Dispatches from Happy Valley – an expat’s view of life in Switzerland
Another dispatch from Happy Valley…this writer’s affectionate name for the Swiss region bordering on Lac Léman (Lake Geneva).
Back in Happy Valley after a long return flight from Canada via Paris to Geneva. Coincidentally on International Women’s Day, with Air France handing out roses to the women boarding the flight, presumably to commemorate the ongoing struggle for gender equality.
No luck, though, in hearing an even vaguely female voice coming over the loudspeaker from the flight deck. And little wonder, after having later learned that apparently only 7% of the airline’s pilots are women. Perhaps senior management figured that, like a spouse arriving late for dinner, roses might somehow compensate.
Then a short drive from Cointrin back home. Such a pleasure to return to Happy Valley, especially after a longer than usual absence. It’s then when you realize just how special this place truly is — particularly on all matters relating to the daily slog. Perfectly paved streets, making high-speed pothole avoidance maneuvers unnecessary. (Relatively) bearable traffic. Exceptionally fast snow cleaning the minute a flake appears — from both the municipality and our neighbour. Impressively frequent garbage collection. Few car accidents, even in a snowstorm. And no power outages during even the worst of winter storms.
It really does make other advanced countries look positively under-developed by comparison. Indeed, for a moment I wondered if the “C” in BRICs is in fact supposed to be Canada…
But then after a few days, the things that make you reflect further on life here start to pop up.
Like reading the Le Temps newspaper a few days ago and seeing that the Swiss National Council has accepted a plan to offer some third generation Swiss residents naturalisation. Bravo! Coming from a country where as a general principal, birth in the country = citizenship, this would seem to be an overdue, if limited, gesture. But then one reads further and understands that this is provoking fear from the UDC, who worry that a massive flow of applications will ensue.
Or, like then finding out in the same article that the party apparently succeeded in spooking the public the last time this was proposed over 10 years ago, by, among various means, illustrating the potential consequences via posters showing Osama bin Laden’s picture in a Swiss passport…
And so life continues on in Happy Valley. But now, with fears stoked by the UDC.
I mean, suppose our daughters stay in Happy Valley, and have kids who become third-generation residents. If the UDC is correct, could it be that my grand-kids might end up looking like dead-ringers for America’s late public enemy number one?
A chilling thought.
By the Happy Valley Correspondent