Stories of Living
A raspy, almost throat-scratching language, a villa on top of a hill, a strong pungent smell, a tongue that speaks five languages, flower boxes floating under double windows, an empty table supposedly filled with a husband and a dozen children, silky milk chocolate, a life in four continents, the edge of a pocket knife, hidden strength, Grüezi!, a language that transcends words, fresh Alpine air, the gaping hole of lost identity, old towns taken straight out of fairy tales, neurosis and paranoia, melted harmony that is wine and cheese, plastic is separate from paper is separate from aluminum is separate from glass, secretive banks and the smell of gold, a woman’s rise.
Staying anonymous in a village such as ours was not possible. I now consider this an advantage. It was six months after my arrival, after my morning shopping at the Sterchi’s, while walking on the empty streets, when I turned around and met a lady. We exchanged smiles and I later invited her to our house for coffee. Heidi became my first local friend and remains one of my closest friends until now. My immediate neighbors, four families who had children the same age as my two boys, made me feel accepted and well-integrated. Our children went to school and spent vacations together. I attended folklore activities to satiate my genuine interest in their rural culture. Despite the privilege of having vast open spaces around our respective homes, we were one family. -“The Gift of Tongues” by Anny Hefti
My husband and I both shared a passion for food and it was something we really loved. I collected more recipes and repeated a new dish several times a month. I discovered that the recipes could be modified, giving the same dish different tastes. This, in turn, motivated my husband to cook as well. One time, I came home from work and he surprised me with a five-course meal. He even made me wear nice clothes for the occasion. It was so memorable. One day, I met our neighbors and they asked me, “What do you eat?” Challenged by this question, I told my husband that we should invite them one weekend. I prepared a buffet for twelve people with my international know-how in cookery so that the guests could choose whatever they liked. In fact, I remember the items on the menu to this day. -“What do you Eat?” by Cathy Weber
Since I knew nothing about household chores, cooking was tough in the beginning. From time to time, I missed our former housekeeper. But by and by, I got over the hardship and became a real homemaker. I remember one time, my dear husband patiently taught me how to use the vacuum cleaner. It was an old one that used to belong to my father-in-law. It made horrible loud rattling sounds that scared me half to death. My first time using the washing machine was no better: I put in all the clothes of mixed colors together, only to later find that the white shirts had turned into the colors of the rainbow. I ended up buying new shirts. Aunt Lizaly and I baked cakes and Christmas cookies together. She even taught me how to properly iron men’s shirts. Initially, it took me almost an hour to finish ironing one shirt! Later on, I found great pleasure in doing all the household chores, especially cooking and baking. -“The Best of All Worlds” by Evelyn Steiner
Realizing how apolitical I had become since leaving the Philippines and that I had been so occupied with my family, losing track of what was happening at home, I joined the group and tried to make up for my ignorance by devouring books, magazines, and articles about the political situation. I soon joined in campaigns and fund-raising activities, lobbying for the Filipino cause. I met and housed Filipino visitors from my home country who were touring Europe to lobby and raise funds. I was in awe of the very active women’s movement in the Philippines and their nationalism. Within a short period, I was politicized and met several Filipina members of the solidarity group, who were mostly married to Swiss men. We discussed not only the situation at home but also the situation of the growing number of Filipinas in Switzerland. There was some interaction with Swiss and other migrant women’s groups. This gave us the idea of forming a Filipina women’s organization and Samahang Pilipina was born — first in Berne, then Zurich, and later Lucerne. -“Aim High and Hit the Mark” Lina Ermert