Posts Tagged ‘switzerland’

Who knew the Swiss were so jolly? The headline said they celebrated the opening of the world’s longest, deepest tunnel with alphorns and modern dance. I pictured Thorin Oakenshield joining a conga line.

Here’s what Camila Domonoske had to say at Rhode Island Public Radio/NPR.

“Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner first imagined it in 1947: a massive tunnel, unprecedented in length, buried a mile and a half under Switzerland’s symbolic Gotthard mountain range.

“Nearly seven decades later, after redesigns, political disagreements and the long, slow work of drilling beneath the Gotthard massif, as it’s called, Gruner’s dream is complete.”

We pause here to remember John as Grumpy in Snow White singing, “We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through …”

Back to Domonoske: “The Gotthard Base Tunnel — a record-setting 35.4 miles long, and farther below ground than any other tunnel — was inaugurated [June 1]. The occasion was marked with a celebration that promoted ‘Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability,’ as the tunnel’s website puts it.

“The $12 billion project was completed on time, The Associated Press notes.

“The most eye-catching part of Wednesday’s ceremony was an extended modern dance sequence — featuring stony-faced dancers dressed in orange construction gear and boots, dancing on and around a flatcar.

“Another sequence featured dancers in white briefs and one figure with wings and an oversize head, while yet another sequence had people covered in suits resembling a cross between a pompom and a hay bale. …

“The inauguration of the tunnel also featured alphorns, an interfaith blessing of the tunnel and a tunnel theme song. Leaders from across the EU — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, according to the AP — were in attendance.” More here.

So, I’m looking at this picture and realizing the Swiss aren’t so jolly after all. But then again, Thorin Oakenshield was about as jolly as Grumpy. But I’m sure they would both have liked the deepest. longest tunnel.

Photo: Peter Klaunzer/AFP/Getty Images

Artists perform in Erstfeld, Switzerland, at the opening of the Gotthard rail tunnel. The show was directed by German director Volker Hesse.

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Photo of Lugano: Wikimedia Commons

Before Suzanne met Erik, she lived for a few years in Lugano, Switzerland. When I visited her, I took in the art museum and remember being exposed to the work of Austrian painter Egon Schiele for the first time.

Today Andrew Sullivan had a post about Museo d’Arte di Lugano, and naturally I zeroed in.

Andrew quotes Andy Cush on the museum’s latest exhibit: “36 ventilators, 4.7m3 packing chips, a new installation from the Swiss artist Zimoun … The artist filled a space inside Switzerland’s Museo d’Arte di Lugano with lots and lots of polystyrene packing peanuts, and uses 36 fans to whip them into a stormy frenzy.”

Watch the video of crashing packing-popcorn waves at Andrew Sullivan’s blog, here.

Lugano is a charming, Italian-speaking city. I passed through there as a teenager, with no premonition of my future connection to the place, just astonishment at palm trees in snow-capped Switzerland. Funny how things turn out.


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Caroline A. and Suzanne met during the senior year of high school, when Caroline left her home in Sweden to spend a semester in the U.S. After graduation, we took Suzanne on a trip to Stockholm. We hit the tourist spots, hung out with Caroline’s family, and helped celebrate her birthday with a pig roast.

Sweden made a big impression on us all, especially Suzanne. Later when she was attending business school in Switzerland, she met Erik, and that was that.

Nowadays I have Swedes as Facebook friends, which forces me to rely a good bit on Google Translate. that can be fun but  puzzling. When Caroline writes —

“Tack så mycket! Nu ska vi bara ta kål på det förbaskade viruset som belägrat min kropp och sen fira lilla mig. :)” —

I can sort of understand Google’s “Thank you very much! Now we just kill the damn virus that besieged my body and then celebrate the little me. :)” — I especially understand the universal emoticon.

With “Finsk midsommarsoppa: häll upp vodka i en blommig sopptallrik,” I barely need Google Translate to tell me it means “Finnish midsummer soup: Pour the vodka into a floral soup plate.”

But more often than not, I find myself skirting the edge of a dark intrigue. Consider “och inte lär de sig. Plattsättaren la ner jobbet direkt då uppdragsgivaren lämnade landet. Nu är det hot som gäller eftersom vädjan inte fungerar,” which means, says Google, “rather, they learn. Flat assembler put down the job immediately when the client left the country. Now is the threat posed by the appeal as not working.” Hmmm. I believe an international crisis is brewing. Hard to say where, though.

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