never get how people can spend hours wandering round these places looking at the paintings - it really isn't me - so after an hour I couldn't fake it any more and told her I'd meet her at the café in the park opposite and to take as long as she wanted. So we both ended up happy in the end - she got the Prado and I got white wine and tortilla!
She told me she knew I wasn't enjoying it when she took a photo of me inside the Prado leaning on a wall yawning with my arms folded! The next day she wanted to visit a Cezanne exhibition (I probably would have held on a little longer if we had started with that one) but I just told her to enjoy herself and I'd meet up with her a few hours later, which was what we did. Talk about the Odd Couple - but I suppose that might be why 40 years later we're still good friends. Who knows (although I'm obviously Walter Matthau)!
|Picture courtesy of Film Art Gallery