When you hear “oder” you might think of the famous German river (see the Wikipedia’s photo above).
But, if you live in Switzerland, “oder” is definitely the most common refrain of every Swiss German spoken sentence! It has a kind of (useless) meaning like the English rhetorical questions “isn’t”, “don’t you”, etc. at the end of a sentence.
Some days ago a colleague (I calculated them!) used multiple infamous “oder”s with an average of one every 30 seconds during a two hours’ meeting! Unbelievable! The small “o” word really became like an unbearable noise to my ears!
By the way… the most international Swiss, to stay consistent to their proud “oder”, even when speaking a foreign language, have absolutely no problem to declaim in English sentences like:
It is quite hot today, or? (Aka: It is quite hot today, isn’t it?)
It was very nice, or? (Aka: It was very nice, wasn’t it?)
Next time it will be better to attend the meeting with ear protection, so that the colleagues will understand my sensitivity to the “oder” word, … OR?
All European football fans, including me, are excited for the soccer European Championship “Euro 2020” which is played in these weeks.
Some days ago the match I had been waiting for for 20 years finally happened: Italy-Switzerland… and Italy won 3-0!
I come from Milano (Italy) and I have been living for 20 years in Switzerland, Canton Argovia. As probably many other emigrants, I feel well in the Confederation, but when Italy shall be supported I have no doubt about my homeland and the national Italian pride is at its top. Equipped with the tricolour flag at the window, Gattuso’s shirt from 2006 and a lot of enthusiasm for our soccer heroes, I watched a great show on the pitch.
By now the passport can be both Italian and Swiss, but my “heart” remains white, red and green!
In the small village where I live, in Canton Argovia, two pupils in the same primary school class (the 6th) were tested positive to COVID-19 some days ago. In the relevant communication, the director of the school (which is attended also by my two daughters) quickly declared that everything was decided by the competent Cantonal authority, as if he himself, as school director, were just an observer.
And this was the brilliant decision of the relevant authority: The school continued as normal, as if nothing happened without additional protective measures. Absurd!
This example shows the hideous and alarming Swiss situation on the pandemic…
Last night we had a nice dinner with a good bottle of red wine, which was in my Company’s this year’s Christmas present.
Very good wine, a blend of Malbec and Cabernet-Sauvignon, from a local Argovian producer.
It was also quite strong. I checked the bottle and I saw the “magical” number: 13.2% vol. alcohol! Thirteen POINT TWO!
Have you ever seen this? I would have expected either 13% or 13.5%. But POINT TWO was an absolute prime for me.
Maybe even the percentage of alcohol in Switzerland is calculated and indicated on the bottle in their own unique Swiss way…
Last week I was passing by the “Gemeindehaus” (Parish hall) of the village where I live, when I noticed such installation of drawers!
(How many times I already saw it without getting it?)
I went closer and I finally understood: the small drawers are a real free bookstore! Each mini drawer contains a book and its color indicates the book subject. You can choose among various themes: Bestsellers, thrillers, biographies, etc…
This is a great initiative organised by the cultural department of the village. You pick up a book, bringing and leaving there another book of yours!
Covid-times? Ok, the picked up book can be always thoroughly disinfected, can’t it?
Switzerland is often seen as a paradise, where everything is supposed to be working well. However, in this period, the situation is dramatic or even desperate in some cases, even if here they are quite good in “hiding the dust or uncomfortable matters under the carpet…”.
In particular, the government and the cantons made and are still guiltily making a lot of mistakes, getting a lot of critics from all over the world. Just to try to save economics (Even if a lot of people have been already “silently” and quickly fired from many Companies), health is considered as a second priority, with preventive measures against COVID-19 which are too weak and, considering the infection numbers, clearly ineffective.
The “Tages Anzeiger”, the daily newspaper from Zurich and one of the most important in Switzerland, analysed what foreign press thinks of the Swiss way to fight the COVID-19 emergency. Here the most significant quotes.
“Switzerland is still thinking of being a particular case…” (Foreign Policy, USA)
“It has been returned too quickly to the politics of the small cantons…” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, DE, regarding the continuous passing the buck regarding the responsibilities to define what to do between the central federal State and the 26 cantons)
“Switzerland is the second Sweden…” (Welt, DE)
“Why the government continues to be reluctant to take severe decisions?…” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, DE)
“A risky strategy…” (Financial Time, UK).
“A perfect example of what Germany should not do…” (Karl Lauterbach, German socialist politician and professor of health economics and epidemiology at the University of Cologne)
“…more testimonials tell about a Swiss weak approach, for a long time, with superficial preventive measures in the Companies, protocols which were not complied with, basically about a situation which created COVID carriers” (Corriere della Sera IT, regarding the dramatic increase of infections and quarantines in a small city, Arcisate, near the border with Switzerland).
It is crazy to see the passivity and lack of vision of the Swiss government which, in front of a continuous increase of infections, hospitalisations and deaths, almost every day holds monotonous and boring press conferences, only to acknowledge the situation with no gut and no flexibility to change the route inside this terribly disruptive storm!
Do you know what happened to the mentioned CEO of the shopping centre “Shoppi Tivoli” after he authorised the 50th anniversary party with a lot of people too near to each other and often without masks?
Think… The precise Switzerland…
Think… The rigid and respectful Switzerland…
Think… The healthy Switzerland…
Think… The balanced Switzerland…
Think… The practical Switzerland, where you pay a fine if you park your car ten seconds more than the allowed time…
Think… The right Switzerland, where you can throw the used glass bottles only in special times…
NOTHING! That CEO got neither a fine, nor he was arrested. He just has to adjust and submit again his safety concept for the nice shopping centre to the authorities!
Scandalous, isn’t it?
But it is not finished.
He even had the gut to proclaim his satisfaction for shrinking away with no financial consequence! Unbelievable!
… they could not postpone the 50th anniversary celebration of the biggest shopping centre of Switzerland (“Shoppi Tivoli”) in Spreitenbach (AG)!
Considering that Switzerland has had one of the steepest increase rate of Coronavirus infection for the last two weeks and that the situation seems out of control, this occurrence is a shame for Argovia and Switzerland itself!
PS: The photo above is not relevant to a Black Friday in the US some years ago, but is showing the situation in the mentioned shopping centre! All what should never happen in these times: A lot of people without mask, no distance, too many people! The CEO of Shoppi Tivoli, with a typical arrogant and I-know-the-best attitude, before this unnecessary event started, as reply to some already starting critics, had dared to declare “No reason to become nervous”.
Probably the famous self discipline of the population remained home to sleep on this Saturday…
… and probably the mentioned CEO himself is becoming quite nervous now!