Storm warning

The ghost of winters past

After a nice weekend (during which the weather unilaterally decided to go to hell in a hand basket), it was time to go back to work. We’re not snowed under yet, but according to the usually wrong Swiss weather predictions we’re expecting some snow this week. Possibly Thursday afternoon.

Now, before you start judging, I’ll point out that I actually enjoy living in Geneva. It’s a lovely city, it’s small, but with all the gastronomic resources a wildly varied international crowd expects

(from brasserie food to pub-style fish and chips and everything in between, including a Russian grocer’s, an American store storing most junk food Europeans have never seen or heard about, corner stores selling South American vegetables and canned goods. I could go on, but I’d bore you to tears), and if you don’t like life in the city, all you have to do is hop on a train for an extra ten to thirty minutes and there you go – either in the middle of nowhere, from where you have a devastatingly beautiful landscape, or, well, in another city, which might better tickle your fancy.

That said, Geneva has one real issue: winter. The winters in the city aren’t particularly hard on Geneva’s inhabitants (not every year, anyway), but God knows they’re boring. It’s the main reason why most people go up to the mountains to ski. It’s because there is much more going on up a mountain covered in metres of snow than there is in a city. Which is at times covered in nearly a metre of snow. On that subject, it’s fair to point out that the Genevois live in constant denial and refuse to believe every winter will bring snow – and every year, they behave as if the feather-light white flakes gently gliding from the skies are nothing short of a freak event of nature. Trains are delayed. Buses don’t run. Old ladies wave their gloved, wrinkly little fists to the skies in defiance. You get the gist.

You put that together with a population suffering deeply from Seasonal Affective Disorder (that’s right – SAD), and you’ve got a ticking time bomb on your hands.

It all came together this morning. When The Angry Chef and I shuffled onto a bus that was bursting at the seams with school children, and people who have little patience for cold weather and school children. Three stops down from our place, at a busy intersection, a largish man pushed his way onto the bus, trying and miserably failing to throw The Angry Chef off balance (those who know him and his height know this is not an easy feat). “Move over down the corridor,” grunted the big man. “There is no space,” responded The Angry Chef, in an angrily polite manner. “Yes, there is!” retorted the man, pushing him, and causing him to push me, who nearly squashed a small child like a bug against a windscreen. I shot the evilest evil eye I ever shot anyone, in the hope that he would crumble under my stare and turn to a fine, grey dust. It didn’t work.

The big man did end up getting off the bus (after one bloody stop). As soon as he did, a young man wearing a grey hoodie that had seen better days and holding a plastic shopping bag hopped onto the bus. Half a stop later, our driver realises there has been an accident on the bus/tram lane (a big one, to judge by the ambulance), and scoots over to the car lane, much to most drivers’ surprise. On the next bus stop, the grey-hoodied young man gets off to let a few people disembark. He tries to get back on half-heartedly, shouting something remotely similar to “get a move on” in French. Unsuccessful, he simply got off the bus altogether and gave us all the finger as we drove past, while making his way to the needle distribution centre behind the train station, one bus stop down the road. And I think to myself that all the tidy, law-abiding people of Switzerland probably moved to Zurich long ago.

I get to the office and the outlook is bleak. It is nine in the morning and most office doors down the hallway are closed; people are either in an important meeting elsewhere, or (mostly) down with a God-awful cold and at home recovering. Everywhere you go, you hear people coughing up a lung.

This is all to say that winter is quite possibly the one bit I fervently dislike about living in Geneva. Not because it is particularly hellish, but God knows people could make a bit of an effort to be civil while riding the public transport system! I for one don’t have the solution for the winter blues, but at least I’ve got some comfort food to keep me warm – more on that later!

Have a good night, and thank you for reading my indiscriminate rant!

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