I have been living in Switzerland for a few months now and its wonderful. Specifically where I am in Wengen, is surrounded by breathtaking scenery but it is also in general very easy to live. I can’t help but compare it to other places where I have called home for a short period of time, places where I have had to get set up, find housing, a job, or even get directions and other public services. Spain was a headache mostly because of the language barrier and the “mañana” mentality but if I had to pick a place that was the complete anti-place of Switzerland it would be India.
Obviously my fresh alpine environment is the polar opposite of a loud, crowded, humid and polluted Mumbai afternoon, but the pace of work and confidence in the system is what really stands out. Things work here and I am feeling spoiled by it. It was a little annoying working in India when you are not sure if your efforts will be realized or your projects implemented, or even if the bus you are waiting for will show up. Whereas on my way here, I figured two minutes within the estimated time of arrival would be my stop… wrong! I should have waited two extra minutes after a two hour intercity train journey to get off precisely when my timetable had predicted. There is a specific process for all procedures here and although it may take a little longer to pass through all the required steps, it is transparent and effective, unlike India where you must depend on the informal society and a few bribes never hurt.
Also my lifestyle is contrasted here, and although I worked long hours in both countries, it was in quite contrary industries. In Mumbai, I often got up at 6am to beat the heat in the slums while working for an NGO, then relaxed with a book or spoke with distant friends in the evening before going to bed early. Here, I am a never ending partying nighthawk, rarely waking up before noon, working until 2am and then going out until way past my bedtime. It would seem that I have more freedom here, possibly because of the idea of safety and greater independence for women but working in the service industry certainly brings added peer pressure to live like a rockstar!
I find it interesting how much I have adapted from one extreme to the other, in my activities, clothing and behaviour based on my settings, but I guess we are all a product of our environment. I am glad to have been able to experience such contrasting cultures and value both of them in different ways, and if you know me at all, you know I could never tell you which one I prefer. I think I will just continue to test out some other places for now….
ps. one afterthought was that during the 3 months I spent in India, I wore my hair down maybe twice for 20 minutes before the humidity and my sweat drenched it. In Switzerland I have worn it up probably twice since I am too lazy and the weather allows it…. weird eh?