:: Part 23 – 1 July – On the Green Bench ::
Landemusuem Zurich is one of the museum highlights.
It was tastefully programmed as a
History museum, but also providing various themes,
Such as the treasured collections of antiques,
Tapestry, stained glass, snuff bottles, artifacts,
Dresses and costumes, paintings – all placed
According to theme. Another section depicted the
Swiss way of life from past till present, with much
Emphasis on the evolution of furniture and the modern
In fact, there was a showcase depicting the
Various periods of the living room. There were also
Several other sections, on Swiss banking, Swiss watches,
Swiss gym equipment (didn’t know this originated from
The Swiss!) as well as other inventions such as
Hydrotherapy, heliotherapy, and products such as
Ricola, Ovaltine, Rivella, etc. There was also a
Section that explained the history of the Swiss cantons
And how the cantons got together.
One particular poignant area was the screening of a
Documentary film titled, ‘Living in Switzerland’. which
Portrayed six families living in various situations in
Switzerland. I started watching this halfway, so I only
Managed to see the last three families.
The first family was a family that lived in the countryside.
This was narrated and shown from the perspective of
A child in the family. The child spoke about how she liked the
Rural life and how this gave her time to interact with the environment,
And at a pace which she liked. She did rant about the fact that she has
Another four siblings and how she hoped that her parents would not bear
More children; and that her parents would spend more time with her.
The second family centered around a family from Angola,
Which was displaced from the civil war, and hence managed to
Seek asylum in Switzerland. The wife described how she met with a
Little racism when she arrived with her family, at the apartment.
“We don’t rent to black people, the people here told me,”
She recalled her first encounter when she was looking for a
Place to live. There were a few occasions where she would
Approach her neighbors on the streets, to offer them
A lift back to their apartment.
“The Swiss were always surprised,” she recounted.
“In Switzerland, we don’t do this.”
“But I do this – this is my culture (in Angola)”
“Back in my hometown, people took care of one
Another,” she pointed out.
The third family was a Swiss family that lived
Illegally in the unused area between the intersection of
The highways. Both husband and wife used to hold normal jobs,
But they gave up the normal life for this hippy lifestyle.
“When, now I get to spend more time with my children,”
The husband said as he played a game of ball with
His toddler son. "And because we don’t pay rent,
And we construct and add portions to the house
On our own, we are able to stay comfortable, without
Too much hard work.”
“We used to not to have hot water,” the wife added.
“We put in hot water when we had the baby,” the husband updated.
“Next time we’ll be getting a cleaning lady,” he joked
As the wife gave him a funny face.
“Not everyone can live our lives. Some visitors
Come to see us, and they say, “that’s not too
Different from how we live,” I’m not surprised,” wife said.
“By the way, we have no locked doors.”
“I didn’t add the locks to the doors,” husband quipped.
“The kids were worried about strangers
Coming into the house,” wife said.
“But I say, there’s nothing to worry.”
“There is nothing to steal.”
That reminded me of the comments by Kissingpanda
In response to one of my Swiss entries about beautiful Switzerland,
With lake-fronting houses with large gardens and a dock
For a private sailboat or yatch.
“How about the poor? Where do they live?” he asked.
I am sure there are the poor ones.
Probably they are hidden under the folds of the social fabric
And the city. In this one week I’ve been here, I’ve seen
A handful of beggars, who went around asking for money.
(“I did not have enough money to get to work,” one said.
“Why don’t you talk to the station people for help?” I suggested.)
Back to the film.
Seeing the film reminded me of what kind of life I would want to lead.
For this family, they were willing to live
In the temporary accommodation, knowing that
Everything may be torn down at any instance,
And that building that was ‘home’ was hand-constructed
With second hand furniture and tarpaulin.
It made me wonder a bit of whether I’m already
Living a life I truly desire. What was I doing in respect to
Those around me? And this journey, this trip to Zurich
And beyond. One week after I’ve been here, what have I absorbed?
What have I learned?
The funny thing is that, I’ve got no apparent answer,
But I feel that I’m moving somewhere. For one, I feel that
There is so much out there to see, to learn and to experience.
A trip to the museum revealed so much about history and
Civilization, that I was not aware of. There was also so much
About art that I could have immerse myself in and understood better.
I’m sure though when I am back in Singapore I’ll be caught in the
Rat race once more, and there will be no time again, to write,
To write so very much.
In fact, I’ve written seven pages within the hour.
I’m still seated on the green bench.
In fact, while I was writing earlier, two local elderly
Ladies came over and sat beside me, and they have been
Chatting ever since.
I looked around me, one more time
And then it was time to go.